The following information is from the book ‘Arise! The Story of Christian City Church‘ by John Barclay 1987. The book I have is personally signed both by Pringle and Barclay. The book is No. 576, printed by Dunamis Press Pty. Ltd, Woy Woy. (See PDF at the bottom to see the provided documentation of the books existence and endorsements.)
There is much false and misleading history spread by the C3 movement. However, Barclay does his best to give an historical account of Phil Pringle and the C3 Movement. What he says about Pringle and the origins of the C3 Movement is revealing.
Barclay opens up with this acknowledgement:
“To all members and pastors of Christian City Church who gave their time to be interviewed, and who subsequently added their suggestions and comments about the work in progress – my sincere thanks. Without them the book would never have been completed.
Especially to Pastor Phil Pringle for his encouragement throughout the work on this project, and especially for his willingness to be led by God to do His will in Sydney.” – John Barclay, Acknowledgments.
Phil Pringle also opens up this book ‘Arise!’ with a Foreword. This is surprising considering the content about Pringle and the beginnings of his church movement.
Chapter 2 is titled ‘Phil Pringle’. Below is the entire record of Chris and Phil’s conversion, marriage, ministry and the beginning to plan and build a church in Sydney (emphasis mine) :
“He was awake. Suddenly.
Hands were clammy. He was sweating.
Blackness hung all around, a ‘buzzing’ in the atmosphere.
Oppressive, and – evil.
Pushing in on him.
Fear gripped his mind, his body.
Eyes wide, he stared out into the darkness.
It was out there, everywhere. He could feel the evil presence closing in. Seeking him.
In a cold sweat beneath the heavy covers – he writhed.
What was it?
Where was it?
And dare he ask – who – was it?
Malevolence surrounded him, grabbing at his mind, and darkness, blackness seemed its rightful place.
“Jesus … help!”
In the first glimmerings of the early dawn the diabolism sunk slowly out as light infiltrated the room.
Philip Andrew Pringle, art student had spent half a night in terror. In the morning he was nervous with the memory, and sought to rid himself of it. He made a phone call to a friend who was also into clairvoyancy.
“I just need help,” he told her. “Last night was heavy.”
She suggested Phil Pringle and his girl-friend Chris visit a spiritualist group that weekend. “They’ll probably be able to help.”
When he told Chris she froze. “I’m not going back there. I’ve visited that place before and it’s no good.”
Slender threads, merest chances and the strangest of coincidences sometimes alter the entire shape and direction of our lives. With such changes of direction the lives of other people or the courses of nations, or even the direction of world history can ultimately be affected.
* * * * *
The very word ‘cancer’ is enough to strike fear into the heart of most people. It seems to be no respecter of age, sex or position in society, but strikes this one and that one at random. Terminal cancer had been diagnosed for a man who was well-liked and respected in Christchurch, New Zealand community, and at his workplace his colleagues were shocked and upset. One of them asked his pastor to call to visit the man.
Over the ensuing weeks first in his home and later in hospital, Pastor Dennis Barton of the Assembly of God Church in Sydenham, Christchurch, visited the man, leading him to Christ before he died. The man’s wife was deeply grateful to Pastor Barton and through the following days came to a greater knowledge of God herself. This reached a peak at a Clark Taylor rally where May committed her life to the Lord.
Two weeks later came the phone call to their home and May’s daughter Liz answered it. In the background, she heard her daughter’s suggestion to visit the spiritualist church and sensed something important had happened.
“Who was that?” she asked.
“Phil Pringle,” Liz replied.
Knowing of the art student as an acquaintance of her daughter she sought more details. Liz repeated the events of Phil’s experience to her mother.
“Don’t tell them to go there,” May replied, her voice urgent. “Quick, ring back and tell him to come to Church with me!”
Liz made the call, then May came on to give directions. Although she had never met Phil, she spoke directly to the heart of his problem when she added, “I know some people who can really help you. I want you to give them a call straight away and do whatever they tell you.”
As soon as he hung up with all the information, Phil made the call, the memory of it still hanging heavily. He had to be free of it.
The phone at the other end rang.
“Hello?” It was a woman’s voice. Phil had expected a male, the pastor.
As well as he could, Phil recounted the events of the previous night. Mrs Barton listened and could hear in this young man his desperation for God, and his need to meet Jesus. She spoke with caution and understanding.
Her words were direct. Someone could help him. “I want you to come to our meeting tomorrow night.”
“Okay,” Phil replied. Why not?
