How do Christians worldwide celebrate Pentecost?


Christian Life


Photo Sjaak Verboom

On Sunday and Monday, Pentecost will be celebrated. "We hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2). How do people from "all people, nations and tongues" give attention to the feast of the coming of the Holy Spirit?

Rev dr Sotiris Boukis, associate pastor of the Greek Evangelical Church in Thessaloniki

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Sotiris Boukis. beeld Eramia

"In Greece, all religious holidays are celebrated according to the Eastern (Julian) calendar. Therefore, we celebrate Pentecost on Sunday 12 and Monday 13 June. The Monday of Pentecost is, in fact, a holiday in Greece. The Greek Evangelical Church celebrates this holiday by focussing the sermon and hymns of that Sunday on the Person and the work of the Holy Spirit. In 2020, the Sunday of Pentecost was the same time as the re-opening of the churches after the first lockdown. That was very moving, not only because it was our first physical pot-Covid service but also because of the symbolic meaning of the day. Pentecost was the opportunity for God's people to sacrifice the first fruits of its harvest, trusting that God would take care of them in the unknown future. With Pentecost, God poured out His Holy Spirit as His first fruit. And now, we – all stepping into an unknown future – can trust His first fruits as a reminder of God's sovereignty and be encouraged to carry the fruit of the Spirit in our lives."

Pastor Youssef Ourahmane, vice president of the Protestant Church in Algeria (EPA):

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Youssef Ourahmane. Photo Youssef Ourahmane

"During worship services, the Algerian Church definitely pays attention to the feast of Pentecost. Some pastors have a special message about the event. The pouring out of the Holy Ghost means a lot to us and me personally. I also think of the revival of July 1981 among the Kabyle, a Berber people in Algeria. The Holy Spirit was poured out on a group of faithful believers who were praying and fasting in the mountains."

Pastor Christopher David from India:

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David Christopher. Photo David Christopher

Most Presbyterian churches in India do not celebrate Pentecost on a specific Sunday. We only celebrate Good Friday, Easter and Christmas. Personally, I see Pentecost as the dawn of a new era, when Jesus Christ, as the risen and ascended King, poured out the Holy Spirit to bless His Church and prepare them for His mission of preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus. Therefore, I find Pentecost a great encouragement. It means that God did not leave us alone in this world as orphans.

He granted us the promised Spirit, Who is our Comforter and leads us in God's truth. So, even amidst a hostile world, we can trust that we are not alone because God has come to us in the Holy Spirit. He enables us to experience and enjoy the Gospel and be witnesses of the Gospel in a challenging context.

Currently, we meditate on the book of Acts during our Bible study sessions. In Acts, we are encouraged as believers. We read that the Church should expect persecution, which is not new in our situation. In fact, the Early Church rejoiced in times of persecution because it was counted worthy to suffer shame for the Name of Jesus (Acts 5:41). There we see remarkable faith and courage. It is an attitude that is not of this earth; it is entirely selfless and dedicated to God's glory only. That is, humanly speaking, impossible without the work of the Spirit in our hearts. I pray that He will grant us the same heart."

Pastor Sagan Ivan, preacher of a Baptist congregation in Volytsya (Ukraine):

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Sagan Ivan. Photo Sagan Ivan

"First of all, thank you very much for your compassion and help to us and our country. Ukraine likes celebrating holidays as a state and as a church. For a few years, we, as a congregation, have celebrated all holidays on the Gregorian calendar. But as a country, we celebrate the holidays of the Julian calendar. So, in fact, we celebrate most holidays twice.

On Sunday, we celebrate Pentecost. Most of the time, Pentecost is not celebrated as extensively with the family and congregation as we do with Christmas and Easter. But at this time of war, which destroyed our foundation, we ask ourselves how we can celebrate a holiday with people dying around us.

But whatever happens, Pentecost is a great Christian holiday, the birthday of the Church, the day on which the Holy Spirit incorporated everyone in the body of the Church who has been born above. No event can diminish this holiday. This year, we try to organise a celebration during the sermon as much as possible. After the service, there will be tea for everyone.

We pray that this holiday will be a blessing for our church and everyone who experienced hardships, lost loved ones or possessions on which they worked. Support us in your prayer. We are very grateful. We pray that God may bless you all."

Albert Knoester, preacher of the Messianic congregation in Israel:

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Albert and Esther Knoester. Photo fam. Knoester

"The congregation "Source of Living Water" is a small, independent Messianic congregation in the Negev Desert. A national meeting is organised on the First Day of Pentecost every year. Congregations from all over the country gather for the meeting. Despite the (sometimes large) differences between the congregations, we gather in "unity" (Acts 2:1). In our own service in Dimona on Saturday, we pay attention to the Ascension of the Lord Jesus and the pouring out of the Holy Ghost. We also pray for the conversion of the Jewish people and look forward to the Second Coming of the Messiah in Israel in glory."

Rabih Hasbany, member of the Faith Baptist Church in Mansourieh (Lebanon):

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Rabih Hasbany. Photo Rabih Hasbany

"In our congregation, the Faith Baptist Church in Mansourieh, we do not have a special celebration for Pentecost. However, most of the time, the sermon is about the meaning of the coming of the Holy Spirit to us as the body of Christ.

For me personally, the experience of Pentecost has been a turning point in my spiritual life. About a year ago, I learned that the Holy Spirit is God's presence, Who dwells in me and works through me.

That changed my view on the importance of personal holiness and dedication in my life. If I must be the temple of the Holy Spirit, I have to seek sanctification in my whole life. In addition, I can be a bold witness of God because I received the power of the Holy Spirit after His promise (Acts 1:8).

