June 3 was the first day of the 2013 International Ministerial Conference of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association (COGWA).
At 9 a.m. David Register welcomed the approximately 250 elders and wives gathered in Addison, Texas, as well as those who were connecting online, to the conference. He then introduced President Jim Franks for the introductory presentation.
Bringing many sons to glory
Mr. Franks started with a big thank you to the Dallas congregation for putting on a wonderful barbecue the night before that had welcomed elders as part of a headquarters open house. He then introduced the theme of the conference, “Bringing Many Sons to Glory.”
Mr. Franks gave a brief history of COGWA, from the uncertainties of the early days to the exciting plans for the future. He also explained that last year’s conference had focused on preaching the gospel, and that this year’s conference would focus on caring for the brethren.
Mr. Franks quoted from the 1957 booklet Why Were You Born? where Herbert Armstrong wrote about the human potential. “God is creating something higher than angels and archangels,” Mr. Armstrong wrote. He is creating holy, righteous character in human beings so He can bring many children into His family. The Church has a vital part in that process, and the elders all want the members to be in the Kingdom as much as they want to be there themselves, Mr. Franks said.
Mr. Franks explained how members had helped teach him to be a pastor, specifically citing the example of an elderly woman who taught him a lot at a difficult time in the Church in 1979. Hattie taught him that the Church is more than headquarters and that this woman and thousands of other members like her are the Church.
Mr. Franks encouraged the elders to be the kind of ministers who make a difference for members in their challenges and who help in bringing many sons and daughters into God’s family.
Ministerial Services report
Doug Horchak, Ministerial Services operation manager, gave an update on the congregations and the ministry. There are currently 201 total ministers, including 72 pastors around the world. He introduced the 10 new elders ordained in the last year as well as the two whose ministerial credentials were accepted.
Mr. Horchak gave an update on the Focused Mentoring Program where “eight wonderful couples” are being mentored by eight pastors. In addition to accompanying pastors on visits, the selected volunteers are asked to take several Foundation Institute classes in their spare time.
Mr. Horchak also talked about plans to improve the Foundation Institute program to help students in character building. He also expressed his appreciation to Richard Thompson for being willing to provide the question-and-answer sessions that contribute to the “great value” that the FI Online classes have been to the Church.
Mr. Horchak concluded with a tribute to three elders who have died in the last year: Thomas Seltzer, Lawrence Hale and Maurice Ledet.
International and financial reports
Leon Walker introduced the international reports that had been compiled into a single slideshow presented by Chairman Joel Meeker. The reports from around the world highlighted challenges, growth and inspiring stories of how God is working with members around the world.
After lunch, Treasurer Jason Lovelady reported on the positive results of the 2012 financial audit and the current figures showing the Church is on track to finish this year on budget. He also introduced Britton Taylor for a report on a new health insurance contract that will provide the same level of coverage, with the potential of large savings for the Church through a partial self-insurance program.
The pillar and ground of the truth
Foundation Institute instructor David Johnson gave an inspiring address on the importance of teaching sound doctrine. Since God has entrusted His people and His truth to the Church, He wants the elders to have and to share a passion for the truth.
“50 Years in the Ministry”
Mr. Franks ended the day’s session with a special presentation for six men who have served in the ministry for 50 years or more. The six men and wives honored were:
After a slide show of photos and records of service, the assembled elders and wives gave the honorees a standing ovation.
The meeting was adjourned for the evening, to be continued June 4.
Follow on Twitter
The ministerial conference has also joined the social media age. You can follow live tweets of the conference on Twitter.com with the hashtag #cogwamincon. More than 50 tweets were sent June 3 with this hashtag, including some from Chairman Joel Meeker in both English and French.