In the news, South Carolina voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from the capital grounds. It’s a good move. Those symbols need to be in different places, which is why I’m not for just getting rid of them completely.
Let me explain, because the title of the post isn’t referring to South Carolina. It is referring to my own denomination, the Assemblies of God.
I received the resolutions packet for the upcoming General Council. I can never afford to attend those events, but I’m always glad to know what is being considered. This year is a resolution to add in a seat on the executive leadership team that is specifically for a black minister in the A/G fellowship. We’ve made the move in ethnic groups generally, and then for a woman to have a position, and then for ministers under 40. Now, this resolution will allow for a seat at the table for a fellowship that has long been with us in the Assemblies of God. I pray it moves for approval quickly.
The Assemblies of God as a Pentecostal fellowship is new to the scene. We’re barely 100 years old. But on the world church scene, Pentecostal movements in the last century have risen and form a large part of what is going on in the Church worldwide. It began out of a revival that can be traced ultimately back to Topeka, Kansas. I have to mention that, since I’m FROM Kansas. But the catalyst revival was Azusa Street in Los Angeles in 1906. It was started by a black man named William Seymour. Denominations that arose out of that movement, however, were still caught up in the racism of the day. What is hard to swallow in A/G history is the racist roots. We were formed and took white ministers. Church of God in Christ became predominately African American.
And this is why I think removing the Confederate battle flag from government grounds in the South is a good idea, but trying to make it go away completely is a mistake, along with trying to rename every building and tearing down statues.
I can’t get away from the A/G history. It impacted me early on in my ministry and that was a moment I could have “bolted.” I chose not to. Over the last 20 years has been a reconciliation movement in the A/G that has worked hard to bring healing and hope. Our national leader over 20 years held a foot washing ceremony and asked for forgiveness of the leaders of the Church of God in Christ. This year our national leader preached at the Church of God in Christ national convention and their leader will preach at our national convention.
But we can’t scrub the history. We have to talk about it. We have to ask for forgiveness. We have to heal. And that means at times you leave the ugly reminders to say to a next generation: “Don’t go this road any more.”
So, I’m incredibly thankful for the great moment in reconciliation for my own denomination. I am prayerful it will pass easily.