Reflections on Nazarene General Assembly

Now that our journey is over and 2009 Nazarene General Assembly is history I’m in a reflective mood about it all.  I went to GA to work as an exhibitor at the NazNet booth.  To me, that’s the very best way to go to a Nazarene General Assembly.  Wearing the “exhibitor” tag has a few minor perks, and having a booth gives one a  place to call “home” at the Assembly.  When you stay in one place you end up seeing about everybody sooner or later.  I enjoyed connecting with the NazNet regulars on a more personal level and I enjoyed seeing friends from years gone by.  Sad to say, I didn’t see as many of those dear friends as I’ve seen in the past.  I imagine it was because the location change brought in a different group than good old Indy!

I haven’t said much about the business of the Assembly.  Frankly, a person could spend a lot of time at General Assembly and know less of what was really going on then someone sitting home watching it all on their computer.  Now, though, I’ve had some time to digest at least the highlights.

I think the election of Eugenio Duarte of Africa as a Nazarene General Superintendent is huge.  For years we’ve claimed to be an international denomination that just happened to have as it’s highest officers six North American white guys.  Four years ago we allowed a woman into the club (although she has now retired) and this year we looked to Africa for leadership.  It’s a big deal and a giant step toward true internalization.  Some immediately started complaining that we didn’t elect others from other places around the world.  I have the idea that Duarte may be the first, but he won’t be the last.  Beyond that, I think David Graves and Stan Toler will be terrific GS’s who will be loved by Nazarenes worldwide.

The other major result isn’t really a result at all.  Four years ago an International Church Commission was formed.  They brought to the Assembly recommendations for sweeping changes in the structure of the denomination.  The Assembly voted to accept their recommendations and send them on to a new Commission to work on implementation of those recommendations.  So, in four more years we’ll have the big one — with new approaches that will change the church forever.  I know it’s rather frustrating to see a ball start rolling in 2005, then in 2009 like what we see, and then wait till 2013 to see if the denomination will be willing to take the plunge.  Still, when you have a 100 year old denomination you can’t go around just messing with stuff to see what happens.  Hopefully, the 12 year process will be worth the wait.

Stay tuned, I’ll likely have more observations in the days to come.

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