Phil Sparling, incoming executive director of the Charis Fellowship and pastor of Auburn Grace Community Church, Auburn, Calif., closed the final celebration of Access2019 with a challenge to learn a new dance.
He told the story of the three charises, or graces, in Greek culture that pictured three ladies, not looking at each other, holding hands, connected to each other, but not looking at each other.
He described three characters, which were known in the Greek world before Jesus made his appearance.
“The first chair in the charis dance is the patron, the benefactor,” he said, noting that a true benefactor in the Greek culture was something who gave with pure motives, not going to give anything with strings attached.
The second image was the mediator who would know the patron personally and to look for people in need. “The mediator spoke on behalf of the person in need to the patron, and the mediator was the one who linked these two people together.”
The third character was the client, Sparling said.
He noted that the three maidens were beautiful, because charis should never be forgotten, they are always pictured facing outword and holding hands, because you were allowed in the culture to stay anonymous. “The patron didn’t always know who the client was,” he said.
“Paul walks into the scene after Jesus is here and picks up on this cultural idea,” Sparling noted. “Paul takes it from the horizontal relationship in culture and he shifts it to the vertical relationship,” he added, citing Romans 5, where one sees the vertical process, or dance, of charis.
“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ of whom we have obtained the introduction faith in this charis (faith) which we stand,” he said. “He’s going to give us charis and do it through the mediator, Jesus Christ.”
He stressed that as believers, we do the dance of Charis. “In the context of New Testament charis, God has given me something to share with someone else,” he added.
“My vision for the [Charis] Fellowship is that we will learn the dance of Charis,” he said. “Jesus said when the world sees you dance like that, they will want to know about the vertical Charis.”
“My hope over the next three years is that we’ll do the dance better. I know we’ve never danced in the brethren church before,” he laughed. “Let’s learn to keep dancing together.”
The morning celebration included a challenged from Timothy Clothier, pastor of Boro Grace Church in Waynesboro, Pa..
Worship was led by Jeremy Bury, who serves on staff at Marysville Grace Church, Marysville, Ohio. (Click here to watch the complete morning session.)
Thursday morning’s breakfast was sponsored by CE National and included updates from its various ministries, including a recap video from Momentum Youth Conference, which was held the previous week at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind.
A variety of workshops and cohorts completed the morning sessions, with conference goers choosing from a variety of topics.
The lunchtime business session closed the conference.
Among the items on the agenda at the business session was the acceptance of four new congregations into the Fellowship. These include: Grace Church, Lancaster, Pa. (Scott Becker, senior pastor); Grace Church, Bellefontaine, Ohio (Daniel O’Kane, senior pastor); Imagio Dei Communities, Telford, Pa. (Daryl Swartley, pastor); and Gospel Community Church, Troy, Ohio (Jason Bradshaw, pastor).
Click here to see additional photos from Thursday at Access2019.
It was announced the Access2020 would be held on the campus of Grace College and Seminary, Winona Lake, Ind., July 21-23, 2020.