I’m basking in the afterglow of the second annual Grace Encounter Conference, sponsored by Key Life Network and hosted by Christian Family Worship Center and Willow Creek Presbyterian Church. It was an amazing weekend, full of the passionate declaration and warm demonstration of the power of the gospel.
Yesterday, we concluded the conference as our two congregations came together to worship the One who makes us one, and to hear the message of reconciliation preached by Bishop Herb Andrew. It was a foretaste of a coming day, that day when all the earthly distinctions of denomination, ethnicity, culture, language, and more fade in the incomparable light of His glory and grace.
I want to thank so many:
- Dr. Steve Brown, conference coordinator, Cathy, and all Key Life Network staff and partners for making this wonderful conference possible. You've led so many to enjoy the radical freedom of the gospel, and have done it yet again.
- Pastors Jerry and Eunice Parries for their friendship, leadership, and commitment to the cause of the gospel and the ministry of reconciliation. I praise God for you. Thank you for your patience with me as I see with new eyes and hear with new ears our Savior’s call to unity.
- Dr. Steve Brown, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Mrs. Elyse Fitzpatrick, Bishop Herb Andrew, Dr. Alex Early, Pastor Zach Van Dyke, Dr. Justin Holcomb, and Pastor Jerry Parries for sharing their faithful, passionate, and profound teaching. I cannot wait to watch your lessons again.
- David and Samuel from Compassion International. I am so honored and humbled that they would travel so far to attend our modest gathering, and share about Compassion’s work of releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Few things excite me more than the work of Compassion International. Knowing that several of our conference attendees and members now sponsor Compassion children from around the world brings me such joy.
- Logos for presenting their premiere Bible study tools at our Pastors’ Pre-conference, as well as during the main gathering. I use Logos, and am excited to see as many pastors and Christians using it as possible. As we grow in our understanding, we can grow in deeper unity on the shared foundation of God’s Word.
- The members of our sister church, Christian Family Worship Center, for co-hosting with characteristically gracious hospitality. You excel in every way, especially in your deep love for the saints. I’m in awe of God’s grace in you and through you.
- The members of Christian Family Worship Center and Willow Creek Church who offered time as ‘Green Room’ hospitality, registration, bookstore, and cafe staff. You cared so well for our speakers and guests. Thank you for your generous investment in this work.
- The Willow Creek Church staff for their support, participation, and encouragement. You’re such a blessing. Special thanks to Kelly for overseeing volunteer recruitment; David for promoting the event; Ben for assisting with speaker transportation; Jeff for being present to answer questions and assist volunteers as needed; and Joanna and Laurel for coordinating expanded childcare on Sunday morning.
- Kay Jay, Jeremy, Charles, and the several other musicians of Christian Family Worship Center and Willow Creek Church for leading us so well. Thank you for being worshippers first and musicians second. It was amazing to join with you in your praise and adoration of our Savior.
- Jinx and the tech team for moving the audio and visual aspects of our gathering to a whole new level. The sound, visuals, lighting, camera work, and more moved forward in very, very significant and helpful ways this year. Thank you for your countless hours and tireless service. It made a huge difference.
- Kevin and the Walking Tall and Christian Family security staffs for holding vigilant watch over our gathering. Your service blessed our speakers and guests with peace of mind.
- The deacons at Willow Creek for helping with so much set-up and tear-down, as well as their generous financial contribution to the work of the Grace Encounter Conference.
- Pierre and Lisette, along with the Willow Creek Events Team, for planning our upcoming church picnic with Christian Family Worship Center. I’m looking forward to yet another opportunity to enjoy our deep bond with God through Jesus Christ by deepening our bonds with one another.
- Everyone else! If I missed someone, please know that it’s because I’m writing this late on Sunday night because I’m still too adrenaline-filled to go to sleep, but too tired to think straight! Please let me know that I miss you, and I will seek your forgiveness and correct this immediately!
Finally, I want to thank all of our conference attendees! Thank you for your investment in this great work. If we’re privileged to offer another conference next year, I certainly hope that you’ll join us.
Much love in the One who makes us one,