The forty-eighth session of the General Conference is now history, but the inspiration of it all lingers in our hearts. It was indeed a great meeting. Everything seemed to combine to make this session one that will long be remembered. The weather was excellent, and the appointments and buildings left little to be desired.
Now, having returned to our tasks, we are endeavoring to put into effect the decisions made for advancement of the cause. Some of us are making adjustments in harmony with certain actions taken during the session. It is always disappointing when efficient associates are called to other tasks. But changes seem inevitable and are part of the movement we love. Many will already have noted that J. A. Buckwalter, one of our secretaries, and particularly prominent in the editorial work of our journal, has been elected secretary of the Religious Liberty Department of the General Conference. This is a distinct loss to us, and we shall miss him from the Association staff. We are confident, however, that the Lord will bless his leadership as he undertakes this important assignment.
Andrew Fearing, president of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, has been called as an associate secretary in Brother Buckwalter's place. This strong evangelist, and winsome inspirational pastor, comes to the Ministerial Association with the kind of experience that will enable him to make a strong contribution. It is a joy, therefore, to welcome him to Washington. Our other personnel remains the same.
Prior to the opening of the session, many different meetings convened. These were conducted by the various departments of the General Conference. The Public Auditorium in Cleveland is in many ways ideally suited for a program such as ours. There are many halls with seating facilities ranging from one hundred to twelve hundred, and these provided excellent accommodations for these departmental meetings.
The Ministerial Advisory Committee met two days before the actual presession Ministerial Convention in one of these clubrooms. Close to one hundred members comprise this important committee, and growing out of those discussions were a number of resolutions that later were presented to the full convention, some also going to the Plans Committee of the General Conference session.
On Tuesday evening, June 17, the Ministerial Convention opened, and two full days were occupied with this intensive program. Many subjects were studied, and candor as well as enthusiasm marked the discussions. Many subjects were presented in the form of panel discussions with eight panelists and a moderator seated on the platform, and three other panelists strategically placed in the audience. This rather unique arrangement brought a spirit of informality and freedom into the meetings, and many caught the spirit of the discussion and made their contributions from the floor, thus adding greatly to the presentations.
Each presentation was allotted an hour and fifteen minutes. Reports of these discussions will appear in later issues of THE MINISTRY. The October and probably the November issues will be larger than usual and will carry much of the inspiration of these intensive meetings. No one will want to miss these reports. Your editorial staff has endeavored to capture the spirit of these presentations, for they were all recorded in order that we might serve the world field.
A fitting climax to the discussions of the Ministerial Association was the meeting held on the last Thursday of the session from 5:00 to 6:15 P.M. At that time a number of evangelists from different parts of the world field shared their methods of soul winning. Especially in areas where regular methods cannot be followed, what a variety of techniques are being used to capture and hold the interest. The Lord impresses our workers to find ways in spite of the difficulties.
The importance of an inspired, efficient, and consecrated ministry was stressed over and over again. In his keynote address at the opening meeting, our Association chairman, R. R. Figuhr, emphasized the importance of preaching, and this was followed by four 15-minute talks under the general heading, "Soul Winning in Action."
Four important panels were held each day covering subjects such as "Reaching the Masses," "Evangelism in Large City Centers," "More Powerful Preaching," "Pastoral and Personal Evangelism." On the second evening we were given an analysis of modern spiritism and its challenge to the church of today. Elman Folkenberg and J. Arthur Buckwalter brought some startling facts, and these were backed up by pictures. To one unaware of the power and subtlety of this great deception, that which was presented could be thought unbelievable. Some of the things they presented have already appeared in the July and August issues.
The convention was held in the Little Theater, one of the group of halls connected with the Auditorium. This seats between 600 and 700, and although more than 900 crowded into the meeting on spiritism, as many more were turned away because they could not get in. All the subjects presented dealt with some practical phase of evangelism, and many improved techniques were introduced.
It was an intensive program, and we were pleased that each moderator, in addition to stimulating and guiding the discussion, kept a strict watch on the time, thus permitting the whole program to move smoothly and efficiently. A deeply spiritual overtone was felt from the opening to the closing meeting, and at the conclusion many leaders expressed their conviction that the inspiration of this convention would have a wholesome effect on the entire session, and that those present would carry back the stimulus they had received to all the scattered fields from which they had come.
Your Association staff takes this opportunity to especially thank those who participated in the program, as well as those whose attendance and interest made success possible. This is indeed a great hour in which to preach our God-given message, and we look forward to even greater results in coming days. Ministerial Association secretaries from several world divisions were present, and their counsel and help meant much to the smooth running of the program.
Any such convention, to have real worth, must carry over into the life and ministry of the church. Only then can it be called a success. The majority of our workers, of course, could not be there, but as already mentioned, the next two months' issues in particular will carry the story. In reporting this history-making convention, we have sought to preserve the atmosphere of the various discussions. Many declared that this was the best Ministerial Council they had ever attended.present, and their counsel and help meant much to the smooth running of the program.
The hour to which we have come calls for clear vision, improved techniques, and deeper consecration on the part of every minister in the Advent cause. Much depends upon the ministry if the church is to be inspired and led in her final march and mission to the lost world. Our privileges are great and our task is clear. The challenge we face should surely provide the incentive.
R. A. A.