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1979 Chino, CA General Minister's Meeting - Behind the Scenes
In 1978 Houston, TX James Sowders of Louisville, KY, expressed he was convinced the collective fellowship had reached its zenith under the open mic discussion his father established in the early days affectionately called, "the threshing floor."
James had witnessed firsthand the burgeoning success of this format as the fellowship began to form out of the mainline Pentecostal movement of its day.
His father admittedly stated, there was many more Biblical truths to be mined and continued to preach a progressive message of restoration until his death.
James' father had been a strong leader and moderator among the general fellowship of church plants that had blossomed from the early schools, camp meetings and open discussions. In his later years there evolved a consistency of doctrinal teaching held across the general fellowship of these churches.
After his father's death in 1952, it seemed to make way for other interpretations of scripture to be advanced and in a 1961 ministers meeting at Indianapolis, IN the man who succeeded him as general moderator of the fellowship meetings presented an alternate interpretation on the subject of the devil and the origin of evil.
The interpretation was accepted among several teaching pastors who had previously not upheld it. But as time marched on, the subject became a source of contention and division, and the freedom to discuss ideas openly in the meetings was diminished.
In October 1965, a division took place among the fellowship of churches and with the separation freedom of open discussion was reinstated and the threshing floor continued.
James Sowder’s primary issue with the format was the inhibition of a speaker to complete a message without being interrupted by questions that often led the presenter on a tangent. Secondly, the same subjects had been on the floor over a period of years without resolution.
With the understanding the Holy Spirit teaches and brings us into truth, James presented the following format considerations he felt would work in tandem with the Spirit and allow a speaker to fully present his understanding on a given subject:
a) By prayer and supplication seek the Lord for the subject matter and meeting location, not scheduling months in advance.
b) Let each presenter speak without interruption to completion and then questions only for clarification at the end of a presentation giving the listeners time to take extensive notes and further meditation.
The format was generally agreed upon and on a trial basis C.J. Mears volunteered to host the first meeting of this nature in November, 1979 in Chino, CA.
The subject presented was “the devil and origin of evil” which seemed to be the most controversial and divisive among the fellowship.
C.J. Mears opted out as host moderator during the presentations handing off to James Sowders since he would be taking part as one of the presenters.
It was an interesting and educational meeting with the format generally recieving a thumbs up however it did not continue.
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