She gave the address and time and then added, “Don’t let the devil stop you from coming.”
“I’ll be there,” Phil assured her and hung up.
What did that mean? ‘Don’t let the devil stop you…’ What could that mean?
Phil repeated it all to Chris who decided to go with him ‘just to be sure he got there safely’.
On the Sunday evening, rugged against the cold of the winter they pedalled through the flat streets of Christchurch, side by side, two teenagers on bicycles holding hands, completely oblivious to the life-changing events about to unfold in their lives.
Arriving just on seven o’clock they were met at the front by May who took them inside.
Imediately there in the foyer they felt it. A presence, good ‘vibes’.
They were able to relax. The atmosphere was warm, and ‘buzzing’ with something good. “Good vibes eh?” Phil said quietly to Chris and she nodded in reply, relieved. There seemed to be a peace about the place, and people. Their faces glowing, radiating a warmth, it felt good to be here.
Singing and clapping were a joyour part of the meeting.
At first they felt strange, not knowing the words or the tunes, yet both were musical and they soon joined in.
It was like a whole new world they had never seen before.
They sang, they laughed, they listened to the message, and there found what they had perhaps unconsciously been seeking. Truth. This was a confrontation with it.
There was nothing tentative about the encounter and when Dennis Barton gave the call at the end of his message the pair responded. Quietly they made their way to the front, watched prayerfully by others who realised the impact of their meeting with Christ.
So God took hold of Phil Pringle in His own time, in His own way. Long blonde hair and a long beard, typical of the era, he was a most unlikely young man. Yet God is no respector of persons and looks at the heart. In this heart he saw a longing for truth.
Having given his heart o Jesus Christ there were other things needed in his life. Phil was ushered out ‘to the back room’ where several deacons and Pastor Barton began to pray for his deliverance. The heavy fear, the old burdens began lifting from him. Weeping with the joy of this new freedom he began thanking Jesus until there was no trace of the blackness left in him.
Now he was empty, cleaned out. He was free.
With a hand to his forehead, Dennis prayed. “Fill him Father, fill him with your Holy Spirit, with the power of the Holy Ghost…”
He felt it as it spread swiftly through his body, his arms and legs, his head, his fingers and his toes. Warmth and light.
A whole new power and strength welled up within him, within his inner man and now when he rose it was with the Spirit.
He began to speak. Sounds. No known language but just sounds and syllables. Speaking out from his own spirit verbally directly to the Spirit of God.
Phil did not understand what had happened to him, or how or even why. He just knew there was a change. Deep inside him things were suddenly very different to that which has been there only a few hours earlier
The fear, the terror, the absolute dread of the evil influences on his life was gone and in its place was a peace.
There was a fire too. Almost candle-like in its size just yet, with its flickering light, but it was there and he could feel it.
In the feeling of it, somehow he knew, instinctively that a fire needs fuel to flow. The fuel supply he had brought with him would scarcely keep the candle burning more than a couple of days, and Phil wanted more than a mere flicker. A strange and hardly recognisable desire was forming that wanted to build that tiny flame into a roaring raging fire.
That night and next day he and Chris talked. There were long hours of conversation which led them early in the week to again call the Bartons to seek counsel.
Chris was studying at college to become a kindergarten teacher, while Phil worked as a garbage-collector on the truck. They lived together in a converted garage behind a house in sububurban Christchurch.
They felt convicted, guilty.
God began dealing with them both very quickly, and they told all to the Bartons who led them through the Scriptures to show them the way to live their lives within God’s order.
Phil’s and Chris’ thinking was now completely in the opposite direction, and because both were under twenty-one they needed to seek parental consent in order to marry.
Family explosions rather than blessings were the immediate result, yet in wanting to do it quickly there was little time for the family to think. They merely had to act.
The Sunday after the dramatic conversion was almost exciting for both went forward for baptism by immersion in the heated font of the Church. Chris also received baptism in the Holy Spirit then and the fire also began to burn in her.
During the week the flame had been fuelled in Phil and was now beginning to burn brightly as the Lord took hold of his life.
The second weeken after conversion they went home to visit parents and the full families in order to settle details for their wedding which was scheduled for the next week. The flames grew stronger and stronger as Pastor Barton poured in more and more of the fuel of the Spirit of God.
The Church too responded to the rise of the Spirit in these two teenagers who suddenly seemed alive and so joyous. On the Saturday just three weeks after coming to the Lord the Church put on the wedding, and paid for their honeymoon which they cut short to get back on Thursday evening four days later for the next church meeting.
