Report from the 7th Assembly of the Global Development Council
TCR Staff Report
From February 22-24 2017, approximately 200 African Methodist Episcopal Church clergy and lay leaders from Districts 14-20 gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa for the 7th Assembly of the Global Development Council (GDC). The meeting was lead by GDC Chair Bishop David R. Daniels and hosted by Bishop Paul J.M. Kawimbe, Presiding Prelate of the 19th Episcopal District. Per the Discipline, the purposes of the GDC include developing a structure to address the needs, aspirations, beliefs and cultures of the global context and determining methods to address the unique challenges of the Districts outside of the United States. In addition to the delegates, all Bishops of Districts 14-20, several General Officers and a number of representatives of Connectional Organizations and the Judicial Council were present at the meeting.
Bishop Daniels called the opening plenary session to order at 10:00 AM on February 22. The devotion was conducted by members of the 16th, 18th and 20th Episcopal Districts. Words of greeting were given by Bishop Kawimbe. After discussion and adoption of the agenda and ancillary issues, the assembly moved to presentations from the General Officers. Dr. Richard Lewis discussed the Connectional budget and implications for Districts 14-20 and Mr. John Thomas III announced the Field Representatives that had been selected to assist The Christian Recorder in Districts 14-20. After further discussion on the Connectional budget, the meeting adjourned to lunch. Business resumed in the afternoon with the consideration of various reports and correspondence. GDC Secretary Rowlence K. Banda was recognized for his years of service in serving as the memory of the GDC after he served the maximum term of office.The plenary then adjourned to form several small discussion groups. The preacher for the opening worship service was Bishop Wilfred Jacobus Messiah of the 17th Episcopal District who preached “How to hold on to your Blessings” 1 Samuel 13:8-14.
The meeting reconvened on the morning of February 23 with reports from the various groups (Recommendations follow the report). A vigorous discussion ensued as the strategies and plans were discussed. Particular attention was paid to the “Way Forward” report on the election of Bishops from Districts 14-20 and the situation of the “indigenous Bishops” elected in 2004. At the close of the session, greetings were extended by the following: Dr. George Flowers (Global Witness and Ministry), Rev. Roderick D. Belin (President/Publisher of the AME Publishing House-Sunday School Union), Rev. Garland F. Pierce (Executive Director of Christian Education), Mr. Robert Nicholas (Executive Director, AME Service and Development Agency) and Dr. Shirley Cason Reed (President, Women’s Missionary Society). Candidates for various offices of the Connectional Lay Organization were recognized. Bishop Byfield preached the sermon at the evening service “When the Church loses its birthright” Hebrews 12:16-17.
The final day of the GDC began with devotionals from the 19th Episcopal District. The financial reports from the various Districts were considered as well as the long-term economic development fund. Planning was made for the GDC activities for the rest of the 2016-2020 quadrennium. The meeting formally adjourned into the closing service and Rev. Roderick D. Belin preached from John 14:1-4 with the subject “Believe God”.
GDC Officers for the 2017-2019 Biennium
Chairperson – Bishop David R Daniels, Jr.
Co-Chair – Bishop Wilfred J. Messiah
Co-Chair – Bishop Paul J.M. Kawimbe
Co-Chair – Bishop E. Earl Mc Cloud, Jr.
Co-Chair – Bishop E. Anne Henning Byfield
Co-Chair – Bishop Stafford J.N. Wicker
Co-Chair – Bishop Ronnie E. Brailsford, Sr.
Secretary – Presiding Elder Obakeng P Jackals (15th)
Assistant Sec – Rev Dr. Katurah York Cooper (14th)
Treasurer – Presiding Elder Wayne Anthony PE (16th)
Parliamentarian – Brother Simon Letsoko (19th)
Recommendations from Standing Committees
Youth and Young Adults (Bishop Stafford JN Wicker)
- Teach our children bible knowledge in local church
- Build Child Care Centres (0 – 5yrs)
- Create Christian education as a subject matter with the public schools
- Create Christian books age appropriate and also libraries
- Engage parents in the work of Christian Education
- Choose individuals with high spiritual integrity to teach children and provide continuous education to individual to serve children.
- Provide activities for children which engage the entire family
- Roundtable discussion for teens and young adults
- Evangelism: taught principles then go out and share (11 – 18yrs)
- Engage this generation with music, creative arts, theatre and drama
- Episcopal district and all levels should have trained Christian Education personnel
- Budget for local church for the work of Christian Education.
Higher Education (Bishop Anne Henning Byfield)
- GDC to develop a 3 – 5 year Strategic educational plan
- Online classes for district 14 – 20
- Div. Curriculum be synchronised
- Educational funds be made available to assist students
Economic Development (Bishop Wilfred J. Messiah)
- The issue of land as a viable investment in the GDC District
- An audit be conducted on land owned by the Church
- Board of Directors to account to the Assembly as to the status of the Non-Profit Corporation
Church Growth and Development (Bishop Ronnie E. Brailsford)
- Training of clergy and evangelism
- Introduction of counselling
- Revival of Sunday school
- Class leader system revival
- Church planting and
- Institutionalising of Evangelism day
Christian Education (Bishop E. Earl McCloud, Jr.)
- Make sure the material is distributed. Send the manuscript of adult and youth lessons – each of the offices 14-20;
- Christian Education and Publisher in partnership will send the Bishop the Church School lesson – copyright problem.
- Materials for components; Duties of the local church – guide; Indigenous in the district to translate. They did well except a couple of words.
- Locate individuals from Districts 14-20 and if necessary 1-13 who are able to translate materials.
- Provide materials via multi-media (WhatsApp, PowerPoint, etc.)
- Utilize WhatsApp as a form of communication across Episcopal Districts
- Communicate the role and responsibility of Christian Education; the Board, the directors and “deans”
- Module lessons: Curriculum that can be developed Chichewa; English (Zulu); English; Spanish; French; Portuguese; Dutch; Xhosa
- Every Bishop to bring the Episcopal District Christian Education Director to the GDC
- Provide culturally relevant illustrations to the Christian Education Department and the Publisher.
- Provide Christian Education articles to the Christian Education Journal for Districts 14-20
Way Forward (Bishop David R Daniels Jr)
- The church must decide if it is going to be Jurisdictional or Connectional.
- The church in any case must determine to take our input in the development of goals and initiatives that guarantee our participation at all levels in every constituency of our denomination.
- These goals must be date certain and inclusive of all nationalities. We must develop a path for success for candidates for episcopacy, General and Connectional offices that encourage our aspirations to meet the church’s needs in the present and future ages.
- Bishops elected under “the Covenant”) retire in 2028, 2032 and 2036. Our programme for replacement should be in full force by 2028, if not much sooner. Bishops elected under a connectional system should be recognized as Bishops who are eligible for service anywhere in the church.
Legislation (Bishop Paul JM Kawimbe)
Future GDC Dates
February 22-23, 2018 Executive Board Hosted by 18th District
February 18-19, 2019 Christian Education Summit hosted by 15th District
February 19-22, 2019 General Session Hosted by 15th District
February 20-21, 2020 Executive Board Hosted by 16th District
We express our appreciation to Presiding Elder Obakeng P Jackals (15) and Presiding Elder Albert D. Tyson III (4) for their assistance in completing this article.