Pentecostal Academics Name New President at Diverse Annual Meeting

Ken Archer, new SPS president (right), presents the Lifetime Achievement Award to Frank Macchia, Vanguard University professor and 'Pneuma' editor.
Ken Archer, new SPS president (right), presents the Lifetime Achievement Award to Frank Macchia, Vanguard University professor and 'Pneuma' editor.

Themed "Global Spirit: Pentecostals and the World," the Society for Pentecostal Studies' 44th Annual Meeting drew students, theologians and other academics to Southeastern University, March 12-14.

Dr. Kenneth J. Archer, professor of theology at Southeastern University, was inducted as the new president of SPS and Saturday morning gave his presidential address themed around hermeneutics.

Scholars from across the United States and around the world, including Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and Canada, were present with 355 registered for the weekend. Exploring the relationship between Pentecostalism and the world, the conference also considered the social, historical and political impact of the transformation of world Christianity, among other topics addressed in plenary sessions, symposia and panel discussions.

Dr. Ivan Satyavrata, leader of the Assemblies of God church and its network of ministries in Kolkata, India, spoke at the opening session on celebrating the Spirit's free movement in the world. The ministries he oversees in India include medical services and a school system for thousands of children.

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Dr. Kenneth J. Archer, professor of theology at Southeastern University, was inducted as the new president of SPS and Saturday morning gave his presidential address themed around hermeneutics.

Several awards were presented at Saturday evening's closing banquet. Around 150 registrants were in attendance for the culminating event that featured the talents of the 24-piece Southeastern University Jazz Ensemble.

The Pneuma Book Award honored author Angela Tarango for her book Choosing the Jesus Way: American Indian Pentecostals and the Fight for the Indigenous Principle (The University of North Carolina Press). In the book, Tarango, assistant professor of religion at Trinity University, focused on the historic Assemblies of God mission work among Native Americans that encouraged missionaries to train local leadership and create an indigenous church rooted in the native culture.

At the banquet, Dr. Archer also presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Frank Macchia, professor of theology at Vanguard University, an Assemblies of God school in Costa Mesa, California, and senior editor of Pneuma: The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies for a decade. Among his many achievements, Macchia had contributed chapters to more than 20 books.

"This is the highest honor that a scholar working in Pentecostal or Charismatic studies can receive, so I am naturally moved by this honor," said Dr. Macchia in a Vanguard University statement.

Memorials for past presidents were presented at the banquet as well.

"In 2014, one of our co-founders passed away and two of our former presidents passed away, so we had an acknowledgement of those in the meeting," said Dr. Lois E. Olena, executive director of SPS.

Daniel Ramirez presented a memorial to Manual J. Gaxiola, an SPS past president. Additionally, Olena, who wrote a biography on Stanley Horton, presented a memorial. Horton was known as a prominent theologian and senior editorial advisor of the Committee on Modern English Version Bible Translation.

Horton's "granddaughter and grandson-in-law were able to be there at the banquet in attendance," Olena said.

Other awards were given during the banquet by the Pentecostal Foundation to Robert Graves, and a Young Scholars "Best Student Paper" Award was presented to William Kyle Clukey of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary.

A 24-piece Southeastern University Jazz Ensemble honored the gathering with its musical presentation at the banquet.

SPS has nearly 500 members with 191 institutions and 60 denominations represented in its membership.

"We have such diversity at SPS," Olena said. "We've got such a multitude of denominations represented and academic institutions represented. We're also very multi-ethnic. To me, it's sort of a little taste of heaven in terms of how diverse, and it's also very gender-friendly in terms of men and women partnering together both in academics and in the church. ... One of the things that really made me willing to go ahead and take on such a huge responsibility is the fact that it's such a great partnership between men and women in the society. We've had female presidents all along, but I'm the first female executive director."

The 45th Annual Meeting of the society will be held March 10-12, 2016, at Life Pacific College in San Dimas, California. The theme will be "Worship, the Arts and the Spirit."

Christine D. Johnson is the managing editor for print for Charisma Media.

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