By Bishop J. Talmadge Gardner
I was honored beyond measure to serve Bishop Doyle & Sherrill Marley and the members of the Cornerstone Conference as their presiding officer on Friday, June 9, 2017.
Cornerstone is my “home” conference. I was both licensed as a minister in 1981 and ordained in 1983 by the Cornerstone Conference. My father joined the Cornerstone Conference in 1952 and my mother has been a member since 1957. We only have one lamb outside of the Cornerstone ‘ark of safety’ in our immediate Gardner family. My little brother is credentialed with the South Carolina Conference and seconded to Tennessee Valley. Mom and I continue to pray for him!
The conference convened at 9 a.m. on the campus of the Cornerstone Conference, which is in Browns Summit, North Carolina, (outside of Greensboro). The recent renovations to the platform area have made the auditorium very attractive.
Our enrollment at the beginning of the conference numbered 319 registered delegates in addition to many visitors in attendance.
Bishop Marley highlighted segments of his printed State of the Conference Report in his passionate address to the conference. His report covered the ministry success of many of Cornerstone’s ministries; Evangelism, Hispanic Ministries [introduced the new full-time ministry director, Rev. Joel Pava and his wife Gabriela], World Missions, Discipleship Ministries, Men’s and Women’s Ministries, Biblical Ministries Institute, introduction of their new Ministerial Continuing Education Program [MCEP], Next Generation emphasis and an updating of their “Core Values.”
With his evangelistic fervor, Bishop Marley concluded with the following remarks…
“Last week right after our Pre-Pentecost services I was awakened early in the morning thinking about this report and the challenges we are facing and suddenly the words of a great hymn came to my mind:
‘Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where The Grapes of Wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sitting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! Be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on!’
I am calling on Cornerstone today – let’s stand up against the darkness, conflict, and confusion of our day and ‘march on’ following the trumpet that will never sound retreat letting our light shine as never that ‘men will see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven’. I refuse to be discouraged over the gathering clouds of darkness because I believe we are on the winning side and our Heavenly Father has some great things in mind for the people and churches of Cornerstone. Join me in this next 12 months as we move toward His will and purposes for each of us as individuals and collectively as a conference. Let us do all we can to see that our IPHC vision becomes a reality as we become a ‘Place of Hope’ and a ‘People of Promise.’”
Bishop Marley also honored the members of Cornerstone’s administrative team—Darrell Gaines, Tennille Nichols, Trisha Ainsworth, LeAnn West and Betsy Abbott—for their efforts in serving the conference daily and in preparing for the conference session. If you ever have the privilege of working with them they are a very special team.
The conference in session did conduct one business item; a proposal from the Conference Executive Committee regarding the 2018 Nominating Committee. The proposal was adopted unanimously.
The Cornerstone Conference has developed a model ministerial and pastoral training/developmental program called the Biblical Ministries Institute. Rev. Garry Yeatts serves as the Director of this Institute. The fruit that this institute continues to yield holds great promise for the future of this conference. There was a powerful sense of God’s presence in both the licensing and ordination services.
The Memoirs Report was presented in a video format. Those lovingly memorialized were:
Deceased Ministers (3)
· Rev. Bennett Dodd Shelton
· Rev. Ruby Elouise Garris White
· Rev. Gifford Trent Wall
Deceased Ministers’ Wives (3)
· Mrs. Nancy Harvey Humphries
· Mrs. Pearl Goans Hickling
· Mrs. Opal Frances Williams Brown
Clergy Credentials Were Issued as Follows:
Ordination (6) –
- Rev. Phillip E. Calo
- Rev. Chuck T. Edwards
- Rev. Brad L. Hendrix
- Rev. W. Stephen Hoell
- Rev. Richard D. Lynthacum
- Rev. Juan Carlos Vazquez
Minister’s License (10) –
- Rev. Benjamin E. Baum
- Rev. William C. Byrd
- Rev. Barry R. Foster
- Rev. Roberta A. French
- Rev. Peggy Nicole Macon
- Rev. Jesse W. Matthews
- Rev. Travis R. Rhodes
- Rev. Amy R. Waugh
- Rev. Donald L. White
- Rev. Larry D. Ziglar
Local Church Minister’s Certificate (17)
- Rev. Carlos Alejo
- Rev. Ed Curran
- Rev. Maria Cruz
- Rev. Amanda Garcia
- Rev. Joel Garcia
- Rev. Allen Graeber
- Rev. Theron Smoutherson
- Rev. Alberto Mata
- Rev. Gregory McNeill
- Rev. Luis Morales
- Rev. Gabriela Pava
- Rev. Clara Reyes
- Rev. Felix Reyes
- Rev. Alfonso Perez Santiago
- Rev. Jesus Silva
- Rev. Randy Strong
- Rev. Brandon West
It was an honor as the presiding officer to recognize the following conference attendees and guests:
- Bishop Thomas [Tommy] McGhee, former Conference Superintendent, GEB & GBA member. Bishop McGhee currently serves as the Executive Director of the General Discipleship Ministries Division & IPHC Corporate Treasurer
- Tommy & Inez Fuquay, former Conference Superintendent, GEB & GBA member
- Jack & Frankie Goodson, former Conference Superintendent, GEB & GBA member, and the former Executive Director of the General Stewardship Ministries Department
- Ron White, President, Emmanuel College
- Bruce Hagee, Dean of Students, Holmes Bible College
- Brenda Grasty, Assistant Director of the General Women’s Ministries Board
- Keith Gilliam, General World Missions Ministries Division Council member
- Mike Ainsworth, General EVUSA Division Council member & member of the 28th General Conference Bylaws Committee
- Hobert & Marguerite Howard, retired IPHC Career Missionaries to India
- James & Joyce Ward, Sr. retired IPHC Career Missionaries to Guatemala
- Hugh & Lois Hoyle, IPHC Missionaries on Special Assignment
- Gary And Ann Robertson, former IPHC Career Missionaries to Israel
- Darrell Cox, pastor of my ‘home’ Church, Trinity Worship Center, Burlington, NC
- Cox also serves a member of the General COB Finance Committee
- Wayne Knight, former General Christian Education Board member
- Rick & Beverly Haug, former pastor of River of Life PHC, Oklahoma City. River of Life has been our home church since we moved to Oklahoma City in 1988. Particularly grateful for their ministry to my family through the years.
This was the 102nd gathering of the Cornerstone Conference. Bishop Marley and Sherrill have served and continue to serve the Lord and the IPHC with distinction.
Doyle invited me to join his leadership team in what was then termed the General Christian Education Department in July of 1988 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I will always be grateful to him for his mentorship, trust, friendship and willingness to hear the voice of the Lord for his life and mine. He and Sherrill are an extended part of our immediate family. In fact, we call them Uncle Doyle and Aunt Sherrill to this day with much respect, love, and affection.
May God’s favor and anointing continue to overshadow Doyle and Sherrill in the days and years to come and may mercy, peace and love be theirs in abundance.