By Charles Myricks
“One of the best Mid-Year Leadership Conferences we’ve had!” was an often-heard sentiment expressed by Mid-Year Leadership Conference attendees in Birmingham, Alabama, March 4–6, 2014.
The saints in Alabama set a new high in hospitality and excellence in worship! The opening night worship service featured a statewide collaboration that produced a praise team, a complete band, and a fantastic one-hundred-voice choir. Rev. James Marshall (chairman of the Alabama State Association) preached on to theme “Believing!” We received greetings from Rev. Jim Lyon, general director of Church of God Ministries. The evening was capped off with a reception hosted by Servant Solutions.
Our initial morning conference, led by Rev. Charles Myricks, explored the
context and challenges of the twenty-first-century church in the United States. The following conference, moderated by Rev. Ronald Fowler, with special contributions from Rev. Robert Culp and Rev. James Walls, examined ways for pastors to better connect with their local communities and ways for the National Association to better nurture and support our pastors.
In the afternoon, we toured historic civil rights sites, including the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, and the award-winning Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.
That evening we enjoyed wonderful music and worship in our evening service led by our host state team. Rev. James Earl Massey preached an instant classic sermon on “Enduring Gallantly.”
The morning conferences of our final day featured interactive panel discussions on two critical issues facing all of our churches. Rev. Cheryl Sanders led the discussion (with
panelists Rev. Diana Swoope and Rev. Arnetta Bailey) on “How Might We Better Support Women in Ministry.”
The second morning conference, “How Might We Better Reach and Serve Young Adults in Ministry,” was led by Rev. Kevin Early (with panelists Rev. Geremy Dixon, Rev. Clifton McDowell, Rev. Charles Johnson, Rev. Arnetta Bailey, and Rev. Ronald Fowler).
Additional morning presentations on supporting pastoral health were given by Rev. James Brown, on behalf of Servant Solutions, and Rev. Paul Dreger, representing the Sustaining Health and Pastoral Excellence (SHAPE) programs. That afternoon many of the attendees went to a renowned Birmingham Southern food restaurant, Niki’s West, where a grand time was had by all!
Our final service was a banquet with an excellent concluding sermon by Rev. Diana Swoope in which she challenged and tasked us, asking, “Whose basket are you holding?” speaking from Acts 9:23–25.
A special word of thanks to Sis. Shirley Bonner and Rev. Ronald Fowler for the photographs of this Mid-Year Leadership Conference.