Hill Conducts Global Ministers Meeting

Cleveland, TN—Church of God General Overseer Timothy M. Hill was joined by members of the International Executive Committee as he conducted a Global Ministers Meeting via livestream from the International Offices on Wednesday, April 29, 2020.

Hill spent two hours updating the thousands who joined the online broadcast giving the latest updates regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and other items, including the recent postponement of the 78th International General Assembly. Following a brief devotional he addressed several items of interest, starting with questions concerning when local churches can re-open.

“Most every nation of the world and every portion of our country is looking to a phased-in re-opening,” Hill remarked. “As I know you can understand, there is no specific roadmap that we can give each church across the globe that tells you exactly how you must, or should, open back up. That is going to have to be determined on the local level, based upon the guidance issued by your state or local governments. Our goal is to just provide you with some basic resources that will help you in the reopening process.” Hill then called upon Dennis Watkins, Church of God legal counsel for the denomination, who defined some basic concerns. He referred the online audience to the website, coronacog.com, where he has posted the latest guidelines.

Hill mentioned the coronacog.com site several times during the presentation as the go-to resource for the latest updates and documents for all things concerning Covid-19. The site contains several articles by Watkins and Art Rhodes, who was next to address the ministers on financial questions, particularly the PPP program which has benefitted churches since its introduction as part of the government stimulus package.

Hill next addressed the recent decision to postpone the upcoming 2020 International General Assembly to the summer of 2022.

“On March 20, I appointed a Review Task Force to begin considering all issues concerning the General Assembly,” Hill began. “That task force first met on April 2 with more than 40 delegates, representing the Church of God globally. After several hours of discussion and a thorough review of the Minutes, the Task Force submitted a recommendation to the International Executive Council to postpone the July 2020 General Assembly, with no date recommended for the rescheduled General Assembly.”

“While negotiations and discussions with the convention center in Indianapolis continued, I called a special session of the International Executive Council for Tuesday, April 14, to discuss what actions, if any, we should take concerning the General Assembly. After the Executive Council reviewed the recommendation from the task force, the Council decided they wanted a special committee from the council itself to dig deeper into all the ramifications, both from the standpoint of the Minutes and the legal ramifications, of postponement. That committee met on Friday, April 17 for a good portion of the day reviewing all provisions of the Minutes regarding the authority of the Executive Council to possibly postpone the General Assembly. The Executive Council’s special task force ultimately came back with a recommendation concerning a two-year postponement, moving it to 2022. They also brought a recommendation concerning continuity of governance during the postponement, and information on why a virtual General Assembly could not be held under our current Bylaws.”

Hill went on to explain that the recommendations were taken up by the entire International Executive Council when they met on Monday, April 20 in the first regularly scheduled session of the Council to ever be held by electronic means. He emphasized the priorities the Council considered in making its decision:

1) The decision had to be pleasing and honoring to the Lord
2) The health and well-being of our members, both national and international delegates, potentially from 185 nations
3) The financial and economic concerns of the local church, pastors, and delegates
4) The decision had to be as non-intrusive on the Church of God Minutes and Bylaws as possible.

Hill then read the motion that was passed by the Council and announced publicly last week which states, “That the 78th International General Assembly be postponed until the summer of 2022 (and that) the International Executive Committee is authorized to continue its negotiations with the City of Indianapolis.”

Hill next announced that since the announcement, negotiations with Indianapolis did continue and as of April 27, a decision was reached that stipulates the Church of God will hold the 2024 General Assembly in the city. Through this agreement, the Church of God will not be held liable for any penalties or cancellation fees due to postponing the 2020 Assembly.

“This is a huge blessing and means the Church of God will not be subject to between $900,000 and $2.1 million in penalties. We are grateful to the City of Indianapolis for working with us in this very difficult situation.”

The location of the 2022 General Assembly has yet to be announced, although Hill alluded to the fact that negotiations had begun several months ago with the cities of Orlando and San Antonio.

Before addressing other items, Hill called upon Michael Baker who explained historical precedence for postponing an Assembly, and Barry Blair, a professional parliamentarian, who addressed the guidelines for the decisions made heretofore and to come.

