Our Government Explained
Type of government – Theocratic
Head of government (Church) – Jesus Christ
Highest tribunal of authority on earth – International Assembly
Who governs the International Assembly? – In all spiritual matters the Holy Ghost will govern us through the Word of God, the Word of God being the final authority.
Who is the administrative head of the Assembly? – The International Overseer in conjunction with the Executive Committee.
Who is to be the overseer of all administrative functions? – The International Overseer.
Pastor – The overseer of a small congregation or local church.
District Overseer – The overseer of a small grouping of other ministers and churches.
State Overseer – The overseer of a state or other small geographical area consisting of pastors, district overseers, ministers, members etc.
Regional Overseer – The overseer of a small geographical region.
National Overseer – The overseer of a country or national area. This office of responsibility is similar to a State Overseer.
International Overseer – World-wide Overseer who is the administrator of the overall program throughout the world and is held directly responsible to the International Assembly. He will act on behalf of the International Assembly when the Assembly is not in session. He does not report to the Executive Committee nor can he be released by that committee.
International Assembly – The Assembly is the highest tribunal of authority under Heaven and is responsible to interpret the scripture under the divine guidance of the Holy Ghost as He superintends this event.
Jesus Christ – The Head of the Church and His word as the final authority for His Church.
This is a brief overview of our government as approved by the International Assembly through the 100th Assembly.
THE INTERNATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The International Assembly is Judicial only; it makes no laws but strives for the proper interpretation of God’s Law. The rulings of the International Assembly are for the good of the Church world-wide and are for administrative purposes only and are not optional for our churches and ministers who sign the participation agreement to come under it. God’s Word is to govern us from a spiritual standpoint. All believers throughout the world are to be organized into local congregations (churches) who come under this centralized government by choice and accept its rulings in good faith and agree to practice them to the best of their knowledge and ability.
THE OFFICE OF THE INTERNATIONAL OVERSEER
This office is an administrative position only much like that of a CEO of a large corporation and carries no power over the International Assembly or spiritual matters pertaining to the Church at large. Like all other offices of administration of ministry, it is to be respected and honored but never revered as a position of honor above all the others. We have preached for years that we are all on the same level but our practice has indicated that we never really accepted that as a biblical principle. The Bible is clear on this subject and we are truly equal servants with the adoption of the “Plurality of Eldership” doctrine by the International Assembly. He does not serve in a Moses like capacity under divine appointment by God as has been accepted in the past. This overseer serves in an office of equal servitude with all other overseers. The only difference being the magnitude of his responsibility and the vast geographical area of responsibility. The International Overseer is an appointed office by the International Assembly and is never to be considered an office of divine appointment any more than a State Overseer.
The responsibility of examining the candidate’s qualifications, as outlined by the Executive Committee in a previous document, falls upon the committee prior to making the recommendation the Assembly. We are all serving under divine calling and appointment and anointed for our work by God. It was the disciples who appointed a new treasurer when Judas failed, although Christ had picked the first one Himself. In the New Testament governmental order there are no appointments found which were made outside the authority of the Elders who stated, “It seemed good to us and the Holy Ghost.” It is understood that it should always answer to the International Assembly and the Executive Committee is to serve the Assembly as the board which, insures that this happens. The Executive Committee will have the authority to bring this office into accountability to the International Assembly at anytime the committee has justifiable cause and it determines, in closed session, by unanimous decision that this action is to be taken due to an infraction, illness, death or any other just cause. This committee will not have removal or replacement authority.
It is our understanding that in the event of death or becoming incapacitated by any cause, this office would be filled by the Executive Committee until the following International Assembly when a new International Overseer would be selected and installed by the Assembly. This office will answer only to the International Assembly and work in complete harmony with the Executive Committee to insure the good and safe compliance with the Assembly Rulings. The International Overseer will make all International Assembly appointments, which are required of him by that body. The International Overseer will moderate the International Assembly and be responsible for the various appointments, scheduling and planning to ensure that this meeting is carried out as outlined by the Assembly. This office will never be allowed to supersede the International Assembly in authority nor act in its place. The Executive Committee will oversee this responsibility and be fully accountable to the International Assembly to insure that it is kept in balance at all times.
The Executive Committee will be a check and balance to serve the Assembly in safeguarding the Church. We must never resort to one-man-rule ever again. If God is to rule then we must be treated as equals and behave as equals with due respect one to another. While God calls and uses whom He will, it has been determined that New Testament Theology does not call for a divine appointment to fill this position. It is perfectly clear that the Elders selected and chose those who were to serve them in such capacities and it was God who anointed them for the work of that office. Let us press on and strive for perfection in our search for the complete and simple plan of Theocratic Government for the Church in these lasts days. Let’s remember the words of our former General Overseer, the late A.J. Tomlinson, “We know the perfect plan for God’s Church is in the New Testament and we are striving to know what it is.”
NOTE: For the “Plurality of Eldership” to work there must be harmony between the International Overseer and the Executive Committee at all times.
Revised 11 October 2006
The Office of General Overseer
It was approved by the 94th General Assembly that this office be examined for biblical support and correctness under New Testament Order for the last day’s church.
I am addressing the subject, “Governmental Structure Change” for the 95th General Assembly. Here are some scriptural findings that I have examined:
1. Purpose of the Jerusalem Council; “To repeal the Law of Moses” concerning circumcision. Some were preaching without the church’s authority that the Church required circumcision. It had become a requirement without authority.
2. Scripturally there seems to be a parallel between forsaking ceremonial law and the abolishment of the one-man rule of Theocracy, which was practiced under the Leadership of Moses.
Who were the “Wes’s” in Acts 15:24?
Who were the “Us” in Acts 15:24?
