Jesus People Movement Timeline


The timeline below provides greater detail on the history and development of the Jesus People Movement.


1965-1966:  The counterculture emerged within bohemian districts in several American cities, particularly in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco.

1967:  The Evangelical Concerns non-profit was established in the Bay Area to promote work among hippies; opening of Living Room mission center in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury and “House of Acts” commune in Novato, California, the first recognized appearance of “hippie Christians.”

1968:  Evangelical outreaches to the countercultural and drug culture youth emerged in Southern California. These included David Berg’s “Teens for Christ” (Huntington Beach), Arthur Blessitt’s Sunset Strip mission His Place (Los Angeles), Don Williams’ Salt Company coffeehouse (Los Angeles).

1968:  Chuck Smith, pastor of the Calvary Chapel, a middling-sized church in Costa Mesa, CA connected with the Living Room’s Lonnie and Connie Frisbee. Along with John Higgins, they open the House of Miracles, the first of numerous communal homes in Orange County.

1969:  The Christian World Liberation Front (CWLF) was established in Berkeley, California by former Campus Crusade for Christ staffers.

1969:  Tony and Susan Alamo began work with street youth in Hollywood and, later, Saugus, California.

1969:  John Higgins moved to Oregon and began the Shiloh Youth Revival Center commune near Eugene.

1969:  Former Teen Challenge worker Linda Meissner created the Jesus People Army in the Seattle area.

1969:  Scott Ross, a disc jockey employed by Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network in Virginia, began the Love Inn commune and coffeehouse in Freeville, New York.

1969:  David Berg’s group abandoned Huntington Beach and took to the road, picking up the name “Children of God.”

1969:  Duane Pederson began the Hollywood Free Paper in Los Angeles. The first major “Jesus paper,” it eventually reached print-runs of more than 1,000,000 million copies per issue.

1970:  A distinct Jesus People “scene” took root in Southern California with well over 100 hundred churches, coffeehouses, centers, and communal homes identifying with the movement.

1970:  The Children of God established a mutually beneficial relationship with Los Angeles-based Pentecostal evangelist Fred Jordan and set up bases in Los Angeles and Texas.

1970:  Linda Meissner’s Jesus People Army links up with Carl Parks’ group in Spokane and western Washington state, establishing new outposts in Idaho and British Columbia.

1970:  Books by Arthur Blessitt ( Life’s Greatest Trip ) and Bay Area pastor John MacDonald ( House of Acts) were the first volumes from evangelical publishers that pointed to a religious awakening within the counterculture.

1970:  Significant Jesus People centers emerged in Atlanta, Kansas City, Wichita, Buffalo, Norfolk, Akron, Fort Wayne, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, suburban Chicago, suburban New York City, and other scattered cities across the country.

1970:  An intense religious awakening among students at Asbury College in Kentucky spread to other evangelical colleges by teams of Asbury students and led to the intensifying perception of youth revival in the evangelical subculture.

1970:  The Jesus People began to receive increasing press coverage, although mostly in evangelical periodicals. A number of otherwise isolated pastors and youth workers across North America recognized the similarities of their own ministries to the Jesus movement and adopted the Jesus People label.

1970:  SPIRENO (“Spiritual Revolution Now”), enormously successful youth rallies featuring youth evangelist Richard Hogue, were sponsored by First Baptist of Houston and attracted publicity within Southern Baptist circles.

1971:  Evangelist Billy Graham publicized the Jesus People presence at the Tournament of Roses parade and gave the movement its first extensive national media coverage.

1971:  A flood of national and local media publicity in both the secular and religious press touted the rise of the Jesus People. Coverage included a two-hour NBC documentary focusing upon the Children of God, and in June the movement made the cover of Time.

1971:  With media coverage and backing by evangelical figures, such as Billy Graham, the Jesus movement went nationwide in evangelical youth circles, with particular strength in the Midwest.

1971:  The Children of God began to be ostracized from the larger movement after “takeovers” of Jesus People groups in Atlanta and Seattle. FREECOG, a group of concerned parents, is formed in San Diego and pursue legal action against the Children of God.

1971:  The Oregon-based Shiloh Youth Revival Centers had over 1,000 full-time members in its communal homes across the country.

1971:  Chuck Smith and Lonnie Frisbee parted ways amid tensions over Frisbee’s emphasis on glossolalia and public display.

