Plenary sessions were held in the large and beautiful Reardon Auditorium, named in honor of Dr. Robert H. Reardon who served for 25 years as the second president of Anderson University. The first president, Dr. John A. Morrison, was the school’s leader for 39 years. The auditorium was filled to capacity each night and the overflow crowd of hundreds met in the spacious Park Place Church of God across the street from the university campus.
Opening night, under the direction of Anderson University, featured a family-centered musical program by Sandi Patty, her parents the Rev. Ron and Carolyn Patty, her brothers, children and her husband. Dr. James Edwards, president of the university, greeted the packed house and introduced Sandi and her parents as graduates of Anderson University. My wife, Kitty, was one of the select group of former AU students who formed a supporting choir for Sandi as she presented music at its best.
Dr. Melissa Pratt, widely known preacher and pastor of the Teays Valley Church of God, Scott Depot, WV, in her convention address, Monday morning, July 28, dealt with the subject “Cultivating to Transform” and specifically talked about Christians being “Grace Dispensers” in terms of attitude, love, generosity, hospitality and service. She reminded her audience, “You are stewards of gifts in order to be stewards of grace. Jesus did not balance truth and grace. He gave complete and full doses of both. Truth exposes people. Grace covers them.”
In the Monday evening plenary session, Dr. James Earl Massey, named by Christianity Today in 2006 as “One of the 25 Most Influential Preachers in the Past 50 Years”, called on believers to encourage and nurture one another. Massey, internationally known for his pulpit excellence, is the author of 30 books and has been invited by more than 140 colleges, universities and seminaries to serve as a guest preacher and lecturer on their campus. As speaker on the Christian Brotherhood Hour, he was heard worldwide on a special network of radio stations.
Dr. Massey titled his convention message, “Cultivating the Saints.” Those who heard him that evening and the many thousands who listened throughout the world by satellite television and live media streaming heard a much-needed message for our day of discouragement and bewilderment.
Richard Willowby, editor, author and columnist, writing about Dr. Massey’s message to the convention delegates and beyond said, he was, “Calling the church to an enabling and encouraging ministry to one another. He drew from Paul’s arrival in Rome and noting in Acts 28:15, that ‘he thanked God and took courage.’ ”
Massey reminded his international audience that “the apostle Paul did not advance the gospel alone. His mentors — Gamaliel, Ananias and Barnabas — helped to cultivate him, and all through his remarkable ministry, others stepped up to help, encourage and aid.” At one point, “Massey became personal, citing his own calling and the people who encouraged and nurtured him.”
He said, “There are times when we need help from above, but sometimes help does not come from above but from fellow believers who stand with us.” He continued, “Believers are to cultivate one another, call forth the gifts of the Spirit in one another and encourage each other, urging each other on to the end that God has called the church to achieve and become.”
General Assembly Chairman Robert L. Moss commended the Assembly for its “focus on worship, connectivity, and the renewing of its commitment to a common mission.” He concluded, “We are moving forward in a new way as the church.”
A large global gathering of the church will come together in June 2013 according to the church’s director, Ronald Duncan, with representatives from 80 nations. The first World Conference of the Church of God convened in Fritzlar, Germany, in 1955. Kitty was a soloist for that conference. Prolific writer and author of numerous books, Barry L. Callen, said of the 1955 meeting, it was “bringing together the Christian youth of former war adversaries.” In Fritzlar, I met young people who have been my good friends to this day.
The body of Christ, the salt and light of this world, is God’s agent for changing culture wherever the gospel of Jesus Christ is taught and lived out in the lives of Christian believers.
Bill Ellis, Assist news Service