Saturday, August 11, 2007
The picture is of some of the crowd at the Assemblies of God national council. Most of the people on the floor of the stadium are newly-commissioned missionaries. There were about 8,000 of us at Conseco Field House, and another 12,000 young people (YAY!) at the RCA dome.
It was an interesting time. The music and the preaching were great. There was humility and grace, not a few tears--and some very straightforward messages about what must change. During the business sessions I found myself angry, frustrated, deeply disappointed, hopeful and rejoicing, all in a matter of a few hours! Is it any wonder I'm tired? ;-)
In a historic move, we have elected out first African American to one of the executive offices (there are six). The Rev. Zollie Smith, New Jersey, was elected to serve as the Executive Director of National [the USA] Missions. It is already evident that he and his wife, Phyllis, will bring new viewpoints and "flavor" to headquarters. As the election results were announced, I rejoice to report that the Smith's received a long, loud, and enthusiastic standing ovation.
Are you are wondering why in the world this is so important, or why it is only happening now? In our formative days at the beginning of the 1900s, the white portion of the newly-forming church primarily became the Assemblies of God and the black portion primarily became The Church of God in Christ. In addition to the racial makeup of the two church bodies, one was largely rural and the other was largely urban. We had "people of color" among our AG clergy ranks, but they were few. The Hispanic churches within the Assemblies of God are experiencing significant growth, and in recent years specific steps were taken to broaden leadership to specifically include minorities.
After nearly 100 years, the divide that occurred seems to be closing. Thanks be to God!
DP, Ken and I did eat at Agios...mmmmm mmmmmm! Thanks for the tip! QP, I saw Mark, but only at a distance so never actually spoke with him. He was nominated for national office, but he declined, saying he believes he is to stay at Southeastern University.
I have more to share, but first I need rest and time to ponder. It is good to sleep in my own bed. I think I'll head there now...gotta preach in the morning.