Opinion—Face to Face

 In All Church of God, CHOG, Church of God Convention, Op-ed

By JoAnna Worthen

Editor’s note—Views expressed in the following op-ed do not necessarily reflect those of Church of God Ministries, Inc., or its affiliates (in this case, we offer an enthusiastic Amen! to the spirit of this article in support of General Assembly participation). We publish op-ed features to provoke thought, stimulate healthy discussion, and inspire us to be with Jesus, become like Jesus, and do what Jesus did. We’ve asked to hear from a diverse range of voices across the Church of God movement. This op-ed features one of these voices.

A gracious invitation has been given to us to take a break from our regular schedule, routine, and responsibilities to come together with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for the Church of God Convention and General Assembly. My first time to experience this event was four years ago in Florida, which led the way to knowing this was something worth making the time for every two years. What I saw and experienced from those first hours, and then throughout the entirety of the Convention, and then again in Denver in 2021, helped me see not only what a treasure this fellowship is, but the great importance there is in physically coming together—to see each other face to face, to have that time to worship and pray together, to share meals together, and to be about our Father’s business together.

Being relatively new to this body of believers in 2019, my husband and I wanted to arrive early to take part in some of the workshops that were being offered. To be candid, I was coming with a mindset of wanting to understand what this Movement was about at its core. What I saw from greetings in the lobby to the morning when a diverse group gathered early to pray for the Convention, to meals shared together with those from afar to the way business was conducted, was that the core value of unity, which Christ died for, wasn’t just something on paper. This mattered to this people and to its leaders. Here was a yearning for the fresh Spirit of God to breathe on us right there so we would be people making him known to this world by the love we showed to one another. I returned home to Seattle with renewed commitment and encouragement.

As I take opportunity to ask you to seriously consider saying yes, if possible, to participate in the Convention and General Assembly this summer in Tampa, let us remember it is about what comes next.

I think back to the practice my parents had when I was growing up in the Evangelical Friends community. Every summer we would make the long drive to go to Yearly Meeting. I am sure, looking back, it was not easy for my parents, but I loved these times—even with the business meetings I sometimes had to sit through. It was there at the end of an evening meeting, sitting in the balcony, singing with the congregation, “Without You, I can do nothing, without you, I’d surely fail, without You, I would be drifting, like a ship without a sail” when I consecrated my life to Christ and surrendered to his call in my life.

As our children see God’s people, my prayer is that it would be a sweet memory, that the flame of God would be lit in their lives, and that this next generation will grow into what God desires them to be and to do. Let us my dear friends, whether we must stay or are able to go, pray for this time to be for his glory.

JoAnna and her husband John live in Seattle, Washington, and attend and volunteer at The Fairview Church, where John’s family has been connected for many years. JoAnna serves on the elder board and coordinates the children’s ministry program; her extra joy is time spent with their grandchildren, opportunities for hospitality, and time tending her fruit and vegetable garden.

“He’s got the whole world in his hands.” What an encouraging reality! Be inspired by it, be challenged by it, and experience it firsthand at Convention 2023 and General Assembly, June 22–25 in Tampa, Florida. Learn more and register at www.chogconvention.org.

Feature (top) photo: Discussion at General Assembly 2021 in Denver, Colorado.

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