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75th Church of God International General Assembly: Historic Encounters, Hints of What Lies Ahead


If I am not mistaken, that is, if my impressions are right, many of Church of God leaders are trying to move this great Church toward more inclusivity. I know for a fact that many of our white, male, American bishops would like to have far more inclusivity. Yet there appears to be a pocket of resistance, most likely driven by fear of change. Some, I’m sure, are honestly struggling with concerns about compromise. Yet I suggest the Church of God can best go forward, as I indicated earlier, through both retention and expansion. Yes, there’s an inherent tension in remaining rooted in the past while taking wing into the future. Nevertheless, I’m convinced that the most consistent way forward for the Church of God still involves integrating such continuity and creativity. Nowhere is this complexity and subtlety more apparent than in the 75th Church of God International General Assembly in Orlando, Florida. The conference theme on “One: One Faith, One Lord, One Mission” lifts up a glorious ideal which we must ever labor to make actual. The General Overseer’s “State of the Church Address” celebrating remarkable advances (mostly, in evangelism and mission) but noting remaining challenges (mostly in identity and unity) prepares us for the present and points the way forward. I close with an invitation to consider this statement: an authentically Pentecostal ecclesiology affirms the divine calling and employs the spiritual gifts of all the members of the body, and the whole body is better off because of it.




[1] For a very brief summary see the denominational online news service, Faith News, at My report includes personal encounters and observations along with interpretative analysis.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2014

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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