Tag Archives: Leadership

Review: Pastoral Letter to Theo

Pastoral Letter to Theo: An Introduction to Interpretation and Women’s Ministries, by Paul Elbert. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2008.

Restricting women from leadership and ministry in the church is, as Church of God Theological Seminary professor Paul Elbert deftly argues, based in faulty exegesis and naive proof-texting. The more serious, underlying issue is that proof-texting combined with dispensational cessationism is ultimately a form of eisegesis, a way of making Scripture say what you want it to say. A more faithful hermeneutic listens to the whole counsel of Scripture and interprets the Bible in its context, but with sensitivity to the contemporary world. Pastoral Letter to Theo is practical and encouraging advice for all ministers and is rooted in a contextually sensitive reading of the New Testament.

Reviewed by Peter Althouse, Instructor in Theology, Tyndale University College and Seminary

Softcover, 97 pages. $15.00 retail. Order from: amazon.com

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Review: Women in the Church of God in Christ

Women in the Church of God in Christ

Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making a Sanctified World, by Anthea D. Butler. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2007.

We have all heard the saying “behind every great man is a great woman,” but within the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in the early twentieth century, the great women did more than just stand behind the men. They carved out leadership positions alongside the men, often surpassing the “brothers” in education, prominence, and spiritual and temporal authority. In doing the “women’s work” under the separate structure of the “Women’s Department,” female leaders created a powerful space for themselves. Anthea Butler’s book, Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making a Sanctified World, expertly presents the tales of these leaders between 1911 and 1964.

These narratives are pieced together from information gathered digging through many “musty closets and bedrooms,” where much of the denomination’s historical documentation remains, waiting to be discovered by scholars or thrown out by careless relatives. Butler rescues denominational pamphlets and books, newspaper articles, meeting minutes, tape recordings, photos, and other textual relics which prove invaluable in illuminating the role of women in COGIC. She supplements this data with interviews of elderly church members who were often able to thicken the descriptions of various historical events. The resultant narrative highlights the ways in which COGIC women strategically used their beliefs and their role as “mothers” to empower themselves within the denomination, and eventually outside of it.

Key to Butler’s understanding of COGIC women is an “emphasis on how belief–in this case, belief in sanctification–acted as the impetus for what church mothers actually accomplished” (p. 4). This approach takes issue with other treatments that have suggested that practices like sanctification led to a disengaged and otherworldly stance on social issues. Quite the opposite happened with the second generation of COGIC leadership, among whom Butler sees the focus on sanctification leading to social engagement on issues like education, politics, and civic interaction. Here Butler hopes to push beyond an earlier analysis of sanctified women offered by Cheryl Townsend Gilkes by suggesting that, through their religious beliefs and world view, “it was COGIC women themselves who shaped the denomination’s engagement with the community … through their alliances outside the denomination” (p. 119). Continue reading

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Rev. James K. Bridges to resign

James K Bridges

Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, sent the following announcement to Assemblies of God Headquarters employees by email at 3:58 pm on Friday, January 4, 2008.

I want to share with you that Rev. James K. Bridges, our general treasurer for the past 14 years, has announced he will step down from this office on March 31, 2008.

Brother Bridges indicates he felt the timing to be appropriate for several reasons: “(1) we have gotten beyond the General Council event; (2) the new ELT members have had several months to settle into their positions; (3) a newly-appointed General Treasurer by the Executive Presbytery will have a year and a half to get settled into office before the next General Council when the office is up for election; and (4) it is time for us to return to Texas where all of our children and grandchildren reside.”

Brother Bridges was elected general treasurer at the 45th General Council in 1993. In this office, he oversees the Division of the Treasury, which is responsible for handling all finances sent to the national office for the world ministries of the church.

He has served with distinction in a variety of ministry since 1952 when he began his ministry in the South Texas District. A graduate of Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas, he served pastorates in Houston, Dallas, Greenville, and Waxahachie, Texas, as well as Wichita, Kansas. He served in district leadership in the North Texas District, including sectional presbyter, executive presbyter, general presbyter, assistant superintendent and superintendent of the district from 1981 until his election to the office of general treasurer.

From 1968-71, Brother Bridges was vice president of academic affairs at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, and served as chairman of the school’s board of directors from 1985-1993. SAGU conferred the honorary doctor’s degree upon him in 1991.

Brother Bridges is a person of impeccable integrity. His depth of Christian character commands everything he does. He has served this church so well. It has been my distinct joy to serve with him in executive leadership since 1993. I shall miss his wise counsel and steadfast commitment to the church, its doctrines, and ministries.

We wish him and Joyce God’s richest blessings in the years ahead. I am confident he will continue to be active in ministry wherever God leads.

