By Carl Stagner
From the opening to close, the Global Gathering of the Church of God was a tremendous experience of unity and inspiration. Brothers and sisters in Christ from Argentina to Singapore, from Guyana to Thailand, and from France to Zambia, stood together for the cause of Christ to worship, fellowship, and practically address the most pressing needs of a changing world. Representing more than sixty countries and territories in which the Church of God has a presence, these named delegates, as well as thousands of additional guests from here and abroad, assembled in one place to express a common Lord, life, and love.
The clock was ticking ever closer to 2:00 PM on Saturday, June 22, as unprecedented crowds funneled through the glass doors of the Kardatzke Wellness Center on the Anderson University campus. A multitude of guests from around the world marched behind their country’s flag-bearing delegate, forming a line that stretched out the doors of the Wellness Center, reached across University Boulevard, and wrapped around the blue-and-white-striped Big Tent. Anticipation finally reached its climax when music and fanfare erupted and accompanied the processional down the center aisle to the front of the auditorium. Excitement gave way to tears of joy that afternoon, and it was clear that a breathtaking oneness in Christ had manifested itself in this display of beautiful diversity.
The Global Gathering kickoff service, which featured a stunning audiovisual presentation of Into All the World (written by Randy Vader and Jay Rouse), set the perfect tone for speaker Timothy Clarke to issue a compelling challenge to break down the walls that divide us and commit to stand together. In the worship services, plenary sessions, fellowship connectors, and prayer meetings that followed, the Holy Spirit moved heart after heart, inspiring hope and strength for the future of the Church of God around the world.
Through exemplary preaching representing every region of the world, the Church of God was challenged to live out unity and carry out the Great Commission. At the Global Gathering, these values were more than talk. Every dollar of the offerings collected during the Global Gathering went to support clean water efforts and global hunger relief. By faith, the Church of God set a goal to raise $100,000. On Tuesday evening, the Church of God witnessed a miracle as this goal was smashed by more than $10,000 additional dollars! As a result of matching funds, this project will generate a total of $400,000 to drill wells in seven African countries, beginning with Ghana. On Monday, Global Gathering guests crowded into the Fellowship Hall at Park Place Church of God and completed a service project to pack meals and bring hunger relief to the world. The goal was 250,000 meals—the Church of God packed 266,000 meals!
The Global Forum of international delegates, which preceded the Global Gathering, brought Church of God people together from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds to deliberately explore the need for reconciliation. Using Curtiss DeYoung’s academic paper on global reconciliation, delegates discussed practical solutions for moving from hostility to hospitality, and from discord to interconnectedness. A seven-phase global prayer summit concluded the Forum.
The Global Gathering 2013 was truly an unforgettable experience. Attendees won’t soon forget how God brought his church closer together over just four days. They won’t forget the testimonies of salvation and healing that were shared. They won’t forget singing in different languages but to the same Lord. They won’t forget how they virtually traveled the world in a matter of minutes inside the awesome architecture of the Global Expo. And social media users won’t forget the new level of online interactivity during the entire experience.
Want to relive some of these memorable moments? See the Global Gathering in pictures and stories through each issue of the Gathering Gazette at www.chog.org/gazette. For a limited time, these memorable worship services are available online at www.chog.org/gg-media.