As part of his ongoing “Let’s Talk About It” series, Church of God General Overseer Tim Hill has released a document that addresses the function and purpose of the General Council Agenda of the International General Assembly, scheduled for later this month in Orlando, Florida.
The following is the commentary as released by the General Overseer’s office:
Ok. Let’s talk about the 2018 General Council Agenda.
From my role as General Overseer and moderator of the General Council and General Assembly, I won’t speak to the agenda items from a standpoint of opinion. That’s your job, both now and on the “floor” of the General Council. I encourage you to go at it – and enjoy the conversation. Just respect, and hear out, those who may have opinions that are different from your own.
While I won’t speak to the merits of the agenda items, I can and will speak to the structure of the agenda, including the “whys,” the “how comes” and the “what fors.” Hopefully, my thoughts will give you some insights into a process that is intended to reach beyond this General Assembly and help us prepare this great church we call the Church of God for the future.
The Format and Resolutions
With every General Council agenda, there is an effort made to honor the calling, passion, and wisdom of those who ultimately will give their time and resources to consider and debate the content of that agenda. With those concerns in mind, it has been, and it is, my personal desire to encase this and the 2020 General Council agenda in the idea of fulfilling and finishing the Great Commission. Admittedly, some of the “housekeeping” and administrative items will certainly not speak to this goal. Understanding that, the Executive Council Agenda Committee has attempted to highlight the Great Commission FINISH Commitment at every possible turn. That explains the reason for the opening preamble and the placement of at least some of the resolutions and agenda items.
The resolutions on the agenda stem from the FINISH vision that I expanded and elaborated on in the booklet entitled “The Essential Alignment of Priorities, Paradigms & Purpose,” released November 2017.
Following the challenge set out in the booklet, each resolution resulted from my call to address six areas:
• Visional Actualization
• Doctrinal Affirmation
• Structural Acclimation
• Ministerial Activation
• Generational Assimilation
• Spiritual Acceleration
The resolutions and corresponding items listed are in this same order on the agenda. While serving as agenda items to be considered, debated and amended as necessary, each topic also serves as an important category heading under which other more detailed and specifically related agenda items are placed.
The Call for Task Forces and Study Commissions
At the obvious risk of glaring redundancy, as you’ve seen in the agenda, there is a call for multiple international study commissions or task forces, plus an additional task force on church planting and revitalization which is recommended for each state/regional office to create. As you might imagine, some of these could possibly have been grouped together. However, it was determined that each task force or study commission speaks to different, specific goals and each will have varied outcomes – and recommendations. Therefore, right or wrong, the task forces and study commissions were approached separately.
Under our stated polity, a task force can always be commissioned by the Executive Committee or Executive Council. So, I can almost hear someone ask, “why bring it to the General Council and risk wasting precious time?”
The primary reason is that some of these study groups will be working on issues that could speak to a 2020 General Council agenda, and interest, as well as input, is important now.
However, should the General Council as a whole determine that there is no interest in these matters, let’s determine that possibility sooner than later and move on. None of us are interested in continuing to delay any agenda item or any other matter of serious concern, but important future decisions require adequate preparation ahead of time. Thus, the need for task forces and study commissions to thoroughly review these matters and make recommendations for the General Council as a whole to consider.
I must admit though, there does seem to be enough “task and force” to keep a lot of people occupied well into the Millennial Reign. Regardless of what the General Council may ultimately do regarding the separate task force and study commission recommendations, I offer advance appreciation to the body for their patience and willingness to address these issues.
The Report on Meaning and Usage of the Term “Bishop”
While some reports are about as interesting as reading the phone book, the report on the meaning and usage of the term “Bishop” is an important, and interesting, read. The report was included along with the agenda in the email sent to Ordained Bishops, and it is posted under “event details” at the official General Assembly website – www.ga18.org. The report is 35 pages of historical information, but it comes with a synopsis, starting on page 31, for those like me who always appreciated “Cliff’s Notes” in school. Take some time to work through the report and you’ll be well informed for the discussion that occurs on the General Council floor. For those who have asked about the subject of women in ministry, please know that the 2016 General Assembly called for that very important subject to be addressed in this report as well.
The “further study” report traces the history of these subjects, and as you have probably already seen, the report recommends that global forums be conducted over the next two years so that laity and ministers can address these important matters before our church. The recommendation also calls for “appropriate motions” to be brought back to the 2020 General Council.
Since these matters have all been before the General Council in one way or another for more than a decade, I can hear the cry of those who say we have “passed this way before.” However, the forums are intended to help the church, and specifically the International Executive Council, discover scriptural bearings on these important issues, and then at the next Assembly move with definitive action that is pleasing to God.
Prior to each item in the agenda, you will see a stated rationale. The rationale notes are nothing new and you have seen them now for several General Council sessions. Hopefully, the rationales will serve as helpful explanations of the background and reasoning that the originators of the motions had in bringing the measure to the attention of the General Council.
It is important to note that the schedule allows for 21 hours of General Council time and 3½ hours for the General Assembly, for a total of 24½ hours of presentation, debate, votes, and decisions. With no leadership elections occurring other than the Council of 18, this year’s schedule may offer more than the usual opportunity for discussion, even with the addition of the Tuesday evening service.
A new addition to the schedule this year is the prayer segments from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. each day, Wednesday through Friday. The special prayer times are so important that they have been intentionally listed as part of the General Council schedule. I would ask that you make these special prayer times a priority. I will see you there each morning.
Special Orders of the Day
Following the example of the 2016 General Council, three brief, yet informative, Special Orders of the Day have been included on the schedule each morning, beginning on Wednesday. Each segment will be 30 minutes in length and will specifically focus on contextualizing the FINISH Commitment to various aspects and constructs of ministry. We are pleased to have Mark Rutland, Bruce Deel and Sammy Rodriguez speak to the General Council on contemporary topics of ministry.
And Finally, the Motions Committee
Over the years, I can remember sitting on the General Council floor, anticipating the arrival of the motions from the Motions Committee. More than on one occasion, I have seen a sleepy General Council session come to life in an instant when the motions submitted from the floor were presented to the body. Regardless of how entertaining, or even concerning we have found some of these motions to be in the past, the truth is that some of the most significant items affecting the business and ministry of our great church have come after the printed agenda was completed.
Motions may be submitted to the Motions Committee once the General Council business is underway and until 2:00 pm on Thursday, August 2, 2018. The time and date for each submitted motion will be documented and when the printed agenda is completed, the submitted motions will be rendered in the order they are received after having gone through the process that our General Assembly Minutes require.
I join with you in anticipating what may be brought through the Motions Committee and will work to be as administratively diligent as possible in bringing us to this important time in our meeting.
Well that’s it. And I am sure that it is more than enough.
I ask that you pray for me and the International Executive Committee that God will refresh and prepare us for this wonderful and anticipated time as we work together to FINISH the Great Commission in the Spirit and Power of Pentecost.
See you in Orlando.