Friday, June 28, 2013

Nazarene General Assembly 2013 - Recap

Dramatic blessings.  Quiet blessings.  God gave both as Nazarenes gathered in Indianapolis for our once-in-4-years celebration and governing session we call General Assembly.
On the side of quiet blessings, three stand out to me.
  • We refused to step backward into fundamentalism.  Several resolutions were proposed that would have pulled us toward the radical right.  However, our leaders wisely chose to maintain the center ground.
  • We did lots and lots of healthy networking and meeting.  Getting loads of leaders together in the same place at the same time allows for all kinds of discussion and planning that isn't normally possible.  On my last day, for example, I talked with leaders from Bangladesh and Mozambique about the possibility of partnering with our church in our work with www.freethegirls.org.  Both groups were very positive.  They are going to do some research and get back to us.
  • We approved simultaneous multi-site general assemblies.  This will probably be the last general assembly with only one site.  In the future, we'll have once central site and extension sites all around the world.  This will save millions in travel costs and will enable the vast majority of our international delegates to participate (many of whom are denied visas to the USA).  Most likely, North American delegates will never be in the majority again (and rightly so).  This resolution passed without much discussion or fanfare, but it is the most significant change for the Church of the Nazarene in my memory.
On the dramatic side, we elected two excellent General Superintendents.
  • First, we elected David Busic, president of Nazarene Theological Seminary.  Many had 
    genuinely mixed feelings about this.  One one hand, Busic is as good as leaders come.  He is genuine, humble, brilliant, and visionary.  Although, many - myself included - desperately wanted to diversify our Board of General Superintendents, no one in their right minds could say anything bad about Busic or the good he will bring to the church.
  • Our longings for diversity were finally assuaged, when after massive amounts of drama, we
    finally elected Gustavo Crocker (Guatemalan) as our 41st General Superintendent.  It took a record 53 ballots to get it done, though.  With 67% of the votes needed for election, Crocker initially peeked at around 52%.  Then, Carla Sundberg surged into the lead, but she peeked at 54%.  Next, Christian Sarmiento (Columbia) came out of nowhere only to cap out at 60%.  But Dan Boone (president of Trevecca Nazarene University) made a late charge up to 300 votes.  However, he bowed out, feeling peace about staying at Trevecca.  That led to a three way tie between Crocker, Sarmiento, and Sunberg - with each having almost 30% of the total votes.  After a break and some time in prayer, Crocker suddenly surged ahead and won.  As far as I'm concerned, he was the right choice all the way along.  He is brilliant, provocative, and committed to helping the church live with compassion.  That's not always popular, but that is exactly what we need.
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