Sydenham, a suburb of the industrial area of the city of Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand had a small group of people meeting Sunday nights as the Assembly of God Church. They met in a building capable of seating about two hundred and fifty people. They had been bound in a legalism which had caused a number of problems within the group, not the least of which ended with a large proportion of the people simply walking out.
When Phil and Chris came they were they [sic] very first of a new wave of people to sweep through that Church over a period of twenty months from August 1971 through to March 1973.
They came from everywhere.
Drawn like white ants to fresh timber for feeding they came from the city itself and from the length and breadth of New Zealand. And even came from other countries, searching, seeking truth.
They brought their friends. They came, and in turn introduced others, all finding that truth in the Person of Jesus Christ.
They sent messages to other towns and cities and these replied in person, travelling by aeroplane or car or train or bus.
Coming to this place in Christchurch to be set free of their oppressions.
Hundreds of them, indeed growing to well over a thousand as God moved through the entire hippy movement in New Zealand, these seekers after reality. As the first, now totally on fire for God, consumed with a burning desire to see all his friends brought to the Lord, Phil became the youth leader of the Church in Sydenham.
Now married, they set up residence in a large house with others from the Church and held their views with others from the Church and held their own meetings on Monday nights, attracting between seventy and a hundred people.
As the work grew within the Church and the house God was constantly filling and leading Phil on His ways. He was appointed to the position of Youth Leader, received some financial support and spent then as much time as possible by himself just seeking God, to get to know a real way in which he could communicate with his Father, and understand what He wanted done with this life he had plucked from the devil.
During 1972 whilst occupying the large house in Oxford Terrace Phil and Chris were visited by a Pastor from Sydney, one Paul Collins. Paul attended their meeting and preached there, being witness to the great move that God had begun in this place.
Afterwards as they talked about the things which were happening to each of them, a seed was planted.
“Oh, we need something like this in Sydney,” Paul said.
That seed, a simple sentence dropped into Phil’s life, into his spirit and although it was submerged beneath the work he was doing, it stayed there, buried and dormant for dsome time.
In March 1973, as abruptly as it had begun, the great move with the hippies suddenly ceased. Conservative and traditional influences within the Church rose up and demanded the removal of the pastor from the Assembly. They could no longer cope with the ‘disruption’ to their well-established order.
With the loss of unity, God could no longer act and hundreds of people were immediately cut adrift. Yet it is a measure of the strength and depth of the teaching and the establishment of solid foundations in God that many of these people went on to serve Him in other places, as pastors themselves, or as leaders, teachers and elders.
Eventually Phil – now a postman – and his wife Chris, now a mother with baby Rebekah, moved to rejoin Pastor Barton in the new Church to which he had gone.
The seed, quietly, slowly germinated and raised a tiny head which surfaced in Phil’s spirit.
He felt a call by God to come, planned the moe and it fell through. Yet that tiny growing plant remained.
Again they planned a move, and this time came across to remain with Pastor Paul Collins in the work he was doing for a period of five months. Yet it came to nothing, fo the vision was neither strong enough nor healthy enough to be transplanted and survive.
So the Pringle family – now four strong with a son Daniel returned to Christchurch and began a work pioneering a church in Lyttleton where a nucleus of people was in need of a pastor.
Late in 1978 Phil received an invitation to preach at a crusade in Madras in India over the Christmas-New Year period. Again he jetted out from New Zealand en route to Asia, but had to pass through Sydney.
He felt a great presence of God coming on him, giving him a real peace about Sydney.
“I want you to come to Sydney…”
He had come before but the timing had not been right. There had been more growing to be done, more seeking of God’s anointing over his life, more learning of the ways of God in his life.
And on the return from India it had grown, the plant now beginning to stand erect by itself, rooted deeply in the spiritual ground God had prepared for it in this man’s life.
“I have given you this city…”
Given the city. Incredible. All that remained was to seek God to formulate the plans for the actual physical evidencing of what had already occured in the spiritual realm.
Each day Phil sought God more and a mighty vision began to grow within his spirit.
Yet still he worked at Lyttleton as pastor of a strongly growing Church. Why leave what was successful for something at which he had already failed once before.
Known as the preachers’ graveyard, there was little or no comparison with Lyttleton, or even Christchurch, for Sydney is one of the larger cities of the world. It is cosmopolitan, sophisticated, brash, hard and noisy, yet with an innate beauty flowing from a magnificent harbour.
Christchurch is small, quiet, with a country town flavour and a great beauty in its gardens and parks.
