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Update from the President: Nov. 2, 2017

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Update from the President

Nov. 2, 2017

The setting for this past week’s leadership workshop and ministerial conference for the North Central region was the beautiful Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch in Stewartville, Minnesota. The spirit of the attendees and the event were equally beautiful. This is also the venue for an annual pre-teen camp. This was one of our best such conferences to date with the material covered as well as interaction with one another. I was so pleased to see our younger ministers and trainees along with their children in our midst. What was important was the time we, in Ministerial and Member Services, had to socialize and have spontaneous discussion with pastors about their individual congregations. Sherrie Giddens, wife of elder Ralph Giddens, commented: “This conference was based on so many inspiring scriptures and themes, with each speaker giving their heartfelt input!”

We link our six conferences in the United States to each of our six regions. Mitch Knapp is the regional pastor for the North Central region, and he spoke about what it means to be “a man of God.”

Also, pastor Brian Shaw delivered a presentation about pastoring young adults in a way that made the information particularly relevant.

As we conduct the conferences around the country, we tweak the way we conduct each session and consider what content we need to improve and make more relevant. For this conference, we made the sessions more interactive by asking the presenters to have discussions with the audience several times during their presentation. This opened the door to identify areas of improvement and enrichment in the work of the ministry.

A spontaneous discussion ensued about baptism. Why are more people who attend with us not baptized? We have people of all ages sitting in our midst who do not feel the compunction to obey the first command given to the Christian church: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 Acts 2:38Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
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Why don’t more people take “the plunge?” Do they not understand the importance of this most important decision in life? Do we in the ministry not point out how imperative this step is? Are people not wanting to be “held accountable” by being baptized?

In the discussion, various pastors commented about how to improve this situation without unnaturally forcing one to act before they are prepared. But, what can we do to make them “ready?” Elders gave various suggestions, including focused Bible studies for those not baptized to allow prospective members to think about this critical decision. This type of special Bible study could even be held at the Feast of Tabernacles. For some of those who are not yet baptized, there may be a misunderstanding about what is required to be baptized and a study of the subject could clear this up.

Christ told the public: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 Matthew 11:28-30 28 Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
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). While we sacrifice to be a disciple of Christ, it is an easier road to travel than had we not made the decision to become a Christian.

Our booklet The Road to Eternal Life (https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/the-road-to-eternal-life ) is essentially about water baptism. One suggestion was for pastors to ask for a supply from the home office of this title to make it easily available to the unbaptized in their congregations. In the next printing of this booklet, we will feature baptism more prominently in its title.

Our interactive roundtable discussion session was about elements of the Ministerial Code of Ethics found in section 1.2 of the Pastor’s Policy Manual, which our ministry must agree to abide by. We discussed several ethical questions related to our responsibilities to our colleagues in the ministry and to the congregations that we serve.

In my concluding comments, I reminded our fellow ministers to be thankful for our brethren and their conversion. No matter how challenging people can be (as they were in Corinth), Paul was grateful for them. We need to pray for those who oppose themselves and whose biggest stumbling block is themselves. I left our fellow elders with these three passages that summarized my thoughts and sentiments.

“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:2-10 1 Corinthians 1:2-10 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s: 3 Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing you are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 10 Now I beseech you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
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“The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Peter 5:1-4 1 Peter 5:1-4 1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a crown of glory that fades not away.
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“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29-32 Ephesians 4:29-32 29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed to the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.
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Our next regional conference, for the Northwest region, will be held in mid-February. I want to thank all those who worked so hard to prepare for and present at this conference. It was a job well done!

Other news

The Pastoral Development Program will begin this coming Monday and run through Nov. 15. Ten couples are coming to the home office from the United States, Australia, Colombia and several countries in Africa. They will be staying in our homes. Bev and I are hosting two of the couples who are serving in Africa.

Thank you for your prayers for us. We rely on God’s grace to help us accomplish His Work at this momentous time in the history of humanity. “Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing” (Matthew 24:46 Matthew 24:46Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he comes shall find so doing.
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Comments

 
  • DVanP

    When I encounter people challenging the need for “another” baptism- I remind them that Jesus himself was not baptized until an adult. And if we are indeed Christians- we should do as Christ did - and walk as he walked. 1 John 2:3-6.