Dr. Cheryl Bridges Johns: “I am in a strange and alien land” 2010 General Assembly Speech

Dr. Cheryl Bridges Johns: “I am in a strange and alien land” 2010 General Assembly Speech


Brock Stamps => Cheryl Bridges Johns [July 30, 2010]
The line of your speech that leveled the heaviest blow, “I am in a strange and alien land.” Powerful words…spoken with grace and grit.

First seen ON #ourCOG Dr Cheryl Bridges Johns’ speech on the Assembly Floor #cogga

RT @renovatuspastor: Full text of the devastating speech by Dr. Cheryl Bridges Johns at COG general assembly #OurCOG: http://bit.ly/ahviaJ

REMOVED from https://www.actscelerate.com/viewtopic.php?t=57712 by site administration as many other historic postings have been removed through the years only to be long forgotten. But WE still remember…

Text of Cheryl’s GA Speech
Jackie David Johns
Last edited March 12, 2021

I am in a strange and alien land

[This is the unedited text of her prepared remarks.]

I speak in favor of the motion to eliminate the wording “male members” from the criteria for church and pastor’s Council. I wish to center my remarks on my understanding that the Church of God is in a crisis of doctrinal identity.

This crisis is most profoundly felt in the tension between its baptistic roots and its holiness roots. Throughout our history we have lived in this tension, in some ways we have been wesleyan holiness- promoting the doctrine of sanctification and its power to enable believers to live lives free from the bondage of sin. On the other hand, we have not followed those of the Wesleyan tradition in seeing how the doctrine of sanctification had implications for the relationships between men and women. We have not taken the doctrine of sanctification into the realm of the role of women in the church. We have not seen that the doctrine of sanctification creates not only new beings but a new order of creation- and that the church is to reflect that new order in the empowering of women to be free from the domination of the curse of sin. The holiness churches were the first to see that the issue of slavery and that of women were to be read with the same scriptural hermeneutic, namely that in Christ there was established the seed bed for restoration of a new order of humanity in which slaves were liberated and women set free. For that reason, the churches out of the holiness revival have always give women full liberty as administrators, pastors, teachers.

At this General Assembly I have been made acutely aware that the baptistic-fundamentalist strand in the Church of God has won the day over its -holiness roots. The language, the interpretation of scripture in which the vision of the fall is viewed as normative- tell me that our ministry is more fundamentalist than holiness.

We are now in a crisis of great proportion. Shall we continue in this path, veering far away from the holiness pentecostal churches?

I am fourth generation holiness pentecostal. My great grandmother found her local methodist church too small a place for the freedom of the Spirit. They found her offensive and with mutual agreement she left and organized the church in which I grew up. In this local church I was told by the elders “we sense God’s hand on your life…” as a consequence I was asked to preach and to teach.” I never sensed from them that because of my gender I could not completely fulfill my calling Never once was I told “you are a female….you don’t belong here…..” I am deeply grateful for that nurturing environment.

The local church is the heart of our movement. It is here where the doctrinal issues come home to roost. It is here where we decide if we will live lives of sanctification and holiness: in our conduct, in our polity and in our conversation. We, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can create holy, free space for our daughters and sons to serve in the new order of creation. The church is not to reflect the old order of the curse. We are able to create a visual image of the coming kingdom. Women in the pulpit and women in the board room, women serving communion- is a beautiful sanctified image of the kingdom of god. This is my heritage. Growing up I heard many sermons on sanctification. These sermons stressed that my life could be a vessel, holy, set apart and used for the kingdom. This vessel could live above the curse and not promote it.

In this assembly I have seen our doctrinal crisis revealed not only in our actions but in the speech. I have heard many, many sexual images, crudely deforming the image of God, painting unholy pictures in minds of the hearers. I have heard about the shape of women’s bodies, I have been forced to watch men laugh at references to concubinage, and to women’s underwear. All of this reveals to me that the Church of God is in a doctrinal crisis of great proportion. Where is our sanctified life? Where is our sanctified speech? Where is our fear of God? Where is the respect for our daughters, some of them here and some of them sitting at their computers at home watching and listening?

By placing women on the church council we create zones of sanctification and free spaces where the gifts of our women can flourish for the kingdom. We model for the world the beauty of holiness.

I am fourth generation holiness Pentecostal. I am not fourth generation Church of God. I came to this church as an adult. I came to it believing there was not much difference between the one I left- that of my great grandmother, my grandmother and my mother, but this week I have come to realize that I am in a strange and alien land. I do not recognize the landmarks, I am appalled at the language and I am fearful for my future.

Cheryl Bridges Johns
August 3, 2010
Just heard from a former General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Holiness Church, Rev. Leon Stewart, regarding my GA speech. As a young person I looked up to Rev. Stewart who, although blind, led our denomination. I am grateful he took the time to write me a note of encouragement. Blessings come in very unexpected ways. Thanks Bobby and Tamitha Lynch for sending him a copy of my speech.

DouglasJoyce Slocumb

How special you are in the sight of God.You have opened the eyes of many.I am going to print this for my precious mother.Her teaching/preaching has not been in vain.There is anew generation coming up that are God called and need to be recognized by the church for their calling.I am so proud of you.Thank you for your boldness.
“RT @brockstamps: \”I am in a strange and alien land\” -Dr. Cheryl Johns // Church of God Theological Seminary #cogga #unbelievable”,




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