Throughout 1979 even as they worked on at Lyttleton the vision of a huge Church in Sydney began to develop in Phil’s inner man.
Now able to move quickly in contact with God, Phil saw the reality of hundreds, even thousands of people within the church he would pioneer. Still the vision grew, and with its growth came the longing of the family to return to this city and make it happen for God.
Finally then it came down to the direction of God, to seeking and listening and… obeying.
During 1978 the Pringles put a deposit on a home in Lyttleton. Now they were to move it was necessary for them to sell again. The move they knew must be total, as Phil, and indeed the whole family were to commit lives to the new Church.
Not just a year, or five years, or even ten, but a lifetime commitment to building a huge Church for Jesus Christ in the city of Sydney.
As he thought about it an excitement welled up, a warmth of the spirit within him told him this was the right thing to do.
Even thought they lost money selling the house, they were still totally solid in their comitment. Real estate of course goes through long term rises, but often short term fluctuations, and it was one such which caught the Pringles. Yet they did it, sold and eventually boarded the aircraft which was to remove them from New Zealand and take them on an adventure which would be pue excitement for life.
No shortage of heartaches or difficulties, yet a challenge such as few men ever face in the course of a lifetime, and fewer still ever have the staying power, the tenacity and the perseverance with to be successful.
‘And He said to him, “Launch out now into the deep and let down your nets for a great catch”.’” – John Barclay, Arise, 1987, pg. 18-26.
Moving straight on to Chapter 3 titled ‘The Early Days‘, Barclay talks about how Pringle DID NOT PLANT or even start a church, but took over the church of Paul Collins after his second church plant attempt up at Roseville failed. This resulted in Paul Collins church to split. Also note the young salsemans observation of Phil Pringle (emphasis mine):
“Those who were present that Friday night late in February 1980 listened in awe as Phil Pringle briefly outlined his vision for Sydney.
A dozen or so people sat around the lounge room in the home of Paul and Bunty Collins. Paul had been pastoring a small group in Dee Why for some time. Now they were preparing to move out, away to Hong Kong where they would take up work as missionaries.
For the past fifteen months Phil had prayed and sought God desperately to formulate in his own mind the vision of what He wanted done in Sydney.
Day by day he set the pattern which has remained with him by spending the first hour each morning after rising with God. Not just sometimes, not only when he thought of it, but being faithful every day, yearning deeply in his spirit, hungering after God.
It is the work of great men of all walks of life that they are prepared to go beyond the norm. They are ready to step out of the crowd early and do the things which others are not prepared to do. They commit their time in, their very lives to attainment of something higher, something greater than the average.
There is too in their loves a sense of destiny, a belief that they in fact have been chosen as the one through whom something great is to be achieved. Understanding that, they commit their time in early years to the development of themselves in the direction that destiny is leading
In many lives the development comes over a long time, and often it is not until the man is middle aged that his opportunity arrives.
Yet others are able to begin early to show out the greatness that God expects of them, and spend their lives growing out and beyond the areas normally expected of a human being.
So Phil Pringle committed his time to a [sic] learning what God wanted him to do in Sydney. Day after day, hour after hour, even as he had pounded the streets of Port Lyttleton as a postman, he sought the mind of Christ.
As he did so the vision began to be clarified in his thinking. He was to travel with his family to Sydney and begin the work there. If he was faithful to what God called him, God would bless that work and multiply it to such an extent that He would build the largest Church Sydney had ever seen. There would probably, he saw a day when there would be fve thousand people in that Church. Yet for now he could not really visualise that, but in his mind he could see five hundred.
A good sized hall – filled with people praising God. Perhaps a disused theatre converted into a Church as so many had done.
In such a Church he would remain absolutely true to the Word of God. That way God would bless the Church with growth beyond anything Sydney had seen before.
Now they were here, actually living and working in Sydney. Phil had obtained work selling life insurance, and his extrovert nature, his ability to speak persuasively with people meant success in that area. That in turn gave the family funds on which to live.
His seeking after the will of God for the Church had led Phil to the northern suburbs of Sydney, and together with the small group which had accompanied the family from New Zealand, he had begun meetings in a community hall in Roseville.
Roseville is a leafy suburb in the affluence of northern Sydney, and in every way should have been right for the church. A solid suburb with a strong proportion of young people, Phil believed it was the place to begin.
Starting with seven people, all of them from New Zealand, they had struggled for a couple of months, doing all the right things, but not experiencing much of the growth Phil felt deep in his spirit was to come. With Simon and Helen McIntyre, and Alison Easterbrook, and Phil’s own brother, the Pringles battled on gamely through February and into the early part of March. Nothing had happened.