1971:  The Associated Press named the Jesus People one of its “Top Ten Stories of 1971.”

1972:  Jim and Sue Palosaari’s Milwaukee Jesus People group split into four separate groups to further their evangelistic outreach.

1973:  Under pressure from negative publicity, angry parents, and law enforcement, the Children of God began to leave the United States; David Berg relocated to London.

1973:  In San Francisco, home missionary Martin “Moishe” Rosen attracted a mixed group of Jewish and gentile Jesus People and formed “Jews for Jesus” as part of the Evangelical Concerns’ network.

1973 (June):  Campus Crusade for Christ held a youth evangelism conference in Dallas that featured Jesus People themes and musical artists. EXPLO ‘72 attracted 85,000 and a culminated music rally draws an estimated 180,000.

1973:  Two of the most successful records to emerge from the Jesus movement were released, Love Song’s eponymous debut album, and Larry Norman’s Only Visiting This Planet .

1973:  By the end of 1972 over fifty books on, by, or connected with, the Jesus People movement have been published.

1973:  Jesus People USA, one of the splinter groups formed out of the Milwaukee Jesus People, arrived on Chicago’s North Side and sets up a permanent base of operations.

1973:  The Jesus Family under Jim and Sue Palosaari established a presence in London. Underwritten by an English real estate mogul, the group created a musical called “Lonesome Stone” that ran during the summer of 1973 in the city’s theater district.

1973:  “Jesus ‘73” in Morgantown, Pennsylvania attracted a crowd of 15,000 with a mix of evangelical speakers, Bible teachers, and Jesus Music artists.

1973:  With the movement now receiving little coverage, an article entitled “Where Have All the Jesus People Gone?” appeared in the October issue of Eternity to update readers on the movement’s “more enlightened, balanced, maturation.”

1974:  The “Shepherding Movement,” promoted by the Florida-based Holy Spirit Teaching Ministries (aka “The Fort Lauderdale Five”) gained significant traction within a number of Jesus People-related groups.

1974: Calvary Chapel completed a new facility in Costa Mesa, California that seated 2,300.

1974:  John Herrin, Sr., head of Jesus People USA’s leadership council, was asked to leave the Chicago commune because of sexual misconduct.

1974:  The 2nd Chapter of Acts’ debut album *with footnotes helped bridge the divide between Jesus Music and mainstream church audiences, selling over 250,000 units.

1974:  Jim Palosaari’s group returned from England and attempted to take “Lonesome Stone” on a national tour; after lukewarm interest and performances in only four cities, the tour was cancelled.

1975:  KBHL-FM in Lincoln, Nebraska became the first radio station to implement an all-Jesus Music format.

1976:  CWLF leader Jack Sparks announced he and others in a study group have embraced Orthodox Christianity; not convincing most of his followers, he resigned as head of the CWLF and the group broke up into various independent entities.

1976:  Jesus Music festivals proliferated across the country during the summer of 1975.

1976:  The Bay Area’s Evangelical Concerns, Inc., underwriter of the Living Room mission back in 1967, decided to close down.

1976:  The Hollywood Free Paper ‘s circulation dropped under 100,000 and several staff were laid off.

1976:  Indicative of the movement’s dwindling media and physical presence, a late October Newsweek cover story on evangelical religion in America made no mention of the Jesus People.

1976:  “Jesus Music” was increasingly recast as more slickly-produced “Contemporary Christian Music” albums by Evie (Tornquist), B.J. Thomas, the 2nd Chapter of Acts, and teenager Amy Grant found larger mainstream evangelical acceptance.

1976:  Lonnie Frisbee became involved with John Wimber and the Vineyard movement and played a key role in the emergence of the group’s emphasis on signs and wonders.

1978:  Rancor within the leadership of Shiloh led to the firing of founder John Higgins. By the end of the year, only three of the group’s communal homes retained their affiliation with Shiloh.

1978:  New Life, an African-American community on the South Side of Chicago, merged with Jesus People USA.

1979:  The Hollywood Free Paper ceased publication.

1979:  Jack Sparks and others in his network formally established the Evangelical Orthodox Church which sought admittance into a historic Orthodox communion.

1980:  Shiloh closed its doors.

Larry Eskridge

Post Date:
12 October 2016