On PGCAG’s New Constitution and By-laws: An Interview with Rev. Nelson Verona, Chairman of the PGCAG Amendments Committee

What is the rationale of this PGCAG Constitution and By-laws (CBL) Amendment?

We are celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Assemblies of God in the Philippines this year.  Within a span of seven and a half decades, we have grown in a rate like no other church movement in the country has ever achieved.  As a Fellowship, however, we have to deal with realities brought about by the fast changing times. PGCAG has grown to such noteworthy proportion; the ministry landscape has significantly changed; and yet our systems and structure have lagged behind in development. They are no longer adequate to effectively address the contemporary needs of the movement.  In fact if we analyze the setbacks we have experienced in the recent times, we can attribute most of them to the organizational context I have already mentioned.  A good friend of mine succinctly observed that the Assemblies of God has already grown to become like a megamall, yet its systems and structure remains like that of a sari-sari store. And so, the need to revise the document that mainly delineates our systems and structure – which is the PGCAG Amended By-Laws — has become inevitable.

Does it have any connection with the current Intra-Corporate dispute?

No, the latest revision of the PGCAG By-Laws has nothing to do with the ongoing intra-corporate dispute.  During the 2006 General Council Convention, there was already a strong clamor for the creation of a study committee that will look into the possibility of revising the PGCAG By-Laws. Then, in 2009, the PGCAG Executive Presbytery under the leadership of Rev. Rey Calusay as Gen Supt., and Rev. David Sobrepena as Asst. Gen Supt. appointed a seven-man study committee whose main mandate was to study and propose possible amendments to the By-Laws.  In 2010, a Special Convention was held at Cathedral of Praise (COP) and the Propositions were submitted to the constituents for consensus building. Present during that special convention were the then incumbent PGCAG executives: Rev. Rey Calusay, Gen Supt.; Rev. David Soprepena, Asst. Gen. Supt.; Rev. Joseph Suico, Gen. Sec.; Rev. Jerry Balbuena, Gen Treas. In short, long before the intra-corporate dispute ensued, the process of constitutional revision has already been ongoing.

As Chairman of the Amendments Committee, tell us how you and your team was appointed and qualified?

The members of the Amendments Committee were chosen by the PGCAG Leadership from the list of ministers who were recommended by the different Districts.  Originally, there were 24 appointees, but a few were not able to serve in the committee because of their personal circumstances, but able replacements were subsequently appointed.  As chairman of the group, I could say that the men and women who worked on the CBL amendments are intellectually reflective and brilliant ministers whose profound spiritual discernment produced some trailblazing concepts which now form part of the new CBL.

What are the processes that the Amendments Committee went through before arriving at the final draft of the Proposed New CBL?

I can describe the process of revising the PGCAG Amended By-Laws in three words: LONG, TEDIOUS, and THOROUGH. Long, because the whole process from the first committee meeting to the final ratification of the new CBL took more than two years. Tedious, because members in many instances have to work till the wee hours to make the deadlines. Thorough, because the whole project involved numerous phases.  First was the research phase.  We studied the By-Laws, looked for its strengths as well as its weaknesses and took note of them. We also studied the by-laws of other similar organizations and noted our observations as well.

The second phase involved looking for the weak points in the By-laws that either needed to be strengthened or changed. Subsequently, proposed revisions were written. By the way, I need to mention at this point that the committee was divided into three teams: the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao teams.  Each team was assigned different articles to work on.  They met together to work on those articles and then wrote their proposed amendments to those Articles.  Thereafter, the committee as a whole met (several plenary meetings were held) to deliberate on each team’s proposals and voted on them to get group consensus.

The third phase is the production of the first draft. It involved putting together all the proposed amendments, making sure that the document is both comprehensive and coherent.
The fourth phase was the public consultation phase.  All Districts scheduled consultation meetings where we explained the proposed amendments.  In those meetings, the constituents’ reactions, suggestions, including their expressions of concerns were noted.

The fifth phase was the revision of the first draft of the proposed amendments.  The public consultations yielded many good ideas that were subsequently incorporated into the document. After the second revision, the committee held a plenary meeting and went over the document line by line. Once further revisions were done, the Amendments Committee, by a unanimous vote approved the final form of the new CBL.  The last work that was done on the document was the legal, style, and copy editing.  Atty. Mike Operario examined the document and made sure that all its provisions are compliant to all existing laws of the land.

The sixth and final phase is the approval by the PGCAG Board of Trustees and ratification by the general membership.

How was the ratification done? What was the result of the ratification?

We did clustered ratification meetings for some districts like STDC, BRDC and CLDC, and others.  Some chose to hold their ratification meetings by District. All those meetings by the way were called and presided by the members of the General Council Executive Presbytery for the purpose of ratifying the then proposed CBL.

After all the votes from the 21 Districts were tallied by the General Presbytery, 81% of all those who cast their ballots voted for the ratification of the new CBL.

What is now the status of the New PGCAG By-laws?

As far as the PGCAG is concerned we already have a New Constitution and Bylaws.  It was ratified by the majority of our constituents. To make way for its full implementation, however, we still need to submit the document to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for approval or clearance.  Since we already got a favorable decision and a corresponding writ of execution from the Valenzuela RTC in regards to the PGCAG intra-corporate dispute, we hope to submit the New CBL after our 75th Anniversary Celebration.  We expect that the next year or two will serve as a transition period when we can educate our constituents regarding the proper implementation of the new CBL. This will also make possible the smooth transition from the old systems and structure to the new ones.

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