Global Church of God Alliance Inaugurated
By Carl Stagner
Though much of the gathered Church of God movement had boarded planes, trains, and automobiles to depart the city of Tampa on June 25, 2023, a great group of global guests, missionaries, and international leaders lingered a couple days longer for an important meeting. Guests from countries throughout the world gathered for worship, devotional encouragement, reports from the regions of the world, and to discuss and launch the Global Church of God Alliance. As a representative body of Church of God leaders, the GCGA’s inception signaled the dawning of a new day to establish an ongoing forum for international engagement that would inspire collective listening to the Holy Spirit to achieve greater unity and collaboration, as well as discern divine direction and guidance for the Church of God around the world.
Emerging like the weaving together of a beautiful tapestry in its earliest stages, the creation of this global table, known as the Global Church of God Alliance, was met with prayer, broad interest, affirmation, thoughtful inquiry, and meaningful dialogue. While the picture of the Global Church of God Alliance has yet to be painted, the basic framework began to take shape and some of the brushes and palettes have been considered. In the weeks and months to come, the Church of God movement anticipates more observations, reflections, and news of next steps to be released. Though much has yet to be considered, the Church of God celebrates these important conversations—these important initial steps.
Nearly a decade in the making, the meeting was certainly not without vital context and considerations. The 2014 Belfast Roundtable, a catalytic launchpad for the GCGA, prompted further conversations at the 2014 Church of God Convention in Oklahoma City to support the collective inspiration and imagination. When 189 leaders from around the world met in conjunction with the 2019 Church of God Convention in Orlando, Florida, Church of God Ministries was formally asked to spearhead the launch of the GCGA in 2023. Throughout the planning process, Global Strategy helped strengthen international partnerships and framework to help make the GCGA a reality, such as supporting and coordinating regional gatherings outside the United States and Canada. Leading up to the Tampa event, a planning team of global leaders met with Church of God Ministries leadership for nine months via Zoom, preparing the details for the June 2023 gathering.
From Shillong, Meghalaya, India, Leaderwell Pohsngap was elected to serve as convening moderator of the Global Church of God Alliance at its launch in Tampa; the planning committee had already invited this broadly respected and gifted leader to chair the Tampa meeting. Throughout the course of discussions, and between times of fellowship and prayer, this year’s meeting resulted in the establishment of a “global table for a global Movement,” consisting of nineteen members representing each of the designated regions of the world (Africa, Asia-Pacific, Caribbean-Atlantic, Latin America, Europe-Middle East, and the United States-Canada).
As a part of the historic meeting, Jo Anne Lyon, highly esteemed leader from the Wesleyan Church with extensive international experience, offered a keynote-style message. Through poignant anecdotes and captivating illustrations, Jo Anne encouraged and exhorted the crowd of mostly English-speaking leaders (English, as many have come to recognize, is a common global language; for Spanish-speaking listeners, Global Strategy missionary Abby Torgeson provided real-time translation). Relaying Old Testament scholar Christopher J. H. Wright’s powerful quote, Jo Anne reminded everyone that “the church does not have a mission in the world. God’s mission has a church.”
The GCGA’s meeting agenda also included moments of deeply moving congregational worship. Universally known songs like Gaither’s “Because He Lives” and Tomlin’s “How Great is Our God” prompted worshipers to rise to their feet and raise hands in praise and adoration of a God whose design for the church is intrinsically global. The popular worship song “Way Maker” was framed with a historical context of its uniquely international origins.
According to Jim Lyon, speaking at the meeting, “The Lord is birthing in us something that can literally change the world. I’m absolutely convinced that, as we make a decision…if a history is written to the Church of God fifty years from now, people will look back on this room, this audience, this moment, as one of the most [important] developments in our whole history, now 143 years on.”
It is important to note that the GCGA has no governing authority over any of the Church of God assemblies worldwide, including the United States and Canada, yet the Ministries Council will address the need this September to name a representative from the US-Canada region for the GCGA going forward. It is also important to note that the development of the GCGA does not change the role or mission of Global Strategy, even as further opportunities may develop for collaboration throughout the world. A hundred independently recognized assemblies, at work in ninety countries, have been invited to voluntarily participate in the GCGA. Outcomes, further reflections, and conclusions from the launching of the Global Church of God Alliance in Tampa, Florida, on June 25 and 26, are forthcoming. Stay tuned for more information, and please continue to pray for the Spirit’s guidance as the GCGA takes shape.
Pictures courtesy missionary Jonathan Todd. Learn more about the Church of God movement at www.JesusIsTheSubject.org.
Feature (top) picture: GCGA 2023 group, including guests and observers, together in Tampa.