Airport church lands converts: Men, women and children are being bowled over by the Holy Spirit, as it makes itself felt in Scotland. John Price reports

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The Independent Online
DEEP IN the grounds of Blair Castle, where the Duke of Atholl is empowered to keep Britain's only private army, the Holy Spirit sneaks past security each night and leaves them literally rolling in the aisles.

For each of the past five evenings Scotland has been witnessing mass religious hysteria, manifested in the 'charismata' reported visited on the apostles at Pentecost. Hundreds of men, women and children line up before the stage of a large white marquee as the evangelism builds to a climax and, at a signal, as the Spirit apparently swoops on the tent, they start to drop. Caught as they fall, laid gently on the wet grass, they lie shaking and shouting, either riven with gusts of laughter or weeping uncontrollably. Some have begun talking in tongues.

These are the first signs north of the border of an apparent global 'awakening' of religious conviction, begun earlier this year in the bizarre setting of Toronto's Airport Church. Organisers, in this case the Covenant Life Church in Glasgow, which has hosted the 'Scotland Aflame' evangelical meet at Blair Atholl, claim thousands worldwide, from evangelicals to conservative Christians and former atheists, have been struck by this spirit of Pentecost.

In Toronto, there were reports of those who have been thus refreshed having to be carried home helpless after three hours and more of howling glee, and the world's more radical evangelicals are now convinced they are witnessing a spiritual phenomenon, likened in scale to the Wesleyan movement that swept the land early last century.

In the few months since the Toronto sect was first reported, more than 250,000 people, including many Europeans, have been 'slain in the spirit' inside the little church just yards from the end of the runway, Toronto's branch of the Vinyard Christian Fellowship, itself a movement begun in the Sixties by a leading charismatic, John Wimber, in - where else - California.

In London, worshippers at the evangelical church of Holy Trinity, Brompton, have reported identical phenomena among the predominantly young, professional congregation - a similar socioeconomic profile to the hundreds who were dropping like flies in Blair Atholl.

But if God is fully among us, mainstream religion is hardly racing forward to embrace Him. In June, the Archbishop of Canterbury dismayed evangelicals during his visit to Toronto when he refused an invitation to the Airport Church.

(Photograph omitted)