What was wrong?
Phil continued to seek God every morning, to learn, to understand, to know what He wanted him to do.
There was a certain uneasiness about the choice of the place they were meeting. Perhaps it was not quite the right area. It would not be right to ‘muscle’ in on other pentecostal friends working in Sydney, but being close to Paul Collins, Phil decided to visit that group.
As they travelled down to the beaches from the heights of Roseville, a heaviness seemed to lift of [sic] their spirits. They somehow felt better. There was a distinct feeling that it was a good place to be, that God had His hand on Sydney’s golden beaches along the northern peninsula.
So they joined in with this group of up to thirty people meeting Sundays in the Dee Why Surf Club, and Friday evenings in the Collins’ home.
This was the first Friday they had attended, and Paul asked Phil to share his dream, his vision with those others who were there. In the future most would probably forget what he said – until the things of which he spoke began to happen.
Some there that evening had only recently become Christians, and found the experience quite mindblowing. It was something which went beyond their previous expectations of what Christianity was all about.
One, a thin, dark-haired teenager of nearly twenty years had a sales background, and heard Phil speaking in much the same way as his own sales manager at the weekly meeting. It was almost the identical hyped-up, super confidence and ego boosting phrases used in the sales meetings to generate the enthusiasm to get out and sell.
Yet somehow there was a difference. It did not seem false in any way. It was not a facade covering an entirely different reality. Somehow there was a sense that God was actually in this thing, that He had His hand on it and would bring it about.
The lack of success ot Roseville and the feeling of things being right on the beach front prompted the group under guidance to make the move.
With Paul Collins and his family moving out to the Hong Kong mission field, it was suggested that Phil Pringle would take over the leadership of the Dee Why group. Yet possibly because he too was a latecomer, and some of the longer time members felt loyalties elsewhere, opposition to this move surfaced.
Some followed this one, some followed that one.
Feelings began to grow stronger. Days passed and the heat intensified.
At home Phil was acutely aware of what was happening. He had been over here now three months or more because he was sure, absolutely certain God had told him now was the time.
For years there had been a growing burden, a strengthening commitment in his head that he was called to Sydney for the building of a great Church. He believed it – totally.
A year ago he had received a stronger word than ever from his Master, telling him the city was his and to prepare to leave for the taking.
Yet now – God! What was wrong?
A few weeks in the wrong place before coming down to the beaches. They had been obedient on that score and a small group had accepted them openly and warmly.
He felt so right taking on the leadership of the group. He had sought God desperately, every day sweating it out in prayer and always he seemed to get the positive responses.
So why the problems?
Was it just Satan moving in to destroy the infant Church even as he had tried to kill the infant Christ, to prevent a great and mighty work.
He resisted. He bound the devil and commanded his departure from the minds and hearts of the people in the group.
And still the problem remained. Still there was opposition from within.
More prayer, and fasting to know the mind of God, and then, somewhere inside the deep recesses of his yearnings a message filtered through.
‘Stop your striving. Don’t you know that I am God, and I am in control? Let go. let [sic] Me be God and you be Phil Pringle.’
Let go? Let go?
What would that mean?
Giving up! Quitting. Resigning from leadership of the group.
And what would be the result?
He would have no Church, no group, no anything. Just his family, and he would be right back where he started three months ago. Only now completely broke.
God, no! There’d be nothing left.
Why would God want him to quit? Why?
Yet Phil is nothing if not obedient to the discerned word of God. In this case it was a struggle, and he had to be sure. But the message still came from every possible side: ‘Let go!’
He determined then to resign and allow the other group to promote its own man as leader, and straight away, feeling a mixture of apprehension and peace he went to do that.
Others had been seeking the mind and will of God as well and it all came together very soon. Even as he prepared his resignation, it was accepted throughout the group that one part would move to Chatswood with the other man, while the others would remain at Dee Why with Phil Pringle as their leader.
God had worked it out, had been able to operate in the absence of the strivings and wrangling. Those who remained were totally committed to the vision Phil had shared, and the following Sunday evening about a dozen people gathered at Dee Why Surf Club to sing and to clap and dance freely in their praises to God.
The traumas of the split were banished now and with vigour that belied their numbers they sent about building the Church God had promised for Sydney.” – John Barclay, Arise, 1987, pg. 27-31.
PDF Proof: Book: ARISE! by John Barclay