October 12-14, 2021
Manvel Bible Chapel
It is with grateful and overwhelming hearts to report on this year’s 2021 Workers and Elders Conference. This annual event (always on the week of Columbus Day in October) was suspended last year due to Covid. We were unsure of its reality this year, but the committee felt it was the Lord’s will to press forward. Our hosting assembly, Manvel Bible Chapel (Houston, TX), provided the most gracious and attentive venue for those who came. Several area assemblies co-labored to make it a splendid time. Truly they sacrificed much to bless others. Overall, there were approximately 150 attendees who were anxious to see one another and enjoy the blessing of such fellowship.
As in the past, each day starts with singing, prayer, and a morning message. The corporate singing was enough to call for the Lord’s return, but the prayer was even better. Our only regret is that we could not make the times of intercession longer, yet the Lord still lifted our hearts through that abbreviated hour. In the morning devotion, Jabe Nicholson was used of the Lord to provide focus on our theme: Knowing the Times. We were reminded of the necessity of “Knowing the times in which we live,” “Knowing our God,” and “Knowing our Father.” To view these messages, go to manvelbible.org.
Each message thereafter connected with the theme and yet provided a well-rounded arena of subjects to consider. For example, George Farber gave us understandable and detailed teaching on “New Testament Koinonia” as well as Dr. Jack Fish on “The Beauty of God-Given Roles.” Brother Warren Henderson, presented a heart-felt message of the suffering of our times titled: “The Value of a Thankful Spirit in Suffering.” Day two was filled with further related topics such as “Shaping Leadership Priorities through Abiding in Christ” (Dave Bosworth). This is invaluable when busy in the work we have been called to do. Jim Fleming continued our next main ministry hour with a thought-provoking consideration of “A Biblical Approach to Inter-Assembly Cooperation.” Our last plenary session included ministry on “Fruit Bearing through an empowered testimony.” Here, Rich Brown turned our focus toward Christ as the conduit for fruit bearing. I thought it might be helpful to take a stroll through the “spiritual kitchen” to catch the aroma of some of the nourishment the Lord provided for us all.
The seminar sessions are allotted to the afternoon of day two, in which there was an array of stimulating and discussion-oriented topics. Each seminar is designed to address practical areas and meant to foster group interaction. They are repeated twice on the middle day of the conference to allow an attendee to interact with more than one seminar. One, for women, was led by Sue Stratman: “When the Bottom Falls Out of My Life.” This would be well worth one’s ear as we know our times are filled with the unexpected. Other seminars included such realistic topics as: “Technology in the Local Assembly” (Paul Boner) and “The Issues and Mechanics of Supporting Those Who Preach” (Jesse Gentile). Who does not have such subjects like these in elder’s or deacon’s meetings? Personal “self-care” was addressed by Rich Brown when presenting on “The Priorities of Lord and the Family.” Phil Parson was able to lay out the areas of focus when sending our saints out on short terms missions.
Perhaps, the most attended seminar was on the current cultural issue of the LGBTQ agenda, presented by Steve Caldwell. This subject alone could have exhausted several hours, but Steve was able to lead the attendees through some key points. Contribution from the audience served well in this talk. Specific management of scenarios that affect the local assembly were given comment and insight.
Outside of the prayer and ministry, the conference affords an additional blessing: a time of rich fellowship, long missed. It begins with the opportunity to discover and visit various ministries within our circles. It is in these moments that one may learn of something distinct that the Lord is doing or one may peruse a helpful book on an issue you are are facing. Yet, what always seems to be most enjoyable is to reacquaint with each other—the people factor. Due to the last 18 months, we had not seen each other in quite a while. Thus, the reunions were sweet and treasured!
Additionally, we had a special visit with the interns from the Discipleship Intern Training Program. These young people had a precious opportunity to listen to those in the field of shepherding and glean some of their wisdom. Their attendance is indeed part of our conference goals which is to encourage and equip the next generation. A final blessing of fellowship was witnessed in the mutual way the Houston area assemblies modeled what it is to work together. This is a profound benefit for those who host this conference. It is a ready-made event to bring a like-mindedness between meetings and foster a “one accord” mindset. If in the future, your assembly might consider this as an endeavor, please feel free to contact the committee.
The invitation is a standing one for this conference every year. You do not need to be an elder or a worker to come. If you are interested in the work of God in the local assembly, then this conference is for you—you qualify. When our assembly was struggling, the Lord used this conference and its nature to share each other’s burdens to help us turn in the right direction. Next year, in the will of the Lord, it will be hosted by Fairhaven Bible Chapel (San Leandro, CA) and is scheduled for October 11-13, 2022. We look forward to welcoming you then and there!