Aug. 4--The Assemblies of God (AG) Church General Council has approved a controversial resolution giving its 33,000 ministers more authority to officiate at weddings of people who have been divorced.
Last Thursday, a resolution was approved by a show of hands by the 3,734 delegates to the denomination's biennial convention in Washington, D.C., Gannett News Service reported.
"This is not a statement in favor of divorce," said Michael Jackson, a pastor from Janesville, Wis., who sponsored the resolution. Instead, Jackson said, the resolution empowers pastors to make their own decisions about who should marry for the 2.7 million-member Pentecostal denomination.
Under current church law, ministers can only officiate at the weddings of church members who were divorced because of adultery or abandonment. Phil Nissley, a pastor from Taylor, Mich., unsuccessfully urged the general council, composed of delegates and pastors, to reject the change.
"It's time to uphold traditional values, godly values," said Nissley, who pointed out that President Bush spoke a day earlier about the importance of marriage, Gannett News reported.
The council also voted to include women ministers in the governing body of the church, or the general presbytery, which has 260 members. There are 5,502 women ministers in the AG.
There are no women among the church's top 17 elected officials, said AG spokeswoman Juleen Turnage.
Attorney General John Ashcroft, the son and grandson of AG ministers, got a thunderous reception when he addressed the convention during dinner. Thomas Trask, the AG's leader, called Ashcroft the "Assemblies of God's favorite son."