Sometimes business meetings can be funny in their own little way. Especially when politicking gets heated.
Oh, the hi-jinx of business meetings. I actually laughed out loud at one minor General Council tempest that could have had massive implications for the vote for the general superintendent on Thursday.
During the nomination process, pastor Tommy Barnett from Phoenix, Arizona (pastor of one of our fellowship’s largest churches) announced he wasn’t interested in being nominated as he didn’t want to surrender his pastorate, there came a resolution to clarify language regarding the role of the General Superintendent. (The resolution stated that the GS would be responsible to “cast the primary vision” for the fellowship along with other executive officers, to “provide spiritual oversight and leadership” to headquarters personnel, to “strategically network with other fellowships”, to be consulted when hiring staff at departmental leadership or above at headquarters, and to provide leadership to the Tier 1 leaders [a "Vision for Transformation term" for top leadership within General Council].)
I was greatly amused when some clever young fellow from French Lick, Indiana (I think) immediately proposed an amendment to the resolution, adding “paragraph O”:
“He is not required to reside full-time or resign a pastorate.”
It was clearly a nod to Barnett’s impromptu speech. The reaction of Trask and the room was priceless. At least on the streamed feed. Trask whipped around immediately to confirm with the parliamentary experts that the motion was valid (on the face of it, I couldn’t see anything wrong with the motion itself), the room buzzed with conversation, and several long seconds passed. Meanwhile, I laughed, and kept laughing, and almost fell out of my chair.
The motion was seconded.
Oh, this was good. I’m laughing here because not only did Barnett remove his name from the ballot, but he did so in such a way as to make it clear that by removing his name he was rejecting the politics of Headquarters. Meanwhile Trask had made it clear that while the Constitution and Bylaws do not explicitly forbid a general superintendent from simultaneously pastoring, he and his council of experts were interpreting the guidelines in such a way as to require the constitution to explicitly prescribe this as a possibility. As there is nothing expressly permitting it, therefore, it is forbidden. The timing of this resolution, the immediately proposed ammendment, and the look of shock on Trask’s face left me nearly in tears.
In support of the ammendment, the fellow who proposed the resolution argued that at every Council there is “a parade of men who could ably serve our fellowship, but who pull their names because they would have to leave their ministries — and around the world other A/G leaders provide leadership without resigning their present ministries.”
To counter, another minister took the mic and said, “This is not merely a figurehead position, it requires a great amount of effort — more than full time — every week of the year. What person could in, good conscience, pastor a church adequately and give full attention to fill your office?”
To which there was general approbation and applause, requiring Trask to shut it down. The pastor continued, “And I would wish upon this body that we would realize that the dedication required of the general superintendent would, without reservation, damage his ability to adequately pastor a church — unless, of course, the church simply needs a figurehead.”
Nice parting shot.
Chas Decker from Penn/Delaware retorted, “This bothers me that after hearing how the Assemblies of God in America has declined or stayed stagnant while the rest of the world has grown that we aren’t willing to at least try to be more relevant. I understand your position requires a lot of work, but if I may be so brave as to say one of the discouraging things that has been found in the local church has been the irrelevance to the local pastor and to the local church from Springfield.” Then, to support his argument, Decker noted that “Brian Houston is adequately serving both positions in the Assemblies of God of Australia.” He concluded, “With all due respect, change is not bad. Thank you.”
Then Ken Walters from Southern California was recognized by Trask. Walters said, “Mr. Chairman, I appreciate knowing that you or whoever comes next is able to know what’s going on across this vast nation. With Australia, the population of the entire country is less than that of California alone. You could not preach in my church or any church if you have to pastor your own church.” After a few more words, he concluded, “Being in touch happens better if you are allowed to visit all of our churches in the entire country. I vote no.”
Thomas Moore from Florida at microphone #5 had a point of order that, if he had gotten to the mic first would have prevented the debate from ever occurring. He said, “The original resolution is dealing with the role of the general superintendent in his day-to-day operations — it is inappropriate to place this piece of legislation in this place because that deals with the electoral process and qualifications and not with his role in day to day operations.’
And that should have been the last word, but over at microphone #6 Casey Stafford from College Station, Texas, said, “I don’t know the gentleman that referred to the General Council and the General Secretary as irrelevant. I’ve had several executives preach in my small church at my invitation. And I’ve never failed to get an executive on the phone when I call for counsel — but I have been unable to reach many pastors.”
Naturally, laughter and crowd reaction followed that little slap-down. Which, again, Trask needed to curtail. Casey continued, “I believe that we need executive who can devote their full concentration and time to leading a national organization and not divide it between a national organization and a local church.”
The amendment to the resolution failed. Resoundingly. The resolution itself, passed.
I take my jollies where I can get ‘em.
(I hope I got the spelling of the above names correct, please feel free to let me know otherwise.)
[tags]52nd-general-council, Assemblies-of-God, assembly-of-god, blogrodent, business-meeting, ceo, christianity, church-culture, church-politics, evangelical, evangelism, executive, general-council, general-council-of-the-assemblies-of-god, general-superintendent, indiana, indianapolis, leadership, mega-church, megachurch, pastoring, pentecostal, religion, reverend-tom-trask, superintendent, thomas-trask, tom-trask, tommy-barnett, vision, voting[/tags]