By Talmadge Gardner
I was privileged to serve as the presiding officer for the HEARTLAND CONFERENCE ANNUAL CONFERENCE SESSION, April 30, 2016. The conference was hosted at the Heartland Conference Retreat Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Bishop Sherrill’s State of the Conference report was comprehensive and full of optimism. His emphasis that Heartland is ‘one church in many locations’ is nurturing a ‘family’ atmosphere: “From Day One my message has been that we are one church in many locations. Although ministers too often feel isolated, it does not have to be that way. Indeed God has designed a better way. He wants us to have friends and mentors, close relationships with other ministers that will take us from strength to strength, faith to faith, and glory to glory! I will do everything I can to be there for you and help you, but my goal is still to connect you to each other.” The bond of fellowship that is being developed by members of the Heartland Conference is a close-knit and genuine one. You can sense it.
Bishop Sherrill reported Heartland Conference’s footprint as follows:
- 72 total churches [Seventy-one planted and transfer member churches & one affiliate church]
- Ordained – 154
- Licensed – 24
- Local Church Minister’s Certificate – 49
- Total of 227 Credentialed Clergy
- Total church membership between 4,000 and 5,000
Bishop Sherrill also recognized 11 churches that are experiencing significant growth. He requested that two of those pastors share their testimony with the conference. Pastor John Leggett at Falls Pointe Church reported that more than 750 people attended their Easter services and that they had just completed the first phase of their campus expansion. He has done this with part-time team members and just recently added his first full-time team member. Rev. Steve Ely, senior pastor of Passion Church talked about the miraculous financial awakening that his church is experiencing. He attributes the catalyst for this awakening to pastor Robert Morris’ The Blessed Life series.
Bishop Sherrill awarded service pins as follows:
- 10 Year Pins – Rev. Debbie Burpo, Rev. George Ankrah and Rev. Chris Hammons
- 50 Year Pins – Rev. Ralph Davis and Rev. Bob Ely
Heartland Conference Lifetime Achievement Award
In a very fitting ceremony, Bishop Sherrill and the members of the Heartland Conference Executive Council presented the Heartland Conference Lifetime Achievement Award posthumously to Rev. James McDowell. Thelma McDowell and their son, Jim, were present for this ceremony.
Clergy credentials were issued as follows:
Ordination (4) –
- Rev. Mark Anson
- Rev. David Wiggins
- Rev. Ines Archila Vargas
- Rev. Fernando Jurado [awarded posthumous – the husband of Rev. Ines Archila Vargas]
Minister’s License (8) –
- Rev. James Bennett
- Rev. Jillian Clayton
- John Clayton
- Chris Hammons
- William [Jake] Higgins
- Karla Pastrana Maldonado
- Ethan Sellers
- Jody Wright
It was an honor as the presiding officer to recognize the following conference attendees:
- Mrs. Thelma McDowell, wife of former Conference Superintendent, Rev. James McDowell. Rev. McDowell also served the general church as a GEB and GBA member.
- Rev. Bobby & Judy Stewart, former Conference Superintendent, West Oklahoma Conference. Rev. Stewart also served the general church as a GBA member.
- Rev. Dorrance & Shirley Manning, former Conference Superintendent, Arizona Conference. Rev. Manning also served the general church as a GEB and GBA member.
- Rev. Lynn & Marilyn Ice, former Conference Superintendent, Ozarks Conference. Rev. Ice also served the general church as a GBA member.
- Rev. Charlene West, retired IPHC Career Missionary and former [first] Director of Intercultural Ministries, IPHC
- Dr. Roger & Mary Gorman, retired IPHC Career Missionaries
- Rev. Max Barroso, Director of The Awakening, IPHC
- Chaplain Colonel Jerry L. Jones, U.S. Army Retired, Director and Endorser for Chaplains Ministries, IPHC
- Rev. Jeff Patterson, Director of Operations for the Global Ministry Center
- Rev. Shirley Spencer, former Executive Editor of IPHC Publications and Sunday School Curriculum
- Rev. Steve Ely, former Director of Youth Ministry, IPHC
- Rev. Terry Lowder, former Assistant Director, EVUSA, IPHC
- Rev. David Oxley, former Assistant Director, Stewardship Ministries, IPHC
Bishop Sherrill and I served together in Church Education/Discipleship Ministries. It is an honor to serve him, and with him, now on the Council of Bishops. It is very obvious that the Lord has ordered Stuart and Sheri’s steps and prepared them to serve the Heartland Conference for this season of ministry. I believe that God will use their vast deposit and reservoir of experience and impartation to greatly benefit the Heartland Conference.
May every benefit and gift that comes from God our Heavenly Father, be graced on Bishop Stuart and Sheri Sherrill. They are choice servants.