James R. Horne
P. O. Box 650
Bessemer, AL 35021
The Church of God
197 Tillie Road
Cleveland, TN 37312
Selecting an Interim Overseer–A Call to Prayer & Fasting
“For it seemed good to us, and to the Holy Ghost…” (Acts 15:28).
James R. Horne, State Overseer
After serving for nine years as General Overseer, the passing of Bishop Smith on June 7th, 2015, caused this scriptural office to become vacant. The Administrative Committee officially responded to this situation on June 8th by sending a letter to the Overseers around the world informing them that an Overseers’ Meeting will be held in Cleveland July 3, 2015. As per our rulings, the Field Secretaries are now carrying on the administrative work of the Church until the Overseers can convene for this meeting and an Interim Overseer is chosen by them to serve “until the selection of a General Overseer is made at the next Annual Assembly,” which is to be done by acclamation. As a member, you count one and are very important in this process. Although the Assembly has deemed this particular meeting be for State/National Overseers, your leaders need your support and our spiritual preparations for this meeting should begin well before the gathering takes place with much prayer and fasting. In reviewing the minutes, some records have been included below so our members can gain a good understanding of where we are currently at in this situation:
“…in the event the office of the General Overseer shall be declared vacant, a General Overseer shall be selected by the Overseers serving under general appointment to fill the office until the selection of a General Overseer is made at the next Annual Assembly. The remaining members of the Executive Committee would be responsible to notify the overseers and make arrangements for the meeting” (77th AM, p. 82 Q&S). *Note: The title “Executive Committee” was changed to “Administrative Committee” (83rd AM, 1988, p. 45, Q&S).
“Be it resolved that in the event of a vacancy in the office of the General Overseer, the three Field Secretaries are to carry on the administrative work of the Church until the State/National Overseers could meet to choose a General Overseer to serve until the next General Assembly. Although the Field Secretaries carry on the administrative duties of the Church, the office of General Overseer remains vacant until the Overseers make their selection. Such meeting of the State/National Overseers is to convene as soon as possible within the thirty (30) day period following the vacancy in the office of the General Overseer” (84th AM, p. 131, QSC).
“…they can find no better plan than that found in the Word: That the General Overseer be selected by the entire body as represented at the Annual Assembly by acclamation and that State Overseers be appointed by the General Overseer. We further recommend that if any time there comes a need by disability from any cause, and the office of the General Overseer be declared vacant, a General Overseer be selected by the State Overseers to fill the office until the next Annual Assembly.” (8th AM, 1913, pp.34-35).
An account of the 1943 Special Overseers’ meeting found in the Cyclopedic Index of Assembly Minutes, pages 305-310, gives in greater detail the selection process by which M. A. Tomlinson was chosen. This is also found in the 39th Assembly Minutes, 1944. On page 10 of the Solemn Assembly Minutes, Brother Pruitt was selected to serve, and page 7 of the 88th Annual Assembly held in November that same year records that he was reconfirmed as he, “called for prayer on our knees by all as he stepped aside and placed the position of General Overseer entirely in the hands of the Holy Ghost and this General Assembly.” After serving 13 years as General Overseer, Brother Pruitt stepped down due to failing health. Bishop Smith was chosen to serve as Interim General Overseer in the Overseers’ Meeting of June 2006. After much prayer and fasting, it was in the last session of the 2006 Assembly that Brother Smith was accepted by unanimous decision and installed as General Overseer of The Church of God. All of these men served the Church faithfully.
The Church is right on target with its response. Preparations are being made and our National Overseers are currently securing their visas and tickets to attend this meeting. Although we are greatly saddened by this loss, we can rest in knowing God has the Church in His hands and loving care. We have good men in our presbytery who will humbly seek to find the mind of God in filling this Interim position. The final selection is left to the General Assembly to discern as it “seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us…” (Acts 15:28).
I pray that you will take up this heavy burden with the leadership in finding God’s will in the upcoming Overseers’ Meeting and carry this spirit of prayer and fasting into the Assembly. We’re all in this work together!
July 8-12 – Family Camp in Rockford, Alabama
July 17-19 – State Convention in Bessemer, Alabama
August 14-17 – International Youth Camp in Arden, North Carolina
August 18-23 – General Assembly in Asheville, North Carolina
Special Help Requested
We are approaching a landmark General Assembly with significant immediate and historical importance to The Church of God. As such, every member of The Church of God will undoubtedly have the desire to gather together as the great “multitude of counsellors” in prayer and fasting to find the perfect will of God.
It is the desire of the Administrative Committee to see that all of our Overseers throughout the world attend this year’s General Assembly. As you are probably aware, due to the high cost of travel, only half of our National Overseers are brought in for the Assembly each year. We would like to take this opportunity to make each of you aware of our intentions and allow you the opportunity to participate in our effort to bring in all of the National Overseers.
We are requesting that each individual, local church and state or region consider sending a love offering to General Headquarters to assist with the cost associated with bringing in all of the National Overseers. Because of the short time available for the necessary planning and preparation for travel, we are requesting that funds be sent in as soon as possible and clearly identified for the purpose of “Overseer’s Assembly Travel.”
Thank you for your kind consideration for this important need.