Tampa-bound: Travelers Descend Upon Convention 2023 Host City
By Carl Stagner
Pastor by pastor, leader by leader, and family by family, they’re getting there—perhaps not without weather-related and mechanical delays, but Church of God people are bound and determined to reach Tampa, Florida. Augmented by its international flair (an every-fourth-year characteristic), the Church of God Convention and General Assembly is gearing up to commence this week, offering all guests the opportunity to not only recharge their spiritual batteries, but also to testify to God’s providential power and goodness (including heroic tales of timing crowded airport transfers down to the wire!). With so much in store at the Tampa Convention Center, thoughts of hurdles crossed are already fading against the backdrop of genuine anticipation.
As if the palm-laden location, global atmosphere, exciting (and incredibly diverse!) worship leadership, and return of children’s programming weren’t enough, Convention 2023 and General Assembly has attracted much attention from Church of God congregations across the United States and Canada—not to mention places far beyond. The roster of speakers, which many have noted has particularly broad appeal, features Eugene Cho, Jo Saxton, Rod Stafford, Mark Jackson, Nathan Leasure (Pastors and Spouses Banquet, Saturday), Samuel George (Pastors and Spouses Banquet, Saturday), Jeremy Patzer, and Walter Kim.
Voices from within the Church of God movement are refreshingly familiar and compelling. Rod Stafford doesn’t stand in the shadow of his late beloved brother Gil, though his admiration for the longtime Church of God powerhouse preacher and theologian runs deep; Rod’s longevity as senior shepherd of one the Movement’s most influential congregations—Fairfax Church in Virginia—speaks volumes. Mark Jackson, whose scholarship on behalf of the Church of God movement is unparalleled, and Nathan Leasure, whose practical exposition of Scripture is unwavering, bring timeless teaching to the mix. Samuel George is a Church of God pastor and pastor-of-pastors in Pakistan, while Jeremy Patzer comes from the Church of God laity in Canada—but also as a prestigious leader in parliament.
Voices from outside the Church of God annually offer insight remarkably enriching and encouragement profoundly helpful, too. Extending our hands in fellowship to blood-washed ones beyond the Movement, Convention 2023 is welcoming prominent leaders Eugene Cho, Jo Saxton, and Walter Kim. Cho, president of Bread for the World and author of Thou Shalt Not Be a Jerk: A Christian’s Guide to Engaging Politics has become exceptionally influential across the lines otherwise dividing the body of Christ. Jo Saxton, podcaster, guest TV host, leadership coach, and popular author, is making waves in the kingdom of God across the globe. Her work with women leadership development is nothing short of widespread. Then there’s Walter Kim, who is no afterthought to the Convention 2023 roster. As president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), Kim’s influence across Christendom today is nothing short of amazing.
Meanwhile, Christian Women Connection has opened up the Convention experience early with their LeadHer Power-Up event—a first-of-its-kind women’s event, intended to call out the leader within, and practically and spiritually “setting the stage” and spiritual tone for the biannual gathering of the Movement.
Much is about to take place in Tampa. Let’s cover all of it, and everyone (including those weary travelers!) in prayer!
Follow Church of God Ministries on social media this week for posts throughout the Church of God Convention; there you’ll also find daily news articles keeping you up-to-date on the exciting developments. Visit www.chogconvention.org to learn more.