Dr. George O. Wood, the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, USA, and his wife, Jewel, are two of three alumni to be recognized in the annual Trees of Honor ceremony during Evangel University’s 2017 Homecoming Celebration this year.
The Woods will be honored along with the late Elizabeth “Betty” Chase, a 1994 graduate and Evangel’s longest-serving employee, on Friday, Oct. 6, at 4 p.m.
During the ceremony, a dedication will be held for the new “Pioneer Commons,” a brick and bench retreat area shaded by the Chase and Wood trees and named in honor of the early students who took classes at Evangel from 1955 to 1965. The site is located on the north side of the Cantrell Student Union.
The Trees of Honor project began as an idea formed by a small group of graduates from the early 1960s and took root following Springfield’s great ice storm of 2007. The idea was to help replace lost trees and restore the natural beauty of the campus.
Trees have been planted on Evangel’s campus in acknowledgement of the legacy of service each of the recipients has provided to the university. An engraved bronze plaque is placed at the base of each tree as a permanent tribute to the person being honored.
The Early Years
George Wood grew up the son of missionaries to China and Tibet, and he spent his first six years in the Xinghai Province. Fleeing Communism, his parents returned to the U.S. and served several small churches before settling in Springfield.
“Since I felt a call to the ministry, I wanted to go to Bible College; but my Dad, who often worked bivocationally in ministry, wanted me to go to ‘the new school the Assemblies of God had opened’ so that I would have a degree and could teach in the event I failed in the ministry,” he relayed with a smile.
His student days were very formative, as he transformed from a very shy and insecure young person to class president his last 3 years as a student. George also met his future wife at Evangel.
“Jewel and my paths crossed our junior year” he said. “She was a transfer from Southeastern Bible College, having completed 3 years there — but needing to get a degree for teaching — so she came to Evangel.”
Jewel (Waite) earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Evangel in 1964 and started a career as a teacher.
George had earned his bachelor’s degree from Evangel in 1962 with a double major in religion/philosophy and history, and a minor in English. After earning his doctorate from Fuller Seminary, he returned to teach and serve as director of student life and spiritual life at Evangel from 1965 to 1971.
“We reconnected when I was a young faculty member at Evangel,” Dr. Wood continued. “Our first date was October 16, 1965. I asked her to marry me on October 30, and we were married on December 27 — all in 1965!”
Years later, he fulfilled a life-long dream by earning a juris doctorate from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif. Dr. Wood is a member of the California Bar, and is admitted and qualified as attorney and counsellor of the United States Supreme Court.
Together the Woods have two adult children, Evangeline and George Paul, and four grandchildren.
Dr. Wood’s career
A popular speaker and writer, Dr. Wood was elected to lead the Assemblies of God at the 52nd General Council in August 2007.
As general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, USA, part of the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world, he is a member of the denomination’s Executive Leadership Team and Executive Presbytery. The church has more than 12,900 congregations in the United States, with more than 3 million members and adherents.
The U.S. Assemblies of God is part of a larger World Assemblies of God Fellowship with a membership of more than 67 million.
“When I graduated from seminary, the Assemblies of God was not the [size] we are today. We had closer to 5 million people back then,” said Dr. Wood. “We’re not as monochromatic as we once were. The Assemblies of God today is 40% ethnic minority in the United States, and that wasn’t the case when I was young.”
Prior to his present position, Dr. Wood served the church as its general secretary for 14 years. He was assistant superintendent of the Southern California District Council from 1988-93; and he pastored Newport-Mesa Christian Center in Costa Mesa, Calif., for 17 years.
The Evangel Alumni Association named him its “Distinguished Alumnus” in 1978. Through the years, he remained active with his alma mater.
“I will always have gratitude for my years at Evangel, and most recently serving as chairman of the board and guiding the process that led to the consolidation of the 3 schools,” he said.
Dr. Wood is the author of seven books which include his brand new one called Living in the Spirit, A Psalm In My Heart Vol. I & II, Living Fully, The Successful Life, and a college text on the Book of Acts. His sermons may be heard at www.georgeowood.com.
SIDEBAR — Retirement?
When asked about his retirement as General Superintendent, which takes place this weekend, Dr. Wood replied, “Superintendent-Elect [The Rev. Doug Clay] has asked me to continue in some roles — and here they are: Chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship (which is a separately elected position), Co-Chair of Empowered 21, Chancellor of AGTS, Secretary of the Board and Executive Committee of the National Association of Evangelicals, Director of the Fellowship House of Migdal in Galilee, Holy Lands tours, and founding member of the President’s Faith Advisory Board. So, I will continue fairly active! We will remain in Springfield as base.”