It has been a long drive from that 1940's wartime camp meeting national youth convention combination--1943 or 1944)to NAC 2009. On that first trip to Anderson, I went as a teen to hear E. Stanley Jones. I became a pastor in 1951 and we began attending General Assembly and Camp Meeting the following year.
In those first years, we drove 1500 miles to enjoy the Anderson fellowship. I took in many learning experiences, and represented my congregation at GA. We have not missed more than 2-3 since. We did not always have money and means to go. Our mission churches could not always send us. Looking back, however,I can say forthrightly "God always provided!" Our provisions sometimes fell far below what we enjoy today, but God never failed us.
If this year was up 18%, as reports indicate, I am pleased. Perhaps attendance has bottomed and will now increase again. I hope so, although I doubt it ever reaches its former glory years of 30-40,000 conventioners.
Knowing we are in transition, I urge us to fulfill the biblical admonition to love one another as God has loved us. Let us be as grace-filled with one another as God has been with us, and continues to be. We have now been gathering in Anderson, IN for 100 years. We became a common cause before Anderson, IN became a boom town before we began meeting there, and God will still funnel his grace through us and bring peace to a troubled world.
Today's world is a Jericho Road, filled with broken and distressed people. There are plenty of religious people of all shades and stripes, but Good Samaritans are in short supply. God waits to funnel his grace, mercy, love, and peace into the "uttermost parts" whenever and wherever he can find "good Samaritans" (cf Luke 10:25-37).
We need to dialogue some serious issues in the church, but while we're doing that we need to take seriously what Jesus told the Legal Expert, "Then go and do what he did" (Luke 10:37 NCV).The message and mission is no longer that of D. S. Warner; it must become our mission and message, as we follow the Lord Jesus.
I have no desire to return to earlier days of Grand Junction, Moundsville, or Anderson, but I do yearn for us to pursue God's mission as passionately and powerfully as did those who brought the message of Holiness, Unity, et al to us. If God was not getting anything done except what happens via the Church of God, Anderson, Indiana, he would be fighting a losing battle. The point being, we need to reconcile our human frailties, faults, and failures, and get on with God's mission in the world.
Read Dr. Duncan's "White Paper." Let us dare to become accountable to each other. Let us dare to reach out to all who are involved in the work of the Kingdom of God. There is but ONE CHURCH and we are here to work together, to compliment all who call on the name of Jesus, and put aside all competition. By no means is all kingdom ministry being done in the Church of God, Anderson.
We have convened another year. I have ambivalent thoughts and feelings about many issues, some of which I will share. However, of this one thing I am sure, we have a job to do. That job is bigger than those of us who find Jerusalem, or Mecca, in Anderson, IN.
From Warner's World,