Friday, July 31, 2009
Assemblies of God General Council 2009
Tomorrow I pack my suitcase and Monday morning Ken and I head to Orlando, Florida for the Assemblies of God General Council. This is a national (and to some extent, an international) gathering of ministers, missionaries, and leadership. It happens every other year and is usually uplifting and encouraging. Not so much last time.
On the good end, two years ago we elected the first African American to serve as a national executive. We also elected Dr. George Wood, a man I greatly admire, to be our General Supt. Dr. Wood is "older" and some people thought that would mean he would be out of touch with the needs of our church. They could not have been more wrong. Without going into detail, I'll just say that he has a deep understanding of what must change if we are continue to grow, he is a strong advocate for women in ministry (see the link to his article in the sidebar), and he has taken steps to reach out to the younger pastors in the AG. He is my Facebook friend. Okay, I should say I am his...and he is going to Twitter from council.
Still, it was a discouraging council in several ways. The most frustrating moment came during a business session. A resolution had been submitted that would have caused slight change in the make up of our executive presbytery--I mean slight--but would have ensured we begin to practice what we preach when we say we are a fellowship that wants greater racial diversity, that knows our clergy are aging, and that prides ourselves (sometimes) on having women clergy. Had it passed, we would have had a woman, a young pastor, and a person of color sitting "at the table" with the many older, white males. (I love you guys! That is not the point.)
The discussion for and against got heated, made me furious, discouraged many people. I didn't plan on speaking, and I waited for some woman more known to come to a mic--but when none did--and after Ken poked me for the third time...well, up I went and made an impassioned "speech" in favor of the resolution. I took my seat to applause, which had to be stopped since we were in a business session. Gratifying, nonetheless! While the measure gained a sizable majority, it missed the required two-thirds vote by a small number. I was ready to go home right then.
I may not be able to post during the week, but we'll see. (I do not have a laptop.) I am certain that a similar resolution will be forthcoming this time as well. Several thousand people will be heading to Florida in the next few days (I heard an estimate of 35,000). Please pray with me that all arrive safely, that we hear what the Spirt would say to the church, and that God's will may be done on earth as it is in Heaven.