Conference attendees celebrate, honor hospitality staff
September 27, 2017
Church planters in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recently held their final conference at the TradeWinds Island Grand Resort. They’ve been coming to St. Pete Beach, Florida, since 2003.
To honor the memories of the place that has become “holy ground” for them, the “Living, Dying, Rising” 1001 New Worshiping Communities (1001 NWC) conference planning team organized a celebration on their last night for everyone — including the TradeWinds staff.
As 1001 NWC Coordinator Vera White presented staff with gifts, including a shadowbox and handmade table, she thanked them for teaching conference attendees about hospitality. “Our hope is to honor you,” she said, “by making sure that people coming to our worshiping communities feel as welcome, at home and as special, as you made us feel.”
Rob Hyypio, the convention services manager at TradeWinds, was overwhelmed by the “heartfelt gifts” and kind words, so much so that he found it “difficult to hold back tears.”
“It’s hard to say goodbye when your clients actually become friends,” he said. “We’ve immediately displayed the shadowbox in the break room for everyone to see. I’m sure we’ll do something creative with the table at banquets.”
Dennis Funderbunk, stated supply pastor at H.O. Graham Metropolitan Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, was at the 1001 NWC conference for the first time. He recently began reading up on the NWC movement. This summer when Betty Meadows, Transitional General Presbyter of Charlotte Presbytery, visited H.O. Graham, he peppered her with questions.
He said he “felt the Spirit moving through him” when she encouraged him to pursue his interest in the movement. Two weeks later, Meadows told him that White was coming to Charlotte to do a 1001 workshop. At that training event in early August, she invited him to the national gathering.
“I’m so thankful I made it,” Funderbunk said. “As a pastor who’s been challenging congregations to do outreach — only to hit a wall — I’m excited to see this ministry starting from the bottom up, at the grassroots level.”
Funderbunk ran a successful feeding ministry in the 1990s in another denomination, but a church split destroyed the program. That loss left him with “bumps and bruises” and a battered faith. In 2003, he became an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
On the third day of the conference, Funderbunk said he had a “resurrection moment” of letting go and imagining the kind of ministries that are possible through the 1001 New Worshiping Communities movement.
Attendees at the conference had a “Rising” worship service on the beach on their final morning together. They spent time sharing resurrection stories, remembering their baptism and writing words in the sand that described their experience at “Living, Dying, Rising.”
Paul Seebeck, Mission Communications Strategist, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: 1001 New Worshiping Communities (1001 NWC) conference
Let us join in prayer for:
Charlotte Presbytery Staff
Betty L. Meadows, Transitional General Presbyter
Tamara Williams, Stated Clerk/Administrative Coordinator
Donald Latham, Controller/Treasurer
Claire George Drumheller, Coordinator for COM and CPM
Anne Rankowitz, Director of the Resource Center
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Gracious God, we give thanks that you multiply our small and humble offerings and efforts as we work to care for those in need. We ask that you sharpen our focus on you and on ways we may serve. Amen.