General Conference Report
The recent General Conference in Louisville, KY, was greatly blessed of the Lord. There was a wonderful spirit of unity and worship. Many have remarked that the music, preaching, and teaching were outstanding. The evening speakers came to the pulpit by 8:00 to 8:15, and there was a tremendous response in prayer every night. In last year's conference, we saw an unprecedented breakthrough of people receiving the Holy Ghost in North America; this year we saw a similar breakthrough in healing and miracles.
The peak attendance was 7,000 to 8,000, with an estimated total of 10,000 during the week. About 1,500 were present for the ministers communion service, which was a highlight of the conference. Over 1,000 attended the daytime ladies events; and over 1,000 attended the iChurch sessions, including 300 for the classes on women in ministry. The preregistrations and ministerial attendance were similar to last year, but the nightly drive-in attendance was not as great.
The annual report is published at www.upciministers.com. Here are some highlights from my letter:
Worldwide, including North America, we now have almost 40,000 churches in 195 nations.
After three years of small declines, this year we experienced a net growth in the U.S. and Canada of 1.5% in number of churches (including daughter works and preaching points).
In two years, we have seen an improvement of over $3 million in our consolidated bottom line, from a deficit of $1.4 million in 2009 to a surplus of $1.8 million in 2011.
We were able to reduce accumulated deficits by $1 million this year.
The Pentecostal Publishing House earned a profit for the first time in 10 years.
Last year, I felt impressed to stress three themes throughout our fellowship: apostolic identity, apostolic unity, and apostolic revival. This year, I have sought to extend these themes by emphasizing the importance of planting new churches, daughter works, and preaching points. If we are to grow, which is the will of God, then we must start new works everywhere. As an illustration, the population of the United States and Canada is approximately 350,000,000. Assuming an average church constituency of 100, to have enough churches for 1% of the population we need 35,000 churches instead of our present 4,300. There is great opportunity for growth in every state, province, and territory.
To be successful in planting new works, we must become more effective in recruiting and training ministers. We especially must involve younger ministers. These efforts need to be a priority in 2012.
Elections and Appointments
The results will be published in the Forward and at www.upciministers.com. All general officials were returned to office except for the director of the Sunday School Division. (This office was subject to term limits.) Steve Cannon, Sunday School director for Mississippi, was elected to serve, and we welcome him to the team. We appreciate the faithful, diligent service of the outgoing director, Gary Erickson, who served for a total of fourteen years as secretary and director.
The conference approved four new endorsed organizations:
Compassion Services International: relief agency started by the Foreign Missions Division, which now operates both domestically and overseas and has been established as a separate corporation in order to obtain public and corporate funding.
The Jesus Message: radio ministry that continues this aspect of the former Media Missions Division.
Life in Focus Education (LIFE): training institute started under the Home Missions Division that offers programs for alcohol and chemical treatment (ACTS), anger management, money management, and employment.
Purpose Institute: ministry and leadership training program approved by the Division of Education that partners with local churches and districts.
The conference passed all five resolutions that were mailed to ministers and posted at www.upciministers.com. They will be published in the Forward. Most notably, the conference approved changing the name of "Foreign Missions Division" to "Global Missions" and "Home Missions Division" to "North American Missions." It also approved two amendments to the Articles of Faith, one adding a statement of belief in the Atonement and one recognizing diversity of conscientious scruples with regard to bearing of arms. These two amendments must be approved by a two-thirds vote in two-thirds of the district conferences before they take effect.
Evangelism at General Conference
Report from the Global Impact team, chaired by Jack Cunningham:
605 registered guests at block party
152 filled with the Holy Ghost on the streets
16 water-baptized on the streets
281 registered volunteers handed out 10,000 pieces of literature
Lee Stoneking interviewed on local radio station, replayed 3-4 times
Purchased 150 radio spots
81 altar workers trained
7 water-baptized during the crusade service
88 filled with the Holy Ghost during the crusade service
11 filled with the Holy Ghost in the children's crusade
251 total filled with the Holy Ghost in 2 days
58 notable healings during the crusade service, documented in writing (not counting hundreds of hands lifted to signify healing)
New Undergraduate College
The General Board approved for Urshan Graduate School of Theology to start a new undergraduate Christian college program on the current UGST campus in Florissant, MO (St. Louis area). The UGST Board will be the governing board of the entire institution, and I will continue to serve as president. Classes for the new program will begin in the fall of 2012.
Purpose. The goal is to provide an accredited undergraduate college education in an Apostolic, Spirit-filled environment, as an alternative to either secular or Christian colleges of other denominations. The new program is distinctly Apostolic with a core curriculum that includes Bible and theology. An Apostolic worldview forms the basis and context for study. The college has a specific UPCI identity with regard to organization, doctrine, and lifestyle.
Degree Programs. We will start with degree programs that serve the greatest amount of students and will strategically expand the offerings as God directs and provides. We are currently exploring degree programs such as A.A. and B.A. in General Studies, B.A. in Business, and other vocational and religious degree options.
Accreditation. The college plans to seek accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, drawing upon the experience and knowledge of UGST, which has accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools.
Sincerely in Christ,
David K. Bernard