Following the end of the Global Theology Conference the work continued in meetings of the International Board of Education, including debriefing the structure and flow of the event. I am sure that those insights alongside others will help in future conferences. In particular there is a deep desire to see how each global region will carry forward the information from this conference to their constituencies. Hopefully the conference will provide an impetus for that possibility and the conversations in those settings influence a future global theology conference.
There are a number of unsung heroes at this event. Greg Crofford with the Africa Region of the Church of the Nazarene recognized (right to left) the invaluable work of the Linda Braaten, Barb Najarian, and Tammy Condon. Alongside them, the rest of the Clergy Development staff needs recognition: Dana Porter, Carol Rittenhouse, and Stan Rodes. Our several translators, including Phil Rodebush, and particularly Angel Siguir and Simone Twibell need recognition for the hard work of translating not only the conference but two additional meetings (no easy task!).
Two unsung heroes were Brad Firestone and Josh Williams who worked tirelessly to update the internet system at the retreat center and the college so that participants could maintain academic and administrative responsibilities… and even report on the conference. Of course, the hospitality of the Good News Center need be mentioned as well.
While there were a number of memorable moments, including times of recreation that actually bonded conference members as much as the times of intentional theological conversation. The full impact (and mandate) from the conference surfaced Sunday morning as I attended worship at Trinity Church of the Nazarene on the campus of Nazarene Theological South Africa in Mulderdrift. While adjacent to the Good News Conference, the campus reminded me of the deep beauty of this place… and its people. Worship was energetic, testimonies authentic, fellowship deep and a sincere. My congratulations to Reverend Catherine Lebese, pastor of Trinity Church, as the new principal of Nazarene Theological Seminary South Africa on this campus.
Reflecting with Trinity congregation Dr. Dan Copp, International Board of Education Commissioner, took as his text Joshua chapter four as a message for the church but also for the entire conference. Copp described how the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan at the end of Chapter three but then priests returned (returned!) to gather stones that could be raised as an altar and testament to God. Copp noted too often we have events and then just return to our lives as if nothing has happened. We need to pause and build an altar to what God has done. He admonished:
“To tell the story and just move on is not sufficient. We need to stop and see what God is doing, pause to reflect on what God has done, to give thanks to God, to know what is to be accomplished, and then move on in the confidence of what God will do… and we will not be the same. “
Dan’s message, and this congregation in worship, reminded me once again that the task of ecclesiology is both global and exceptionally local. We are bound together as the body of Christ, bring our own gifts in response to the grace of God, in service to Jesus, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. May we always remember this place and time in order to steward these days for the sake of God’s Kingdom.