Mission Conferences Yesterday and Today
Once upon a time, mission conferences were a dime a dozen. Mission agencies sponsored them and congregations held their own annual get-togethers featuring missionaries home-on-furlough. But such days seem to be mostly in the past. Is the vehicle of a Mission Conference still viable in these days of shorter attention spans and in the era of global Christianity?
For years, the PFF staff have attended and served at the New Wilmington Mission Conference held every July on the campus of Westminster College in New Wilmington, PA. (www.nwmcmission.org) The history of this conference was detailed in a fine article by Dave Dawson in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research (Vol. 39, No. 3 July 2015, pp. 128–32.) The New Wilmington Conference was first held in 1906 and continues strong today. This conference is the exception, however, and a presbytery-wide mission conference in Santa Barbara is the only other large-scale annual mission conference serving an American Presbyterian constituency.
On a smaller scale, the Connecting Mission Leaders Conference will offer for a third year running, a conference in early December. In 2014, Paul Borthwick was the headline speaker and Carl Medearis served in this role in 2013. The last two conferences were held in San Antonio. The 2015 version will take place in Tulsa, December 3-5. (www.connectingmissionleaders.com). Speakers include Darrell Guder, John Azumah and Tim Carriker. This conference numbers about 100 attendees and is planned for pastors, mission directors and mission elders.
Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship joins The Outreach Foundation and The Antioch Partners in co-sponsoring this stimulating gathering for mission leaders. We are thrilled to have three dynamic mission speakers--all well-known academics who have written widely and will have much to say on ‘the missional movement.’
This December 27-31, the great triennial conference, URBANA, is held in St Louis. Urbana (www.urbana15.org) is the missions conference of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. It began after WWII and is held every three years. Upwards of 18,000 students attend an Urbana conference. PFF is planning to host a booth and be present to serve college students this year. If your church is sending students, please invite them to visit us at booth 913.
The Mission Conference event continues to flourish in special times and places. Join PFF staff and board members at this year’s CML and URBANA events. Plan to join us again next summer as we return to New Wilmington. God is active in the world he created and sustains. Come and hear the great things He is doing among the world’s unreached peoples!
To God be the Glory,
Richard L. HaneyExecutive Director