The national conference of the Charis Fellowship kicked off Tuesday morning with a worship celebration at Auburn Grace Community Church, Auburn, Calif. (Phil Sparling, senior pastor).
Speakers Jeremy Wike, senior pastor of Community of Hope Church, Columbia City, Ind., spoke to the importance of partnering together, and shared how he had visited the different pastors in the Heartland District to learn more about their ministries.
“We’ll go further together than we could go alone,” he said.
Jason Brown, senior pastor at Suntree Grace Church in Melbourne, Fla., spoke about the importance of working together. “The objective as a pastor or ministry leader is to equip everyone to get out [and share the gospel],” he said. “We have to change our measure of success. We have to make it about His Word.”
He encouraged the audience to audience to consider every ministry in the church as a potential church plant, citing the young marrieds small group in his church that is moving toward planting a church.
He challenged everyone to consider how they can be a part of what God is doing through others.
The day began with breakfast in the courtyard of the Auburn church, sponsored by Grace College and Seminary.
During lunch at the nearby Ridge Golf Club, Encompass World Partners provided updates on ministries worldwide and conducted their annual business meeting.
After an afternoon off, pastors and wives returned to the golf club for the annual dinner sponsored by Inspire, Charis Pastors Network. In lieu of a last-minute cancellation by the scheduled speaker because of illness, Adam Johnson, Inspire board member, asked three couples to reflect on their time in ministry and how they successfully combined ministry and marriage. Tim and Jan Waggoner, Columbus, Ohio; Dan and Holly Allan, Ashland, Ohio; and Adam and Susie Copenhaver, Mabton, Wash., shared about their experiences.
Three pastors were recognized: Mike Jentes, Faithful Encourager; Nathan Bryant, Faithful Servant; and Jason Brown, Faithful Equipper. It was announced that Kevin Stoll, Sebring, Fla., and Zach Pinkerton, Fremont, Ohio, are each the recipients of a $1,000 continuing education scholarship.
A ministry for pastors’ wives, Thrive, was introduced by Jen Avey and Lois Shirk.
Tuesday evening, Isaac Whiting, pastor of Community of Hope Church in Surrey, British Columbia, and Daniel O’Kane, pastor of Bellefontaine Grace Church, Bellefontaine, Ohio, were the keynote speakers.
Isaac noted, “My mom drilled into me that you do not miss weddings and funerals. If you miss them, you weaken the relationships in the family. We need to show up for weddings and funerals,” he said, stressing the importance of relationships in the Fellowship.
Daniel shared some of his story of arriving in the U.S. from New Zealand to play soccer and then finding Jesus. Having completed a residency at Marysville Grace Church, Marysville, Ohio (Clancy Cruise, pastor), he is replicating the practice at Bellefontaine. “I believe mentorship is built on two things: trust and proximity,” he said as he shared stories to illustrate.
“I never understood how much it cost my mentors until I started mentoring someone.”
Worship is being led by Jeremy Bury and a team from Marysville Grace Church.
The conference continues through Thursday in Auburn.
Click here to see additional photos from Tuesday at Access.