Throughout the 1980’s, Rock City Church was a congregation that earned a reputation for serving the outcasts and outsiders in their home city of Baltimore, Maryland. They started many ministries to work with the homeless, the hungry, and others in desperate straits. Yet, even as they stepped out in faith every week to care for those on God’s heart, they sensed an increasing longing to see a greater move of God.
In 1987, they began meeting for daily prayer. Using the Lord’s prayer as a template, they gathered each day to pray for one another, for a fresh touch of God upon their city of Baltimore, and for revival to ignite within the USA. All through this time, God continued to stoke an increasing hunger in the church for more of Him. In January of 1997, a pastors conference was held in St. Augustine, Florida. The pastor of Rock City Church, Bart Pierce, and his wife Coralee attended the conference. They had seen the Lord work mightily through their church, but they still wanted desperately to go deeper with God.
One of the speakers at the conference was the evangelist Tommy Tenney. Tommy shared story after story of how God had birthed revival at a church in Houston, Texas, the year before. Those listening to Tommy were overcome with strong emotion as they heard what God had done. Many of them fell to the ground, prostrate upon the floor, as the presence of God alighted upon them. Pastor Bart Pierce was one of those there who spent the night weeping on the floor. The next day, Bart persuade Tommy to return with them back to Baltimore. They drove 18 hours to get back in time for the Sunday service. During the drive, all the stories of God-on-the-move led to a powerful encounter with Him that, at times, caused the passengers to simply sit in the car and weep. They finally arrived home late Saturday night.
As Pastor Bart and his guest Tommy pulled into the church early Sunday morning, it was clear something significant was happening. Two elders at the door were weeping profusely as Bart entered. Apparently, a very strong manifestation of the glory of God was in the sanctuary. People approaching the altar began to cry out and to weep. Some fell down as they sensed God’s presence. A spirit of repentance, like an irresistible wave, swept across the people. Neither Bart nor Tommy got a chance to speak that day. They finished late the next morning around 2AM.
The people returned on Monday evening and experienced the same things again. Then also on Tuesday. From there on, they met every Monday and Tuesday for more than 3 years. People from around the city showed up at the church, without any advertising or human invitation. The Holy Spirit would simply tell them to go to this place. Without a doubt, the distinguishing mark of the Baltimore Revival was this remarkable sense of God’s very presence. It drew the people in to respond to the Father with pure heartfelt worship. And the Spirit would touch believers with visions and prophetic words and incredible closeness to God. The church also understood that they had to regularly lead the way in repentance, not just talk about it. The meetings blazed with waves of repentance and celebration and healings and worship.
Tommy Tenny would continue to return every week to assist with the revival. The very nature of the church shifted to become one that was very sensitive and responsive to the Spirit’s presence. Their ministries to the outcasts of the city deepened as a result, with increased God-intimacy and power, and those touched by drawing near to Him would find their marriages and other relationships profoundly restored and strengthened. In the first year of revival, the crime rate in the city also dropped by 11% as God’s touch enveloped the town.
There would be many visitors from around the USA and from other nations, yet most of the attendees over the years came from Baltimore and from the local churches. Visitors were always encouraged to return to their home church and carry the fire back. This built up the trust and unity of the Church in their city. On any given night in which they were gathered for revival, there would be over a dozen pastors from around the city joining in. Christians might come from different denominations or traditions, but one thing was always clear: God was here in our midst.
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