Submitted by: Mickey Evans
The theme was simple, “Empowering Elders.” In the weeks leading up to the event held September 28-29, 2018, Mickey P. Evans, head elder at the Duluth, Georgia, Church and president of Georgia-Cumberland Adventist Elders’ Consortium (GCAEC), invited elders and their pastors to pray that the Holy Spirit would be present in a special way, and that elders would leave inspired, empowered, and more confident than ever before to continue the work God has called them to do in their local churches.
Friday after supper the retreat began with a personality assessment icebreaker, followed by a charge to accept the call to service by Victor Maddox, vice president for pastoral ministries and evangelism. Maddox developed his message from the theme found in 2 Timothy 2:1-4, ESV.
Maddox said, “Elders are gifted by God to lead and serve, to share — through word and through our life (and example) — the Good News about Jesus Christ. The power that enables us to do this comes from a power that is not naturally in us. But rather, it is infused in us by the Holy Spirit.”
Maddox further challenged, “Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you. Remember that which stirred your heart with faith to believe and trust in God, and take up His cause to endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Jesus Christ, and, with it, eternal glory.”
Sabbath began with an early morning prayer service led by Chukwuma Onyeije. Elders shared the burdens on their hearts with one another.
Plenary sessions in the morning and afternoon were led by Steve Keiser, a former vice president at Amazing Facts. He shared practical lessons he’s learned from more than 20 years of experience as a Bible instructor, “How to Give a Better Bible Study,” parts 1 and 2.
Keiser said, “People are hungry for systematic truth, and are hungry for Bible prophecy. When they see a system of truth that is based completely on the Bible, that makes sense to them, and one thing fits together with the other, it has a powerful appeal.”
Between plenary sessions were breakout sessions. Elders could choose from practical and relevant topics. The sessions were led by the Georgia-Cumberland Conference’s ministerial team, Victor Maddox, Harold Cunningham, Miguel Tirado, and Neil Reid. Other speakers were Justin Lang, Rachel Williams-Smith, Tammy Fisher, Brian Cummings, and Shelbert Gaines.
Although the schedule was full, there was time to enjoy the excellent vegetarian cuisine provided by the Cohutta Springs chef, and the beautiful scenery surrounding the conference center.
Diane Johnson, in describing her experience, wrote, “The elders’ retreat was an invaluable experience for me …. Being an elder is a very responsible position, and sometimes that responsibility weighs heavily. It was nice to be around other elders, and to have the support and encouragement of church leaders.
The talks were Christ-centered and practical. I feel that I can immediately apply what we learned. Teaching Bible studies, conflict resolution, the true meaning of unity, and other topics were helpful information. Thank you for caring about us, and for honestly addressing some of our concerns. I would recommend this training to anyone.”
GCAEC will continue to grow by building a fellowship among elders, providing more opportunities for learning, and enhancing the resources already available.
Georgia-Cumberland | December 2018