The General Council Bylaws call for the Executive Presbytery to fill the unexpired term of an executive officer. Please pray for God’s wisdom as we seek to do this.

For more information about Rev. Bridges’ life and ministry, read the article, “Reflecting on a Godly Heritage: The Important Roles Parents, Grandparents, and In-laws Played in the Life of James K. Bridges,” published in the Fall 1994 issue of Assemblies of God Heritage magazine. The issue has been digitized and may be viewed on the Flower Pentecostal Heritage Center website.

Rev. Bridges and his wife, Joyce, gave their testimony at the Assemblies of God Headquarters chapel service on November 27, 2007. Click here to view the chapel service.

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Posted by Darrin Rodgers

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George O. Wood on enduring core values

George Wood1 George Wood2 George Wood3
Photos: Dr. George O. Wood, speaking at the AGTS chapel, September 14, 2007. Used with permission of AGTS.

The Assemblies of God (USA) elected new leadership at its 52nd General Council in Indianapolis, Indiana in August 2007. What does this mean for our Fellowship?

Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent-Elect, gave the following acceptance speech at the commissioning service of the new Executive Leadership Team, which took place Tuesday, September 18, 2007 at the national headquarters in Springfield, Missouri. In his message, Dr. Wood identified five “enduring core values” of the Assemblies of God. These values, he promised, will guide him as he seeks to lead the Assemblies of God to fulfill its three-fold mission to worship, evangelize, and make disciples.


by Dr. George O. Wood
September 18, 2007

At this past General Council, you extended to me the grace of responsibility in serving as the next general superintendent. I am humbled by your confidence in me and ask you to pray for me and the other leaders as we begin this journey of serving you.

People have been asking me, “George, what’s your vision for the Assemblies of God? What are you going to focus on Continue reading

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Trask to resign as general superintendent

Rev. Thomas E. Trask

Rev. Thomas E. Trask announced on July 10, 2007 that he would step down as general superintendent of the U.S. Assemblies of God at the denomination’s biennial General Council, slated to convene August 8-11 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Nominations to fill the top office of the Assemblies of God will be accepted at the General Council.

The announcement came as a surprise, and news of the decision spread quickly. Trask conveyed his decision to step down to the AG’s Board of Administration at 9 am on July 10, 2007. He then broke the news to those who work at the Assemblies of God Headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, in a brief statement that he read over the building’s public address system at approximately 2:30 pm. At 4:00 pm, a written statement was sent to Assemblies of God ministers via the AG Minister listserv (the email is reproduced below).

Trask has served as general superintendent since November 15, 1993. He was elected to his third four-year term in 2005. As the chief executive officer of the Assemblies of God, the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, he is a member of the denomination’s Board of Administration and serves as chairman of the Executive Presbytery. During his tenure, the Assemblies of God has grown significantly. The number of U.S. adherents increased by 25 percent from 2,271,718 in 1993 to 2,836,174 adherents in 2006, and the worldwide constituency of the Assemblies of God increased by 124 percent from 25,448,373 in 1993 to 57,023,562 in 2006. Continue reading


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Review: From Oslo to Berlin

From Oslo to Berlin! : European Pentecostalism

From Oslo to Berlin! : European Pentecostalism, by Paul Schmidgall. Erzhausen, Germany: Leuchter Publishing, 2003.

From Oslo to Berlin! : European Pentecostalism made its appearance just in time for the Pentecostal European Conference in Berlin during June 2003. As Director of the Church of God’s theological seminary in Germany and as an active participant in the European Pentecostal Fellowship, Paul Schmidgall has insight into past events and present happenings in European Pentecostalism. Due to his personal interaction with European Pentecostal leadership, Schmidgall’s work reflects much depth.

Schmidgall provides a scholarly overview of the historical developments of the Pentecostal movement in Europe on a country by country basis. He also presents current information on contemporary developments that effect Pentecostalism in a very diverse European setting. This book includes important bibliographical and statistical data that will greatly assist those who have a keen interest in Pentecostalism in the European context. At the end of the book there are helpful color maps showing the strength (or weakness) of Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism in Europe. Schmidgall’s book is a good starting point for those who desire a deeper understanding of the Pentecostal movement in any given European country.

Reviewed by Paul Clark, Assemblies of God missionary to Germany

Paperback, 204 pages, illustrated. Also published in German. To order, contact Leuchter Edition.

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Review: Reaching Single Adults

Reaching Single Adults

Reaching Single Adults: An Essential Guide for Ministry, by Dennis Franck. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007.

Dennis Franck has made history in single adult ministries in the Assemblies of God. In 1979, when Franck started his first full-time ministry position — as Single Adults pastor at First Assembly in Billings, Montana — he was one of five known paid single adult pastors in the Assemblies of God in the United States. He discovered great need within the single adult community — and the group in Billings soon attracted 125 singles, hailing from 27 church backgrounds, to its Sunday morning meetings. Not bad for a church of 400 people.

