30,000 Pentecostals Brace for General Council

More than 30,000 Pentecostals from around the nation are traveling to Denver, Colo., to prepare for the upcoming 51st Assemblies of God General Council, which opens tomorrow.

The General Council is the business meeting for the U.S. Assemblies of God, which is part of the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world with nearly 53 million members. This week’s delegates will represent nearly 3 million members in over 12,000 churches in the States.

While the Council officially opens Tuesday night, early-attendants began registering on Sunday afternoon. Many of them will be taking part in the several pre-conference activities offered today, including a writer’s seminar for potential writers for church publications; the District Women’s Missionettes’ seminar, which seeks to train girls in the ministry; and the Festival of Fine Arts.

The Festival, one of the largest attractions at the Council, is expected to draw some 12,000 teens to participate. Throughout the Festival, teens will present their art and compete for the merit-based awards that will be presented at a rally on Saturday, August 6 at the Colorado Convention Center.

The family-oriented activities aside, the real business for the church begins on Tuesday, August 2, at the Pepsi Center with the Rev. Thomas E. Trask delivering the keynote message. Evening services will continue at the Pepsi Center through Friday and are free and open to the public.

The Assemblies of God is one of the handful of U.S-based denominations that has continued to grow in membership and influence in the past decade. According to statistics released by the denomination, it grew by 19.6 percent in U.S. adherents between 1994 and 2004.

The A/G grew out of the Pentecostal revival that began in the early 1900’s under the Azusa Street revival. Some of the core beliefs of the church include the understanding that: the Bible is God’s inspired Word to man; that salvation is available only through Jesus Christ; that divine healing is made possible through Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross; and that Jesus will return for those who love Him.

The church, like many of its counterparts in the exploding Pentecostal movement, also believes in “glossolalia" or “speaking in other languages.” The spiritual experience draws from the religious experiences associated with the coming of the Holy Spirit as described in the Book of Acts.