General Council Orlando
AG’s 53rd biennial gathering to feature changes
By Kara Chase
This year’s biennial General Council includes several
changes from recent national gatherings of the Assemblies of God, but planners
believe the changes will enhance the overall event and the renewed emphasis on
strengthening the family.
The Assemblies of God is heading back to the Sunshine State
for the 53rd General Council, Aug. 3-7 in Orlando. The Fellowship last gathered
in Orlando a decade ago for the 48th General Council.
For the first time since the 2001 General Council in Kansas
City, Mo., all events will be held in a single venue, the Orange County
Convention Center North/South Hall. In years past, youth and adults have held
separate services in different venues. This year combined youth-adult services
on Thursday and Friday nights have been planned to strengthen the unity of the
“There’s just been too much segmentation in the church,”
General Superintendent George O. Wood says. “Can’t we demonstrate something
better in the body of Christ? To model what it is to have a community that is
embracive of ages and cultures and attitudes.”
Anticipation for the biennial event is high, especially
among the AG Executive Leadership Team. Five of the six executive leaders (all
except World Missions Executive Director L. John Bueno) began their current
positions during or since the last General Council in 2007.
“I’m looking forward, as general superintendent, to setting
forth the leadership initiatives we’ve taken these last two years and the
agenda the Lord’s put on our hearts for the future,” Wood says.
General Council registration begins Monday, Aug. 3, and the
event-filled week swings into full gear that evening with the “Influence:
Leadership in High Definition” conference. The two-day seminar features Mark Batterson,
Keith Craft, Reggie Joiner, Beth Moore and Ed Young Jr. Pastors and lay leaders
alike are invited to attend.
The Orland09 National Youth Convention also gets under way
Aug. 3, with an evening service highlighted by speaker Mark Vega, pastor of Ignite
Life Center in Gainesville, Fla., and worship led by Jeff Deyo.
Wood will share the keynote message at the first adult
service on Aug. 4. He says the sermon will be one of encouragement to ministers
Herbert Cooper, senior pastor of People’s Church in Oklahoma
City, and Dick Brogden, who serves the people of Sudan, will speak at the
combined youth-adult evening services on Thursday and Friday. National Youth
Ministries Director Jay Mooney will minister at Wednesday night’s youth
service. A speaker from the Middle East, whom Wood believes will “electrify the
Council,” will lead Thursday morning’s Communion service.
History will be made in the business sessions, as the 53rd
General Council will be the first in which an ordained woman and ordained
pastor under 40 years of age are elected as executive presbyters.
Also up for election this year are the positions of general
superintendent, general secretary, general treasurer and executive director of
U.S. Missions. Elections will begin during the Wednesday morning business
Business meetings start with devotions. Sarah Krage, pastor
of King of Love University Church on the Eastern Michigan University campus,
and Jacqueline Toro, pastor of Bethesda Pentecostal Tabernacle in Brooklyn,
N.Y., will lead morning devotions on Wednesday and Friday. Rick Warren, pastor
of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and author of The Purpose-Driven
Life, will speak at the Friday morning session.
As in 2007, live video and audio streaming of all General Council
plenary services and business sessions will be available online at www.ag.org.
The Council Today newspaper will again provide daily coverage of the biennial
conference in print and online. Friday’s news will be reported online only. As
an added feature to the 2009 Council Today print version, each day attendees
will be eligible to win one of three day passes provided by Disney World, Sea
World and Universal Studios.
The two winners of the $30,000 General Superintendent’s
Scholarships, as well as the eight winners of the $5,000 Riggs Scholarships,
will be introduced at General Council on Thursday night. These first-time
scholarships are sponsored by AGTrust, an initiative the General
Superintendent’s office launched in 2008.
The 2009 Kids Council offers several options for parents,
including morning, afternoon and evening sessions. For the first time, a fully
staffed early childhood area will be available during evening services. The
child assistance will be free, but availability is limited on a first-come,
Also new to Kids Council this year is the Late Nite Party,
which coincides with various General Council receptions Wednesday night, giving
parents the option to meet with friends while their children enjoy kid-friendly
A highlight of the Orland09 National Youth Convention will
be a three-day community outreach. Ambassadors in Mission is partnering with
the Southeastern Spanish District to participate in an outreach by Hispanic
Orlando churches using door-to-door grocery distribution, children’s ministry,
neighborhood evangelism and MEGA Sports Camps.
A World Missions Journey Around the World — The
Eurasia Experience returns to Council on Wednesday and Thursday. The
interactive missions tour made its Council debut as a Fine Arts Festival
exhibit in 2007, but this year adults also will have the opportunity to
experience a busy Eurasian marketplace. The Wednesday night tours coincide with
the adult night off, allowing time for attendees to participate.
Multiple luncheons and receptions will give attendees the
opportunity to learn more about AG ministries and to interact with friends. A
memorial breakfast service on Thursday will honor ministers, missionaries and
evangelists who have died since the 2007 Council.
The exhibit hall will feature hundreds of booths and
exhibits. Open Tuesday through Friday, the hall allows attendees to learn about
a wide variety of ministry resources and educational options.
For the first time, as an increased measure of security,
registration badges will be required for admittance into all General Council
facilities, including the evening services, exhibit hall and Fine Arts
presentation rooms. Youth and nonvoting attendees will be able to register for
$10 for the week.
Because Orlando is a popular vacation destination, many
General Council attendees will include additional vacation time into their
trip. Local attractions are offering reduced ticket prices on the General
Council Web site. For ticket information or to learn more about the 53rd
General Council, visit www.generalcouncil.com.
KARA CHASE is assistant editor of AG News and The Council
Today. She is preparing to spend a year as a missionary associate to Bangkok,
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