– by Juan C. Aragón
The International Assembly of the Sword of the Spirit took place between the 25th and the 29th of May of 2018 in the Catholic Diocesan Centre in Turcifal, Portugal. The event was hosted by the A Boa Nova (the Good News) Community, who did an excellent job of welcoming all those who arrived to take part in this international governing body of the Sword of the Spirit.
The International Assembly is made of the Senior Coordinators of the member communities of the Sword of the Spirit that have finished their formation process and have been approved as formed communities, as well as the Regional Coordinators and Regional Missionary Coordinators who oversee the formation of new communities and the care of the member communities. The members of the International Executive Council are also a part of the Assembly.
The Assembly is a time to discuss the direction of the Sword of the Spirit, to make decisions to help protect and defend the unity that is such a characteristic of the Sword of the Spirit. It is truly inspiring to see the unity in which decisions were made, in spite of differences of opinion.
Some of the most significant decisions made:
– Jean Barbara was elected International President for one more term
– Anton Colella, Manny de los Santos, Dave Hughes, Andy Juan and David Mijares were elected to the International Executive Council and joined Jean Barbara (Interntional President) and Ken Noecker (current Presiding Elder of the Servants of the Word)
– Betania (Acapulco, México), Cristo Resucitado (Chontales, Nicaragua) and Verbum Dei (Mexicali, México) were approved as full member communities in the Sword of the Spirit.
– There was an in-depth discussion about how local communities should protect the wellbeing of children and young people.
– There were reports of the progress of every region as well as the Youth Bridge, the Ecumenical Commission, the International Community Building Committee, the Leaders Formation project and others.
– A revision of the Irreducible Common Nucleus, which is a foundational document for the Sword of the Spirit, was approved.
– The work of the International Executive Council was reviewed.
But it is not all work. The Assembly is a rich time to strengthen the brotherly relationships between the leaders. Every day there were times of relaxed fellowship, and one night the brothers gathered in small sharing groups. One day we travelled to some of the touristic areas of Portugal where we took the official photo of the event. This photo was with Portugal’s iconic Belem Tower as background. The tower is a Bulwark built during the sixteenth century, and it served to protect the Portuguese capital. It is shaped like a caravel, a light sailing ship on which the Portuguese took the Good News of faith to new lands. It is a very symbolic picture.
As a part of that trip, we visited the Jeronimos Monastery. There, in the high-ceilinged church, we had the chance to sing “God Alone,” written by our brother John Keating. It was a moving experience of the Holy Spirit as we sang in one voice but in 7 different languages (watch the video here).
We had very good prayer times every day, as well as a special time to celebrate the Lord’s Day opening meal together with the members of the A Boa Nova Community, followed by a time of typically Portuguese cultural entertainment.
We took some time to pray for the political situation in Nicaragua after hearing the testimony of the Senior Coordinator of the Ciudad de Dios community in Managua.
We also had a session to honour our brother Bruce Yocum and thank him for so many years of tireless service as a leader, a prophet and a servant among us.
We did the symbolic presentation of the new Sword of the Spirit maps, and several maps were sent to each member community.
This was, without a doubt, a greatly blessed time that created a lot anticipation about what the Lord is going to do among us in the Sword of the Spirit.
Juan Carlos Aragón is a member of the Arbol de Vida Community in San José, Costa Rica. He attended the International Assembly as a translator. Photos thanks to Romeo Fernando from the Good Shepherd Community in Vasai, India.