“Welcome Back!” CHOG Leaders, Laypeople Return to Anderson as Regional Begins
By Carl Stagner
Familiar sights and familiar faces greeted dozens of Church of God pastors and lay leaders as they arrived early in Anderson, Indiana, on Tuesday, June 21. Though the evening main session had not yet begun, a variety of pre-conference electives proved a tremendous draw as the second of three Church of God Regional Conferences of 2022 dawned. As the sun scorched on the first day of summer amid what Midwest meteorologists have dubbed a “heat dome” over the region, the air-conditioned halls, meeting rooms, and worship center of Madison Park Church of God offered most-welcome relief. Anticipation is on the rise for what is expected to be a memorable, meaningful, and momentous three days.
Whenever the Church of God gathers in any capacity in any location for just about any occasion, expectation is high for what the Holy Spirit will accomplish. The sense of reconnection in a place so replete with history of the Movement is especially potent on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic and high-profile challenges to church and society. “Coming home” to Anderson is more than visiting recognizable landmarks and reuniting with friends not seen for a while; it’s the fellowship of souls hungry for spiritual sustenance and strengthened connection possible only among likeminded sisters and brothers in Christ.
The pre-conference electives hit the spot concerning this innate need for connection, this longing for renewal with the family of God. Specifically, the conversation over lunch for women in ministry was a breath of fresh air for clergywomen who know the challenges particular to clergywomen. Similarly, the worship leaders who gathered for lunch at Madison Park on Tuesday gathered as a solution to the expressed heartfelt need that more worship leaders in the Church of God could connect, share ideas, come alongside others on the same journey, and strengthen one another (of course, they had to sing, too—and the sounds of harmonious worship reverberated down the halls of Madison Park Church of God). Youth leaders and chaplains also met for lunch, not just to socialize, but also to sharpen one another.
Intriguing pre-conference elective titles attracted many guests to the early- and mid-afternoon meetings at Madison Park, including “Flourishing in Ministry,” “A Stuck Church in a Changing World,” as well as subject matter like credentialing and the new portal for the Movement known as Atlas.
Tuesday evening, Jim Lyon, general director of Church of God Ministries, is slated to set the tone for the Regional Conference. Sarah Scharbrough McLaughlin will lead worship, and Advancement Reception sponsored by Everence is expected to close out the evening.
For more information, including registration, visit www.chogconvention.org.