General Council Business Opens with Several Elections
COLUMBUS, Ohio - During the first day of business at General Council 2023, several elections kicked off the opening session, including the offices of assistant general superintendent, general secretary, executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions (AGWM), and three Executive Presbytery positions.
Rick DuBose, elected as the Assistant General Superintendent in 2019, was overwhelmingly re-elected on the initial nominating ballot. Before moving to Springfield, Missouri following his election as the General Treasurer in 2019, DuBose served as the district superintendent of the North Texas District.
DuBose was quick to acknowledge his wife, Rita, for all of her support and expressed his gratitude to the Fellowship for the honor of serving the AG. “We don’t take light the special honor it is to serve with Doug Clay during this time and we are humbled to be returned to office,” DuBose said. DuBose pledged his support to Clay and promised to continue to lead the teams assigned to him with the goal of reaching the next generation. “Our last miracle should not come from our bones,” he said, “it should come from our living descendants.”
General Secretary Donna Barrett was also returned to office. The position is nominated by the General Presbytery and presented in an electoral ballot to the General Council. Barrett, who has served in her role for five years, was confirmed for another term by a 92.78% affirmative vote.
Barrett, the first woman to serve in the role of General Secretary, stated that she was grateful for the opportunity that God has given her and for the incredible Executive Leadership Team (ELT) with which she gets to work. She went on to share a brief history of her time in ministry. Prior to coming the National Office, Barrett was a church planter and served as the lead pastor for a church that she planted, Rockside Church in Ohio. During her time in Ohio, Barrett also served for four years as a general presbyter and four years as an executive presbyter.
Barrett ended her address with thanking those in the audience for keeping the local church healthy.
Due to the retirement of Greg Mundis, who has served as AGWM executive director for the last 12 years, nominations for the position were presented to the Fellowship for his replacement. In accordance with the General Council Bylaws, the General Presbytery presented four names of those nominated in the GP session who had received over 10% of the necessary votes for a place on the electoral ballot.
John L. Easter was elected on the third electoral ballot joined on stage by his wife, Cheryl, to address voters. After pastoring in the United States for 11 years, Easter and his wife were called to Africa where they served as missionary trainers for 22 years. Following that assignment, Easter served 8 years as the executive director of Africa’s Hope, a missional and educational initiative across the continent of Africa. His most recent position has been serving as the director of Partnership Development of the AGWM since 2021.
Easter said he was extremely honored to be elected to this position and asked for prayer to walk in a way that stewarded the mandate to ensure that the missionary team, worldwide, “is focused on the Great Commission so that everyone can hear the gospel.”
Three elections for Executive Presbytery positions also took place on Wednesday. The Executive Presbyters (EP), which includes the ELT members, acts as the board of directors for the Assemblies of God.
Rodney K. Loy was elected as the Gulf Area non-resident EP. The current senior pastor at First Assembly of God in North Little Rock, Arkansas, Loy has also authored several books and served in full time ministry for over 35 years. He replaced Don E. Miller who had been elected in 2019.
With a vote of 76.65%, Ben Yoenhaeng Hur was elected Language Area - Other EP. Hur, a member of the Korean District, serves as the lead pastor at both AG Promise Church in New Jersey and Full Gospel New York Church in Flushing, New York.
In the final election of the day, Melissa J. Alfaro was elected as the Ordained Female Minister EP. Alfaro and her husband, Jay, pastor El Tabernaculo in Houston, Texas. She is also an author, a speaker, and an educator. She graduated from Southwestern Assemblies of God University and went on to obtain her Ph.D. in Rhetoric from Texas Woman’s University.
Alfaro replaces Beth Grant, who had reached her term limit, having been the first person elected to the newly created EP position in 2009. Grant is the co-founder of Project Rescue and has authored and co-authored material on the issue of human trafficking and social justice.
Wednesday's business session also included reports from executive leaders. General Superintendent Doug Clay presented a brief but encouraging report expressing his gratefulness for the opportunity to serve the Fellowship. Clay gave encouraging statistics that highlighted the growth of the Assemblies of God in the United States. “Since 2021,” he reported, “AG USA has experienced a 3.1% growth in the total number of churches, a 10.5% growth in conversions, and baptisms in the Holy Spirit are up 10.9% and water baptisms are also up 7.8%.”
MM33, he announced, was a worldwide collaborative effort by the Assemblies of God to engage in the greatest work of evangelism that the world has ever seen. “The goal is to take an aggressive approach to Kingdom expansion and to plant 1 million new Assemblies of God churches by the year 2033 across the globe,” said Clay.
He also issued a prophetic challenge to the General Council to be Acts 2 leaders in a 2 Timothy 3 culture. While both of these passages of Scripture describe end times, Acts 2 describes the outpouring of God’s spirit while 2 Timothy chapter 3 describes the world’s state of godlessness that will accelerate into darkness as the time draws nearer for Christ’s return.
Assistant General Superintendent Rick DuBose also presented his report, asking four key leaders from his ministry teams to share progress in their designated areas. Jay Mooney, Chief Ministries and Resource Officer for the Assemblies of God, shared that the AG Division of Ministries and Resources is focused on equipping the AG Fellowship to make disciples of the next generation. He highlighted the decision to change the Bible Engagement Project from a subscription platform to a free one to further disciple the body of Christ.
Julie Pratt, National Director of Children’s Discipleship, said that the KidMin department had received a $1.25 million grant from the Lily Endowment for a new initiative called “I Am A Disciple.” This five-year project is being developed to change the face of discipleship to children and families, explained Pratt. “We are excited to be able to provide local churches with a total kids ministry package,” she said.
Elly Marroquin, the director of Christian Education and Discipleship, announced that her department had also received a $1.25 million grant from the Lily Endowment for an initiative called Fostering Faith in Families. “This initiative will equip parents and caregivers to transmit their faith and values to the next generation. We will continue to be laser focused on making disciples,” she shared.
The final portion of the Assistant General Superintendent’s report was delivered on behalf of the CALLED ministry. “Our goal is to discover and equip those in vocational ministry,” stated John Zick, National Director of CALLED. The CALLED team believes that getting kids early in the leadership pipeline and equipping them in their calling lets them know that they have a family that is cheering them on and will support them as they walk out this call.
In the general treasurer’s report, Wilfredo De Jesus stated that despite the looming recession, the Assemblies of God had seen a year of generous giving. He explained that overall contributions totaled $353.7 million, making it a record year in contributions, and products and sales saw income of over $11 million, signaling the return of churches returning to resource demand following the pandemic.
The day’s business ended with the passing of two resolutions which were unresolved from the previous General Council in 2021. Resolutions 1 and 2 both pertained to ordination requirements for General Presbyters. The passing of resolution 2 added the requirement of ordination for the missionary representatives elected to serve on the General Presbytery. Resolution 1, which was also passed, opened the door for district representatives to either be ordained ministers serving in some capacity within the district or be lead pastors of an Assemblies of God church. This updated language made provisions for non-lead pastors who are ordained to serve on the General Presbytery.
LOWER PHOTO 1: John and Cheryl Easter
LOWER PHOTO 2: Rick DuBose
LOWER PHOTO 3: Melissa J. Alfaro