A change in location did not hinder the celebration during the Eastern District Conference (EDC) convention, held Aug. 7-8, 2021, at The Life Center (TLC) in Lenoir, North Carolina, and broadcast live on Facebook.
The convention was initially planned to be held at Valla Crucis Conference Center in Banner Elk, North Caronlina, but because of COVID-19 concerns, the event moved to the more spacious TLC. Mindful of the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19, organizers asked attendees to wear masks in accordance with state requirements, provided temperature checks and hand sanitizer and sanitized the building.
The two-day event, attended by 84 individuals on Saturday and 104 on Sunday, included worship, prayer, fellowship and a message.
“This was a weekend to celebrate the providence of God during these past 18 months and to embrace the future with a passion for Jesus,” says EDC minister and TLC pastor Terry Hunt in an email summarizing the convention.
Celebration and licensure
The purpose of Saturday’s gathering was to praise God through singing and dancing, according to Hunt, who, in his welcome message, said the first day of the convention would focus on a time of celebration instead of business as usual.
“We’re going to celebrate today,” Hunt said. “We’re here to praise the Lord.”
Many pastors in attendance spoke briefly before inviting their church choirs to the stage to lead 30-minute segments of praise and worship, including songs in English, French, Lingala and Swahili.
Pastors and churches whose choirs sang were: Hermann Mputu (Christian Center the Hand of God in Hamilton, Ohio), James Moore (West End MB Church, Lenoir), Alex Mutabazi (His Grace Christian Life Church International, Nashville, Tenn.), Ray Dykes (Laytown MB Church, Lenoir), and Hunt (TLC). Eddie Johnson, pastor of Darby MB Church in Ferguson, N.C. attended without his church choir.
Adding to the sense of celebration, Hunt recognized Hermann Mputu, pastor of the Christian Center the Hand of God, a Congolese church in Hamilton, Ohio, for completion of his licensure as a pastor in the EDC.
Others recognized for completing licensure but not in attendance were: Kinwa Nico, pastor of Royal Family International Church in Fairfield, Ohio; Yvette Ngale, associate pastor of Royal Family International Church; Amos Esekwen, pastor of Community of Restoration Church in West Chester, Ohio; and Lawum Kayamba, pastor of Disciples International Christian Church in Portland, ME). According to Hunt, these pastors completed their licensure in April 2021, but COVID-19 restrictions left him previously unable to present their certificates.
Following the celebration, announcements and prayer, attendees gathered for a catered meal.
Part of a team
TLC associate pastor Darrin Foddrell brought Sunday’s message. Using the analogy of a basketball team and likening listeners to a spiritual team, Foddrell listed seven characteristics of a championship team: a common goal, commitment, complementary roles, clear communication, constructive conflict, cohesion and a credible coach.
“Today is the day that we step up our game,” Foddrell said. “Let’s be committed to serving God and to helping others.”
Sunday’s service also included prayer, Scripture reading, worship led by the Christian Center the Hand of God choir, an offering, recognition of various people in attendance and a video from the Center for Anabaptist Studies.
Janae Rempel Shafer is the Christian Leader associate editor. She joined the CL staff in September 2017 with six years of experience as a professional journalist. Shafer is an award-winning writer, having received three 2016 Kansas Press Association Awards of Excellence and an Evangelical Press Association Higher Goals award in 2022. Shafer graduated from Tabor College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Communications/Journalism and Biblical/Religious Studies. She and her husband, Austin, attend Ridgepoint Church in Wichita, Kansas.