By A.D. Beacham, Jr., Presiding Officer
I was privileged to attend and preside over a significant conference session of the ministers and congregations of the Harvest Conference. This conference reaches across Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, and into Iowa. The following photo was taken of the attendees at the close of the Saturday business session.
The sessions were held on June 3-4, 2016, at Glorious Life PHC in Derby, Kansas (Wichita suburb). This congregation is led by Pastor Keenan Darnell and is strategically located in this prosperous and growing area of Wichita.
In the photo, you can see former conference superintendent Rev. Elston Page and his wife Lois on the front right in the brown suit. In the center back is Bishop Chris Thompson, IPHC Vice-Chairman and executive director of EVUSA.
A Strategic Shift in Structure
This annual session was the culmination of two years of intense work led by Bishop Thompson, a specially formed conference advisory committee (Revs. Anna Miller, Keenan Darnell, Ricardo Garcia, Barry Morris, and Jorge Tinoco), and the EVUSA team. Two years ago, after several years of decline in the conference, the conference voted to come under Bishop Thompson with the goal of either developing a strategy to remain a viable conference or take steps to consider a different structure as part of a long-range plan.
After two years of engagement with the EVUSA team (and ten trips across Kansas), Bishop Thompson, the conference advisory committee, the ministers and lay leaders of the conference, and the IPHC Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops, determined that the churches would best be served and positioned for future growth with a new structure.
That structure was adopted unanimously in the business session. The structure is as follows:
- The eleven Hispanic congregations and Hispanic ministers will become part of the Northern Plains District of Acts2Day. That district is led by Rev. Hector Andrade.
- The nine Anglo congregations and ministers will become a district under Acts2Day, led by Rev. Garry Bryant, director of Acts2Day and assistant director of EVUSA.
- The goal for the Anglo congregations is that with future growth, they ultimately divide into two areas: Central to West Kansas, and Kansas City across Interstate 70 to St. Louis.
- Though approved by the annual conference, the IPHC Manual calls for such changes to a conference status to be approved by the IPHC Council of Bishops. That motion will be offered at the July 21, 22 COB meeting.
- If approved by the COB, the transition from a conference to the two districts named in 1) and 2) will occur on August 1st.
- The finances of the conference, which have been maintained by EVUSA the past two years, will be divided equally among the two districts.
It is everyone’s prayer that in time these districts will grow and be able to meet the standards of a new conference as outlined in the IPHC Manual and the policies adopted by the Council of Bishops (IPHC Manual, p. 145). The standards for a new conference include 1) number of congregations, 2) number of ministers, 3) number of church members, 4) financial strength to operate a conference, and 5) leadership.
Throughout this two-year process Bishop Thompson has kept the Executive Committee and the Council of Bishops informed of every step. He has shown his strong pastoral and organizational leadership as he earned the trust of the members of the Harvest Conference and led them to this new opportunity. He and his staff of Rev. Garry Bryant, Rev. Luis Avila, Rev. Stacy Hilliard, Mrs. Elizabeth Jorgenson, and Mrs. Maria Velez, are to be commended for their faithful stewardship.
The conference is financially strong, has faithfully tithed to the General Church, and has faithfully supported World Missions and other IPHC endeavors. Bishop Thompson’s office has used the conference tithes and offerings for the conference itself. No office salaries or other benefits have been paid from these funds, other than travel costs and reimbursements for ministry/training events in the conference itself.
This process is an effective model from the general church level in working hand in hand with conferences that are facing difficulties. I am grateful the denomination has the flexibility to adjust structures in order to more effectively fulfill the mission Christ has given us.
Highlights of the Conference Event
Through the week leading to the conference, Bishop Thompson and his staff, along with Pacific Realm District Director Greg Hood and his wife Joan, held special services in the areas with concentrations of IPHC congregations in Kansas. This was like a camp-meeting atmosphere as Rev. Hood ministered the Word with great insight, passion, and prophetic anointing. A special prayer was offered for every minister and congregation. Rev. Avila, director of Hispanic Ministries, provided the translation for these services.
I was blessed to attend the Friday night service as Rev. Hood spoke on the “leaven of the Pharisees and leaven of Herod” from Mark 8:11-21. With anointed insight Rev. Hood touched our hearts and minds and led us to search our own hearts in our service to Christ.
During the Saturday conference session, Local Church Ministers License was granted to Rev. Apolonio Lopez, the pastor of a Hispanic congregation in the Kansas City area that has recently joined the IPHC.
EVUSA missionaries Carlos and Nuria Bolanos were present on Friday and Saturday night. They are under assignment to plant IPHC congregations in Hawaii, especially on the island of Maui. Originally from Costa Rica, this couple and their goal is worthy of our prayer and financial support. There are thousands of Spanish-speaking people immigrating to Hawaii and this is a harvest field that we must not ignore. Hawaii is a spiritually needy state with serious homelessness, drug issues, and sexual immorality. I encourage the IPHC family to go to www.acts2day.org to support this couple and others who are reaching the United States for Christ.
Bishop Thompson informed the delegates that IPHC is now in 48 of the 50 United States. We are praying for doors to open in Wyoming and Rhode Island.