Dare to Dream: Combined Convention a Catalyst for Unity, Opportunity
By Carl Stagner
Though only a few weeks had passed since Florida’s fierce fight against the onslaught of Hurricane Ian, the Lord’s plans for the Church of God movement during the second week of October 2022 could not be thwarted. Historic firsts came to fruition at Orlando’s DoubleTree by Hilton, where a never-before-seen collaboration of Christian Women Connection, the National Association Women, and Church of God Ministries resulted in an event of extraordinarily dynamic proportions and particularly perceptible impact. The dare to dream was extended to both women and men gathered for the four-day catalyst for unity, flinging doors of opportunity wide open for the future.
It’s no secret that the past few years have dealt cards of distress and discouragement for not only society, but also the church. Pastors and their congregations have overcome adversity of a variety of forms, but to God be the glory for the numerous victories! The future doesn’t have to look bleak for the hopeful daughter or son of the Most High God; the mantra of the Church of God continues to be “I’ll follow Him with rejoicing!” In that vein, Rev. Dr. Cynthia James challenged the Movement at the Orlando event to keep envisioning the future God has in store. After all, “It’s out of your struggles that you dream dreams!” she exclaimed.
She wasn’t the only one bringing the Word with clarion conviction this October in Orlando. Lori Salierno-Maldonado also prescribed clear lenses for the spiritual eyes of her listeners. “Eyes that look are common, but eyes that see are rare,” she noted. “When the church stops looking and starts seeing, we will experience the power of God!” Then, and only then, can we see such dreams realized—dreams, which, due to divine enablement, are “other than, greater than, bigger than, more than!” she echoed.
What can be is attainable because we serve a can-do God! Cynthia Thomas knows that. The Chicagoan pastor preached a message that fortified hope and courage; daring to dream can be an ordeal, but persistence through the power of the Holy Spirit has the potential to bring God-given dreams to blessed reality. Roxie Rawls De-Santiago knows that because she’s lived it.
In recounting her own walk with Christ, she painted a fresh picture of dreaming God’s way through personal testimony and legacy. She described the transfer of faith across generations—the God of her mother had to become her own God. Her God would have to become the God of those who follow in her footsteps. Dreaming necessarily requires seeing what’s ahead—the next generation is not only on the horizon, but they’re also valuable contributors to church and society today. They, too, need our investment, which requires some hard work.
Kimberly Majeski, executive director of Christian Women Connection, reminded everyone that dreams certainly require such work. “It’s time to roll up our sleeves” and build, or rebuild, like Nehemiah. Honest assessment of where we are is required to begin, however. Only in knowing who we are and why we exist can we as the Church of God dream God-sized dreams for the future that will take us where God is leading.
The theme of the 2022 Regional Conferences of the Church of God thus dovetailed excellently with the theme of the Orlando convention. The identity of the collective, unified Church of God hinges on biblical pillars birthed in the early church, reiterated in 1880s through pioneer Church of God preachers and writers, and refreshed and reframed in contemporary context today. A special track of sessions serving as the final of three 2022 Regional Conferences energetically pounded the drumbeat of identity through such articulate and Spirit-led speakers as Carla Sunberg, Horace Sheppard, and Jim Lyon. Pre-conference sessions and panel discussions worked into the schedule complemented the entire convention, rounding out the event and thematically tying everything together.
Blest be the tie that binds. In the span of only four days, three ministries partnered together to accomplish something none could do apart. Just imagine. Dare to dream.
Special moments were witnessed throughout, of course, and included ceremonious celebrations of CWC’s 90th year of ministry, special tributes to specific women in leadership, a “Legacy Walk” that spotlighted women leaders of a variety of roles, and a concert by renowned vocal artist Lynda Randle.
Was there a moment of this year’s Orlando experience that especially touched your heart? Let us know. Share your story with us at https://cgm.formstack.com/forms/sharethestory.
Learn more about the next big Church of God gathering, Convention 2023 in Tampa, Florida—next June 22–25, at www.jesusisthesubject.org/convention-2023.