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New Wilmington Mission Conference

Deepening the missionary spirit of Presbyterians for 111 years

by Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE – The New Wilmington Mission ConferenceJuly 23−30—held on the campus of Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, is regarded as the oldest annual mission conference in the United States.

New Wilmington Mission Conference has a reputation of offering great programs for adults and youth of all ages, beginning at just a few weeks old. Photo provided by NWMC.

New Wilmington Mission Conference has a reputation of offering great programs for adults and youth of all ages, beginning at just a few weeks old. Photo provided by NWMC.

“Everyone who comes to the conference for the first time notices its multigenerational nature—literally from a few weeks old to 90-somethings,” says Don Dawson, director of the NWMC and the World Mission Initiative at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. “There are programs for all ages.”

Each year some 30 states and 20 countries are represented among more than 800 registered attendees, and hundreds more from the tri-state area attend some portion of the conference.

In its newly adopted mission statement, NWMC invites all to be transformed by the Spirit of God, to be inspired, called, equipped and sent into God’s mission.

The Malawi Mission Network will meet in the opening days of the conference (July 23-26), which includes the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Pittsburgh Presbytery/Blantyre Synod partnership. The network is praying and seeking ways to assist with anticipated food shortages in Malawi this fall, caused by droughts and floods.

Conference offers time to learn and time to have fun. Photo provided by NWMC.

Conference offers time to learn and time to have fun. Photo provided by NWMC.

The Egypt Partnership Network (EPN) will meet beginning Friday afternoon, July 29, and concluding mid-day on July 31. Since it began in August 2015, the EPN’s steering committee has gathered monthly via conference calls. They’ve created a website and are planning a study trip for churches and presbyteries interested in learning about the church in Egypt and available partnerships.

In addition to speakers in each program area and 25 leaders on the mission staff, other speakers, worship leaders and exhibits will include:

  • Shelvis and Nancy Smith-Mather, PC(USA) mission co-workers will base their messages on the conference theme of Acts 1:8 (bearing witness to Jesus in every context) as they share about their work in peace building and trauma healing in South Sudan. (All morning meetings)
  • Retired mission co-workers John and Gwen Haspels served in South Sudan and Ethiopia for nearly 40 years. The Haspels will speak about the power of forgiveness after a tragic and random act of gun violence they experienced while serving in Ethiopia two years ago. (Saturday evening, July 23)
  • Sera Chung, associate for gender and racial justice, Presbyterian Mission Agency will preach at the on-campus worship in Anderson Auditorium. (Sunday morning, July 24)
  • Dan McNerney, Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship, will preach at New Wilmington Presbyterian Church. (Sunday morning, July 24)
  • Scott Sunquist, Ph.D., dean and professor of World Christianity, Fuller Theological Seminary School of Intercultural Studies, will speak on the theme “Love God; Love God’s Mission.” (Sunday evening, July 24)
  • The Rev. Billy Gama, Blantyre Synod in Malawi will share how God is moving in missions and ministries in Malawi. (Monday evening, July 25)
  • A celebration of service of all active and retired missionaries in attendance, including 26 mission co-workers and seven Presbyterian World Mission staff will be held. (Wednesday evening, July 27)
  • Don Dawson, director of both the New Wilmington Mission Conference and the World Mission Initiative at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary since July 2000, will retire later this year. His message will both reflect and look forward. (Thursday evening, July 28)
  • The 2016 Summer Service team—eight young adult scholarship recipients and their leader—are completing a six-week mission in Central Asia. They will return just in time to share what God is doing in Central Asia. This is the 57th year the NWMC has sent out a Summer Service team. (Friday evening, July 29).  

This year’s conference theme is Acts 1:8. Illustration provided by NWMC.

This year’s conference theme is Acts 1:8. Illustration provided by NWMC.

The leadership of NWMC firmly believes that every Christian of every age has a call in obedience to the Great Commission. The NWMC is dedicated to helping believers discern their call to be a “missionary,” whether in their homes, schools and jobs, in the local church, or in far away countries.

All events are free and open to the public. On-campus housing and meals are covered in the registration fee. Learn more and register.


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