Sunny southern California will be the setting for the 2015 URCNA Ministers’ Conference, scheduled for June 1-3 at Westminster Seminary California (WSC) in Escondido. To encourage regular pastors to continued faithfulness, this year’s theme is “The Ordinary Ministry.”
Conference organizer Rev. Andrew Compton explains why that theme was chosen. “Perhaps as a sort of push-back against the ‘radical’ approaches popular in evangelical circles, we’ve tried to draw attention to the fact that in the URCNA there are no mega-churches with extraordinary facilities and celebrity pastors. Our pastors are ordinary men who serve ordinary congregations and minister ordinary means of grace (word & sacrament).”
He adds, “And yet this ordinary, local ministry is an unspeakable blessing to people and is indispensable to the spread of God’s kingdom. By learning to cultivate our delight in the ordinariness of our work, we are better focused on the task before us and not as easily distracted by a desire for more status or publicity.”
Slated speakers include Rev. Ron L. Scheuers (First URC, Chino, CA), Rev. Ralph A. Pontier (Emmanuel Reformed Church, Neerlandia, AB), Rev. Christo F. Heiberg (Zion URC, Sheffield, ON), and Rev. Danny R. Hyde (Oceanside URC, Oceanside, CA).
Rev. Compton says, “Dr. Michael Horton of Westminster Seminary California will speak on Monday evening about his book Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014). In some ways, the conference theme is an echo of this book title.” An additional speaker was still being confirmed at this writing.
The registration fee is $100 for URCNA and $50 for URCNA seminarians. Register online at: urcnapc2015.com/registration-fees or by emailing Rev. Compton (firstname.lastname@example.org). More information about the conference and local amenities can be accessed online at: urcnapc2015.com.
The two primary goals of the conference are edification and fellowship. “As pastors, we need to continually sharpen our skills that we might best minister to the needs of the sheep under our care,” Rev. Compton says. “But also, as pastors who serve together in a federation, we need to cultivate deeper relationships with each other. Not only does this allow us to support one another during the trials and heartaches of this calling, it allows us to know and trust one another better so that our work together in broader assemblies and settings can be more productive.”
Generous lunch breaks and free evenings have been scheduled to provide additional opportunities for fellowship. Before or after the conference, participants may wish to explore the numerous attractions of nearby San Diego.
“The prayer of our organizing committee is that as many men as are able will join us for this conference,” Rev. Compton adds. “We humbly encourage the consistories to permit their ministers to come and participate in this conference and support them as they are able.”
The above article by Glenda Mathes appeared on page 16 of the March 18, 2015, issue of Christian Renewal, while the following update is scheduled to appear in the September 16 issue.
About 45 ministers met for a United Reformed Church pastors conference, held from June 1-3, 2015, at Westminster Seminary California (WSC).
With a theme of “The Ordinary Ministry,” it was appropriate for Dr. Michael Horton (Escondido URC, Escondido, CA) to speak on Monday evening about his recent book, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World.
Other speakers included Rev. Ronald L. Scheuers (First URC, Chino, CA), who guided attendees on how to lead corporate prayer in “The Ordinary Pastor as Confessor.” He suggested a number of resources and ways to improve corporate confession of sin.
“Rev Scheuers’s gracious and wise focus on the aspect of confession in pastoral prayer was of particular blessing to me,” says Rev. John Bouwers (Immanuel URC, Jordan, ON). “And summing up from Dr. Mike Horton’s address, we were helpfully reminded we’re not called to leave a legacy, we’re called to be faithful, and there’s rich blessing in that.”
Speaking on “Fighting the Good Fight: The struggles and rewards of ordinary ministry in light of 2 Timothy 4,” Rev. Ralph A. Pontier (Emmanuel Reformed Church, Neerlandia, AB) noted how Paul used military and athletic metaphors to show life’s difficulty.
Through personal stories, Rev. Christo F. Heiberg (Zion URC, Sheffield, ON) encouraged other ministers to persevere. He then explained, “How Reading the Fathers and Calvin Has Helped me to Press on Through 25 years of Gospel Ministry in the Reformed World.”
Using ocean-rounded rocks as an opening illustration, Rev. Danny R. Hyde (Oceanside URC, Oceanside, CA) spoke on “An All-Round Ministry.” Based on 1 Thess. 2:1-12, he described Paul’s two-pronged ministry as gentle and godly.
Dr. Dennis Johnson, PCA pastor and Professor of Practical Theology at WSC, spoke twice from the book of Acts on how “Our Extraordinary God Works in Ordinary Ministry.” Based on Acts 6:1-7, he discussed “Word and Mercy Ministries,” and from Acts 8:1-25, he described how “Believers Evangelize and Apostles Testify.”
Seminary President Dr. W. Robert Godfrey (Escondido URC, Escondido, CA) spoke during a lunch hosted by WSC about how God uses a broken and weak instrument like the church to save his people.
“I found the talks to be encouraging and edifying, but I was especially blessed by the fellowship enjoyed in a relaxed setting tailored to spiritual refreshment,” says Rev. Andrew Compton (Christ URC, Anaheim, CA, and conference organizer). “The relationships forged and strengthened by the pastors’ conference better enable us to work together in synodical and classical setting when work is the biggest responsibility.”
“It was an excellent conference,” Rev. Bouwers says. “The speeches were all very helpful and edifying, and having seasoned URC pastors prominently involved was a great encouragement and blessing as they shared from their experience of struggle and blessing.”