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Local Church

The Local Church is a sect of Christianity founded by Witness Lee (1905-1997). Known as "The Lord's Recovery[?]" by those within the sect, individual churches are called by the name of their respective cities (e.g. the "Church in San Francisco"). Witness Lee was himself influenced by the teaching of his mentor, Watchman Nee[?], a Christian mystic imprisoned by the Chinese government.

After his exile from China, Witness Lee carried the teachings he received forward by founding the publishing house Living Stream Ministries in 1962. Since then, many other organizations were founded, including Sword Distributing[?], The Lord's Recovery[?], Church of Recovery[?], Bibles for America[?], Bibles for New Zealand[?], Christian Websites[?], Amana Christian Bookstore[?], and eManna[?].

In 1962, after extensive international travel establishing churches, Witness Lee settled in the U.S. and founded the first Local Church in Los Angeles. As the result of his preaching, teaching, writing, and conference speaking, Lee raised up a number of church fellowships during the sixties and seventies. Local Church members in California began migrating to other major American cities to claim the ground for "the Lord's recovery[?]" movement. Individual Local Church movement fellowships in each city will take on the name of those particular cities and claim to be the sole expression of Christ in them. The Local Church movement of Witness Lee is represented in major cities worldwide by The Church in Anaheim, The Church in Austin, The Church in Chicago, The Church in Cleveland, The Church in Dallas, The Church in Taipei, etc. According to Local Church doctorine, there can be only one church in each city - and that church must be the Local Church. This exclusive practice is known as localism[?].

The Local Church movement is comprised of men and women of all ages, representing a broad range of social, ethnic, and economic groups. Many of them are highly educated, holding earned professional and academic degrees. Members are employed in a variety of occupations, including technical, legal, medical, management, as well as common minimum wage jobs. Some members have forsaken employment altogether "to serve the Lord" full-time. These full-timers are supported by the free-will offerings of fellow Local Church members. Up front, members of the Local Church movement appear to be average, normal, people. Many of them are kind, loving people who earnestly desire to worship and serve Jesus Christ. They rightly emphasize devotion, praying, sharing, and self-denial.

Most members of the Local Church live in close proximity to their meeting halls. It is not uncommon for single men and women in some locales to share apartments or reside in individual brother and sisters communal homes. These arrangements allow for close fellowship and the sharing of duties at their nearby meeting halls. Local Church members often lend themselves for the construction of meeting halls, training centers, and other tasks involved in the life of the movement. During the history of the Local Church movement in America, a number of meeting halls have been built by them at substantial savings of time and money to the group. The Local Church movement's old headquarters building and Witness Lee's former home on Ball Road in Anaheim, California, were built by the hands of Local Church members in 1976.

Individual Local Church fellowships generally meet in unmarked meetings halls in most major cities in the U.S. and around the world. The giving of money is strictly free-will. Contributions are usually placed in a box located at the rear of the meeting hall. Local Church meetings are often portray the appearance of an emotional, joyful, highly-spirited atmosphere, characterized by exceptionally enthusiastic praising, shouting, singing, and the raising of fists, and are often reminiscent of old-fashioned gospel meetings. To the uninitiated this lively activity may first appear to be the working of the Holy Spirit to bring about spontaneous reaction from the members of the fellowship. The seeming open and friendly atmosphere displayed during Local Church meetings may give outsiders the feeling of loving acceptance, a valued sense of belonging, and the meeting of other personally felt needs. Those who become more attached to the Local Church movement will eventually let down their guard and open themselves fully to the influence of the group, and its leadership, and its teachings.

The Local Church movement has experienced a reasonable amount of success during its history in the U.S. Witness Lee began the movement in several homes and has spread his movement out across America and to the rest of the world. This movement has caught the hearts of those who became dissatisfied with what traditional Christianity has to offer. The sharp denunciation of denominationalism and the call to unity and simpler forms of worship had attracted many converts during the turbulent sixties and seventies, and still does so today.

The Local Church evangelizes on college campuses under ministry names such as Christians on Campus[?], Campus Christians, Christian Students, Christian Student Fellowship, Christians at...University, Students for the Truth, or simply Christians. The group usually targets students who are away from home for the first time who do not understand the Bible but want to learn more. The Local Church movement expends a great amount of time, love, attention, and assistance in order to secure new converts.



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