MOMENTUM FOR A NEW MILLENIUM
Bishop James D. Leggett
This is the first General Conference of the 21st century. The previous quadrennium served as a bridge from the 20th century into the 21st century. We began with a wonderful celebration of our Centennial with significant celebrations in Oklahoma and North Carolina. Representatives attended from the Fire Baptized Holiness Church of the Americas, Pentecostal Free Will Baptist, Congregational Holiness Church, and Emmanuel Holiness Church. It was great to have a family celebration of the wonderful work of God over the past 100 years.
The Lord spoke to us not only about His past blessings but also of bright promises for the future. We are convinced that we stand on the banks of a future full of promises of God. We also believe God is saying to us, “There is greater glory in the bones of the Pentecostal Holiness Church.”
God’s blessings on the church have created an exciting momentum, which we believe will continue to build in successive years. We are on the verge of the explosive growth which we have been praying for and expecting.
The statistical report reveals an increasing momentum in the United States and around the world. We rejoice in the reported increases, but the gathering momentum causes even greater joy.
The denomination is beginning to fulfill its mission statement…to multiply and mature believers and churches in worship, fellowship, and evangelism as we walk in obedience to the Great Commission in cooperation with the whole body of Christ.
The momentum is seen in our growth from 1996 to 2000. We had an increase of 33,823 – the largest membership gain of any quadrennium. In the past year alone, the Pentecostal Holiness Church added 12,541 members – our largest annual increase ever – for a gain of 6.8 percent. Our membership during the quadrennium increased form 164,149 to 197,972. AS of this General Conference, we have passed the 200,000 mark.
The gain for 1997 – 2000 surpasses all previous decadal gains. The previous decadal record was 30,523 in the seventies; the gain for this quadrennium is 33,823. The membership increase for the past decade is more than double that of any previous decade. In fact, the gain in the nineties is more than the gains of the previous three decades combined.
The church has almost double since 1980, and 75 percent of that growth has been in the last ten years. We thank God for the outstanding growth, but even more for the growing momentum.
A Global Church
The growth around the world is even more remarkable. World Missions Ministries reports membership almost doubled from 729,887 in 1996 to 1,345,890 in 2000. Including our affiliates – the Methodist Pentecostal Church of Chile and the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Brazil – the total membership is 3.5 million. This is an increase of nearly one million from 1996.
The church continues to move toward globalization. The World Pentecostal Holiness Fellowship constitution was adopted at a meeting of the Executive Committee in Costa Rica. The committee is preparing for the next World Congress in February 2003 in San Jose, Costa Rica. The World Fellowship will represent more than 100 nations. Preparations are already underway for this world conference.
Members of the committee are James D. Leggett, chairman, Donovan Ng (Asia), Reggie Thomas (Africa), Jose Angel (Latin America), Teodor Bulzan (Europe), and Gordon McDonald (North America). Representatives from our affiliate churches will be added. Regular meetings of the Executive Committee are planned in the coming years. The function of the WPHF is for fellowship rather than legislature.
For the first time, the Overseas Ministry Coordinates (OMC) were invited to the General Board of Administration (GBA) meeting for Mission 21 training. One of our missionaries remarked about the meeting: “Now, we are all sharing in the same vision around the world.” The OMCs will continue to meet with the GBA in the future for vision casting and training.
Our Web site is a wonderful tool for the church worldwide. When we develop a program, it is placed on the Web site and is immediately available to pastors and churches around the world. Leaders overseas are expressing their gratitude for the availability of these materials.
Church planting is the key to denominational growth. The focus of the denomination is to become a “church planting movement,” and the momentum continues to build in this regard. More churches were planted in this quadrennium that in any previous four-year period. More than 100 churches were planted per year in 1997, 1998, and 1999. In 2000, new churches totaled 154! The gain in new churches for the quadrennium was 206, which more than doubled the gain in the previous four years.
God is faithful to provision the mission. The increase in the size of the Pentecostal Holiness Church is reflected in the financial growth of the quadrennium. Each year has shown an increase, but one year stands above all others. In 1999, the income increased 14 percent. The 30 percent increase for the quadrennium is almost double the increase for the previous quadrennium.
Mission 21: Vision for a New Century
Target 2000 transitioned naturally into Mission 21 as the carrier of the vision and mission of the Pentecostal Holiness Church. Mission 21 has been highly effective in focusing the denomination on the opportunities of the future. Under the leadership of Bishop Leon Stewart and Bishop B.E. Underwood, Target 2000 changed the direction of the church to focus on its God-given mission of evangelism.
Thank god for the Mission 21 Committee. These dedicated and talented individuals did an outstanding job in preparing mobilization material for the denomination. These materials – Vision Care, Mobilized for Mission, and Celebrate the Mission – were provided to all our pastors without charge. They were also translated into Spanish.
Equipping Leaders for the New Century
World Intercession Network (WIN) helps create a climate of prayer throughout the denomination. We cannot overemphasize the impact of prayer in the spiritual might of the church. The IPHC Ministries have been supported and covered by prayer and intercession.
In January 1999, the RDC launched a day of prayer for the ministry of the church. Business for the day is suspended, and the staff gathers for prayer and intercession. These all-day prayer sessions have become an annual event. Conference offices in the U.S.A. and ministries around the world are encouraged to join in this season of prayer.
Looking to the Future
Recently, I reviewed the message form the last night of the 1997 General Conference. I was amazed at the prophetic power of the words. God promised to do a work beyond anything we could measure. God has an unlimited, boundless future for the Pentecostal Holiness Church. Put away your measuring rod; God is up to something extraordinary in His church, more than anything we can imagine.
Following that word, I invited those who wanted to see the greatest four years in the history of the church to gather to the altar. It has been our greatest quadrennium, and God is just beginning to bless the church. He is about to cause us to explode in this world, and the harvest will come quickly and be plentiful.