By Frank Billman
“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendents.”
Based on the above promise from God, the theme for Aldersgate 2010 was “Unleashed.” “Prior to the conference, God lovingly challenged us to recognize that if we ask an infinite God to be ‘unleashed’ in our lives, the reality is that he may choose to answer our prayers at the conference in a way that goes beyond our finite comprehension, understanding, and experience,” said Jonathan Dow, executive director of Aldersgate Renewal Ministries (ARM). “I believe he did so.”
Numerous attendees testified that the power and presence of God were noticeably “kicked up a notch,” as Chef Emeril would say. Written testimonials after the conference confirmed the observation. “We came away greatly encouraged. This event has given new meaning to the word renewal,” wrote one lay couple from Michigan. “I came dry and empty. I leave filled and refreshed,” wrote another. “This is my first Aldersgate and I am amazed by the unleashing of the Holy Spirit on his people. I have never experienced church like this!”
Held July 14-18, the national family conference was held in Charleston, West Virginia, and sponsored by Aldersgate Renewal Ministries, an affiliate of the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD). With more than 1380 registrations, the attendance reflected an increase of 24 percent for the adults and for the youth at The Gate youth conference from the previous year.
Bishop Ernest Lyght welcomed Aldersgate 2010 to the West Virginia Area annual conference. Bishop James Swanson of the Holston annual conference attended the entire conference with his wife and preached at the Sunday morning Holy Communion service. United Methodist clergy, the Rev. Terry Teykl, the Rev. Candace Lewis, and the Rev. Stephen Handy also spoke at the conference.
New this year was an opportunity for 15-minute appointments for people to receive healing prayer or personal prophetic words. The available time slots were filled before the main conference even began.
Also new was a young adult artist who painted as the Spirit directed her during worship. She completed two paintings during the conference.
For the first time, the General Board of Discipleship offered advanced Lay Speaker credit for Lay Speakers attending a prescribed track of conference sessions. Over 60 Lay Speakers took advantage of this new opportunity.
During his keynote, the Rev. Randy Clark, a pastor/evangelist who has preached all around the globe on revival and the power of God, invited people who needed healing to stand and then asked people around them to lay hands on them and pray for their healing. More than 130 people testified that it was their first time praying for someone to be healed who was then healed.
Since the conference, testimony from clergy reflects the fresh impartation for ministry they received at the conference. In response to the question “How has the conference helped you in your spiritual journey?” a pastor from Pennsylvania wrote: “Renewal. Revival. Equipping. Empowering. New vision. New determination. More anointing!” A pastor from North Carolina wrote: “To be able to see and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit among so many other United Methodists is so very encouraging to me as a United Methodist minister.”
The youth facet of the conference, The Gate, created an atmosphere where young people were challenged and equipped to minister through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Aldersgate 2011 and The Gate 2011 will be held July 28-31, 2011, in Dayton, Ohio. More than 500 people have already pre-registered, a 45 percent increase in pre-registrations over 2010. To learn more about Aldersgate 2011 and other ministries, call toll free 1-877-857-9372 or visit www.AldersgateRenewal.org.
Frank Billman is the Director for Church Relations for Aldersgate Renewal Ministries.