by Duane Quesenberry
Each year, the regional conferences of the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches come together for their Annual Conferences. But every four years, the regional conferences convene for three days of worship, fellowship and business at an event referred to as the General Conference. The primary purpose for this quadrennial event is to conduct the necessary business of the General Connection, the organization that provides structure and continuity for all entities that bear the name of The Bible Methodist Connection of Churches.
Every four years, the location for this event rotates among the regional conferences. This quadrennial, the thirteenth General Conference of the Bible Methodists took place on June 12-14 and was hosted by the Alabama Conference at their beautiful and spacious Camp & Conference Center, located in central Alabama. The pine trees and rolling hills of this southern state were enhanced by the sweet tea and regional cuisine, served with charming, deep-south hospitality to the delegates in attendance. Wednesday’s Catfish Fry, with all off the “fixin’s” was a memorable example of the gracious hosting provided by President John Parker and the Alabama Conference.
The Conference began on Tuesday evening with worship, as the delegation gathered in the spacious and climate-controlled Agan Tabernacle for singing, prayer and a challenging sermon delivered by Connectional Chairman, Dr. Michael Avery. There were two additional worship services during the Conference: one on Wednesday evening, which featured a missional challenge from Missions Director, Rev. Tim Keep, and the Conference concluded on Thursday morning with Communion being received by the 250 plus in attendance.
Of course the primary purpose for the conference is to conduct the necessary business of the General Connection. This was done throughout the day on Wednesday and part of Thursday in the beautifully renovated Alvin Hodge Conference Center. Both days began with devotionals presented by Heartland Conference President Chris Cravens on Wednesday and by Great Lakes Conference President Blake Jones on Thursday. Both were marked by a refreshing awareness of God’s presence.
After morning devotions, the delegates were capably led by Chairman Avery in the full agenda of business, which included the electing of Connectional Officers for the next quadrennium, receiving reports from Connectional officers and committees, and voting on new items of business (referred to as “Memorials”) that are presented to the General Conference from Regional Conferences or the Connectional Committee.
Those elected to serve on the Connectional Committee throughout this quadrennium are:
Connectional Chairman – Dr. Michael Avery
Connectional Vice Chairman – Rev. Jack Hooker
Connectional Secretary – Rev. Duane Quesenberry
Connectional Treasurer – Mr. Monte Stetler, Jr.
Connectional Missions Director – Rev. Tim Keep
Connectional Discipleship Coordinator – Mr. Nathan Brown
Connectional Editor of The Bible Methodist – Rev. G. Clair Sams
In addition to these men, the Connectional Committee also includes the Presidents of the Regional Conferences, along with two Elders and two Laymen from each regional conference.
Interspersed with the electing process were the reports from the various Committees which facilitate the business of the General Connection, including most notably, reports from Connectional Chairman Michael Avery, Missions Director Tim Keep and each of the three Regional Conference Presidents.
Of significance was the reception of the newest regional conference to the Bible Methodist Connection of Churches: the Mid-America Provisional Conference. The term provisional is a new classification passed by General Conference used to identify any group of churches that wish to become a Regional Conference but are not ready numerically or financially for that designation and the independence it brings. A provisional conference is amenable to the direction of the General Connection during its ongoing development. The new Mid-America Conference is a Provisional Conference.
This provisional conference is comprised of five Churches located in Kansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, all of which were previously connected to the Alabama Conference, but due to travel distances, desired to establish a regional conference. The provisional conference is directed by President – Rev. Darrell Stetler, II and Vice President – Rev. Darrell Underwood.
The thirteenth General Conference was punctuated by characteristic unity which expressed itself in joyful fellowship, unified decisions and contagious optimism, resulting in the Conference adjourning with renewed expectancy and missional commitment to the purpose of the Church.
The fourteenth General Conference is scheduled to be hosted by the Heartland Conference in 2022.