During morning office devotions on April 25, 2017, a new wall of honor was unveiled at General Headquarters featuring portraits of the previous General Overseers. Recently appointed CPMA Coordinator James R. Horne issued the following statement:
“On behalf of the CPMA Department, I would like to thank Sister Allene Cox for initiating and bringing to completion the new General Overseer’s Wall of Honor at Headquarters in a special unveiling on April 25th. Special thanks to artist Mark Branscum, who completed his drawing of Stephen E. Smith to accompany those of A. J. Tomlinson, M. A. Tomlinson, and Robert J. Pruitt. The first three were previously displayed in the General Overseer’s office, but with the addition of the fourth, they have been placed in matching frames and moved to the lobby of General Headquarters. This is no doubt a special collection of artwork and a marker to all who enter the General Offices. The Church of God appreciates the labors and biblical direction of her former leadership as it continues to ‘walk therein.’ May this display touch many hearts as it further beautifies our General properties.”
At the wall’s unveiling, Office Manager and General ABM Coordinator Allene Cox gave the following presentation.
Unveiling of General Overseer Portraits at General Headquarters
In the Word, we are encouraged to give honor to those over us and remember the sacrifices of those gone before us. We are living in a time when those who have walked before us need not only be honored and respected for their labors, but that we also must learn from the things they left behind for us whether it be their messages, writings or just things we were taught in one on one conversations. In short, we must take up the torch they have passed to us. The torch may be heavy from time to time as this work was not promised to be easy. The torch may be cumbersome and out of fashion according to the world’s standards, but the true gospel and truth of the Word of God has never fit into the popular world view. The torch may require maintenance that will cost us time, money and energy, but anything the Lord gives us requires great sacrifice on our part. All of these things were taught us by those who walked before us and carried the torch of Truth since the first in 1903.
In 1903, A. J. Tomlinson held a vision that was lit by the burning torch of Truth. He began building on the vision the Lord had given him. That vision was of one church, one faith and one doctrine. His methods were unconventional and effective. The torch he carried would give light overseas and mission efforts would account for new converts on foreign soil and domestic though the world faced some of the darkest times.
In 1943, upon his death, his son, M. A. Tomlinson was chosen by the Holy Ghost to pick up that torch. He carried it well and the church saw growth and stretched the torch to even further lengths than his father’s administration before him. He would administrate The Church of God through troubled waters time and again holding high the torch of truth as a beacon for those who would follow.
In 1993, after a turbulent time in dark and troubled waters, The Church of God found herself following the man God had chosen for such a time, Robert J. Pruitt. He would hold high the truth when everyone around would try to extinguish it. His leadership in a troubled times is to be honored today.
In 2006, Stephen E. Smith was called to the helm by the Holy Ghost and he picked up the torch left after the illness of Brother Pruitt left him unable to continue. Brother Smith would face opposition as those before him, but he was relentless in his determination to hold the fort and rally for the Truth. He carried the torch with tenacity and in the fear of the Lord until in faith, he was called home.
Matthew 5:14 says, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.” The light didn’t start with these men and we do not worship them. It also doesn’t stop with them. These portraits are lit to not only to show the beauty of the artists pencil, but also to remind us of the light of revelation, endurance, fortitude and faith which shined on their lives by the Lord as they worked to share the light with the world. That same light shines in each of us, if we permit it to do so.
These four men blazed a trail of truth with the light of God’s Word that cannot be matched by any worldly political leader, any corporate CEO or any Pontus of manmade institutions. The caliber and quality of their lives radiated the Truth of God’s Word in their everyday living and in the manner by which they led The great Church of God. We pray that today and every day, this new display will help all those who see it to remember their labors, sacrifices and love for the same truth we carry today. It is also hoped each of these will renew in the viewers the desire to rise above circumstances and be instruments in the hands of God that can be lit ablaze with the absolute Truth of God’s Word. May everyone who sees these be moved to win the lost for Christ and His Church.