Firsts in Fremont: Regional Convention Commences in California
By Carl Stagner
The first Regional Conference of the Church of God of 2022 is underway following a fantastic kickoff Tuesday evening at Destiny Christian Fellowship in Fremont, California. On the heels of Chapter 4 Institute activities and pre-conference opportunities to see the iconic sights of the San Francisco Bay Area, pastors and leaders of the Church of God convened in an opening session infused with energy, enthusiasm, and great expectation. With Tuesday’s session in the history books and Wednesday’s events ongoing, history continues to unfold as guests of the first-ever Regional event of the Church of God to be held in California are also the first to hear Carla Sunberg and Brian Bennett address the Movement, the first to hear Jim Lyon’s message on Identity, and the first to witness firsthand the substance behind the buzz surrounding the 2022 Regional Conferences.
Dynamic congregational worship set the stage for the evening, providing not only a chance for conference attendees to praise the Lord in his holy presence, but also put into practice the conference theme from the outset. Rousing gospel praise numbers like “He’s a Great God” and inspirational tunes like “Way Maker” each had the congregation first identifying (and reiterating to God) who God is. In harmony, pastors and leaders from Western states and several beyond were confessing with their lips and uplifted hands, “That is who you are!” The worship team of Destiny Christian Fellowship served God and his saints exceedingly well, helping everyone in the expansive auditorium declare that God is great, a way-maker, a miracle-worker, and so much more.
Jim Lyon, general director of Church of God Ministries, tweeted of the Regional’s initial moments, “ChoG 2022 Regional opened tonight at ChoG Destiny Fellowship Fremont, CA; even the local hotels are pumped to have us in town. Full day [Wednesday], too, with strong lineup on stage and in exhibition hall. #JesusAtTheCenter of our Identity and calling.”
Jim was also the keynote speaker, offering introductory emphasis on the theme of the 2022 Regional Conferences of the Church of God—“Identity: Because of the I Am, We Are.” Expounding on the central questions implicit in the provocative conference theme, Jim encouraged listeners to consider who we think we are, who others think we are, and who Jesus is calling us to be. In a practical application of what Jim has described in recent years as “the five non-negotiables,” he shone the spotlight on Jesus first, followed by the Holy Spirit and holiness, the unity of the body of Christ, the Great Commandment, and the supremacy of Scripture.
“The world won’t be saved by the way in which we live comfortably,” Jim insisted.
Of course, the experience of a Regional Conference of the Church of God isn’t limited to what happens within the time constraints of any one session. Often the most memorable and meaningful moments take place before, between, and after worship services, seminars, and electives. In Fremont, California, the situation has certainly been no different. According to observations on the ground, lively conversations were plentiful as longtime friends and colleagues in ministry reunited and took time to catch up. A big thank-you is due Destiny Christian Fellowship for offering a tremendously warm and hospitable welcome to the Regional Conference!
Other fellowship opportunities commenced when the evening session concluded. A reception sponsored by Everence and hosted by the advancement team of Church of God Ministries provided guests of the Regional Conference the chance to greet one another while enjoying a sweet bite to eat. Jason McClendon and Mark Fast hosted and shared many of the ways they support pastors and churches in the Movement, including, but not limited to, CARE (which includes church board and pastoral coaching), LifeGivers, the Chapter 4 Institute, and so much more.
On Wednesday, conference-goers are enjoying fascinating and fruitful panel discussion; luncheons hosted by Christian Women Connection and CARE, respectively; evening worship and preaching, as well as a desert reception hosted by WARM (Western Area Regional Ministerium, the Church of God connecting body on the West Coast).
For more information, and to register for one of the next two Regional Conferences, visit www.chogconvention.org.
Feature (top) photo: Regional Conference opening session in Fremont, California, on Tuesday, April 26, 2022.