2019 GENERAL ASSEMBLY INFORMATION
To: Pastors and Congregations of the Church of God
From: Jim Lyon
(1) Registration for the 2019 General Assembly of the Church of God
(2) Lay Delegates
(3) General Assembly 2019 Absentee Ballots
(4) General Assembly Agenda
The General Assembly of the Church of God met for the first time in 1917. The world was changing exponentially, plunging into its first World War, wrestling with women’s rights, civil rights, and a refugee and immigrant crisis without precedent. One hundred two years later, sweeping change and challenges across the secular landscape once again gives us pause to wonder—and profoundly impacts the life and ministry of our local churches. Everywhere. And, once more, the General Assembly will convene to seize the moment.
The Assembly has sometimes been perceived as a sleepy ritual, going through the motions, an eye-roll here, a dull sigh there. In some years, the Assembly has been anything but sleepy, with animated debate and some hand-wringing. However you have experienced it in days gone by, or if this be your first Assembly meeting, never underestimate its potential and centrality in the life of the Church of God.
The Assembly matters. Your voice matters. The Assembly is the only forum in which every local church in the Movement across the United States and Canada has voice. The global church looks to our Assembly as a bellwether, a key indicator of trends and developments with impact worldwide. Your prayerful investment of time and energy allows the Spirit to speak to the Body in a way that transcends the hierarchies and traditions of many of our denominational friends. If you have not already reserved your place, there is still time to do so.
(1) You can register online.
If you have already registered for Convention and General Assembly, there is nothing more you need to do. There is no cost to register for the General Assembly only. However, registering for GA only does not give you access to Convention events.
All credentialed ministers, members of governing boards of covenant and affiliated agencies (like our universities, Servant Solutions, etc.), and lay delegates appointed by the local churches, are eligible to vote in and speak to the Assembly; all are welcome to observe (even if not authorized to vote).
The Assembly will meet from 8:00–10:30 AM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, June 28–30, 2019, at the World Center Marriott in Orlando, Florida. All the information about the meeting space, schedule, and arrangements can be found by clicking “More Convention Info” below. If you have further questions, or would like to discuss the Assembly or Convention set-up, please feel free to call the Church of God Ministries office in Anderson, toll-free: 800-848-2464. We will also be glad to receive your registration for the Assembly and/or Convention over the phone.
(2) The Constitution of the General Assembly allows every local church to appoint lay delegates to participate in the Assembly’s meeting and work (in addition to credentialed pastors serving the congregation).
Each congregation is entitled to one lay delegate for every 100 people who attend worship in that local church each weekend. A church with 100 or less attendees reported in the Church of God Yearbook on January 1, 2019, may send one lay delegate this year; a congregation reporting 750 people in weekend worship on an average Sunday may send up to seven lay delegates (in addition to its pastors and retired ministers). And so on. A written letter of authorization (on the local church’s letterhead) to serve as a lay delegate is all that is required to be carried to the check-in tables at the Assembly, for admission as a voting member. Registering online in advance will help us make sure there are enough chairs in the room, though. Thanks for doing so.
American lay delegates underwriting their own costs to attend the Assembly meeting in Orlando may deduct those costs from their United States federal income tax filing for 2019, if officially registered and authorized by their local congregation.
(3) If you are unable to attend this year’s Assembly but are a qualified member (as outlined in Section 1 above), you may request an absentee ballot.
Such requests must be submitted by June 14, 2019 (that’s fourteen days before the Assembly convenes), and completed ballots received by midnight on June 27, 2019. These parameters are defined by the Assembly’s Constitution.
To request your Absentee Ballot for the 2019 Assembly, complete this form. We will then be sure you receive one, with instructions for its return. The Constitution requires that the request be made in writing. You may also send your request using the postal service; just address it to: Ballot, Church of God Ministries, PO Box 2420, Anderson, IN 46018.
(4) The Assembly’s Executive Committee establishes the agenda for the meeting.
This year’s agenda has not yet been posted, as the Business, Leadership, and Resource Committee (BLRC) is continuing to process requests for motions to be placed on the floor. The BLRC’s work reviewing the motions will be done in early June.
