Are we ready to follow an uncharted trail under sealed orders?

The bi-annual Alliance General Council event was held May 28-June 2 at the Orlando World Center Marriott Hotel and Convention Center. Bringing together church leaders and representatives from across the United States and around the world, Council is an opportunity to gather and reflect on our calling as a church, our missions, and to evaluate, adjust and plan the fundamentals that will sustain and grow our ministries and workers for the coming years.

Beyond

The theme for this year’s Council was “Beyond”. Alliance President John Stumbo emphasized this theme repeatedly in his messages to attendees. He started by referencing the story of Alliance founder AB Simpson. When he moved to New York, Simpson did not fully know God’s plan for him or his ministry. Rather, he came having to operate under “sealed orders”, as he described it in his journal. Stumbo also highlighted Acts 13:13, and John Mark’s journey with Paul and Barnabas. Fearful, John Mark decided to take a ship home from Perga, rather than continue with them into unknown territory “upward and inward” towards Antioch.

“A trail awaits—uncharted by us, but not by the Spirit,” said Stumbo. “We have never been, but there’s no place He hasn’t.” Stumbo continued, “Where is He calling you to go? Is there a great frontier of His love waiting for you tonight? Is there an inward, upward plan in our lives where the Lord is beckoning us to trust Him?”

President Stumbo challenged us to not let fear of the unknown cause us to miss out on God’s call in our own personal Perga moments, and to remind us (just like John Mark) that there is redemption, even when we have chosen safety over God’s call.

Embracing Change

Over the course of the conference, President Stumbo launched what he called a two-year discussion to focus on Christ-centered changes within the Alliance family. He challenged us to consider the language we use to describe ourselves, our theology, and the way we conduct our ministry in this era of human history. Actions that could ultimately help determine our effectiveness as one of God’s end-times families.

Stumbo noted, “Living organizations have to take a step back and ask: Are we doing what we need to do to the best of our ability with the fewest barnacles attached to the ship to be a forward-moving, mission-advancing, kingdom-declaring body of believers with as few things slowing us down as possible?” During the course of this conversation, Stumbo urged us to assume good intent of one another as we enter into these discussions from diverse perspectives. “Family, would we learn to trust and stand with each other? [Can we] not assume someone who disagrees with us is automatically in the heretical category? As I launch into a new season of conversation, [I pray] we can show the world how to disagree in a gracious manner.”

Change conversations have already begun at a national level and will continue over the next two years to include the broader Alliance family. Specifically, these conversations will address:

  • Our funding model
  • Our Statement of Faith
  • Church polity as it relates to male and female roles in the church
  • Our Statement on Marriage-Divorce-Remarriage
  • Our Statement on the Sanctity of Life

All recorded sessions from Council can be accessed and viewed here.

President’s Report

Stumbo’s full “Report of the President” for 2019 can be found and read in its entirety here. Several changes have already been approved and adopted. These include:

  • Our Mission Statement (Pgs 141-142)
  • Our Statement on Sexuality (Pgs 136-138)
  • New structure & name for Alliance Missions (formerly International Ministries) (Pg 25)
  • Great Commission Women structure and name (Pgs 23-24, 73-74)

New Mission Statement:

We are Spirit-empowered children of the Father,

who exist to exalt Jesus as Savior, Sanctifier, Healer, and Coming King,

and complete His Great Commission together.

The restructuring of International Ministries, now Alliance Missions, brings together CAMA, Marketplace Ministries, aXcess (formerly International Workers), and Envision under a unified banner. These ministries will cooperatively work together and utilize a simplified funding structure that eliminates competition and celebrates each area.

New England Attendance

Almost 70 official workers, delegates and family members attended Council from our New England district, representing all six states and some international fields. We hosted an ice cream social on Thursday night and Tom facilitated introductions and shared updates specific to our district.

We were thrilled that Jessica Bryant was miraculously able to join us even though she was in a serious car accident just a short while ago. Our region has been praying for her, and her ability to join us at Council is a testament to God’s healing. Jessica is in international worker from South Shore and Love Alliance churches currently working on her Alliance Licensed Ministry Experience.

Commissioning of International Workers

Speaking of the international workers, one of the highlights of Council was the commissioning of those being sent overseas. At the conclusion of events on Sunday, a rally was held for this year’s 62 new workers! (That number should increase to 70 by the end of 2019.) Andy Geffers noted, “It was a very moving experience to witness hundreds of international workers from dozens of countries parading through the crowd holding their countries’ flags and then right after that, seeing 62 new international workers commissioned to join them.” Andy challenged us, “It is going to take all of us sacrificially giving and partnering if we are going to effectively support both our current and our new international workers.”

Final Thoughts

This year, families were encouraged to attend, and the Orlando location proved an ideal location for those with children. A kid’s ministry was offered during morning and evening sessions and parents reported the kids enjoyed it. The kids even got to perform on stage at the start of the evening service on Friday night.

During the business sessions elections were held for the Board of Directors, Corporate Secretary and Corporate Vice Chair, and for a Theological Issues Committee.  Several changes and amendments to the C&MA Manual and Bylaws were also discussed and voted on.

For those already planning, the next Council will be held May 31 – June 3, 2021 in Nashville, TN at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center.