“The Fellowship gave me brothers.”
Dr. John Teevan, veteran Charis Fellowship pastor and professor at Grace College, closed out the Central Focus Retreat by sharing his view of interdependence. While sharing his life story and ministry experiences, he stated that he always wanted to have a brother and that he is grateful for the connectivity across our Fellowship that creates familial bonds. He emphasized that if we strive to do things alone, we will end up like a feral cat; instead, we should strive for reconciliation. “We must not take the feral route; we must take the route of reconciliation,” he said.
During sessions, each of the eight national ministries had the opportunity to share their mission, vision, and future plans. Several cooperating ministries, such as Destiny Rescue, also had the opportunity to share. Freddy Cardoza, dean of Grace Theological Seminary, presented information on the Charis Collective Center for Thriving Leaders and highlighted some upcoming tools for training and equipping.
Tim Sprankle, pastor at Leesburg Grace Church in Leesburg, Ind., and Jeremy Wike, senior pastor at Community of Hope Grace Brethren Church in Columbia City, Ind., presented on the Charis Symposium topic of gender and sexual identity. The Charis Symposium is a gracious place for thoughtful, theological dialogue. The Symposium takes three years to dive into a specific topic with the end goal of producing content for Charis churches. During year one they study what the Bible says on the topic, during year two they get into the theology of the topic, and during year three they produce content to put what they learned into practice. They are wrapping up year three of gender and sexual identity and will begin the topic of women in ministry next.
Scott Feather, lead pastor at Gateway Church in Parkesburg, Pa., spoke on having a theology of we. He emphasized the idea of, “until we all.” He discussed the concepts of unity and oneness, noting how they are similar yet different. “Oneness was His decision, unity is ours,” he said. He gave four categories for creating unity: project, cooperation, collaboration, and integration.
A special highlight of the retreat was hearing from Dr. Augustin Hibaile, the director of the CIDEL organization in the Central African Republic. Dr. Hibaile works with national leaders and politicians, providing ethics training. He spoke on our global interdependence and the Fellowship’s ministry in Africa since James Gribble’s arrival more than 100 years ago. Today there are more than 3,000 Charis Alliance churches across the continent.
Worship was led by Isaac Murrell and others from Marysville Grace Brethren Church in Marysville, Ohio.
Retreat attendees had ample time for fellowship. During one session small groups spent time working through a Bible passage and discussing the model of interdependence seen in Paul’s ministry with the Corinthian church. Tuesday afternoon many attendees participating in golf sponsored by Inspire Charis Pastors Network and hiking in Mohican State Forest.
The retreat was held at Mohican Lodge & Conference Center in Perrysville, Ohio, on October 3–5. The more than 75 attendees represented national and cooperating ministries, pastors, worship leaders, missionaries, and spouses.
See more photos from the retreat here.