October 13, 1980
HE BEAUTIFUL CIRCULAR arrangement with the flags of the world descended from the center of the huge auditorium until it rested slightly above the heads of the people. With houselights dim and a powerful spotlight trained on the flags, the impact was tremendous!
What an impressive way to emphasize that the Church of God is an international church!
I particularly liked the way General Overseer Ray H. Hughes officially opened the Fifty-eighth General Assembly on Thursday night, August 14, 1980. Addressing an overflow congregation in the huge Dallas Memorial Auditorium (hundreds were turned away because of lack of space), the general overseer stated:
In the name of the Father (pounded gavel), and of the Son (pounded gavel), and of the Holy Ghost (pounded gavel), I hereby declare the Fifty-eighth General Assembly of the Church of God in session for the worship of our Lord and for any and all business that is duly come before it.
Appropriately and beautifully sung soon after the official opening, the chorus “We Are One in the Bonds of Love” indicated the unity of the Fifty-eighth General Assembly from the opening of the General Council to the concluding service when appointments were announced.
Congregational and special singing contributed to the worship services. Moved by the Spirit, the entire congregation on occasion rose in praise. Messages in tongues with interpretation evidenced the presence of the Spirit and indicated God’s approval and blessing.
The first order of business for the General Council which began on Tuesday morning, August 12, was prayer. And could there be anything on the agenda more important than prayer? The general overseer said: “We could possibly bypass this agenda, and the church would not be appreciably affected. However, we can’t bypass a spiritual outpouring.”
Strongly emphasizing the need for revival and pointing to the suicidal race for ruin in the world today, Brother Hughes soberly reminded the ordained ministers that the Fifty-eighth General Assembly of the Church of God could be our last one.
The business was conducted smoothly and harmoniously due in great part to the efficient handling of the gavel by General Overseer Hughes.
History-making and quite unlike any previous happening witnessed by most General Assembly ministers was the spontaneous offering on Wednesday night, August 13, of $200,000 for a Pentecostal Research Center and Library in the headquarters city of Cleveland, Tennessee. The facility will be used jointly by Lee College and the Church of God School of Theology. The unprecedented and unsolicited offering came in response to a proposal to construct a $2.5 million facility dedicated to the preservation of the history and development of the Pentecostal movement worldwide. It was a sovereign act of the Holy Spirit, and people began to give without prompting from the podium. As one observer commented: “People were dropping money from the balcony, and the Spanish speaking delegation sent a briefcase full of bills to the podium. The ushers weren’t passing plates, so people began putting money into boxes by the handful.” Members of the Executive Committee and Executive Council walked across the platform, praising God with hands raised.
The $200,000 given mainly by the ministers will begin a two-year effort to raise the funds for the project. Money will come from private donations, contributions from college alumni and local congregations, and a possible capital funds campaign in the Cleveland, Tennessee, area.
The General Council session was not solely given to business items. Profitable and inspiring time was also given to “Projections for the eighties”(Appointment of Centennial Committee, District Conferences on the Holy Spirit [June 8, 1981 ], Ministers Conferences-1981, Mobilization of Laymen-1981, Special Revival Efforts, Planting New Churches, Target Areas, Planning Guide for Church of God Ministries. Ministerial Journal, and Ministerial Contacts).
In 1972 a goal of one new church a day was set. Since 1973, one new church has been organized every day.
To me the highlight of the historic Fifty-eighth General Assembly was the introduction on Sunday morning by the general overseer of the Reverend Trandafir Sandru, Romanian church leader, editor of a religious newspaper, director of the Romanian seminary, rand member of the Romanian church’s executive committee. After extending a warm greeting, Brother Sandru received a standing ovation.
The Romanian church was founded by the Reverend G. Bradin who heard about the Pentecostal awakening in the United States in the early 1920s. God used the Reverend Paul Budean, a Church of God minister from Detroit, Michigan, to bring the Romanian church into contact with the Church of God. Through correspondence and a visit to Romania in the early 1920s, Brother Budean helped to plant a seed that has grown into a thriving Pentecostal group of about 1,000 churches and missions with a membership of more than 150,000. Brother Budean sent the Church of God Evangel and the Lighted Pathway to Romania, and from the Evangel the Romanian Pentecostal believers became acquainted with our doctrine and polity and accepted them as their own.
A few months ago the general overseer visited Romania and ministered in the churches. He was deeply moved by the overflow crowds and their hunger for the Word of God. Some of the people stood in the aisles, shoulder to shoulder, for three to four hours because there were no seats. However, they said they were not tiredthat they were “refreshed by the Holy Spirit.”
The most electrifying moment of the entire Fifty-eighth General Assembly was when General Overseer Hughes stated: “I declare the Apostolic Pentecostal Church of God of Romania- the Church of God of Romania.”
A moving part of the World Missions Service on Sunday morning was when prayer was offered for the hostages in Iran in keeping with a resolution passed by the General Assembly for their release.
Many of the eighteen thousand delegates expressed the feeling that the Fifty-eighth General Assembly of the Church of God was the greatest they had ever attended. Former state overseer of North Carolina, Dr. Harold B. Thompson, said, “This Assembly is one of the most effective and far-reaching ones that I can recall.”
Numerous other activities took place prior to and during the General Assembly. The Evangel staff and I carefully considered how we could effectively and adequately cover this important event for our readers, especially remembering the ones who could not attend. We concluded that a pictorial coverage would be the most effective way. So, we trust that through the following pages you will enjoy a picture trip to the Fifty-eighth General Assembly of the Church of God held in Dallas, Texas, August 12-17, 1980.