Saturday, June 30, 2012

NAC 2012, An Overview

Alice belonged to our far-away congregation in another time. When she went to the hospital for a serious surgery, her prayer was that she live long enough to make “just one” pilgrimage to Anderson (then our International Convention/Camp Meeting).

We are now home from Convention fifty-something; NAC 2012 is history and my mind races, trying to process the convention and current church trends. It boggles the mind, like trying to process global trending--incomprehensible.

I recall comments made by people attending AU--Anderson Camp Meeting--NAC in past years. Like them, I attended as a participant looking for inspiration, fellowship, and whatever. This year prompted thoughts suggesting NAC may largely be an AU Alumni Gathering.

For the past decade or so, we worked actively with book sales for Reformation Publishers. This year we worked with Historical Society Vice President, Dale Stultz, filling in for the critically ill Sadie Evans. Thankfully, Sadie is improving and will probably return to Anderson and resume her regular role.

Meanwhile, Doug Welch (former Archivist) and Dale (researcher) carried forth, with our assistance. It made me aware that many have no understanding of the time, effort, and skills demanded to staff a successful convention like NAC. It takes a “heap“ of dedicated people--worker bees, not concerned with being inspired.

It challenges me to see how many are interested in our history, and books like THE GOSPEL TRUMPET YEARS (Stultz & Welch). Some, it seems, cannot understand the total disinterest of Church of God Ministries. We hear it said, “people are not interested in it. That is past. This is now.” Yet people continue to buy, and some conclude, “They (Chog Ministries) just don’t get it.”

This was probably the smallest convention I have ever attended. Old Brother Camp Meeting appeared to be a mere rack of bones compared to former days--badly emaciated and in poor health.

As an octogenarian, full days at the Barney Warren cabin left me lacking sufficient vigor to participate fully in the excellent programming available. I pre-voted absentee (a limited ballot) and missed the General Assembly proceedings. So soon escaped from her near death experience, my spouse could not make all the major services. It seems safe to say that GA operated with a minority control, being mostly attended from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

The Eastern states have fair representation but the 11 Western States mostly align with the West Coast Assembly, all of which makes for a very poor church-wide representation. This is an issue that needs intentional addressing, as well as the role/purpose of the GA.

The Convention included a full schedule of excellent educational and training programs--events too few take advantage of. The BIG TENT, as I saw it, had only those agencies under the leadership of Church of God Ministries (quite controlled), and I saw few people, few books, and … well … not much. The LIVE Tent appeared well attended and there was a PRAYER tent, for people seeking prayer and spiritual counsel. Major services at Reardon Auditorium (2200 capacity) never filled and seldom used the balcony, in spite of dynamic services and passionate preaching.

I reacted to the “praise music” being so loud it almost took my head off. My ears do not tolerate abusing, and I frankly believe I have a stewardship to protect what hearing I do have! I for one sorely disapprove of the poor stewardship of our technology and the unethical abuse of people’s ears, just because some “audio engineer” has learned how to jack up a microphone and shout at people.

The "abusive loudness" is a far greater issue than filling the auditorium with the ringing sounds of 7-11 choruses-- some of which are quite pleasing, if you can hear the words and sing them with deep meaning rather than just a wiggle. If you find this critical, it is a lover’s quarrel on the part of one who made his first pilgrimage at age 16 in 1944.

With the approach of NAC, my spouse laid at death’s door. When God called her forth, we told friend Dale, “we’ll be there and give you a hand.” We made it very intentional, but that did not keep us from having car trouble en route home.

We had been having a minor problem we thought created by water in the gas, and on I69 in the middle of Fort Wayne traffic the old Buick chugged to a stop. I pulled over and stopped, then chugged a few miles further. Now: here we sat--roadside, hood up, motor cooling in 90 degree heat, trying to determine the best course of action.

Shortly, a red van stopped, backed up, and a young man stepped forth to greet us. I explained our problem: we were en route home from our Anderson church convention--80 miles. “Church of God?” he wanted to know. As it turned out, he was from County Line Church of God, Auburn. We frequently stop at McDonald‘s in Auburn, so we mutually agreed to “attempt” Auburn.

I started the car and he followed, flashers blinking. “Old Blue” ran fair to middlin and I slowly got up to speed. We reached Auburn quickly enough and our new friend Brett gave us directions for mechanical help before going his way. We went into McD’s for R & R in the cool, leaving the car to cool.

An hour later, we decided to re-launch. We cranked up and headed for State Line, where we regularly stop. We actually arrived in Battle Creek shortly after 4 p.m., having lost only about an hour. We were safe and sound, and within reach of our longtime mechanic-friend Rob, who will see the car Monday morning--more than likely a new fuel pump???

We both marveled at the odds of meeting a fellow believer under such circumstances, someone that knew mutual friends in the area. It helped us understand that God was with us all the time. Do we wonder about NAC? Yes! Are we distressed about church trends? By all means! But behind it all is the great God of the Universe and this one thing we know:

"Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided--
“Great is Thy faithfulness,”
Lord, unto me!

The last word has not yet been spoken, and we will continue to listen.
From Warner’s World,
this is


Re said...

Wayne, this was my 42nd NAC. Balcony was closed the first two nights...200 plus on Sunday night and #'/ kept climbing till Wednsday night it was full.

Why th.e negativity about "history & Chog Ministry? We've committed 50K to the Interpritive Center opening this fall in our lobby?

Wayne said...

Thanks for the update; I am glad to stand corrected. I hated to miss Bill Neece's sermon, which I heard brought a very positive response, and the Wed. night program.
What I expressed was only what I was hearing. Dale was going to have conversation with Ron following the convention, for mutual understanding.
I am anxious to see the interpretive center.
I must confess I get the feeling that Chog Ministries and the church are on parallel tracks, not necessarily opposed to each other,but each with its own agenda.