The following statement was issued by General Overseer Oscar Pimentel:
Greetings and God bless you dear saints. Thank you for meeting with me for a few moments. I’m here today to talk to you about our General Assembly for the year 2020.
Many, if not all of you, may know we have had to make some unpleasant decisions concerning several of our yearly activities and events that we enjoy celebrating, and some we hoped to inaugurate for the first time this Assembly year. Our regularly scheduled services have been disrupted, along with much of the scheduled visits to members’ homes, local churches, regions and nations by workers at every level of the Church.
From time to time unforeseen circumstances arise that get in the way of a scheduled event. When that event is of the greatest importance to us it only enhances the difficulty of making an unpleasant decision regarding that event.
After much prayer, and following consultation with the Administrative Committee, World Missions Committee and Assembly Coordinators of Operations, I want to inform you that while it has been our purpose to hold our Annual General Assembly September 1 to September 6 of 2020, unfortunately and regrettably I have determined that this year’s Assembly will be postponed indefinitely.
Several reasons led to the postponement, including logistical difficulties and international challenges caused by the recent pandemic and its persistent rippling effects around the world. This decision is also made out of an abundance of caution for the well-being of our wonderful people to whom the present wave of illness would pose a risk.
As one who looks forward to the General Assembly, I will greatly miss what experiences are often shared at our annual gathering. Even so, I want to encourage you to remain“…fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer” (Rom. 12:11, 12).
During the epidemic of influenza of 1918 and all the prohibitions that were put in place that closed all churches and did not allow any public gatherings of any kind in order to help stem the tide of influenza deaths, Bishop Tomlinson was able to report in his diary the following words, “The Church is growing and the work is spreading in spite of all oppositions and discouragements.”
During this time, we too can have growth in spite of the pandemic. Souls can be saved in spite of the pandemic. The gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of the Church can be preached in spite of the pandemic. We can minister to someone in spite of the pandemic. The Church is a living, breathing organism, made up of flesh and blood members that was able to adapt to world conditions in 1918, and she is able to adapt today and function in 2020.
There is a proverbial phrase often used to encourage optimism and a can-do attitude when facing adversity or perhaps some misfortune, it says, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I’m sure you have heard it before, perhaps even used the phrase.
Some may feel that what we are experiencing is only bitterness and undue difficulty in life and we find no reason to praise or work for the Lord.
But, what type of Church shall we be? What type of member shall I be? Will I wallow in what appears to be my misfortune, or will I rather make the best of my situation? Will I simply stand holding the proverbial lemons, feeling bitter or will I make something of my situation? Do you see stumbling stones or steppingstones? Do you see obstacles or opportunities?
This is a time where one might be tempted to say, “Well I can’t do this or that, because of the pandemic,” “I can’t go help or reach out, because of the sickness,” “I can’t rejoice,” “I can’t pray,” “I can’t sing,” “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” The truth is, “I can’t” never did anything! What about what “I can”? Scripture says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do…,” I just need to find what I can do instead of staring at what I can’t or haven’t been able to do, but I have to seek in order to find—so seek I will and when I find that which I can do the Bible says “…do it with thy might…” (Ecc. 9:10).
Our work in the world must go on, so let us occupy until He returns for His bride who has made herself ready. I see no setbacks for the Church, only an opportunity to be propelled into a time of revival and spiritual fervency. You never know what He has in store. Keep looking up for our redemption draweth nigh.
I look forward to greeting all of you at our next General Assembly, if the Lord wills. Until then “…let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).