(Near Washington, D.C.) - After three days of meeting, fellowship, and dialogue, Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders announced the founding of a publication focused on this issue of reconciliation as well as strategic planning meeting to put down in writing the specific steps towards reconciliation in their churches.
Key leaders of prominent Pentecostal and Charismatic Christian denominations met October 1-3 to discuss the issues of racial, cultural and theological unity at their annual Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) convention held in Oxon Hill, Maryland, near the nation's capital.
This year's conference was justly titled "Revival-Reconciliation-Justice." Under the direction of the theme, participants continued working through many of the issues facing the process of racial reconciliation within the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements of Christianity and how these unified movements will be better equipped to teach unity to the myriad of factions within the Christian Church.
"The first step to true reconciliation is to have a relationship with each other. That's why we've chosen to gather together, to dialogue, and to get to know each other," said Dr. Ron Williams, spokesperson for the PCCNA organization. While developing relationships, there are many tangible steps that Christians can take in reconciling themselves across racial, cultural and theological lines. The first pro-active step, according to Bishop George McKinney of the Church of God in Christ, from California is "to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with a strong and righteous emphasis on justice." McKinney also said that the PCCNA must begin to print position papers from various points of view to educate members, foster more dialogues such as the annual conference, and must ensure that Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders align what they say and do.
McKinney, and other speakers such as Dr. Judy Brown, indicated that the Church must be about action. "Justice demands action against unjust laws that discriminate," said McKinney. Dr. Brown widened the discussion with a talk that raised the point of church discrimination against women. "Gender hierarchy first appears in Genesis not as a desire or command of God, but as a direct consequence of sin. It ... reverses rather than reflects God's original, ideal plan for humanity," Brown told the crowd of several hundred Pentecostal and Charismatic leaders.
The announced steps that the PCCNA organization took towards true reconciliation included the starting of a periodical titled Reconciliation to be edited by Dr. Harold D. Hunter and Dr. Cecil M. Robeck, Jr. The first edition of the publication will be distributed to over 30,000 Christian leaders within North America. It will be informed by scholarship while targeted for pastors in order to widen the discussion and dialogue of reconciliation. In addition, the Executive Committee agreed to meet in December to develop a strategic plan for positive, practical steps to move past the words of reconciliation and into the reality of reconciliation. "The question we want to answer with this type of strategic plan is 'how can we take reconciliation to the grass root level and out to every single church?" commented Dr. Ron Williams, PCCNA spokesperson.
The groups also decided that all future conferences will be centered around specific issues from the PCCNA manifesto rather than solely on the general subject of reconciliation. The focus will be on action within the context of relationship and dialogue. As Dr. Brown said in her paper, "It is not enough that PCCNA exists and convenes. What matters most are the real-life changes that are activated by us in between these meetings, simply because they are the right thing to do."
In other business, the PCCNA organization elected new officers.For the Executive Officers, they are Bishop Gilbert Patterson and Rev. Thomas Trask as Co-Chairpersons, Bishop Barbara Amos as First Vice Chairperson, Rev. Billy Joe Daughtery as Second Vice Chairperson, Bishop Oswill Williams as Secretary, and Dr. Ron Williams as Treasurer. General members of the newly elected Executive Committee are Bishop Ithiel Clemmons, Bishop Roderick Caesar, Bishop George McKinney, Rev. James Leggett, Dr. Paul Walker, and Rev. Ann Gimenez.