Pictured (L-R): 2011–2016 SPS Executive Director Dr. Lois Olena with her successor, Dr. Margaret de Alminana
At this year’s Annual Conference of the Society for Pentecostal Studies, Dr. Lois Olena (’06) of AGTS completed her five-year term as executive director. SPS Members unanimously elected Dr. Margaret (“Peg”) de Alminana, Assistant Professor of Theology at Southeastern University, as the new executive director. Reflecting on this time of transition, SPS Secretary/Treasurer Dr. Zach Tackett commented at this year’s closing banquet:
“Lois’ wisdom has navigated the Society through several challenges in the past five years. Yet, the Society has not only worked through these issues, but has advanced. Lois has an innate ability to bring people together to share ideas and think outside the box. She has brought us through organizational challenges on several occasions. The result has been a stronger Society. As a result, we have the highest membership in eight years, we have added a fourth issue to Pneuma, and we are financially sound.”
Begun in 1970, the Society for Pentecostal Studies is an international community of scholars working within the Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions “dedicated to providing a forum of discussion for all academic disciplines as a spiritual service to the kingdom of God." Currently SPS has a membership of 557, with representation from 18 nations, 30 U.S. states, and 41 Christian denominations/traditions.
This year’s theme for SPS’ 45th annual meeting, held at Life Pacific College in San Dimas, CA, March 10-12, was “Worship and the Arts,” under the program direction of SPS’ 1VP, Dr. Jacqui Grey of Alphacrucis College in Sydney, Australia. AGTS hosted the event in 1992, and Evangel University hosted in 1999 and 2014. Pentecostal scholars from around the world gathered for symposia, parallel interest group sessions, plenaries, special caucus events and a closing banquet.
This was the Society’s first time to be hosted by The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel,” founded by Aimee Semple McPherson. The Thursday opening plenary focused on the ministry of McPherson, with a presentation by Canadian scholar Dr. Linda Ambrose of Laurentian University. Foursquare legend Dr. Jack Hayford brought a greeting to the Society at its opening plenary.
Other plenary presentations included:
- Dr. John Goldingay of Fuller Theological Seminary;
- Dr. Teresa Berger of Yale University;
- Art exhibit, ‘Pneumatological Imaginations,’ curated by Dr. Steven Felix-Jager of Southeastern;
- ‘Cantando Cántico de Sión en Tierra Extraña/Singing the Lord’s Song in a Strange Land: Latino Pentecostal Music and Culture,’ hosted by Dr. Daniel Ramirez (University of Michigan), Dr. Sammy Alfaro (Grand Canyon University), and Dr. Urias Mendoza (Seminario Teológico Pentecostal de California); and
- The SPS presidential address by Dr. Michael Wilkinson of Trinity Western University in Canada.
At the closing SPS banquet, former AGTS President Dr. Byron Klaus was honored with the SPS Lifetime Achievement Award, along with Dr. Murray Dempster and Dr. Doug Petersen.
The event celebrated the 25th anniversary of their co-edited volume, Called and Empowered: Global Mission in Pentecostal Perspective. In an interview by SPS Executive Director Lois Olena, Drs. Klaus, Dempster, and Petersen focused on the “Past, Present, and Future of Pentecostalism.” Reflection on their decades-long friendship then led into a time of sharing in communion.
In addition, several AGTS and Evangel University professors and students contributed academic papers during the meeting, including:
- Dr. Paul Lewis (AGTS) presented a paper in the Missions Interest Group session, ‘Worship and Spirituality in the First Millennium Church of the East Mission in China: Lessons for the Pentecostal Mission Work Today.’
- Dr. Lois Olena presented with several book contributors from the co-authored/co-edited Festschrift with Dr. Eric Newberg, Children of the Calling: Essays in Honor of Drs. Stanley M. Burgess and Ruth V. Burgess. (The Burgesses are former EU professors and also responded to the panelists’ presentations). Dr. Paul Lewis (AGTS) also presented in this session on his volume chapter.
- Dr. Ava Oleson (AGTS) and Dr. Lois Olena (AGTS) participated in a panel discussion on ‘Women in Pentecostal and Charismatic Ministry: Informing an Ongoing Gender-Focused Dialogue on the Faith Contributions of Women’
- Dr. Charlie Self (AGTS) presented a paper, ‘Streams of Living Water: Art and Healing in the Christian Traditions and 21st Century Global Pentecostal Mission.’ Dr. Self’s wife Kathleen Self served in SPS’ first-ever art exhibit with one of her paintings called ‘Celestial Fire.’
- Dr. Geoffrey W. Sutton (EU ret.), Dr. Brandon Schmidly (EU), and Dr. Paul Lewis (AGTS) presented in a session on ‘Christians and Moral Decisions: An Interdisciplinary Focus on the Moral Life.’
- Dr. Michael Tenneson (EU) and Dr. Donald Johns (EU) presented in the Philosophy Interest Group on ‘Hermeneutics of Theology and Science Integration.’
- Dr. DeLonn Rance (AGTS) and Dr. Michael Tenneson (EU) also served as session chairs.
AGTS student presenters included:
- Allison MacGregor served as a panelist in the Canadian Pentecostal Research Network on ‘Changing Clergy Views: Part One—‘Pentecostal Drift: A Newfoundland Perspective.’
- Desiree Rodgers presented in the Practical Theology/Christian Formation Interest Group on ‘The Theological Necessity of Generationally Diverse Congregations and the Sticky Wicket of Church Music Ministry’ and in a History Interest Group session on, ‘‘Lilian B. Yeomans: Medical Doctor, Dope Addict, and Faith Healer.’
Pictures of the 2016 SPS conference are now available HERE.
Next year’s annual meeting will be held March 9-11 at Urshan College/Urshan Graduate School of Theology in Florissant (St. Louis), MO. For more information, visit SPS-USA.org.