Bartley Sawatsky, the new executive director (moderator) of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, asked three things of conference delegates as he closed the annual business meeting of the FGBC on Wednesday.
“Pray regularly for me and for the FGBC,” he said. “Communicate properly,” he added. “Tune in, share ideas, and be nice.” He encouraged people to deal directly with someone when they have a question or concern. “We’re family,” he stressed.
Finally, he encouraged the delegates to be positive about the FGBC’s future.
“These are just the beginning of the goals that we have,” he emphasized.
Sawatsky is the founding pastor of Grace Community Church, a Grace Brethren church in Mississauga, Ontario. He is the first Canadian to lead the FGBC.
He began his remarks by focusing on a new vision for the network of Grace Brethren congregations. Among the initiatives he hopes to begin include an identity focus, led by Dave Guiles, executive director of Encompass World Partners, and a prayer initiative, led by Tom Julien.
“We want to encourage more relational interdependency within the FGBC,” he said.
He plans to host a buzz-generating national conference in 2014, which will attract young leaders with a ministry-expo-type program. The 2014 conference will be July 17-21 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Sawatsky went on to outline his plans for developing measurable church-planting goals for all the church-planting organizations within the FGBC and a desire to continue on the track first laid by the Commitment to Common Mission, which is a vision for church planting, leadership development, and integrated ministry. He hopes to create a consistent identity for the FGBC and provide resources for young leaders within the Fellowship.
He also intends to continue the EVLC (Enduring Visionary Leadership Communities) that have given leadership to the Commitment to Common Mission tracks and wants to appoint a recruitment officer to help pastors get connected in the FGBC.
During the business meeting, four congregations were formally accepted into the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. They include:
- Movement Church: Hilliard, Ohio (Pastor Mark Artrip)
- LifeSprings: Twinsburg, Ohio (Pastor Ron Boehm)
- The Point of Grace Church: Leonardtown, Md. (Pastor Arthur Shepherd)
- Fraternity Family Worship Center: Sunrise, Fla. (Pastor Odiclair Joseph)
The session was the final event of a five-day conference that met at the Marriott Buckhead Hotel in Atlanta, Ga.
Also on Wednesday, Jason Haymaker, pastor of Western Reserve Grace Church in Macedonia, Ohio, challenged the conference in the area of leadership development during the final Celebration session.
The day began with breakfast hosted by CPR-3, a cooperating ministry in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches that provides leadership during times of crisis and catastrophe and has an extensive ministry in Haiti.
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