Report: The 78th National Workers & Elders Conference

January 12, 2017
David Dunlap

In 1938, at the suggestion of T. B. Gilbert, 25 full-time workers and elders gathered in St. Louis, MO, for a time of prayer, teaching from the Word of God, and discussion of doctrinal and practical issues concerning New Testament assemblies. Since then, year by year, workers and elders have continued to meet together for times of spiritual refreshment and encouragement. Since its inception, the purpose for the conference was to encourage and teach New Testament Church principles. Mr. Gilbert was very active in starting this conference and in its continuance until his death in 1972. Now in its seventy-eighth year, the National Workers and Elders Conference continues to draw workers, elders, missionaries, and serious believers of all ages from across North America.

Each year, the NWEC convenes from Tuesday morning until Thursday noon in the second week of October.  The location of the conference moves alternately from a chapel facility in the Midwest to one on the East Coast. There is no charge to attend the conference; the expenses for conducting the conference are borne by area assemblies. Extensive book displays from Gospel Folio Press, ECS Ministries, and Everyday Publications are featured, along with numerous exhibits from assembly ministries across North America.

The conference begins each morning with a full hour of corporate prayer devoted to the needs of assemblies, workers, and believers. This is followed by a Bible study focused on the theme of the conference. Throughout the day, there are general sessions, seven seminar sessions, and various reports on the work of the Lord. Lunch and evening meals are provided by the host assembly. The area assemblies seek to provide overnight accommodations for as many full-time workers as possible. Each conference attendee is asked to register on the conference website (, where schedules, invited speakers, and seminars topics are posted.

This past October, over 250 full-time workers, missionaries, and elders gathered at Bethany Chapel in Cedar Falls, Iowa, for the 78th annual National Workers and Elders Conference. Each morning Dr. Daniel Smith, former president of Emmaus Bible College, led a three devotional Bible studies on the conference theme “A Christ-Centered Church…Facing A World in Crisis.”  This year, some of the general session speakers were Brian Gunning, Mike Attwood, Bob Upton, Lee Sandifer, Rob Brennan, and Dr. Steve Price. Topics at these general sessions included “The Body of Christ: Modeling the Biblical Pattern”; “Fruitfulness and Victory by the Spirit of Christ”; “Power of Praise and Fellowship”; and “Biblical Headship: Practical Submission to Divine Authority.” Practical seminars were conducted during the afternoon on topics such as “Loving Muslims without Fear” by Ali Farhadi, “Profiting from Prayers of the Bible” by Ruth Schwertfeger, “Risk Management” by Bill Coyle, and “Tax Laws for Commended Workers” by Ed Anthony.  Recordings of the messages of this 2016 conference will be available at the Bethany Chapel website –

The 2017 Workers and Elders Conference will be held on October 10,11,12 at North Ridge Bible Chapel in Raleigh, N.C. (7100 Harps Road, Raleigh, NC, 27615) The theme of the conference will be “Do You Love Me?”, with a focus on practical lessons for the servant of God taken from the Epistle of 1 Peter. The NWEC committee encourages elders (and wives) and full-time workers on the East Coast to plan ahead and consider attending this conference. The committee would also ask that you keep this conference in prayer, so that it might continue to be a rich blessing to all who attend.