Monday, June 8, 2009

US National Conference

This past weekend, Pastor Brent, John Fisher (our lay delegate), and I attended the National Conference for the United Brethren in Christ, USA, in Huron, OH. Representatives from UB churches from around the entire country were present; altogether, nearly 900 people participated. The weekend included business, inspirational speakers, workshops, worship, and great opportunities for interaction and connection with old friends and new ones. It was a fantastic experience, very worthwhile. Here are some of the highlights.

  • We elected a new bishop--Phil Whipple from Colwood UB Church in Caro, MI. The bishop is the spiritual leader and overseer of our denomination. He sets the vision for our churches, and provides direction to the various teams that equip us to accomplish the vision. Bishop Whipple and I aren't what you'd call close, but I do know him. I believe he will be a very capable, godly leader for our denomination, and I'm extremely pleased to serve under his leadership. His term will begin in August.
  • Our main speaker was Dr. Tim Brown from First Baptist Church of Clovis, CA (my old stomping grounds as a high schooler). He shared his story about how he was called by God to "the worst church on earth" (the words of the chairman of the search committee). Getting ready to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the church had split every ten years of its history, and was down to about 60 people from nearly 400 just prior to the most recent split. It had a terrible reputation in the community, and was full of contention and bitterness. Yet God has used him to lead the church to health and vitality, serving their neighbors, and advancing the kingdom. They are now running about 900 in attendance on Sundays. His stories of God's grace were extremely powerful and offered hope that no situation is too dire or beyond God's transforming power.
  • Saturday morning, we attended various workshops designed to help us apply the main theme: XLR8--spread the word rapidly. We each found ours to be beneficial and practical.
  • Saturday evening focused on UB missions, with a fantastic presentation of the history of UB work around the world, and inspiring worship with the praise team from a UB church in Jamaica. Global ministries director, Jeff Bleijerveld gave the message.
  • Sunday wrapped up with an encouraging message from outgoing bishop Ron Ramsey and the installation service of our new bishop.

If you like, you can check out more at http://www.usnationalconference.com/.

In many ways, the state of our denomination is not strong. We have many weak and unhealthy churches, few resources, and a lot of inertia. This has been our condition for a lot of time, despite the best efforts of many godly leaders to change it.

However, I do feel that a fresh wind is blowing. There is a clear call to us as pastors that we must lead our churches to fulfill the Great Commission, and I am seeing many pastors respond to that call. The denomination equips us and empowers us to accomplish the mission, and slowly churches are beginning to turn around. This is an exciting time in the United Brethren Church. I'm sad that only three of us from our church had the privilege of participating in this conference. In 2011, I hope to see a strong contingent from PCC at National Conference, to be equipped, inspired, and informed for Kingdom service.

May God bless his church, as we seek to serve him without compromise!

1 comment:

Pastor Adam said...

Great thoughts about the state of our churches. I do feel a new chapter has begun and I am very excited that Bishop Whipple feels the same vision as Bishop Ramsey. It just goes to show this vision of turning around is of God and not just from some man.