WHEN these words are read, final preparations will be under way for the fifty-first quadrennial session of the General Conference to be held in Atlantic City, New Jersey, June 11-20, also the Ministerial Council to precede it. Thousands in their homes are now making preparations to attend. Larger numbers than ever before will be coming from the overseas fields.
Never has such an important conference been called amid more challenging times. The very nature of the times should bring us to a new sense of the vital role the church is yet to play, and a new sense of urgency with which the work must be done.
It is in this context that the Ministerial Association staff has spent many hours of planning and prayer in behalf of the forth coming Ministerial Council, trusting that the meetings will bring renewed courage and a new sense of urgency and direction.
A glance at the accompanying program outline will help you to envision what is planned. In addition to the morning devotional period to which particular reference was made in the April issue of THE MINISTRY (see p. 9), there will be two special series of meetings that we feel will be particularly appropriate in view of the general uncertainties all too freely expressed in many circles today.
The eleven-o'clock series will bear the ring of certainty with reference to some of the great principles of our faith that make us a distinctive people. It will be preaching at its best. You will be pleased to know that this series will be carried on through the meetings of the General Conference session, as well, with no conflicting meetings going on at the time, thus making it possible for all to attend. This will be to all of us a period of reassurance and renewed dedication to the established truths that have made us a distinctive people.
At 2:30 P.M. there will be a coming to grips with some of the real problems facing the church today, both within and without. Also suggestions as to how we can best relate ourselves to some of the great issues, issues that indicate clearly that before us lies the great and final period of testing and trial for the church, as well as for the world.
The afternoons will feature a variety of workshops, which it is hoped will give practical suggestions for a more effective and efficient ministry, geared to the 70's. Not indicated on the program, but some thing that our ladies will rejoice to see, will be a two-hour afternoon workshop program just for them. These will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 P.M. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
The evening service each day will again feature preaching at its best with messages of inspiration and direction that will be long remembered. Special features of the evening programs will be the "Windows," brief challenges from overseas areas brought to us by some of our division Ministerial Association secretaries.
Fellow workers, we are looking forward with great anticipation to these meetings. We expect to see many of you there. The great imperative, however, is the presence of the Holy Spirit. Let us pray daily for this. The prayers of Elijah that brought fire and rain at Mount Carmel were preceded by months of earnest prayer for revival and reformation. The prayers that brought the Holy Spirit at Pentecost were preceded by much prayer on the part of the disciples. The prayers that we trust will bring power at the time of the Ministerial Council and General Conference session must be preceded by much prayer, today and every day until the meetings begin. We ask you to unite your prayers, and those of your congregations, with ours, that the promised blessings will be realized.
"O Breath of Life, "come sweeping through us, Revive Thy church with life and pow'r; O Breath of Life come, cleanse, renew us, And fit Thy church to meet this hour.
O Wind of God, come bend us, break us, Till humbly we confess our need; Then in Thy tenderness remake us, Revive, restore, for this we plead.
O Breath of Love, come breathe within us, Renewing thought and will and heart; Come, Love of Christ, afresh to win us, Revive Thy church in every part."