The Annual Gathering of the Orders and Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members is held each fall at Sumatanga Camp and Conference Center. This event is for North Alabama elders, deacons, associate members, and local pastors.
This year's gathering will feature Bishop Robert Schnase. The theme is "Re-thinking the Five Practices: Changing Assumptions about Church and Culture."
Registration is now open. The Early Registration deadline is October 10. The final registration deadline is October 16.
Click here to download schedule.
When Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations was released ten years ago, no one had I-Phones, Facebook was limited to use by a few universities, Netflix mailed DVD’s to our homes, and Blockbuster had over 6000 stores with 85,000 employees. The refugee crisis, the threat of terrorism in the US and Europe, the election of President Obama and then of President Trump, new conversations about race in America, the changing attitudes toward immigrants—so much has happened in ten years.
Our understanding of church has also evolved. Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors assumed people would come to our turf and like us. Now attractional assumptions are shifting toward missional strategies. Creative leaders are developing ways to plant expressions of Christianity in the networks and neighborhoods that traditional church cannot reach. Distinctions between members and visitors are being replaced by richer expressions of discipleship. How we start faith communities has evolved.
In fact, since Five Practices first appeared, the fundamental definition of congregation has changed as leaders experiment with patterns of Christian community outside traditional church practice and far away from church facilities. We are changing how we make disciples, how we worship, and how we foster generosity.
Join me at the North Alabama Clergy Retreat, October 22-24, at Sumatanga Camp and Retreat Center as we rethink the fundamental assumptions of the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations and as we share fresh approaches about how we fulfill the mission of Christ in a changing world.
--Bishop Robert Schnase