General Superintendent for the Wesleyan Church the Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon will soon arrive at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary to speak on human trafficking and women in leadership.
PTS professor of discipleship and Christian formation Dr. Cheryl Bridges-Johns believes Lyon’s visit will benefit in several key ways.
The first is seen at an institutional level.
“We see ourselves as a Wesleyan as well as a Pentecostal Seminary because we see the Church of God having come out of the Holiness movement of the 19th century,” Johns said. “What we are trying to do with bringing Dr. Lyon in is to connect us to that Holiness/Wesleyan side of the tradition.”
According to Johns, Church of God General Overseer Mark Williams has set aside next Thursday to attend Lyon’s chapel presentation and the luncheon to follow.
The chapel service will take place at the PTS Cross Chapel at 11 a.m. A lunch and dialogue will follow afterward on the subject of human trafficking and social injustice at noon in the PTS Curtsinger Ministry Center-Knight Conference Hall.
The subject of addressing social injustice is currently one of the COG initiatives set forth by Williams. Lyon’s presentation will be based off of her in-depth work in the field of fighting human trafficking. She served as the CEO of World Hope International prior to accepting the general superintendent position.
Fighting social injustice is only one of several commonalities between the COG and Wesleyan traditions. Lyon’s visit will help to remind both sides of their shared history.
Johns explained the split in the 19th century might have caused some animosity. She said it is imperative to the COG tradition to expose young pastors and students to the Wesleyan strand as well.
“What we want to do is celebrate the heritage,” Johns said. “Secondly, is to really strongly affirm it. And thirdly is to identify the threat we see to our tradition.”
The threat comes in the form of younger COG and Wesleyan ministers being influenced by what Johns referred to as more fundamentalist or neo-reformed leaders. These speakers are often leading the way in the popular culture through best-selling books and social media.
Lyon’s visit will expose students and ministers to another influence closer to the COG tradition.
“It is a beautiful heritage and a wonderful doctrine and it needs to be honored and celebrated and preserved,” Johns said. “Having her here for me is like we can talk about some of the threats among our younger clergy, and how we might help them affirm or reaffirm the tradition.”
Lyon’s last speaking engagement will be at Lee University’s School of Religion in the Jones Lecture Hall Thursday at 7 p.m.
She will be speaking on the topic of “Lean in: Women in Executive Leadership.”
This subject is near and dear to John’s heart.
“How can women lean in? Because a lot of times it does require more effort, more determination, a lot of grit, fortitude, courage — all of those things, and I think Jo Ann has all of those qualities to her,” Johns said. “She is unique because she comes out of pastoral ministry, but then she was also [a CEO].”
She said it is important to give young women a tangible example to show them the way.
“I want the young women in Cleveland to see her. One of them can look at her and say, ‘That could be me one day,’” Johns said. “A lot of times, if you are a student at Lee or [at PTS], you don’t get opportunities to see women in that type of role.”
“If you can’t see it, then you can’t envision it. I want them to know it is possible.”
More information on the events can be found by contacting the Pentecostal Theological Seminary at 423-478-1131.