PHOENIX, AZ – Nine thousand Clergy and leaders from 17 partnering ministries attended the “Come Near to Me,” Promise Keepers’ pastors and leaders conference in Phoenix, Feb. 18-20. Centered on achieving unity, speakers from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds expressed their concerns and reflection on the future of America’s ministry.
"Don't let your culture get in the way of your message. Spiritual truth must take precedence over cultural differences. The goal of the kingdom is to ... show people what heaven looks like. You have to fix your actions while your feelings catch up to them," said Dr. Tony Evans from Dallas, Texas.
Promise Keepers president and founder Bill McCartney opened the conference with devotional message on prayer. "It's not about what one guy can do; we have to be a team -- bonded together. Just one guy can be the fresh fire that takes the lead in becoming a real team that can make real differences in our world."
Focusing on the unity within the church, the conveners acknowledged the challenges involved in leading diverse Christians worldwide.
"Are you ready to face the risks? You are going to have to embrace someone who is not like you in order to win your city," said Moody Bible Institute president Joe Stowell
Representatives from different ethnicities voiced their concerns in a series of presentations.
"There are three million Native Americans in the United States and Canada, and less than five percent know Jesus," said Pastor Dobie Weasel of Omaha, Nebraska. "Walk in our moccasins."
In the Asian American presentation, David Gibbons said, "Let us embrace a theology of discomfort. The early church was successful because of their ability to deal with outsiders and epidemics."
Bishop Wellington Boon led the African American presentation, saying, "Every person in here has the same value, because every person here was bought with the same price (Jesus' blood)."
The Hispanic presentation featured pastor Danny DeLeon who said: "Hispanics hold the highest opportunity for increased church growth in America."
The pastor also discussed the AIDs epidemic ravishing countries around the world.
"The churches of Africa are dying," said Best-selling author Bruce Wilkinson, who returned from his new home in Johannesburg, South Africa. "Will you go this year to Africa to see for yourself how to help?"
"I would encourage us to build relationships for life," said speaker Sammy Winder.
The three-day conference closed with a prayer offered in unity.
Bill McCartney concluded the gathering by recalling Lou Gegrig’s famous farewell, "Who is really the luckiest guy in the world? He's the pastor of the local church." Afterwards, half of the attendees gathered at the stage to kneel in a prayer offered in unity.
18 Promise Keepers conferences are scheduled in 2003:
May 2-3 Lubbock, Texas
May 30-31 Baltimore, Md.
June 6-7 Jackson, Miss.
June 13-14 Peoria, Ill.
June 20-21 Albany, N.Y.
June 27-28 Orlando, Fla.
July 11-12 Pittsburgh, Penn.
July 25-26 Louisville, Ky.
August 1-2 Portland, Ore.
August 8-9 Columbus, Ohio
August 15-16 St. Paul, Minn.
August 22-23 Raleigh, N.C.
September 5-6 Atlanta, Ga.
September 12-13 Dallas, Texas
September 19-20 Kansas City, Mo.
September 26-27 Denver, Colo.
October 10-11 San Jose, Calif.
October 17-18 Las Vegas, Nev
By Paulina C.