Convention 2019 Day Three: Rediscovering Our Mission
By Carl Stagner
Prayer has cloaked Convention 2019 and General Assembly, top to bottom, front to back, and all around. Behind the scenes, from before dawn until after dusk, formal and informal prayer gatherings and prayer walks have taken every aspect of this international event before the throne of grace. It really should come as no surprise, then, that God has come through on our behalf, delivering a Convention experience like never before. When encouragement is mixed with exhortation and inspiration is mixed with introspection, and the Holy Spirit’s orchestrating all of it, it’s hard to remain unaffected. That was certainly the case on Saturday. The General Assembly meeting, the interview with Samir Salibi, the heritage hymn sing, worship led by Amante Lacey, a timely message from Lori Salierno-Maldonado, and the commissioning of missionaries Nate and Stacy Tatman were only a few of the moments that helped us rediscover—and recommit to—our mission as individuals, congregations, and as a movement.
Opening the General Assembly, Brian Mack led a power-packed devotional on the victory we have in Christ. “When we lose in this life, we still win with Jesus Christ,” his voice echoed through the expanse. “God is undefeated!”
In the general director’s report that soon followed, Jim Lyon inspired listeners once again with a re-emphasis on the five non-negotiables that make us who we are as the Church of God, as he offered updates on the wide variety of forward strides made over the past couple of years. He also presented the case for four special areas of focus over the next several years, including Leadership Focus, CARE, the Pacific Coast Collective, and the possibility of a Global Assembly (the last of which was the focus of an afternoon meeting with all international guests of Convention 2019). More information on Jim Lyon’s report is expected in the coming weeks.
Outgoing chair of the General Assembly, Diana Swoope, also received three standing ovations on Saturday morning for her outstanding leadership of the General Assembly. Timothy Clarke will assume that role officially on Monday.
Later on Saturday morning, in an interview-style format, Jim Lyon chatted publicly with Samir Salibi, who told stories of ministry to refugees in Paris, France, even as he challenged the Church of God in America to examine our posture toward the foreigner. Expounding on Deuteronomy 10:17–19, Samir encouraged everyone to consider all practical applications of such hospitality and love.
On the heels of the Christian Women Connection luncheon, at which attendees got a taste of the inspirational speaking of Lori Salierno-Maldonado, the heritage hymn sing took the spotlight in the afternoon hours. Resurrecting numerous classic hymns of the Church of God, the heritage sing also revived weary souls and restored joy in many hearts. A variety of seminars and workshops took place afterward, including receptions in the evening hours and a Global Strategy meet-and-greet, giving Convention-goers yet more opportunities to listen, learn, fellowship, and grow.
The main evening session on Saturday included powerful and high-energy moments of worship, led by Amante Lacey of First Church of God in Columbus, Ohio. Early in the session, Jim Lyon turned our attention once again to CHOG Trafficklight and the incredible wins we’ve experienced together in support of freedom for the captives. He interviewed the national leader of the Church of God in Bangladesh, Tapan Borman, and gave Cathy Turner of Hope Ranch (Kansas) a chance to share her heart. To this point, the Church of God in Bangladesh has been overjoyed to receive and utilize Trafficklight funds; last night, it was Cathy and Hope Ranch receiving a blessing—to the tune of $100,000. We rejoiced!
Lori Salierno-Maldonado delivered an impassioned message on Saturday evening, daring the Church of God to shape the culture and avoid sitting on the sidelines. After all, we “is salt and light,” she quipped. Lori further explained, “There is only one biblical response to the culture we live in. While our lifestyle is counter-culture, we are to engage the culture so we can shape it!” And so, we gathered around a couple who will soon do just that in Europe and the Middle East: Nate and Stacy Tatman. Convention 2019 participants gathered around the Tatmans as they were formally commissioned as associate regional coordinators for the rapidly growing, rapidly changing region of the world.
For Sunday’s schedule of activities, visit www.chogconvention.org.