People of Praise

People of Praise

People of Praise is a Christian ecumenical charismatic covenant community. It presently consists of 21 branches in the United States of America, Canada, and the Caribbean, with a total of approximately 3,000 [ "as early as 1987, People of Praise consisted of some 3,000 people including children" Stanley Burgess Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. Routledge, New York, London, 2006. p.130.] men, women, and children.Citation | title = Official website of the People of Praise | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-01 ]

The People of Praise was formed in 1971 in South Bend, Indiana, by Paul DeCelles, Kevin Ranaghan [ "...the People of Praise was founded in South Bend by Kevin Ranaghan and Paul DeCelles..." p.319. Mary Barbara Agnew CPPs. “Charismatic Renewal” The Encyclopedia of American Catholic History. edited by Michael Glazier and Thomas J. Shelly. AMG Book. Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1997. ] and 27 others who wanted to build an ecumenical, [ [the People of Praise members] “always felt that the Lord had raised us up as a community to work responsibly towards Christian unity.” David Manuel. Like a Mighty River. Rock Harbor Press, USA, 1977. p.18.] charismatic community of men and women.

The impetus for this new way of community living came from several sources. The immediate locus for the inspiration was in the experience of the charismatic renewal or Pentecostal movement, particularly the charismatic renewal in the Catholic Church. This renewal centers on conversion to Christ and a “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” which, in the predominant Catholic view, involves prayer to release all the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit given in baptism and confirmation, but which needs to be actualized in the life of the believer. [ Fanning The Flame. Kilian McDonnell, George T. Montague, Editors. The Liturgical Press,Collegeville, Minnesota, 1991. ] These gifts include prophecy, Glossolalia or speaking in tongues, and healing at first exercised primarily in weekly prayer meetings.

The charismatic renewal is rooted in the Pentecostal Movement and the Azusa Street Revival. [ The Century of The Holy Spirit. Vinson Synan. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville, 2001.] Its development among Catholics seems to have been a response to the Second Vatican Council which encouraged the active participation and gifts of the laity in the work and mission of the church in the world. [ A.E. Chester. “Lay Communities.” And “Community: Forms of.” p.147. Also, Rev. Edward O’Connor. "Charismatic Renewal," p.105. Vol XVII. Supplement: “Change in the Church.” New Catholic Encyclopedia. Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.,1979. ] The Council was the major event which predisposed the founders of the community to the possibility of the baptism in the Holy Spirit and to life in community. In this sense, the Council itself and the Liturgical and Biblical Movements which preceded it, had a huge impact in the formation of those who founded the community. Similarly, the Cursillo movement, which fostered conversion to Jesus, and in which most of the early leaders of the community were involved, quite possibly influenced the development of the People of Praise, as well. [ “Another important precursor was the Cursillo Movement….” “Biblical movements and lay movements.” ‘’’Catholic Charismatic Renewal.’’’ Peter Hocken. p.212. Also: “The Catholic Charismatic Movement,” H.D. Hunter. Dictionary of Christianity in America. Eds. Daniel Reid et al, InterVarsity Press. Madison, Wis. 1990. p. 243 ]



From the earliest days of the charismatic renewal, those who would become the founding members of the People of Praise had regular fellowship with classical Pentecostals and charismatics in mainline Protestant denominations, as well as Catholics. While Catholics, in the aftermath of Vatican II, were becoming more ecumenically open, many mainline Protestants were as well. They were experiencing movements like Faith at Work and they were meeting with Catholics through the charismatic renewal. Practically speaking, it is because of these relationships that the People of Praise had an ecumenical character from the beginning. Relationships sprang up with many different classical Pentecostals, the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship, denominational and non-denominational charismatics. The prayer group from which the community grew was an ecumenical group. These Catholics, Protestants and Pentecostals, while belonging to their own churches, were exploring together the possibility of forming one community.The self understanding of the People of Praise was that its call to be community included a call to be an ecumenical group. The “Spirit and Purpose of the People of Praise” states that “we will live our lives together as fully as our churches permit, with hope that we may soon attain a unity of faith in the fullness of Christ our Lord.” [ Spirit and Purpose of the People of Praise People of Praise, Inc., 1986.] Currently, more than 90% of the members are Roman Catholic. Among Protestant members, Lutherans, Episcopalians and Methodists predominate. The members of People of Praise are expected to be committed members of their churches and participate in their parishes and congregations. Some members serve their churches as ordained clergy. [ Shea, Erin (2006-10-20). New pastor adjusts to new role at St. Anne. The Gresham Outlook. Retrieved on 2007-05-01.] As part of its mission, some members of the community are assigned to build relationships with other religious groups and organizations. The community considers ecumenical associations and alliances to have a prime importance in community growth.


