2,000 participants came together at the Cobb Galleria, Atlanta, Ga., Friday, Saturday and Sunday, in Atlanta, for the PCA’s 5th Christian Education and Publications Women’s ministry conference, Amazing Grace 360 emphasizing the whole Gospel for the whole life and whole world. Older women and younger women came from across the PCA with representatives from several countries where PCA ministry is realized. 200 of the participants were under 20 years of age and 200 were over 66 years of age.
With the confusion abroad about “grace” the conference sought to present a program that would encourage and enable the participants to understand the “it is all about God” who is a God of grace and mercy. That theme was carried throughout the conference with Nancy Guthrie leading the plenary sessions unfolding the whole story of: creation, the fall, redemption, and consummation (covered by Brian Habig mentioned below). Her messages were clear and set the stage for the more than 30 seminars on different aspects of the whole story.
500 of the participants came for the pre-conference events which featured Lydia Brownback as the plenary speaker and breakout seminars for that “pre-con” event. Kevin Twit and the Indelible Grace effectively led the conference in the worship sessions. Kevin Twit is a PCA teaching elder and has assisted CEP and the women’s conferences on previous occasions. One of the highlights of the conference, along with the good solid teaching and warm fellowship of the participants, was a Friday night concert, featuring Laura Story an accomplished singer and songwriter and winner of the prestigious Dove Award for her album Great God Who Saves and who serves on the worship leadership team at the Perimeter PCA Church in Duluth, Ga., and a Saturday night concert featuring Kevin Twit and the Indelible Grace.
The Indelible Grace has produced a number of CD’s especially featuring some of the great hymns often set to new music. Kevin is a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary. He is also known as a RUF (Reformed University Fellowship) campus minister at Belmont University in Nashville, Tn.
Another highlight of the conference, following the Saturday night dinner, came as
PCA women from across the church and from more than eight countries were introduced who then brought greetings from such respective locations: North America, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Germany, Ukraine. Etc. The evening session was narrated and led by Barbara Thompson of Zachary, La., and Susan Phyllis of Hendersonville. North Carolina. The theme for the evening was appropriately called, “faces of grace.” During that evening session the wives of PCA military chaplains, especially those serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, were asked to stand to an auditorium filled with a standing ovation for their families’ service to God and our country’s security.
Joni Erickson Tada addressed the conference via video and brought encouraging words to those who have known suffering and the Lord’s faithfulness in sustaining them through difficult times. Nancy Guthrie who had experienced the pain of losing two children was able to meet with many of the mothers present with similar experiences. A fitting climax of the Saturday evening event was remembering Georgia Settle, now with the Lord, who served as the first coordinator of women’s ministry with CEP and the PCA. Her husband Paul, a former coordinator of CEP, was welcomed. He brought a brief message and prayer for the conference.
Brian Habig concluded the conference in the Sunday morning worship with a message from Romans 8 entitled “Home.” The morning message drew together the “consummation perspective,” in a most effective way, the theme and the variations on that theme throughout the conference. Brain, a former RUF minister, presently serves as pastor of the Downtown Presbyterian church in Greenville, South Carolina
One of the highlights of the conference was giving the participants an opportunity to see the more that 50 exhibits some featuring a variety of ministries in the church and to see the many training resources and study materials available from CEP. One the participants remarked, “I have never seen so many good resources that relate to women’s ministry in one place.”
CEP Coordinator Charles Dunahoo said before the conference, “We have carefully designed the entire conference around the theme Amazing Grace 360-focusing on God’s grace, not from an “easy believism” concept of grace, but from a biblically historical redemptive focus on Christ and his sufficiency that will highlight, “The whole Gospel, the Whole life, and the Whole World.” As the conference ended he said “God allowed us to experience that purpose in even greater measures than anticipated.”
Jane Patete, CEP’s women’s ministry coordinator said, “Our prayer was for the Triune God to be lifted before the conference in teaching, fellowship, prayer, and singing the songs of the Kingdom, and that we all would be reminded of his redeeming grace and equipped to live and serve as the citizens of the his Kingdom.” “God answered our prayer,” she said as the conference closed. “To him be the glory.”