Howard, 58, was appointed to the position in 2006. He is taking a sabbatical from the ministry for a season of spiritual renewal and to focus on personal issues within his family, according to a press release from the church.
After his sabbatical, Howard said he looks forward to “new opportunities to serve the Church of God of Prophecy in her call to build God’s kingdom.”
As Howard steps down, the seven General Presbyters — bishops David Browder, Asia and Oceania; Sam Clements, North America; Clayton Endecott, Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Middle East; Benjamin Feliz, Central America, Mexico, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean; Clayton Martin, Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean Isles; Stephen Masilela, Africa; and Gabriel Vidal, South America — will serve as a plurality of leadership.
In accordance with church governance, the International Presbytery will nominate a new general overseer in an upcoming meeting before the International Assembly in July 2014 in Orlando, Fla. The presbytery will submit the nomination to the International Assembly, the highest decision-making body of the church, for approval.
The presbytery is not expected to have a special meeting before the regularly scheduled assembly.
Speaking for the presbyters, Clements showed support and appreciation for Howard’s leadership, which he said was “strategic and visionary and led the church through a period of growth.”
The Church of God of Prophecy has more than 1.5 million members worshipping in more than 10,000 churches and missions in 125 nations of the world. Nearly 90 percent of its global membership is outside of North America.