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Wood, Bradford, Clay, Smith Re-elected

Top AG leaders re-elected at 2009 General Council

George O. Wood was re-elected as General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God on Wednesday during a full first day of business at the 53rd General Council.

“I’m so moved by your support,” Wood said, flanked by family members. “I’m embarrassed by all the ways that you have demonstrated such tremendous love for me and for my family. We love the Assemblies of God. God has a great future for this Church until Jesus comes. I’m just exceedingly blessed beyond measure to have this opportunity to serve you.”

Ministers and delegates also re-elected other top officers on Wednesday: James T. Bradford as general secretary, Douglas E. Clay as general treasurer and Zollie L. Smith Jr. as executive director of Assemblies of God U.S. Missions.

And the General Council made a little bit of history by electing a woman and a young pastor to the Executive Presbytery.

Wood has served as general superintendent since the General Council in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2007. He succeeded Thomas E. Trask, who chose to step down midway through his term. Wood will now serve a full four-year term in office.

There were 2,038 votes cast in Wednesday’s nominating ballot, and 1,345 nominating votes were needed for an election. Wood received 1,687 nominating votes — more than 82 percent of the votes.

Reflecting the growing use of technology, after his election Wood sent a message of thanks via Twitter.

Prior to his election as general superintendent, Wood had served 14 years as the Fellowship’s general secretary. He was assistant superintendent of the Southern California District from 1988 to 1993 and pastored Newport-Mesa Christian Center in Costa Mesa, California, for 17 years.

Other elections Wednesday reflected the significant shift in the Fellowship’s leadership over the last two years.

Bradford was chosen for his post by the Executive Presbytery after John Palmer stepped aside in mid-February. Bradford will serve the remaining two years of the term and then be eligible for re-election at the 2011 General Council.

“It has been a life-redirecting adventure these last few months,” he said. “We’re grateful for your prayers as we make this adjustment. It’s a privilege for us to continue to serve this Fellowship.”

He previously served as pastor of Central Assembly in Springfield, Missouri; Broadway Church in Vancouver, British Columbia; and Newport-Mesa Christian Center in Costa Mesa, California. And one of the frequently cited facts is his doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Minnesota.

Clay was elected to his post by the Executive Presbytery in January 2008 after James K. Bridges announced his retirement.

“I love the Church. I deeply, deeply love the Church. I pledge with God’s help to serve the Lord, the general superintendent, and this Fellowship to the best of my abilities,” said Clay, who was elected to a full four-year term Wednesday.

Clay served as superintendent of the Ohio District from 2004 to 2008, after pastoring Calvary Assembly of God in Toledo, Ohio, from 1997 to 2004. He has also served as the Assemblies of God national youth director, Ohio District youth director and as a youth pastor in Ohio and Iowa.

Smith was elected to his post in 2007, succeeding Alton Garrison, who was elected as the new assistant general superintendent. Smith will now serve a full four-year term.

Smith was previously the executive presbyter representing the Ethnic Fellowships and as president of the National Black Fellowship. He served the New Jersey District of the Assemblies of God as assistant superintendent and as executive secretary.

He encouraged the Fellowship to remain focused on God’s work here in this nation.

“We know what the answer is, and it cannot be legislated, it cannot be purchased, it can only be given away,” Smith said. “So we pray that you would continue to ask God to send laborers into the harvest.”

Nominations for general secretary, general treasurer and AGUSM executive director come from the General Presbytery. The incumbents were the only names sent to the floor for consideration.

This year’s elections moved quickly because of the use of electronic voting devices — and a countdown clock that gave people 60 seconds or less to cast their votes.

Executive presbyters elected

Two years ago, the General Council approved the addition of two nonresident executive presbyter positions: one for an ordained woman and one for an ordained pastor under the age of 40.

Elizabeth (Beth) Grant, a veteran missionary and coordinator of the Women in Ministry Network, was greeted with a standing ovation from ministers and delegates after her election as the ordained female executive presbyter. She noted the Fellowship’s history of encouraging women to follow God’s call on their lives and minister nationally and internationally.