The People of Praise community had a significant role in fostering the charismatic renewal. The offices of the National Service Committee of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal were housed in the community center for many years. Several members of the community also served on the National Service Committee. Charismatic Renewal Services, an outreach of the People of Praise community, was a national distribution center for spiritual books and tapes. Most of the early, large, national conferences of the burgeoning Catholic Charismatic Renewal were organized and staffed by members of the People of Praise. David Manuel's book Like a Mighty River [ Rock Harbor Press, 1977] documents the leadership and service of the People of Praise in the inspiration and organization of the 1977 ecumenical conference in Kansas City attended by approximately 50,000 people.

Members of the community have also participated in the world wide charismatic renewal within the Catholic Church in International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services, located first in Brussels and later in Rome. [ ] They have also worked ecumenically through participation in the International Charismatic Consultation, [ [ ICCOWE (International Charismatic Consultation on World Evangelisation) ] ] the Charismatic Concerns Committee, the Charismatic Leaders Fellowship [ “group of charismatic leaders that formed the Charismatic Concerns Committee (CCC) in the early 1970s. The CCC was later re-named the Charismatic Leaders Fellowship,” ] and, more recently, in the Rome based Gathering in the Holy Spirit. [ [ Parish World :: Catholic News ] ] Members also served with Cardinal Josef Suenens in drafting of Malines Documents I and II, [ [ Modern Pentecostalism ] ] and with Fr. Kilian McDonnell. O.S.B., in the writing of Fanning the Flame. [ Fanning the Flame: What Does Baptism in the Holy Spirit Have to Do with Christian Initiation? Edited by George Montague and Killian McDonnell (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1991).] These documents have contributed to the articulation and understanding of charismatic renewal and its place in both the Catholic Church and in wider Christianity.

Covenant Community

The People of Praise considers itself to be a 'covenant community', a covenant being a solemn agreement between two or more parties. The community considers the covenant with it's members to be one of mutual care and service in spiritual, material, and financial regards. [Spirit and PurposePeople of People of Praise, copyright,1971.]

The community believes that its primary charism is love, and, therefore, members pledge relationships of love and service to one another and the Lord. This commitment resembles the permanent commitments made in Christian religious orders and in many other covenant and intentional communities around the world. Members attempt to live as much of a common life as possible, working together, praying for one another both privately and in groups, visiting one another, sharing meals and offering one another gifts of money and material items in times of need. For some members common life extends to working together in community sponsored businesses and outreaches. Most members are married couples many with growing children. Some married couples have single men and women living with them in "households", but most do not. Some single people live together (in houses of single men or women) while some live by themselves. There are also celibate single men and women, some of whom have formed a Brotherhood [ [ Religious Communities of Men ] ] and Sisterhood within the People of Praise.

There are two stages of membership in the community: underway and covenanted. People who are new to the community join as underway members. This stage of membership is meant as a time for people new to the community to freely explore (in consultation with the leadership) whether they belong in the community. While a member is underway, he or she actively participates in all aspects of the community life. Full membership occurs when one makes a public commitment to the covenant. Members make this pledge freely after a formation and instruction period that normally lasts three to six years. [ Spirit and Purpose copyright, People of Praise, 1971.]

The community entrusts overall direction to its Board of Governors. The overall coordinator is the chairman of this board and leads the community on its behalf. Each location of the community is called a branch. The larger branches are led by a group of branch coordinators. These branches are divided into areas, which are each led by an area coordinator. The principal branch coordinator serves as the main leader of the branch. All of the leaders who serve in these positions are elected for specific terms of office and are limited in the number of consecutive terms that they may serve. Smaller or newer branches are led by a team of branch leaders. All these coordinators or branch leaders are selected from among the covenanted men in a branch. On matters of great importance, consultations involving all the covenanted members of the community guide the direction of the community.

Pastoral care is considered an important service within the community; it is believed to foster relationships of love, service and charismatic ministry. [ ‘’’Spirit and Purpose.’’’ People of Praise, section 15. ] Each member has someone called a “head”, who acts a personal adviser. In general, heads give encouragement, correction, and help in decision-making. Men have other men as their heads. Married women are headed by their husbands. Single women and widows usually have other women as their heads. Men and women with the appropriate skills are assigned as heads by the coordinators. The coordinators are assisted by women leaders called "handmaids." The handmaids of each branch plan women's activities, advise the coordinators on women's issues, and offer advice, when asked, to women in the branch.

In much of community life, men and women work together without distinction. Both men and women prophesy and exhort at community meetings, teach together in the community sponsored schools, serve together as counselors at community camps, or as members or heads of music ministries, and evangelize together in inner cities. Still, there are some significant distinctions in the roles of men and women. As noted above, the coordinators are men. The community, which refers to itself as a “family of families,” sees this as following a biblical and traditional model of male leadership.Men and women meet separately each week in small groups called 'men's groups' or 'women's groups.' The purpose is to build deeper relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ by discussing their lives and other issues with the goal of gaining wisdom, deepening friendships and encouraging one another to be faithful to God. Traditional roles are fostered by encouraging men to do most of the heavier physical work involved when a family is moving to a new home or reroofing a house, and when setting up for meetings and similar tasks. Women are encouraged to provide food and childcare. However, these distinctions are not absolute. For example, women have also labored side by side with men in the construction work involved in the community's Allendale outreach. [ and ‘’’Vine & Branches’’’ South Bend, IN. March, 2006.]


