During the final stop of a recent tour of South Carolina Church of God districts, (Comeback Tour 2021 hosted by South Carolina Administrative Bishop Bruce Rabon), Bishop Hill let the ministers know that he was not afraid to share his opinion regarding everything from the chapel service when Preston Sprinkle left many questioning where Lee leadership (or at least whoever who booked chapel speakers) stands on the important social issues of the hour to the future course of Church of God institutions.
“A man gets up, turns a chapel service on its head, sends shockwaves through our denomination,” said Hill as his comments at the gathering of pastors turned to the controversial “sermon” that has been the center of much conversation regarding Lee University.
“I’ve never been more proud of a university president than I was of Dr. Mark Walker who got up and hit it straight on.”Bishop Tim Hill, Church of God General Overseer
There can be no doubt that “shockwaves” were sent through the denomination. But not all of them were started by the Sprinkle chapel service. Calls for concern regarding Lee University faculty’s adherence to Church of God beliefs and teachings have been growing for some time. The questions surrounding whether or not Lee, among other Church of God institutions, has been carrying out its role while affirming Church of God doctrine purportedly led to the Executive Council calling for a review of Lee University and Pentecostal Theological Seminary. In the midst of the tumult, many, including Bishop Hill have spoken highly of the actions of Dr. Mark Walker, incoming president of Lee.
“I’ve never been more proud of a university president than I was of Dr. Mark Walker who got up and hit it straight on.” Bishop Hill went on, “Yea there was pushback… There still is some.”
It is certainly cause for concern that arguably the most influential figure in the last decade of the Church of God feels there is enough pushback to merit mention. Yet, resistance to the promotion of Church of God doctrine and teachings within a Church of God institutions is perplexing but not surprising. There are some within the academic world who will feel any scrutiny is an attack upon their institution and themselves. That is understandable, albeit short-sighted. More disturbing is the understanding that there may be those who are pushing back against the Church of God positions because they disagree with them.
“As long as I have a voice, I will fight to see to it that Church of God institutions live up to their covenant of obedience to scripture and Church of God doctrine”Bishop Tim Hill, Church of God General Overseer
Whatever their reason for opposing the movement to call out and correct our institutions, Bishop Hill let it be known he was ready for a fight.
“I’m not going to lay down and play dead,” declared the General Overseer. “I make no apology. I will not acquiesce. I will not back down from telling you that Lee University is going to toe the line, and Pentecostal Theological Seminary is going to toe the line, and International Offices is going to toe the line.”
He clarified the proverbial “line” was not political, but God-ordained.
“I’m talking about the line that’s written in the word of God.”
When contacted regarding this writing, Bishop Hill further stated “As long as I have a voice, I will fight to see to it that Church of God institutions live up to their covenant of obedience to scripture and Church of God doctrine. As members of the Church of God, we have covenanted at every level, to uphold our tenants of faith and doctrine.”
The General Overseer has been unambiguous. The members of the Executive Council have clearly demonstrated their willingness to hold institutions accountable. Notably, with the General Assembly mandated increase in the number of pastors on the Council of 18, conventional wisdom says, in the days ahead, the Executive Council will either maintain or increase its level of theological and moral conservativism. Furthermore, there is little doubt where the majority of Church of God pastors and congregations stand on these issues. They expect fidelity to Scripture and Church of God doctrine.
Our institutions must remain trustworthy and be unwavering in their commitment to Truth, even if doing so requires difficult action.Patrick Conley
With the position of the Church and its elected leaders now quite clear. The impetus falls upon the institutions themselves. Dr. Mark Walker has stated his orthodox understanding of Biblical positions and he has the backing of leadership and laity alike. All that is left to do is the work itself. These words must become actions. Our institutions must remain trustworthy and be unwavering in their commitment to Truth, even if doing so requires difficult action. Thankfully for the leaders of Lee, PTS, and any other Church of God institution, they now know the General, the Executive Council, and the ranks, are standing with them as they do whatever may prove necessary to right the course of the organizations they lead.
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