George O. Wood, former general superintendent of the Springfield-based Assemblies of God, died today. He was 80.
Wood was diagnosed with cancer in August, according to a news release from the Assemblies of God. He underwent a series of chemotherapy and clinical trial drug treatments at Siteman Care Center in St. Louis for the cancer in his esophagus, which also spread to his liver and vertebrae. Treatments were discontinued due to side effects. This week, Wood fell ill with non-COVID pneumonia.
He led the Assemblies of God, a Christian denomination, from 2007-17, when Doug Clay was appointed as general superintendent, according to past reporting. He recently held the title of interim president of Evangel University, before the hiring of Mike Rakes last year.
“George O. Wood’s legacy is that of being a man of the word," Clay said in the release. “He had a unique ability to open doors for young people, women and ethnic minorities by providing them a meaningful seat at the table. That has been a major force behind our growth in each of those areas."
During Wood's tenure as leader of the Assemblies of God, the U.S. fellowship rose to a then-record of 3.2 million adherents and an all-time high of 13,023 churches, up from 12,362 in 2007.
When he left office, 42.3% of adherents represented ethnic minorities, compared with 36.9% when he started. The percentage of women ministers in the U.S. fellowship grew to 24.3% from 19.2% during his tenure, as well.
Wood additionally is credited with helping to launch AGTrust, which has raised more than $23 million for church planting and revitalization, scholarships and new initiatives and resources, according to the release.
He continued to remain active as chair of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, which has more than 160 member countries representing 70 million adherents, according to its website.
Beyond his interim position at Evangel, Wood was the first full-time campus pastor for the school 1970-71.
"In his distinguished career of leadership, he was a strong champion for Evangel University and a principal voice for the vital mission of Assemblies of God higher education," Rakes said in a statement. "The Assemblies of God, Evangel University and God’s kingdom on this earth will be forever grateful for his giftedness and acute mind and tender heart."
Read the profiles of this year's honorees.