Once the Assembly postponement was final, the natural question arose that, “if we do not have a General Assembly (in 2020) and the corresponding elections that were scheduled to occur, how do we address the continuity of governance?” The Executive Council took up, and passed the following recommendation:

“That the International Executive Council exercises the authority granted it by the International General Assembly, and declares that all persons currently holding general elected positions continue in their positions with full legal and ecclesiastical authority until such time as nominations or elections by the International General Council and elections by the International General Assembly can be properly conducted and successors chosen.”

To discuss this continuity of governance provision and the authority cited within it, Dr. Ken Bell, overseer of Western North Carolina and part of the General Assembly parliamentary team, spoke about provisions in the Minutes and Robert’s Rules of Order concerning continuity of service.

“I would note,” Hill stated, “that the issue of tenure for those general elected officials, with eligibility remaining, was not decided by the Executive Council, but was referred back to the Special Task Force from the Council to discuss further and to bring recommendations back.” That Task Force is meeting on Thursday, April 30 to begin discussion on those issues.

Another topic Hill addressed as an outgrowth of the current pandemic was the possibility of a virtual or online General Assembly.

“This issue was discussed by the task force and Executive Council,” Hill explained. “After consideration and discussion with parliamentarians, it was determined that there were several issues that prohibited us from having a virtual General Assembly this year. Not only do the Bylaws of the Church of God not allow for such, but there were also concerns raised about certain state laws and guidance under Roberts Rules of Order, our guiding document for parliamentary rules in the General Assembly.” Hill then called upon Blair via Zoom who gave his thoughts on the idea of an online General Assembly. He confirmed the bylaws and Robert’s Rules prohibitions that would need to be addressed to allow such a meeting. He then referred to the fact that technology, although advanced from recent years, could prevent such a global meeting from running smoothly. After several minutes of technical difficulties in connecting him on the livestream, it was pointed out that if there was trouble getting one person connected, imagine thousands simultaneously around the globe being given fair access to the proceedings.

Because of these concerns, the idea of a virtual General Assembly was tabled by the Executive Council, but with the caveat that it was something that should be looked at and possibly reviewed for consideration in amending the Bylaws to allow for such in the future.

Hill reported that the Executive Council discussed other appointments, including those at the state and regional levels, as well as boards and committees. In a meeting of the Executive Committee on April 28, after considering the health and economic concerns facing many state and regional offices, it was decided that Church of God leaders at the state level would maintain their current assignments and ministry locations over the next two years.

“By leaving our state and regional Administrative Bishops, as well as our Youth Directors, where they are currently ministering, the time between now and the General Assembly in 2022 will not count against their tenure limitations,” Hill told the online audience. “Because of the continuation of the current pandemic, you need to hear me say that we are not going to have a ‘fruit basket turnover’ with state overseers and youth directors. It is just not the time for our church to experience the costs and the potential disruption that such changes can bring.” Hill went on to say that the World Missions Board will be meeting in the next few weeks to consider ministry and related administrative appointments around the world.

“Any recommendations that the World Missions board makes will be submitted to the Executive Committee and voted upon as expeditiously as possible so that we can maintain the continuity of the church’s ministries around the globe,” Hill said. All appointees for boards and committees will remain in place until such time as notified by the Executive Committee on a case-by-case basis.

“While I know some Camp Meetings have already been postponed or canceled, those decisions are left up to the Administrative Bishop and the state/regional Council,” Hill explained. “While it is our hope that Ministers Meetings will be able to be held in the fall, if not, your Administrative Bishop and state/regional council will have to make the decision concerning elections and appointments on the state/regional level.”

Hill concluded his remarks by once again recommending to check frequently the GA20.org website to get the latest information on the 78th International General Assembly in 2022, and coronacog.com for updates on Covid-19 news and recommendations concerning the Church of God.

As Hill signed off, he said, “I encourage you to stay focused on the Great Commission during these troubling and trying times that we are going through. It’s important that we maintain our focus. We are “ the Church on Mission ” and we must maintain a FINISH Commitment Focus.”

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