Campus Division

Many college students in the People of Praise are members of the Campus Division of the People of Praise. Members live together in student households. Most households hold regular prayer together and often eat together. While some are not in school, most members of the Campus Division attend a variety of colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota, Saint Mary's College, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago. Members of the Campus Division consider their common life together to be part of what the People of Praise has labeled as its city-building work. The People of Praise believe that the Lord wants the community to build 200 cities in 40 years and have 200,000 members. []

Action Division

The Action Division consists of high school students and adults working together. At this point, their work primarily involves outreach in a poor neighborhood called Allendale in the city of Shreveport, LA A second location has begun in inner city Indianapolis, Indiana. However, members say that they could work in other areas in the future. The Action Division aims to "provide those in need with an experience of God's love for them." This consists in providing jobs, affordable housing, strong families and prayer for physical healing. Action Division member work together to "share all aspects of life" with those who are in need; these needs may be material, financial, spiritual, intellectual or social.Citation
title = Action page of official website of People of Praise
url =
accessdate = 2007-05-01

Christians in Commerce

Christians in Commerce (CIC) is a movement of business and professional men and women that is dedicated to help members grow in the Christian life and to influence the world of commerce with the gospel. The People of Praise helped form CICCitation | title = Our Outreach Programs page of official website of People of Praise | url = | accessdate = 2007-05-01 ] and is actively engaged in its work. CIC is organized into 16 local chapters. These chapters have held retreats that have been attended by over 10,000 men and women.Citation | title = Official Christians in Commerce website | url = | accessdate = 2007-10-15 ]

Trinity Schools

The People of Praise founded Trinity Schools. While the schools operate as an independent 501(c)(3) organization, the goals and procedures are influenced by the approach of The People of Praise leadership. Trinity Schools provide a Classical education heavily influenced by elements of Christian humanism for grades seven through twelve. The schools follow an academic core curriculum which includes six years of mathematics, science, writing, literature, and foreign language. Students also take four years of music, drawing and painting and two years of drama. The schools are ecumenical, and students take either a Catholic or Protestant doctrinal course. Trinity Schools maintain small classes, single-sex instruction and dating is highly discouraged. School policies include uniform and dress guidelines. Citation | title = Official website of Trinity Schools
url = | accessdate = 2007-05-01

There are three locations:
*Greenlawn, in South Bend, Indiana
*Meadow View, in Falls Church, Virginia
*River Ridge, in Eagan, Minnesota


There has been criticism of various aspects of the People of Praise. Some of this criticism asserts that the group has tended to focus its energy on the strength of its leaders and the weaknesses of its non-leaders. Dr. Adrian Reimers, currently a professor of philosophy at Notre Dame and a charter member who was dismissed from the group in 1985, has criticized the group on a number of different levels. Dr. Reimers states that the People of Praise has set up a parallel structure to the Catholic Church by its claim that (among other things) its leaders ("Coordinators") exercised divine authority to which members should submit their spiritual and moral lives. Dr. Reimers also claims that in the People of Praise, "a heightened fear of the devil or evil spirits can be used to (a) put pressure on wavering members to stay in the group, (b) elevate the importance of the group and its leaders, and (c) enhance the leaders' control of the membership by reinforcing the notion that Satan can even work through good people and only the leaders can discern his designs, and (d) undermine members' confidence in their own judgement, especially about spiritual development."cite web
title = More than the Devil's Due - Adrian Reimers - Cultic Studies Journal, 1994
url =
accessdate = 2007-05-01
] Dr. Reimers alleges that these characteristics have caused much psychological distress and has spiritually mislead current and former members.


*cite magazine
last = Ranaghan
first = Kevin
authorlink = Kevin Ranaghan
coauthors = Dorothy Ranaghan
title = New Move of the Holy Spirit
journal = Goodnews
issue = 166
publisher = National Service Committees for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in England and Ireland
date= July/August 2003
url =

*cite book
last = Rath
first = Ralph
title = Christian Community: A Reporter's Inside Look
publisher = Peter Publications
date= 1994
location = South Bend, Indiana
url =
id = ISBN 0-9640167-6-1

*cite book
coauthors = Burgess, Stanly M., McGee, Gary B., Alexander, Patrick H.
title = Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements
publisher = Zondervan
date= 1988
location = Grand Rapids, Michigan
pages = 123-124
id = ISBN 0-310-44100-5

*cite paper
first = Colin
last = LaVergne
title = Can A People of Praise Member Be Fully Catholic?
publisher = Resurrection Communications
date = 2008
url =
format = Audio CD

External links

* [ Official People of Praise website]
* [ Official Trinity Schools website]
* [ Official Christians in Commerce website]

upportive sites

* [ Citybuilder]
* [ People of Praise Missionaries]
* [ one:ten household]

Critical sites

* [ Dr. Reimers webpage]
* [ The Freedom Forum]

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