"One God, One Church, One Mission: Striving Side by Side to Fulfill Our God-Given Calling"
Flat Rock, NC - March 25th-28th, 2019
Spring was in full bloom at the beautiful and spacious Bonclarken Conference grounds in Flat Rock, North Carolina. This was the location of the 2019 URCNA Missions and Pastor’s Conference held March 25- 28. Numbered among the 150 registrants were forty-eight pastors’ wives, ten seminarians, and twenty young people and children.
The theme of the 2019 Conference was One God, One Church, One Mission: Striving Side by Side to Fulfill Our God Given Calling. On Monday night, Dr. Tony Curto, a former OPC foreign missionary who now serves as Associate Professor of Theology at Greenville Presbyterian Seminary, kicked off the Conference with an inspiring message based on Ephesians 4:4-5. He spoke on the importance of Christ’s church working together in our missionary endeavors. Monday’s opening session included group singing and an ice-breaker/mixer game led by Rev. Brian Cochran.
Tuesday morning began with a delicious breakfast served in the Bonclarken dining hall. The meals for the entire week were excellent and even featured grits, a genuine Southern specialty. Rev. Rick Kuiken then spoke on Things I Wished They had Taught Me in Seminary. It was a wonderful time of personal reflection of 35 years in the pastoral ministry at Pompton Plains Reformed Bible Church. Rev. Kuiken also used Acts 1 and related passages as the basis for his talk on: Motivating Your Church to be More Mission-Minded. It was a timely reminder of the world-shaking power behind missions and of the ways God uses us to spread the Good News of the Gospel. On Tuesday afternoon, Margaret Kuiken led a women’s breakout session entitled Balancing Time with Eternity.
Breakout sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday also included Rev. Zac Wyse’s Practical Steps for Church Planting. Peter Wright presented a session on Taking the Gospel to your Community; and Rev. Jeff De Boer spoke on Missional Ecclesiology Applied.
Rev. De Boer suggested ideas like calling a second pastor and designating a certain percentage of the pastor’s time each week to community outreach and discipleship in order to expand the ministry of the local church to reach the unconverted. Rev. De Boer also led a Main Session presentation entitled Healthy Churches Planting Churches.
Rev. Al Bezuyen spoke on Addiction in the Church. He shared his personal struggle with alcohol addiction and the subsequent recovery. It served as a cautionary tale of how easy it is to fall prey to sinful addictions – even to the addiction of over-working in the ministry and to the sinful pride of “wanting to do it all.” His presentation was a personal testimony to the life-changing, all-powerful grace and forgiveness of God that rescued him from the grip of habitual sin and restored him to the Gospel ministry.
One more unforgettable aspect of this conference was the unifying fellowship. From the time the attendees entered the doors to register, to the time they said good bye, the refreshing comraderie was palpable. Attendees divided into small prayer groups twice daily. They made very good use of the sports facilities. The hugs were hearty, the singing was soaring, the discussions were honest. Everyone went home praising God for His merciful work in and among us.