Business Session Focuses on Resolutions
Ministers and delegates rejected two resolutions Thursday that would have redefined the ministry priorities of the Assemblies of God, while narrowly referring to committee a measure that sought to expand the General Presbytery.
The AG Constitution currently says this Fellowship exists for evangelizing the world, worshiping God and building a body of believers who are growing spiritually. Resolution 1 would have added a fourth reason: meeting human needs with ministries of love and compassion.
Supporters said compassion ministries are already an integral part of the Assemblies of God — from Convoy of Hope to congregations that helped battered communities after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
But opponents said approving the measure wasn’t a good step for the Fellowship. They also criticized the resolution’s redefinition of the Fellowship having a fourfold purpose instead of a threefold purpose. They said the current purposes follow natural orientations: toward God in worship, toward the lost in evangelism and toward other believers in edification. There is no specific orientation for a fourth purpose, they said.
A related measure, Resolution 2, sought to swap the prioritization of two of the Fellowship’s priorities. The AG Constitution currently lists “encouraging and promoting the evangelization of the world” as the first prerogative and “encouraging and promoting the worship of God” as the second prerogative.
Both sides offered differing interpretations of the earliest Assemblies of God documents, with supporters saying the Fellowship’s founders saw worship of God as the foundation and opponents saying evangelism was the “chief” priority all the way back to 1914.
Resolutions 1 and 2 were rejected.
General Presbytery measure referred
By a one-vote margin, the General Council voted to send Resolution 5 to the Executive Presbytery for further study. The measure sought to expand the General Presbytery by adding 30 new presbyters. Approximately 25 percent of them would be ordained women, while the rest would be ordained ministers who were 40 years old or younger at the time of their election.
The resolution mirrored a measure rejected during the 2007 General Council. But at that same meeting two years ago, ministers and delegates later approved resolutions adding two seats on the Executive Presbytery: one for an ordained woman and one for a minister under 40 years old.
But Thursday’s debate took a turn after just a few speakers, when Ansley Orfila from Louisiana introduced a substitution resolution and voters approved consideration of the alternate measure.
Orfila’s proposal would have created 60 new presbyters, one new position from each district that would be either an ordained woman or an ordained minister under 40.
Because of confusion over the exact wording and changes being proposed, there was a motion to refer the resolution to Friday’s business session to provide ample time to work on the measure’s language.
But later Thursday afternoon, General Superintendent George O. Wood returned to the resolution, saying the language had been addressed.
After more debate, there was a motion to refer the resolution to the Executive Presbytery for further study. That motion was approved by a 495-494 vote, after ministers and delegates stood and were individually counted.
Other resolutions approved
Also on Thursday, the General Council approved:
- Resolution 3, which adds a new category of Parent Affiliated Churches to the existing categories of General Council Affiliated, District Council Affiliated and Cooperating assemblies.
- Resolution 10, which offers an appeal process for a congregation whose request to affiliate with the Assemblies of God is declined by a district presbytery.
- Resolution 12, which adds new guidelines to help district officials respond to requests from congregations that are experiencing internal or external strife.
- Resolution 13-A, which established a two-thirds vote as the standard for a congregation to withdraw from the Assemblies of God. Congregations with more restrictive rules for withdrawal will still be permitted to follow those tighter requirements.
- Resolution 15, which modifies the guidelines on academic degrees, certifications and titles in the AG By-laws article that outlines disapproved doctrines and practices.
Two resolutions that probably would have generated extensive debate will not be considered. Resolution 14, which would have shifted some decision-making responsibility from the General Council to the General Presbytery, was referred to committee for future review. And Resolution 19, which would have launched a four-year pilot program for a transgeographical district, was withdrawn. Both actions were taken during the General Presbytery meetings earlier in the week.