Almost 1,500 delegates from The Churches of God in some 50 countries gathered for the annual international assembly in Ridgecrest Conference Center. From observation, a third of that number was young people and children (35 and under). The theme of the assembly was “Arise, Go Over this Jordan,” which referenced the messages and programs given during the meeting.
Beginning on Tuesday evening, the program included 15 sessions, ending on Sunday afternoon. The various departments of the church were featured in the different sessions, such as World Missions, which presented the Parade of Nations, directed by General World Missions Coordinator Robert Hawkins on Thursday evening.
The healing service was Friday evening; the ladies choir was presented during the Women’s Missionary Band program which was moderated by General Coordinator Betty Bishop of Alabama on Saturday; the youth march was on Saturday under the direction of General Victory Leaders Band Coordinator Dustin Hays of Colorado.
General Church of Prophecy Markers Association program was directed by Melvin Byers Jr. of North Carolina and E. Roger Ammons of Cleveland presented the evangelism program.
Allene Cox of Cleveland directed the Assembly Band Movement program.
Ray Dupre of Tennessee, who serves as the director of Bible Training Institute and assistant editor of the church magazine, The Evening Light, directed the BTI program.
The highlight of the Assembly was the anointing of the new General Overseer, Oscar Pimentel, who was chosen by unanimous agreement and acclamation by the Assembly.
He had served as Interim Overseer since the death of Stephen Smith, who had served in the position of the church’s General Overseer for nine years.
Pimentel delivered his annual address to the Assembly on Friday morning to a packed auditorium. He began with a tribute to the former overseer Stephen Smith and his family.
Going with the theme, “Arise, Go Over this Jordan” (Joshua 1:2), the new General Overseer talked about God’s promises to His people, who being obedient to His Word and submissive to His will, must be strong and courageous to stand up to the world and the devil.
“Now more than ever,” he said, “we should press toward crossing this spiritual Jordan into the full blessings of God’s Spirit and power because the Church has the task of conquering the world for Christ.”
Pimentel said God doesn’t treat His children like the world and the devil treat their captives – “the world uses you, the devil gets the best years of your life out of you, chews you up and then spits you out and doesn’t care what becomes of your life or soul.”
He spoke especially to the young people, saying, “The devil and the world are not your friends! They are ruthless and brutal and they don’t care one bit about you. They may look right and entice you and lure you until you have fallen into their grasp, and once they have come upon you like a lion upon its prey they will drag you off into a world of lament, anguish, sorrows and sin!”
Pimentel said it must have been so encouraging to Joshua to know that God was still with him and the people of Israel. “This portion of the Scriptures,” he continued, “reveals that God was still guiding the affairs of His holy nation for He was still in control even after the death of His servant.” He added, that God lets us know that when it comes to His people, His Church – that His work does not depend on any one worker – “this is a ‘work together’ program! This is a ‘pull together’ program!”
Referring to Ephesians 5:24, Pimentel said, “We are subject to God’s will, Spirit and Word. At all times we are bound to consider what our Lord and Savior would have us to do.”
In the section of the General Overseer’s address, “Arise and Go Over,” he emphasized there is a Jordan that those with The Church of God, must cross. “God’s command is for His people to ‘Arise And Go Over,'” he said. “This is a Divine command! God help us to press forward and not permit fear to grip our heart in these last days.”
Pimentel talked about how the members need each other. “God help us to come together in perfect unity that we may pull together, work together and face whatever opposition that is before us together. We are going to need one another, saints. I need you, and you need the person sitting next to you – we will need each other.”
The assembly closed Sunday afternoon with prayer for the general appointees offered by David Risch of Cleveland.
Each session of the 2015 Assembly was streamed live, going into 12,030 homes (a 7 percent increase over 2014) in 65 countries with 44,995 pages viewed (a 17 percent increase over 2014).
This article was published in the Cleveland Daily Banner on August 21, 2015.