The Future of the North American Convention
By Mary Baker Boudissa
Tuesday, in its much-anticipated report to the General Assembly, the North American Convention Study Recommendation Committee outlined a positive future for the North American Convention (NAC). The six-page report included recommendations resulting from participant surveys, a cost analysis of alternate locations for NAC, and the 2011 NAC Study Report. Responses from those surveyed lifted up NAC as both a purposeful and sustainable part of the Church of God movement. This led to the committee’s formal motion, passed by the General Assembly, that NAC continue annually in Anderson, Indiana. It was further affirmed that NAC be expanded to include regional gathering sites featuring live local worship and the streaming speakers nationally.
The committee’s report provided detailed insight into the opinions and perceptions of both laypersons and ministers across the Church of God and highlighted lingering concerns and observations about NAC in recent years—declining attendance, rising costs weighed against the number of attendees who don’t register, a lack of alternate ways for people to participate in the General Assembly. To address these concerns, the committee recommended that registration be a priority, as well as a requirement, and that the price be increased to help offset expenses that reach nearly $100,000 each year. It was also recommended that future studies revisit the duration of and the days of the week across which NAC is held.
Despite the obvious challenges that are presented in offering a gathering on the scale of NAC, the committee reported that the study participants continued to find value in this gathering. There were several items that were named frequently by participants as reasons for attending NAC: connectivity, inspiration, leadership development, sense of identity as a movement, engagement, and addressing the business of the Church of God. It was largely held that these were best accomplished by coming together for NAC.
Along with what common benefits participants felt they gained from attending NAC, certain themes emerged, both from committee members and from those surveyed. Among them was the belief that Anderson should continue to be the home of NAC, particularly because of the location of our national offices, availability of resources, and our emotional and historical connection to this community. Another recurring theme was the value that would be added by regional gatherings occurring simultaneously with NAC. Aside from the continued need for an annual meeting of the General Assembly, Global Communion was cited as a beneficial element of NAC. The committee also emphasized the need for a Church of God periodical to further address our need for connectivity, identity, and inspiration as a movement.
Rebecca New-Edson, who presented the report on behalf of the committee, spoke of the importance of NAC in our connection as a movement as a key factor. According to New-Edson, NAC is one means by which we “live out our commitment to each other and to the unique place in which God has placed us, the Church of God reformation movement, in the body of Christ.”
The full report will be available after NAC at www.chog.org/2012-general-assembly.