Please notice: “We gave no such commandment.” It doesn’t say James or the General Overseer gave no such commandment. Where is the “I” in Acts 15 or the words “The General Overseer writes?”
V..20 “We write” denotes a collective decision by more than one.
V.22 “Then pleased it the Apostles and Elders with the whole church to send chosen men.”
Note: Once again sent by more than one-They seemed to be sent by the whole body (The Church).
V.23 The Apostles and Elders and brethren send greetings” THE ASSEMBLY.”
V.27 “We have sent”
V.28 “Holy Ghost, and to US.”
The doctrine of circumcision came out of the Jerusalem Church for the Gentiles to follow in order to be saved but v.24 says, “…we gave no such commandment.” No where is there any indication that any person acting alone emerged. In 1903, when the darkness was removed it didn’t take long until they wanted another leader and they called him “General Overseer” in 1907. The power struggle then started and continued until 1923 when another split occurred. Then the power struggle renewed itself and another split occurred. In 1990 the power struggle resulted in Bishop M. A. Tomlinson being ousted from office as the General Overseer. It then renewed itself again and in 1993 another split occurred and another leader was put in as the General Overseer by the name of Robert J. Pruitt. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine that this singular office of “General Overseer” hasn’t worked well for God’s church.
Since the New Testament does not back this office, what does it back? The New Testament is clear on the plurality of elders when it deals with decisions pertaining to The Church of God. Christ is the Head of the body and the Holy Ghost is the teacher and guide, we are only members of the body that must submit to the head. If the natural body members do not do what the head says, we say the natural body is sick. There seems to be a parallel here.
What do we call our earth administrator, director or superintendent or some other title? General Moderator is the name given him in the beginning by the Assembly and he was to have no power to act apart from the General Assembly of The Church of God. He must not be allowed to become a dictator.
Revised 03 April 2008
The General Assembly
We, your Executive Committee; submit this position statement on our government with much fear and trembling, as we understand it from the New Testament. This is for prayerful and careful consideration by this 97th General Assembly and is in no way to serve its own interest. We recognize this august body to be the highest tribunal of authority under Heaven, operated by the Holy Ghost and give honor to Christ, the Head of this body and to almighty God. Our move here must be with great caution and reverence to the Holy Trinity as Theocracy according to the New Testament must be followed or we will once again loose our direction and stumble as blind men. God is able to direct us and we all must look to Him by faith and accept His plan for The Church of God which Christ purchased with His own blood.
We understand that our type of government is theocratic. This is formed by allowing God to direct us by the power of the Holy Ghost directing us in all of our work and a full submission to Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church He is the HEAD and He directs the Church by the Holy Ghost leading us into a full and clear understanding of the Holy Scriptures as they are interpreted by the General Assembly.
In a simple way of understanding our findings we say that Christ is the Head, the Holy Ghost is to govern the General Assembly in all spiritual matters. The General Assembly is the highest tribunal of authority under Heaven so this does not permit a single leader or overseer to usurp authority over the Assembly. We find that there are no biblical differences in the anointing of the International Overseer and any other overseer. They are all overseers to feed The Church of God. This puts us all on a level playing field with true equality in our areas of ministerial responsibility while allowing for honor of those to whom honor is due without esteeming them higher than another.
The International Overseer is to act as the single administrator or representative of the entire Church on behalf of the General Assembly when it is not in session. This office will answer to the General Assembly at all times and shall be assisted by the Executive Committee as outlined in the document entitled, “DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF INTERNATIONAL OVERSEER”. The International Overseer does not report to nor does that office come under the jurisdiction of the Executive Committee but has a working relationship with this committee. This committee has found that the “PLURALITY OF ELDERSHIP” is a biblical concept of the New Testament and is based on the principle account found in the 15th chapter of Acts. For this biblical concept to work there must be harmony between this office and the Executive Committee m all times. The Executive Committee will always be subject to the General Assembly as that body appoints each member of this committee. The International Overseer is to be recommended by the Executive Committee and the appointment must be made by the General Assembly. This office is clearly biblical in the sense that he is to serve in the same capacity as a National Overseer, State Overseer, or a District Overseer. This office is an appointed office by the General Assembly and is never to be considered an office of divine appointment any more than the office of a State Overseer. Yet we remain open to the Holy Ghost to guide the Assembly in making this appointment. We closely examined the failure of Judas and the method of selection for a replacement as a biblical example. We also examined the death of James, the moderator of the Jerusalem meeting, and found that there was no disruption in the work of the Church Of God because of his death. We have not been able to determine who replaced him at Jerusalem after he died, yet we know someone did. In the New Testament Governmental order there are no appointments found which were made outside the authority of the Elders who stated, “It seemed good to us and the Holy Ghost.”
This committee recognizes the following as overseers:
Pastor Overseer- Overseer of a small flock.
District Overseer- Overseer of a geographical region of local pastors, ministers and churches
State Overseer – Overseer of state or small geographical area consisting of pastors, district overseers, ministers, members and churches.
National Overseer – Overseer of a national work in another country and is similar to the State Overseen in the United States.
Regional Overseer – Overseer of a small geographical region.
International Overseer – World-wide Overseer who is the administrator of the overall program throughout the world but is no single handed ruler in a Moses like capacity. This overseer serves in an office of equal servitude with all other overseers. The only difference being the magnitude and vast geographical area of responsibility.
It is our desire to find the perfect order of New Testament Theocracy for The Church of God and we know it is in the Bible although we acknowledge we do not completely understand it at this time. We remain open for the Holy Ghost to adjust our direction from time to time within the framework of the General Assembly. We believe He will give us the perfect plan through the Assembly if we will faithfully follow Him. This report is our findings and we present them to you the 97th General Assembly for your consideration at this time.
Revised 11 October 2006