One of the great joys of being a part of the staff among the International Churches of Christ in New England is the unity forged over the years. Though staying connected and united is never easy, it is worth all the efforts made – long car rides, phone calls, pulpit swaps, elders and wives’ retreats and more.
On Thursday, February 16, staff couples and singles from around the Northeast drove to Framingham, Massachusetts, for a day of learning, lunch, fellowship and time together. Chip Mitchell and Kevin Miller from Boston put together an event that was fun, funny, informative and inspiring.
Tom Caswell from Worcester welcomed all with a scripture and some brief thoughts. Then Jeff Schachinger (Southern CT), Sajjan Sharma (Pioneer Valley, MA) and Glenn Petruzzi – representing the furthest points south, west and north – led us in prayer to God.
Chip Mitchell introduced our morning session, which was to focus on “Multiplying.” Jimmy Allen from Hartford, CT, preached on “Advancing the Gospel.” His lesson - featuring chocolate chip cookies, stick figures and a couple of unique pictures of Jimmy Rogers and Wyndham Shaw from the 1970’s - challenged all to share, get rid of the polyester and live by faith.
Next, Boston evangelist Douglas Arthur gave a missionary journey report and delegate’s updated. Doug recently returned from a trip to India where a new missions’ training program has been set up. Douglas has been at the forefront of advocating for evangelist training in New England and beyond. He also called us to kingdom support in a variety of areas like HOPE worldwide and Disciples Today (by the way – Roger Lamb, editor for Disciples Today, was present at the event and has moved recently to the Boston area).
After another brief break, Valdur Koha, Boston teacher and International Missions’ Society board chairman, spoke on “Correctly Handling the Word of Truth.” He gave an inspiring view of a real student of God’s Word as one who doesn’t just swim in the ocean or go snorkeling, but braves the deep water with scuba gear.
The last speaker of the day was Bryan Gray from the South Region of the Boston church. Bryan’s topic was “New Christian Maturity“ and he has come up with a one-year follow up plan for new disciples. Bryan’s heart to shepherd our young is exemplary. Multiplying and baptizing can often seem more glamorous than discipling and teaching. However, both are essential to the building of God’s kingdom long-term.
The special time concluded with lunch and fellowship. As brothers and sisters scattered out and talked, there was a buzz in the air that spoke of many ligaments being connected throughout our part of the world.
We have hopes of meeting up again soon – around May – for staff retreats. We all need each other – whether on staff or not. The Bible is full of churches working together to see their cities won for Jesus. May God bless our efforts to multiply and mature for His glory in the coming years.
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