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2008 A look back: U.S. Fellowship

A busy year for the Assemblies of God

By Christina Quick

Teen Challenge turns 50

Nearly 1,600 people from around the world gathered at Times Square Church and Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York in June to mark the 50th anniversary of Teen Challenge.

Among the attendees were David Wilkerson, who founded the ministry in 1958, and Nicky Cruz, a former gang member featured in the book and 1970 motion picture The Cross and the Switchblade.

Teen Challenge, a faith-based program that helps individuals struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, operates more than 205 centers in the U.S. and over 1,000 worldwide.

New leaders cast vision

During the course of 2008, a new Assemblies of God Executive Leadership Team shared its strategy for fulfilling the Fellowship’s threefold mission of worship, evangelism and discipleship.

In April, Doug Clay became the newest member of the team, replacing the retiring James K. Bridges as general treasurer.

General Superintendent George O. Wood, elected to his post in 2007, identified five core values that sum up his vision for the AG: passionately proclaim the gospel; strategically invest in the next generation; vigorously plant new churches; skillfully resource the Fellowship; and fervently pray.

Answering the call to pray, ministry leaders from across the country gathered in Springfield, Mo., for three days in March for the AG Prayer Summit.

In June, the Executive Presbytery voted to launch the Church Multiplication Network, a service organization that will facilitate the planting of new churches across the United States.

In August, Wood announced the formation of AG Trust, a giving initiative that will help fund church multiplication, training for young leaders, and research and development.

“We have a choice,” Wood said. “We can stay the course and remain a great Fellowship of believers in its golden years. Or we can make some strategic adjustments and marvel at what the Holy Spirit does through us and the new generations we empower.”

The AG outpaced the rest of the country in terms of its growing diversity, with ethnic minorities now comprising 37 percent of adherents in the Fellowship. By comparison, ethnic minorities make up 34 percent of the general U.S. population.

Year of changes for TPE

Today’s Pentecostal Evangel entered the blogosphere in January with new staff blogs written by Ken Horn, Kirk Noonan, Scott Harrup, John W. Kennedy, Jennifer McClure and Christina Quick. (For links and information, see

In May, TPE garnered six Higher Goals awards from the Evangelical Press Association, the most the magazine has received in a year.

Hal Donaldson, who had served as editor-in-chief since 1995, left the magazine in August to devote his full efforts to leading Convoy of Hope, the relief organization he co-founded.

Tragedy visited the Evangel staff on Sept. 28 with the death of Art Director Matt Key, 49, following a boating accident.

Through it all, TPE continued its mission of informing the church and communicating the gospel. During a single week in September, the magazine received a record 85 salvation reports from individuals who accepted Christ as Savior after reading TPE.

Key Bearers, a ministry that provides copies of the Evangel to incarcerated individuals, set a new giving record for the fifth consecutive year. More than 7.5 million copies of the magazine have been distributed since the program started in 1996.

“God has packed 2008 full of blessings, alongside the challenges,” says Editor Ken Horn. “The staff has been privileged to interact with hundreds of believers and dozens of churches who have seen the hand of God at work in dramatic ways.”

Disaster response

From severe storms to rising floodwaters, the Assemblies of God experienced and responded to a variety of weather crises in 2008.

Spring and early summer brought heavy rains and flooding to the Midwest, displacing families and damaging numerous AG churches in Missouri, Arkansas and Indiana. Convoy of Hope responded with more than half a million pounds of relief supplies.

In July, August and September, Convoy headed to affected U.S. coastal regions as hurricanes Dolly, Gustav and Ike made landfall.

First Assembly of God in Galveston, Texas, served as a Red Cross shelter following Hurricane Ike in September. Latin American Bible Institute, an Assemblies of God school in San Antonio, housed 50 Ike evacuees in the campus chapel.

CHRISTINA QUICK is staff writer for Today’s Pentecostal Evangel and blogs at Refrigerator Art (

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