Much of the Agenda is already set, though—it’s just the timing and order that have not been finalized (as new motions are still in the pipeline from voices across the Movement, on the BLRC’s table). Here’s what we know:
(A) Both the Assembly Chair (Diana Swoope) and I will present reports, covering the ground since the Assembly last met (in June 2017 in Wichita). These have been eventful years; there is news to tell. These reports will outline some setbacks, some steps forward, and some ideas and emphases in the next chapter, with initiatives and dreams born in the learning curve of the last few years. From the much-discussed Pacific Coast Collective to the Global Council of Church of God Assemblies, to Leadership Focus to the CARE ministries launched in a generous partnership with the Lilly Endowment, to metrics that define the Movement; these will be reports of substance. This is where new ideas will surface; this is where the stage is set. Reports from our university partners, an introduction of the new Servant Solutions president-elect, and news from our affiliated agencies will also be in the mix, updating the Assembly from the front lines. Batons will be passed in leadership at Servant Solutions, Children of Promise, and at the Assembly’s point, the office of chair.
(B) The Assembly will consider a motion from the Ministries Council addressing the challenges of conditional deeding and how best to move forward, in a changing legal landscape. The Council’s motion (and recommendation) has been developed by a team representing the Assembly officers, the Regional Pastors, legal counsel, and Church of God Ministries. There is much to consider here—important stuff, even if it sounds a bit arcane. The full text of the motion will be available to registered delegates to the Assembly before it convenes.
(C) The Assembly will also consider a motion from the Ministries Council recommending changes to the Assembly’s Constitution and Bylaws. These changes address two principal issues: (1) the codification of the new Committee on Credentials as a Standing Committee of the General Assembly (following the Committee’s establishment by Assembly vote in 2017), and (2) clarification of term limits and terms of service (about which the Constitution’s present text had left some ambiguity). These amendments were first proposed by the Assembly’s Bylaws and Organization Committee and subsequently embraced by the Ministries Council. The full text of the changes, together with a change guide, will be sent to all registered Assembly delegates before the Assembly convenes.
(D) The Assembly will consider a new Biennial Church of God Ministries Budget for 2019-2021, proposed by the Ministries Council.
(E) The Assembly will receive a report from the Ministries Council, describing the process and outcomes of the Project Imagine Roundtable (convened after the last General Assembly in 2017). No action will be taken or is required; the outcomes do not upset the applecart and will not result in recalibration of any structures within the Movement.
(F) The Assembly will cast a ballot which includes the selection of: Assembly officers, Ministries Council members, Standing Committee members, a new president for Servant Solutions, and the ratification of board members serving our covenant agencies (e.g., our universities). You will also find my name on the ballot, proposed by the Ministries Council for a second term as general director of Church of God Ministries.
Some positions on the ballot (e.g., much of the Ministries Council) seek the Assembly’s ratification; most ballot names, however, are paired in an election contest (e.g.,for the General Assembly’s Executive Committee, the Assembly’s officers, Standing Committee members, and so on). The Ministries Council proposes the name of the general director, the board of Servant Solutions proposes the name of its new president, the BLRC nominates the members of the Ministries Council and Assembly officers, the Assembly’s Executive Committee nominates the Standing Committee members. This is a robust and broadly engaged process, representing all quarters of the church, prayerfully pursued over many months before the Assembly meets.
Once the Agenda is set and finalized, the text of motions, proposed Constitutional amendments, and background material will be sent, with the Agenda, to all those registered for the Assembly.
A Town Hall is set for the Convention’s opening. Although not technically a part of the Assembly, this is a chance for you to ask questions in preparation for the Assembly’s opener the next day. The Town Hall is set for 3:30–5:00 PM on Thursday, June 27, 2019. In years past, this has been one of the best attended events in the whole line-up. Those already registered for the Assembly will have their materials packet in-hand and can drill down on what they have read. All are welcome. We’ll be up front to take your questions, no holds barred.
We are very excited about what’s in store for Orlando. The Lord has been walking ahead. Please lift in prayer the Assembly, the Convention, and all those pouring their lives into the event already. Jesus is the subject. He is all over it. We are looking forward to seeing you there, too.