Grace College, a national organization of the Charis Fellowship in Winona Lake, Ind., celebrated its 60th annual Conference on Mission last week, October 26–29. The week included chapel sessions with keynote speaker Les Lofquist, an alumni luncheon, evangelism training, a prayer trail, and many opportunities for students to connect with missionaries.
“This conference has a rich heritage at Grace,” said Brent Mencarelli, Grace College dean of chapel and community life. “Over the past 61 years, the conference has grown and adapted to the ever-expanding methods of missions, but student initiative, prayer, authentic connection and ministry mobilization, have remained conference pillars,” he said.
While 2021 marks the 61st year anniversary of the conference, due to reduced gathering sizes, the institution decided to delay the celebration to “give the 60th benchmark the honor it deserves,” according to Mencarelli.
In 1960, the first “Missions Conference” was born from a group of passionate students with hearts ablaze for reaching the world for Christ. The group, “World Missions Fellowship,” (WMF) would pray weekly for missionaries around the world, hear updates from missionary guests, and raise funds for cross-cultural ministries.
“From the very beginning, the conference has been student-led,” said Valerie Crumbley, conference coordinator since 1995. “Throughout the years, students will get ideas that they want to implement, and we encourage them to run with them,” she said.
One example is when Grace alumnus Amy Keith started “Taste of the World,” a tradition that will take place at the conference this year. The event began as a way to help missionary kids and international students connect the campus to their countries by making food to share with other students.
The conference has also consistently been a vehicle for mobilization. Since 1999, Grace College students have raised nearly $95,000 for missions projects. The conference has also mobilized many students to go into cross-cultural ministry since it began in 1961.
“While the early years heavily emphasized cross-cultural missions, the conference has expanded to encourage students of all disciplines to consider how they can creatively and intentionally live ‘on mission,’” said Mencarelli. “It is our prayer for all of our graduates, that wherever they go, whatever they do, and whoever they become, they do it all on mission for their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
A version of this story originally appeared in a press release from Grace College.