Assemblies of God SearchSite GuideStoreContact Us

2002 PE Report stories

Congregations demonstrate weekly prayer yields results (December 30, 2001)

L.A. Dream Center, Angelus Temple make history, reach more with merge (December 16, 2001)

Rain, gang doesn't halt impact of newly formed congregation (December 9, 2001)

Women urged to minister hope at global gathering (November 25, 2001)

Volunteers meet needs at Pentagon cleanup (November 18, 2001)

Fear, uncertainty open window of opportunity for evangelism (November 11, 2001)

'Jump for Jesus' raises $40,000 for STL (October 21, 2001)

Widows, single mothers gain practical blessings (October 14, 2001)

Five new executive presbyters elected (September 30, 2001)

Credit card 'freedoms' tempt college students (September 16, 2001)

Fellowship, nation show ethnic makeup changes (August 26, 2001)

Congregations extend a hand, spread gospel after tropical storm (August 19, 2001)

Single-parent families find hope at camp (August 12, 2001) caught in middle of culture war (July 22, 2001)

Pentecostal World Conference looks toward future cooperation (July 13, 2001)

Crossover Community Church ministers to hip-hop culture (July 8, 2001)

Prison chaplain hooked on ministry (June 24, 2001)

National Singles team convenes, plans regional conferences (June 17, 2001)

Children's ministries take center stage (June 10, 2001)

U.S. Christians trek to Israel despite news reports of danger (May 27, 2001)

A/G ministries combat eating disorders (May 20, 2001)

Mobilizing laity leads to church growth (May 13, 2001)

Fellowship convenes conference for women (April 29, 2001)

14,547 'honored guests' attend Convoy of Hope outreach in Dallas (April 22, 2001)

Hollywood sends wrong signals on teen smoking (April 15, 2001)

Iowa community faces unique challenges (April 8, 2001)

Churches support ministries to lead youth out of lifestyle (March 25, 2001)

English lessons reach Chinese with gospel (March 18, 2001)

A/G church, police, schools partner for strong community (March 11, 2001)

Church uses 'human hunt' as evangelism tool for teens (February 25, 2001)

Ministering in the fast lane (February 18, 2001)

Abstinence education saves lives, futures (February 11, 2001)

Donated food helps Convoy of Hope extend hand around the world (January 21, 2001)

American Indian College students impact boarding school (January 14, 2001)

2000 News Digest stories

Iowa community faces unique challenges

(April 8, 2001)

Soon after Maharishi International University opened its campus in Fairfield, Iowa, in 1974, local Christians began questioning the claims by school founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi that the core curriculum of transcendental meditation is a scientific relaxation technique rather than a religion. During the 1970s, several evangelical groups, including the Assemblies of God, published position papers or passed resolutions declaring TM to be incompatible with Christianity.

The MUM campus contains separate domes for women and men.

The relationship between the town and campus has been strained for most of the 27 years that the school, now known as Maharishi University of Management, has been in Fairfield, a city of 10,000. But the tensions have escalated in recent months as MUM has started bulldozing historic campus buildings and as meditators have taken steps to incorporate their own community, Vedic City, north of Fairfield.

Many townspeople have never become accustomed to claims that group levitation in golden domes is the avenue to world peace or that houses with east-facing entrances results in family happiness and health. For many Christians, everything about the practice seems religious, especially the initiation ceremony in which newcomers bring fruit and flowers, place them before a portrait of Guru Dev (Maharishi’s mentor in the 1950s) and chant the names of Hindu deities in Sanskrit.

The standard TM practitioner spends 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the evening meditating. However, those more devoted to the cause learn the advanced TM Sidhi program, which is up to two hours twice a day. That includes around 1,500 Fairfield residents who trek to golden domes for men and women. The domes are where Sidhis participate in yogic flying, which in essence is frog-like hopping. In the dome, Sidhis jump on mattresses, facing large portraits of Guru Dev and Maharishi, who is addressed as "his holiness."

The goal of Maharishi, now 82, is to establish several permanent groups of 7,000 advanced TMers around the planet, which he believes would create "heaven on earth."

When Stephen Higdon, 51, the longest-serving pastor in Fairfield, arrived to plant an A/G congregation in 1981, he zealously wanted to evangelize meditators. Higdon was one of seven evangelical pastors to form a prayer fellowship that met two mornings a week. The pastors met for six years and an affiliated group sponsored a series of lectures by evangelical experts and former Hindu gurus.

While such educational efforts raised awareness, they also drew battle lines of confrontation, according to Higdon. Too often the consensus among Christians in Fairfield has been a desire that the followers of Maharishi would simply move away, he says.

Unified efforts to address the concerns about TM have been stymied for various reasons. Ministers come and go in the community, most evangelical efforts are small and meditators believe they have found true enlightenment.

Higdon and other Pentecostal pastors in Fairfield have seen meditators become Christians in their churches. But most quickly moved away, having no reason to stay once they left the close-knit TM community.

Meanwhile, MUM has finished the first phase of a three-phase $50-million rebuilding program on the 280-acre campus. By the time construction is complete, enrollment is expected to have skyrocketed. Currently MUM has 650 full-time students.

The total number of meditators in Fairfield is around 2,750 — people who have settled in Fairfield to be part of the movement. Approximately 400 businesses in and around Fairfield are run by meditators, including 50 in the telecommunications and software industries alone.

Evangelicals realize they have a mission field at their doorstep. Higdon knows Christians in Fairfield will not reach meditators without a unified effort. It may take signs and wonders to reach meditators en masse. That is what happened with BB Rail.

Rail and her husband, Larry, moved to Fairfield in 1986 to be at the heartbeat of the TM movement, but less than a year later BB was bedridden because of degenerative disc problems in her back. TM offered no help for her paralysis, but she says Jesus supernaturally intervened. When BB, who had been a TM teacher for 17 years, closed her eyes and tried to return to reciting her mantra, she says she saw Jesus. The Rails, now both 57, left the movement and, after being discipled by local Christians, including Higdon, became vocal proponents of Christianity.

These days, Higdon is putting efforts into education. He has been full-time administrator at Fairfield Christian School for three years and a teacher there for seven.

— John W. Kennedy in Fairfield, Iowa

E-mail this page to a friend.
©1999-2009 General Council of the Assemblies of God