For the first time the ICOC Delegates Meetings were held in various continents so that each group could focus on building the church in their area of the world. Delegates from multiple regional families of churches met together and some were in connection with wider leadership conferences. Click here to see the ICOC Delegates selected by their regions.
2015 Continental Delegates Meetings
Istanbul, Turkey: Europe, UK, Scandinavia, Eurasia and the Middle East
Hong Kong, China: Asia/Pacific, China, South Asia and Southeast Asia
Africa: East, West, French and South Africa
Kingston, Jamaica: Mexico, Central America, South America, Caribbean, Canada, USA
Jeff Wong of Hong Kong reported on the Asian Leadership Conference and Daniel Leadership Summit:
In August over 150 church leaders and staff from around the Asian and China churches gathered together for lessons and fellowship. The delegates meeting was also held to vote on important issues concerning our global fellowship. Friday night was the closing session with the whole Hong Kong church, where five evangelists were appointed, and their wives commended as women's ministry leaders.
The next day, a separate Daniel Summit was held, where we invited Valdur Koha, an elder and teacher from the Boston Church of Christ, to conduct a workshop for more than 250 Hong Kong and Chinese disciples. This Daniel Summit is the first-of-its-kind workshop to help the disciples in the Greater China churches who are entrepreneurs or in positions of management to confront the ever-increasing worldliness in our financial world, especially as China becomes a global economic powerhouse.
Brother Koha, with his experience as a founder of a NASDAQ-listed company, shared and taught about how to guard our priorities and spirituality in the midst of a competitive business environment. Every single disciple at the workshop was challenged and inspired by him. To God be the glory.
Representatives from Continental European churches came together in Istanbul, Turkey in early February, for meaningful fellowship and spirited preaching. Led by Shawn and Lena Wooten, delegates representing some 60 churches, came together for the 2015 Regional Delegates conference. This time brought together leaders from the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, the Baltic's, Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East, and Central, Western and Eastern Europe. The time was historic, inspiring and strengthening for this needed continental connection.
Our African churches have challenges of traveling such large distances to gather leaders in this vast continent of over 50 countries. They meet in groups according to their families of churches in East, West, French West and South Africa. Their delegates communicate regularly and some serve additionally on the Evangelists and Elders Service Teams. Click here for a report on the 600 who attended the 2015 West Africa Missions Conference.
In October the Caribbean Churches and the Kingston Church of Christ hosted the first-ever Western Hemisphere ICOC Delegates and Service Team Meetings. The Evangelists, Elders, Teachers, Women and Chairmen Service Teams met with members from around the world. The Evangelists Service Team is composed of 17 evangelists chosen by continental groupings to serve three year terms. The newly selected Evangelists Team has 50% new members who selected Doug Arthur to serve as the Chairman for the next year and a half. The Delegates ratified that selection and voted for Phil Arsenault to serve as the next Chairman of the Youth & Family Service Team. Every year a few of the chairman are up for election by the Delegates. The Chairmen then select their Team. The wives of the Evangelists and Elders Service Team comprise the Women Service Team so there is a large new element to that team as well. Click here for a detailed listing of the Roles and Responsibilities of the Delegates and Service Teams. Much gratitude was extended to outgoing chairmen Sam Powell (Evangelists) and Dave Pocta (Youth & Family).
Two more crucial indicators of our leadership health are the Collaboration Sessions and the Chairmen Service Team. In the Collaboration Sessions, all of the Teams present meet together to discuss and move forward on ideas that affect all of the teams. The Chairmen Service Team is comprised of all of the chairmen of each of the teams and they coordinate and collaborate year around to assure the action items are being addressed and needs met.
Western Hemisphere Delegates Meeting
Special times of prayer were key to time together. Leaders prayed together often and in one session with the others from their regional family of churches. A very special moment occurred when all elders present prayed over the leaders of the Caribbean churches who have suffered several major losses with key leaders who have gone to heaven in the last few years including Damien Jean-Baptiste and Wilner Cornely. As Angel Hernandez, Caribbean Regional Chairman said tearfully, “This is the second time in my life elders have prayed over me since I was sent out from New York to plant the church in Santo Domingo.”
After the Service Team meetings, the Western Hemisphere Delegates Meeting was held for two and a half days. The first entire day was devoted to HOPE worldwide. Outgoing CEO Randy Jordan was given a hero’s thank you as he delivered God Brought Us This Far: A History of HOPEww followed by a question and answer session. New CEO Robert Carrillo and the entire assembly warmly honored Randy for his valiant service in seeing HOPEww through a critical time and initiating bringing HOPEww back in alignment with the church. Then Robert delivered his I Have a Dream message for the future of HOPEww and our churches shared mission of Jesus to preach, teach and heal (Matthew 4:23). Having been homeless and losing his own family in tragedy, Robert is grateful that God has been preparing him for this moment. His dream is for HOPEww not to be the benevolent arm of the church but to be the heart of the church in service.
The Dream: HOPEww -- Heart of the Church
Provide our people opportunities to serve
Ensure no homeless or hungry among disciples in our churches (Galatians 6:10)
Show our heart in service
Help the church to become the change agent of world history
Serve and empower the church to fulfill the ministry of Jesus – teach, preach and heal.