Leonardo De Chirico, president of the theological commission of the Italian Evangelical Alliance (EA):

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Dr. Leonardo De Chiroco. Photo RD

"The evangelical Alliance in Italy calls churches in the whole country to celebrate Pentecost by paying special attention to missionary work. Pentecost is the day on which the Gospel of Jesus is preached in all languages. When we thank God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ for sending the Holy Spirit, we do that again by working for God's mission in the world. In the power of the Holy Spirit, in word and deed, in faithfulness and boldness."

George van Popta, retired minister of the Canadian Reformed Churches:

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George van Popta. Photo RD

"I celebrate Pentecost by going to church. Thus, I want to honour the Holy Spirit, Who is, according to the Nicean Creed, "the Lord and Giver of life." I experience the power of Easter every week when I teach Bible lessons to a group of Karen refugees who fled Birma via Thailand.

In 2016, I started to teach one family in Hamilton, Ontario. Since the Covid pandemic, we switched to Zoom. The group has grown to about 50 people – twelve families – from all over Canada, the United States and Thailand."

Frank Spatz, general secretary of the pietistic Gnadauer Community Association:

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Frank Spatz. Photo Ahmet Celebi

"I find it important to celebrate Pentecost. The feast of the pouring out of the Holy Ghost receives too little attention in the Christian tradition. The coming of the Holy Spirit is no beautiful, symbolic story from the start of Christianity but a reality that can be felt today. The Spirit of God also wants to fill people today. That has life-changing consequences, for example, for ecclesiastical unity. That is only possible when the Holy Spirit binds people together."

Pastor Jett Daniel Smith, minister of a congregation in Auckland (New Zealand) of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland:

Church of the Free Presbyterian Church in Scotland in Auckland (New Zealand). Photo Google Streetview

"The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland does not officially celebrate Pentecost. But we acknowledge that we must honour God for all His deeds and for pouring out His Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Christ built His Church on that day and established His Kingdom.

The Church does not have the authority to pick special remembrance days, like Christmas or Easter, or the Sunday of Pentecost. Every worship service has to be filled in according to the Word of God. God gave us a day of worship, the Sabbath.

Many Christians will be precisely on time to be present at the public worship service on these days, which the church itself appoints. But in the meantime, they neglect to keep the Sunday, the day God Himself set. God gave us the Sabbath to worship Him all day. There is only room for work that needs to be done in charity or necessity.

That is why the Sabbath must be dedicated to honouring God for everything He has done and all the gifts of Christ. We must praise God for His blessing of the Church on the day of Pentecost – without having to appoint a particular day. In the meantime, we must pray uprightly for the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, for conversion, for sanctification and the sending of pastors to preach the Gospel to sinners over the whole world."

E.J. van den Bosch, scribe of the Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Pretoria:

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E. J. van den Bosch. Photo ggiN Pretoria

"In South Africa, some churches celebrate Pentecost. There is a worship service every evening between Ascension Day and Pentecost in many African churches.

The second day of Pentecost – Whit Monday – does not exist here. It is not a holiday but an ordinary working day. So, there is also no church service. As Netherlands Reformed Congregation in Pretoria, we have a worship service on the Whit Monday, but we do it in the evening. It is our wish that the Lord, with His Spirit, would blow upon our country, where everything is more and more in decline."

Alpár Bán (Hungarian) minister in Romania:

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Alpár Bán. Photo Alpár Bán

"The celebration of Pentecost starts in our congregation on the Sunday before Pentecost. Then, we have a service of Confession of Faith. During Pentecost itself, a week later, the people who did confession may take part in the Lord's Supper for the first time. That is a beautiful event for their families and the whole congregation. Six young church members have done Confession of Faith on Sunday.

This week, we have a worship service every evening to prepare for Pentecost. Then we confess our faith, ask for forgiveness and pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we live up to Pentecost. For me, Pentecost is a time of self-reflection. I pray that the Spirit of God renews my life."

Leendert Wolters, an employee of the missionary organisation Reformed Missionary Union (GZB) in Prague:

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Leendert Wolters. beeld Leendert Wolters

"A few years ago, I led the music during a service on Pentecost. Petre, the pastor, looked at me with a questioning face: "Why do we sing so many songs about the Holy Spirit?" "Because it is Pentecost", I replied. "Oh yes, I did not think about that", he said. He continued the service with a sermon from a series about 1 Corinthians, about Paul and Apollos.

Since then, I have always put Pentecost on the schedule to remind people. Pentecost is almost a forgotten holiday in the Czech Republic, just like Ascension Day. That is partly due to the language. "Letníce" is a word that can be linked to "summer". Initially, that referred to the Jewish harvest feast at the start of summer. Fortunately, there is one large window in the St Vitus Cathedral in Prague that reminds continually of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit."

Rev Lionel Jauvert, pastor of the Église Réformée Evangélique in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines:

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Leendert Wolters. beeld Leendert Wolters

"In France, we celebrate Pentecost on Sunday and Whit Monday. That is an ancient tradition which originates in the fourth century. During the service, we use liturgical texts and songs that focus on the Holy Spirit's work.

Traditionally, this service is also used for Confession of Faith by students of the catechism class. And the sacrament of Baptism is administered.

When I was a child, this date was the same time as a large festival in our city, the féria of Nîmes. We could not reach the church because the streets were closed.

Thus, we introduced a tradition of meeting on Monday with friends of the church to see each other and encourage each other. And we will do that this year as well."



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