The six-day assembly of The Church of God was attended by more than 1,100 delegates from the United States and several countries.
It was held in the Ridgecrest Conference Center in the mountains of North Carolina, near Black Mountain and Asheville. A delegation of 30 came from England and another 13,000 were able to view the services online from some 87 countries.
The assembly theme was taken from the Scripture in 2 Peter 3:12: “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.” The program of each session was built on the theme with sermons, songs and worship.
A highlight of the meeting was the announcement of the progress concerning the erection of a marker on Mount Hattin in the Holy Land to bring awareness to the prophecy and fulfillment for Christ’s church: “There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth (Psalm 72:16); and “And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3, 13-14).
General Overseer Stephen E. Smith informed the church the officials in Israel have approved the project and donations are coming in to fund the marker. It will be constructed of black marble with Scriptures on all sides and the motto, “Love one another.”
It was further promoted by Church of Prophecy Marker Association coordinator Melvin Byers of North Carolina. Thanking the people for their prayers, Byers was helped to the pulpit as he had to have a leg amputated this year.
A video was shown which featured some other “markers” that are important to the church from years past: a flagpole from the old Church of God headquarters on Central Avenue and the original Bible Street concrete street marker — these all in place at the Tilley Road site), a cornerstone from the Keith Street tabernacle, bark from the Witness Tree and a stone slab bearing the name of an island country (from Fields of the Wood); and the Solemn Assembly marker at the local Southside Church — “lest we forget.”
In the overseer’s annual address on Friday, Smith said the first business of the church is to be prepared to up in the rapture. He said there are challenges facing the church, but like Christ said to Peter, “I have prayed for you.” He said the church’s hope is entirely in Christ the Lord. He said the focus should be toward holiness — toward heaven, according to 1 John 2:15 and Romans 8:5. Referring to Colossians 3:1 and 2, Smith said we have to “walk in the Spirit.” and carry no baggage of the world with us. He paused in his address for the singing of “Somebody’s Gonna Stand.”
He said in conclusion “There’s safety if we stay close to Christ and keep ourselves in the grace of God. He asked Freddy Crumley of Cleveland to sing, “When He Reached Down His Hand for Me.”
Many of the assembly sessions ended with people gathering in the altar, praying and rejoicing. Before each session, 30 minutes of music and singing were offered by various groups, such as the Assembly Brass Band, the Assembly Blue Grass Band, choirs from England, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina and other singers and musicians. Most sermons (in English and Spanish) were preached with interpreters to include the large Latino congregation.
Testimonies from assembly delegates were inspiring and uplifting. Mitch Cameron gave an update on his being healed in the Bible Training Institute services in Cleveland this year. He said the bones in his legs had knitted back and the doctor was able to take the screws out two weeks ago. He is now walking more than three miles a day with no help or assistance. He goes to the gym and is able to leg press up to 300 pounds. After being able to do nothing physical for four years, now the muscles are growing back. “Looking good, looking fine” are the doctor’s comments. With “nothing to hold me back,” Cameron is working in three new fields, serves two more churches as pastor and is ministering in Memphis, and at the same time serves as a regional overseer over West Tennessee. “I see why God healed me,” he said.
According to comments from the assembly delegates, the Ridgecrest Conference Center location was ideal for the gathering. Ridgecrest not only provide the facilities for the meeting, but accommodations were available (with meals) to meet the needs of the people for every budget.
Lea Dudley of Virginia said this was her first time to attend an assembly. She came to the mainland from Hawaii three years ago and was thrilled she could attend this year. She said she had been hearing about Ridgecrest and was so excited to be here in “this beautiful area.” Katherine Dudley, her sister-in-law, echoed her sentiments. “The rooms are clean,” she said, “the food is good and the service is good — “everyone is so helpful.”
Tentative date for the 109th General Assembly is Aug. 19-24, 2014.