“We are here today and we in this vote are saying thank you God for the women in our Movement,” she said. “As I travel this nation, I meet many of you (women), and you inspire us, you inspire this Movement by your obedience to God.”

Grant had already made a little bit of history two years ago, when she was one of the three candidates in the final rounds of balloting for assistant general superintendent. Based on available records and memories at the time, Grant was the first woman to advance that far in the election for a top executive office.

The General Council elected R. Bryan Jarrett, pastor of North Place Church in Sachse, Texas, as the executive presbyter who is an ordained pastor under 40.

“I preached my first sermon 20 years ago on the bank of a pond looking at a herd of cattle, then a few weeks later at an Assemblies of God youth group,” he said, thanking “forward-looking” leaders within the Fellowship. “It’s an honor to be part of history today.”

Jarrett is no stranger to the General Council: He preached during a combined youth-adult service at the 2005 gathering in Denver, Colorado.

The third new member of the Executive Presbytery is Saturnino Gonzalez, superintendent of the Southeastern Spanish District since 2008. He will represent the Language — East Spanish Area, which was created by the General Council on Wednesday.

He previously served as superintendent of the Puerto Rico District, secretary/treasurer of the Southeastern Spanish District and as pastor of churches in Puerto Rico and Orlando, Florida.

Incumbents were re-elected for the remaining nonresident executive presbyter positions:

  • Warren D. Bullock, pastor of Northwest Family Church in Auburn, Washington, has represented the Northwest Area since 2001.
  • Richard L. Dresselhaus, formerly pastor of First Assembly of God in San Diego, California, has represented the Southwest Area since 1997.
  • Clarence W. St. John, superintendent of the Minnesota District, has represented the North Central Area since 2007.
  • J. Don George, pastor of Calvary Church in Irving, Texas, has represented the South Central Area since 2001.
  • Larry H. Griswold, superintendent of the Illinois District, has represented the Great Lakes Area since 2008.
  • Douglas E. Fulenwider, superintendent of the Louisiana District, has represented the Gulf Area since 2005.
  • H. Robert Rhoden, formerly superintendent of the Potomac District, has represented the Northeast Area since 2001.
  • C. Dan Betzer, pastor of First Assembly of God in Fort Myers, Florida, has represented the Southeast Area since 1995.
  • Jesse Miranda, professor at Vanguard University and the Latin American Bible Institute, was elected to the Executive Presbytery in 1995. He now represents the Language — West Spanish Area, following the General Council’s action Wednesday to create a second seat on the Executive Presbytery for the Spanish districts.
  • Nam Soo Kim, pastor of Full Gospel New York Church in New York, New York, has represented the Language — Other Area since 1999.
  • John Maracle, president/chief of the Native American Fellowship, has represented the Ethnic Fellowships since 2007.

Resolutions approved

  • Resolution 4, which amends the constitution by splitting the Language Area – Spanish into two areas.
  • Resolution 7, which officially establishes the Arizona Latin District Council. This new district was approved by the Executive Presbytery in June 2008 but required action by the General Council.
  • Resolution 8, which changes the name of the Southern Pacific Latin American District to the Southern Pacific District Council.
  • Resolution 9, which officially establishes the National Slavic District Council. This new district was approved by the Executive Presbytery in June 2008 but required action by the General Council.
  • Resolution 11, which allows individuals in special or unique cases to hold dual credentials with the Assemblies of God in the United States and other organizations.
  • Resolution 16, which provides Total Giving Credit for congregations that support satellite church startup efforts.
  • Resolution 17, which removes the requirement that the general treasurer present semiannual reports to districts of ministers’ contributions to Assemblies of God headquarters.
  • Resolution 20, which condemns human trafficking and asks the Fellowship to create a position paper on the subject.
  • Resolution 29, which modifies the amount paid for late and reinstatement fees. The original resolution removed specific monetary amounts and left it up to the General Presbytery to decide, but the measure was amended to raise the late fee to $50 and reinstatement fees to $100.
  • Resolution 33, which changes the name of the Central Latin American District to the Central District Council.