North America Funding Strategy: Following a question and answer session for Robert, a new North America funding strategy was presented to the Delegates. After consideration and discussion, it was approved on Friday and several people stepped up to volunteer to lead.
The Future: HOPEww Board members Bruce Williams and John Causey joined Robert for a presentation and Q & A focused on the future of HOPEww. Robert and the HOPEww Board are using this opportunity to completely rethink HOPEww and its future and welcome input and prayers. The new HOPEww/ICOC Alignment Proposal continues a HOPEww Advisory Group made up of key leaders around the world. Their new Chief Development Officer Russ Hargrove was introduced.
MissonsThe next morning Todd Asaad of Dallas inspired and educated with Act Local: Building God’s Church at Home, sharing how God has built the Dallas-Ft. Worth Church of Christ with consistent growth to an attendance over 1,500 through the keys of:
- Being unified
- Building healthy relationships
- Keeping a learner’s spirit
- Heartsy vision
- Generosity and investing in the next generations
- Revive the global dream in our church culture
- People and resources – of all ages
- Strengthen our global mission societies
The battle for brotherhood
The afternoon focused on ways to “Make every effort maintain the Spirit of unity in bond of peace” -- Ephesians 4:3 NIV. Great evidence of the maturity and spiritual focus of the leaders was how difficult subjects and different viewpoints were dealt with transparently, directly in love with no drama.
Walter Evans, Philadelphia, and assistant chair of the Elders Service Team, shared on the Battle for Brotherhood with an insightful and challenging lesson from Joshua 22 asking:
Is there a foundation based on fear instead of faith?
Is there a physical divide separating us?
Are there hasty conclusions?
Ed Anton, Hampton Roads evangelist and ACR Regional Family Chairman, then spoke to Relational Connections that are crucial for unity. He pointed out that our tendency can be to be to autonomy but the New Testament churches were interdependent. For example, the book of Galatians is written to a region of churches, not to an individual one. After honestly discussing some difficult unity situations he challenged us to be sure our churches unity with other churches went beyond the relationships of the key leader.
Scott Kirkpatrick, Columbia, South Carolina evangelist and Southeast Regional Family Chairman addressed Racial Diversity. He expressed gratitude that our churches were built intentionally to be for all people and are a light to the rest of the religious world. He also challenged us to address racial issues in our community, discuss the needs in our churches and to raise up more diverse leaders.
Guillermo Adame, San Diego, spoke to Cross-Cultural Relationships. He challenged us to learn to listen to other cultures and not set our cultural standards on them. He also challenged us to be aware of a growing nationalism in our world that can infiltrate the church. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us -- Colossians 3:11 NLT.
Steve Staten, Bridging International, gave us guidelines on Friends Learning to Fight Fair:
Self-perspective in friendly fire conflict
Interpersonal behavior – understanding types of behavior
John Causey, LA evangelist and Chair of the HOPEww and Benevolence Service Team, shared Lessons Learned in LA dealing with unity challenges:
We are better together than we are apart.
Managing tensions is better than managing attitudes – learning how to make decisions in a collaborative environment.
Sam Powell, Senior Evangelist for the New York City Church and outgoing Chair of the Evangelists Service Team, closed out the Delegates meeting with a stirring call to focus on God with Zeal for His House reminding all that God loves his church and calls us to serve with our best.
Disciples TodayRoger Lamb, Boston, delivered the World Report including the results of our annual church survey and good news from around the globe. Jonathan Hoggard, Denver, presented the latest developments in our research and development for creating a web template for our churches that will be used to help manage membership and to find those who are seeking God on the internet.
Nathan Taliaferro, San Antonio, presented the latest from ICOC Hot News:
Church videos including an Inside Scoop video report of the Delegates Meeting to be shown to church leaders.
Vanishing – a new crowd funded short film to be released early in 2016
Finding Guy –A documentary on the life and ministry of Guy Hammond and how he went from extreme brokenness and shame to finally finding himself on the other side.
The International Churches of Christ are a fellowship of churches and regional families of churches committed to know God and to make God known. We have committed to work together through cooperation and collaboration. We also have a way to make changes in how we work together by proposals that are thoroughly vetted by the service teams and delegates. These are the proposals that are being adopted in 2015:
2015 Caribbean Conference
Delegates Meetings are held in different locations around the world so that our leaders can meet disciples from different nations and regions and so the members can meet people they often only hear about. Many of the Delegates attended and spoke at the 2015 Caribbean Conference “According to Your Faith."
We are truly grateful for and indebted to the Kingston Church of Christ for their excellent hosting of the Western Hemisphere Delegates and Service Team Meetings, and especially church leaders Gregory and Simone Baugh and administrator Colin Lecesne. They were admirable in every way and a joy.
We rejoice with the Baughs and Gregory’s parents as they were baptized into Christ one month after the conference! Dr. Kenneth Baugh is a current member of parliament of Jamaica and is a former Deputy Prime Minister. Click here to read and to celebrate with the family and the angels in heaven.