Front page: Chicago conference designed to help the brethren

OAKBROOK, Ill.--For the 10th consecutive year, congregations played host to the Christian Renewal Conference in the Chicago area to inspire, encourage and edify its participants.

The event, sponsored by the Active Bible Church of God (in Chicago), the Church of God Downers Grove (a Chicago suburb) and the United Church of God Bloomington (an Illinois congregation not affiliated with the UCG of Milford, Ohio), occurred the weekend of July 19-20.

Ken Svehla, pastor of the Downers Grove congregation, spoke of benefits of this annual event.

"Our congregation helps with this annual event because we understand the need for people to be encouraged, inspired and edified," he said.

The speakers this year were Ronald Dart of Tyler, Texas, Dave Havir of Big Sandy, Texas, and Jeff and Sharon Ledy of Lansing, Mich.

Mr. Dart, founder of Christian Educational Ministries, spoke at the event this year for the ninth time in its 10-year history.

Mr. Havir, pastor of the Church of God Big Sandy, spoke at the conference this year for the sixth year in a row. The Ledys, who conduct marriage seminars and are associated with United Christian Ministries, Birmingham, Ala., attended this conference for the first time.

Sure foundation

Mr. Havir gave the first presentation at 11:15 Saturday morning. His message, "The Church That Will Not Die," emphasized the founding of the church on Jesus Christ.

He said people sometimes become disillusioned when they see the physical forms and shapes of church administrations change.

He added that, when people focus on the role of Jesus as the Lamb of God, High Priest and coming King of Kings, their foundation is as sure as it has always been.

At 12:30 the group took a lunch break to enjoy sandwiches and other food prepared by families of the host congregations.

Speaking the language

At 1:15 the Ledys gave a presentation titled "Love Languages." The couple summarized the five "love languages" made popular in Gary Chapman's best-selling book The Five Languages of Love.

Although Mr. and Mrs. Ledy stressed that this subject applies to relationships besides marriage, they used examples in their 21 years of matrimony to demonstrate the five areas: encouraging words, acts of service, gift-receiving, quality time and physical touch.

They encouraged people to determine their primary love language and the primary love language of their spouse. They mentioned that seldom do a husband and wife have the same primary love language.

New Pentecost

At 3 p.m. Mr. Dart gave a presentation, "The New Pentecost." In it he reminisced about the Day of Pentecost after Jesus' death. He addressed the miracles God used on that day to motivate His people to preach the gospel.

Mr. Dart asked: "How would God speak to the church in this generation?"

He read from Revelation 2-3 about Jesus talking to the seven congregations in Asia Minor. He noted the continuing relevance of the seven messages.

Mr. Dart encouraged attendees at the conference to "read your Bible every day."

Evening meal

After the speaking presentations, the host congregations provided a meal for everyone.

Al Warrington of West Chicago and Paul Blissard of Naperville, Ill., cooked the steaks and hamburgers.

Many people stayed around the hall until 8 p.m. After that, many guests returned to the Clubhouse Inn in Westmont for added fellowship.

Come Sunday

At 9:30 on Sunday morning Mr. Dart gave the first presentation, in which he discussed vanity and humility.

He also contrasted the concepts of self-esteem and self-respect. He described self-esteem as feeling good about yourself no matter what your behavior. He described self-respect as feeling good about yourself because of your good behavior.

Resolve to resolve

At 10:45 the Ledys gave a presentation about "conflict resolution."

First they explained that it is natural for conflict to arise, and it is biblical for Christians to seek to resolve it.

Next they discussed eight reasons for conflict. Finally, they mentioned four ways to resolve it:

o Really listen to understand.

o Clarify and stick to the issue.

o Respect the other person.

o Come to a win-win solution.

Audience's turn

Mr. Havir began the final presentation of the conference at 11:45 with an interactive Bible study.

"The organizers of the conference ask me to conduct an interactive Bible study during my Sunday time slot," he told The Journal. "They like to give the audience a turn to speak, and they know that I am comfortable moderating an interactive Bible study."

This year Mr. Havir quoted two verses and led the group in observations about the Scripture.

o In Matthew 9:13 Jesus said: "Go and learn what this means: 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice.'

o In Matthew 12:7 He said: "If you had known what this means, 'I will have mercy and not sacrifice,' you would not have condemned the innocent."

Music presentations

The conference presented a variety of musical presentations.

A choir consisted of Sheila Bernardo of Darien, Ill., Laureen Blissard of Naperville, Allie Dart of Tyler, Debbie Madison of Orland Park, Ill., Beth Meese and Courtney Meese of Danville, Amber and Anna Warrington of Chicago and Diane Warrington of West Chicago.

Performing vocal solos were Mrs. Blissard, Rashida Curtis and Nathan Oglivie of Chicago and Beth Meese and Al Nelson of Chicago.

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