Today, Franck serves as National Director of Single Adult Ministries for the Assemblies of God, a position he has held since 2000. He is a frequent speaker at single adult conferences, retreats and leadership training in the Assemblies of God and in other denominations. Pastors and ministry leaders now have access to Franck’s research and hard-won ministry lessons in his new book, Reaching Single Adults. This book is significant for several reasons. Not only is it the first book on this subject to be published in the United States in eight years, it is the first known ministry/leadership book about ministry to single adults published by an Assemblies of God author. Continue reading

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Review: Autobiography of Fred Smolchuck, Ukrainian-American Assemblies of God Pioneer


Who Else … But God!, by Fred Smolchuck. Springfield, MO: The Author, 2006.

Almost eighty years ago, Fred Smolchuck felt God’s call to the ministry. Following that call led him around the world, and he became a leader within Slavic Pentecostalism, both in the United States and in eastern Europe. Smolchuck’s strong voice and mind, his smoldering passion for souls, and his leadership gifts continue to make their mark on the Pentecostal landscape.

Smolchuck, the son of Ukrainian immigrants to America, was a founding member of the Ukrainian Branch of the Assemblies of God (USA), he served as a pastor and district official in Michigan, and he authored sixteen books. Most of his books, published in the Ukrainian and Russian languages, offer practical advice and theological training to believers in eastern Europe and to immigrants in North America. His 1992 book, From Azusa Street to the U.S.S.R.: A Brief History of Pentecost Among Slavic Immigrants, 1900-1991, provides a valuable overview of the people, places, and themes in Slavic-American Pentecostal history. Now, in Who Else … But God!, he has told his own story, which is inextricably intertwined with the emergence of the Slavic churches in the Assemblies of God. His story is significant, as he traces not only his family’s spiritual pilgrimage, but the development of Pentecostalism among the Slavic peoples in the U.S. from the 1920s until the present. Importantly, Smolchuck has served as a bridge between an earlier generation of Slavic Pentecostals and the more recent waves of Slavic Pentecostal immigrants to North America.

Relatively little has been written about the ethnic aspects of the growth of the Assemblies of God in the United States. Historians, church leaders, and people in the pew are indebted to Smolchuck for enriching their understanding of Pentecostalism’s development among the Slavs. Who Else … But God! confirms that one man, working within the fabric of the Christian community, can make a difference that affects eternity. This volume is a valuable contribution to the literature on Pentecostal history. It belongs in every college and seminary library with a focus on Pentecostal or Slavic-American history.

Reviewed by Darrin Rodgers.

Paperback, 366 pages, illustrated. The book is out-of-print, but used copies are available on amazon.com and abebooks.com.

[This review was originally posted February 22, 2007. Smolchuck passed away on February 23, 2008.]

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Review: My Life with God

My Life With God

My Life with God, by Gordon H. Matheny. Plant City, FL: The Author, 2005.

Gordon H. Matheny, long-time Assemblies of God pastor and district leader, has touched many lives in over 60 years of ministry. In My Life with God, he recounts the people, places and varied experiences from his life of service. Matheny, converted as a child in the Woodworth-Etter Tabernacle in Indianapolis, matriculated at Central Bible Institute in 1941 and went on to serve as an evangelist, pastor, district official in two states, as well as being active in mission work in over 25 nations. He began his ministry in Indiana, where he pastored four churches and served as District Secretary for ten years. He moved to Tampa, Florida, where he pastored Bethel Temple for nineteen years and served as Assistant Superintendent for seventeen years. He retired in 1990, only to be elected Superintendent of the Peninsular Florida District. My Life with God will evoke memories for those who have counted Matheny as a pastor and friend.

Paperback, 131 pages, illustrated. $10, postage included. Order from: Gordon Matheny, P.O. Box 3604, Plant City, FL 33563. Ph. 813-754-0050.

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Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research


The January 2007 issue of the Cyberjournal for Pentecostal-Charismatic Research contains the following interesting articles:

  • “The Chinese Expression of Pentecostalism” by Rev. Dr. Timothy Yeung
  • “Post-1960s Pentecostalism and the Promise of a Future For Pentecostal Holiness Women Preachers” by Kristen Welch
  • “Contemporary Pentecostal Leadership: The Apostolic Faith Mission of South Africa as Case Study” by Dr. Mathew Clark
  • “The Spirit and Theological Interpretation: A Pentecostal Strategy” by Dr. Kenneth J. Archer
  • “The Prosperity Gospel in Nigeria: A Re-Examination of the Concept, Its Impact, and an Evaluation” by Dr. George O. Folarin

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