REPORT OF THE 129TH BIBLE FELLOWSHIP CHURCH CONFERENCE
Beginning with a prayer thanking the Lord for His sovereignty and asking that His Spirit guide the proceedings, Moderator Randall A. Grossman called the 129th BFC Conference to order at 1:00 P.M., Monday, April 23, 2012.
The theme of BFC Conference was Discipleship. Pastor James Arcieri, Red Hill, PA, led in worship through songs which focused on the kingship of Christ. Conference was challenged in a message by Moderator Grossman from Joshua 1 to be strong and courageous.
The first session consisted of essential business including appointing Conference Committees, introducing new members, receiving reports from various boards and committees, and elections. Mark A. Bickel, Colby Weinhofer, and R. Scott Wright were approved for ordination.
During the Report of the Conference Pastor, Ronald C. Mahurin, Pastors Marcos Ramirez, Iglesia Biblica La Roca de Mérida, Mérida, Yucatá, Mexico; Timothy M. Zuck, Hellertown, PA; Joshua Allen, Las Cruces, NM; and Daniel L. Williams, Woodbury Heights, NJ were asked to share the joys and prayer concerns from their respective churches. Praise was given to the Lord that all four younger churches reported substantial numerical and spiritual growth and asked only that Conference pray for the physical resources to continue growing.
During the Monday evening session, Dana E. Weller, Director of the Board of Missions, and David E. Gundrum, Director of Church Extension Ministries, presented their reports. Pastor Weller encouraged everyone to continue to be faithful to missions and to take advantage of Board of Missions resources. All missionaries present were asked to introduce themselves.
Pastor Gundrum spoke briefly highlighting the importance of daughter churches (“churches planting churches”). Four church planters (Ronald B. Smith, Townsend, DE; R. Scott Wright, Lower Providence Township, PA; Keith Strunk, Cape Community Church, Cape May Court House, NJ; and Miguel Gonzalez, Assistant Church Planter under the B.O.M.) presented their works, and a report was read by Pastor Ramirez introducing church planter Freddy Chi, Villa Magna, Yucatá, Mexico. Notably, the works in Townsend, Lower Providence, and Villa Magna are daughter churches.
The evening session was adjourned for a time of worship. Pastor Carlos G. Rodriguez and others from La Roca de Reading, Reading, PA led in worship. Praise was offered joyfully in both English and Spanish. Guest speaker, Dr. Gene A. Getz preached a message entitled, “The Measure of a Healthy Church”. Through an examination of the epistles, he concluded that a church ought to be measured by its work of faith, endurance of hope, and labor of love.
The third session began on Tuesday morning with devotional thoughts and songs led by Pastor Arcieri about the name of the Lord. Reports were presented by Executive Director David T. Allen, the BFC Executive Board, Pinebrook Bible Conference, and Victory Valley Camp.
Conference received the two reports (majority and minority) from the Study Committee on Sabbath and heard explanations of both positions. After extensive debate, which spanned the morning and afternoon sessions, Conference voted on the majority resolution which removes the idea of Sabbath from Article 21: “The Lord’s Day” of the Articles of Faith. The resolution passed at first reading, receiving the necessary two-thirds majority by only one vote.
Also during the Tuesday afternoon session, Conference accepted the report of the Study Committee on the Kingdom. After a few minor corrections, a resolution to replace the current Article 27: “The Millennium” with a new article entitled “The Kingdom of God” was passed at first reading. Both articles, according to our rules for changes in the Articles of Faith, will now be presented to the churches who will have until the 131st BFC Conference (24 months) to approve or disapprove.
No business was conducted during the Tuesday evening session. Pastor Arcieri led in worship once again, this time on the theme of Christ the Foundation. Dr. Getz preached a message entitled, “Producing a Healthy Church.” He encouraged everyone to focus on three experiences which produce a healthy church: a vital learning experience with the Word of God, a vital relational experience with one another and with God, and a vital corporate and personal witness experience.
After a short break, a service of ordination was held for three men approved for ordination during the Monday afternoon session. Each man gave his testimony, and then a charge was given to them by Pastor Carl J. Fischer, Jr. reminding them of the seriousness of their calling. A transcript of each testimony will be printed in a future edition of BFC OneVoice.
On Wednesday, Pastor Arcieri led in a final time of worship. Dr. Getz preached on the topic of “Building Up One Another”.
After a brief break, Conference considered a disagreement between the Ministerial Credentials Committee and one of our churches. Discussion continued until after lunch. Because of the sensitive nature of the issue, Moderator Grossman called on Pastor William G. Schlonecker to lead Conference in prayer for the Lord’s guidance. The Conference finally referred the disagreement to the Conference Judicatory for review and, hopefully, resolution. This will be the first time the Conference Judicatory has been called into service during its twenty-seven year existence and not really for its intended purpose. Another prayer was offered for continued wisdom and guidance.
Next, the Report of the Study Committee on the Biblical Principles for Living was received. The committee requested a straw poll to determine which of the ten issues they presented Conference was most interested in examining. The committee was reappointed to continue their work. This was the first report by this committee which was set up to suggest changes and updates to the Biblical Principles for Living every seven years.
The day was concluded by considering unfinished business and appointing men to various committees and positions, and a closing prayer was offered.
Additional information about the 129th BFC Conference including the report book, study committee reports, and official minutes are available at www.bfc.org.
The 129th BFC Conference thanks Pinebrook Bible Conference for its hospitality, the men who served in various capacities for their faithfulness, and, most importantly, the Lord for his guidance during every session. By God’s grace, may we return next year having made progress in making disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ to His honor and glory.
R. Edward Snyder-Ritter