Saturday, September 30, 2006

General Conference Edition - Columbus, Ohio - Saturday Morning - Passing the Mantle


The weather here in Columbus this morning was cold and rainy. The temperature was 48 degrees and the rain was pelting down at a steady downpour. A number of my friends have already left and some are leaving this afternoon. I would be less than honest if I said that I was not ready to head home.

This morning’s service will be perhaps the highlight of the conference. Its theme was “Passing the Mantle.” Apparently the thought started with our General Superintendent Kenneth Haney. His vision was to pass along to a younger generation a greater sense of responsibility concerning the heritage of Apostolic doctrine. I had talked with Stephen Williams earlier via cell phone and he was holding me a seat when I walked in. We were a little ways back and so I went up and scouted around a bit and managed to get us a front row seat. After it was all over, I was thankful for that front row seat because the service was incredible. I might add that we are a little happier than we look. The fellow who took the picture caught us off-guard!

The service was started with G. A. Mangun followed by his son, Anthony Mangun, who was followed by his son, Gentry Mangun. All of these men read portions of Scripture from Joel and Acts 2. To watch the progression in this particular family further reiterated the very crucial importance of what we are passing down to generations.

After this beginning, there was a medley of songs that were sang by a varied group of singers. I wish that I would have written down the songs but I did not. We started with the old hymns and then ended with a praise and worship chorus.

Following the singing, Jesse Williams told of how that the Lord called him to Fayetteville, North Carolina. He spoke of leaving his home with two teenage sons and two small daughters and making the trek to establish a church in that city. Since it was near Fort Bragg, Bro. Williams was able to make inroads to the military community. Since 1966, over 20,000 men and women have been baptized in the name of Jesus with many of these being transient military members. As I digested all of this, I understood that this church established by Bro. Williams has not just effected a mass of people but it has literally impacted our world.

Pastor Mike Williams of Apopka, Florida followed Bro. Jesse Williams. He spoke from the standpoint of being a son. Initially, Bro. Mike Williams wasn’t too happy about being uprooted and taken to this city in North Carolina but he said that as the burden of his parents, particularly his father, begin to consume, he along with his brother, Patton, started reaching out to the lost.

Following Mike Williams was Darryl (or maybe Derrick, as I am uncertain of the name) who is a grandson of Bro. Jesse Williams. He spoke of the treasure that had been passed on to him and then spoke of the responsibility of that treasure. With every treasure there must be a sense of care of what has been passed along to us. It is so important for the following generations to find the value and the vigilance that is associated with such a blessing.

Following this trio of men, we broke out and sang a song that many of the younger generation did not know. However, since we are fairly acquainted with all the old songs in Dothan, “The Waterway” was not a huge challenge for me to sing even with my limited abilities at singing. What was a little funny though was turning around and watching all the ministers who were 40 and under having great difficulty singing because they did not know the words. I will admit that I like some of the new 7-11 P&W (7 words sung 11 times, praise and worship) stuff but I also believe that some of the old songs of Zion helps to keep us rooted to our boundaries.

There was a very great liberty of the Spirit all the way through the service. It was very emotional and yet there was a great burden that I personally felt to continue to faithfully uphold my calling. I always do my best to make further and greater commitments to the Lord at these sorts of events and I did so again today. What this world has to offer is so insignificant in contrast to what God has for us and will reward us with when we make that final step.

Our General Superintendent then stepped to the pulpit and introduced on of the great stalwarts among us. J. T. Pugh has personally affected my life in more ways than one. You can read about them here and here. Bro. Haney also said that Bro. Pugh had deeply affected his commitment to God with his preaching, his character, and lifestyle over the years. Bro. Haney said that when he was 15 years old he heard Bro. Pugh preach for the very first time.

Bro. Pugh had a great word from the Lord for all of us in the house. He preached about “The Sons of the Second Crossing” and took his text from Joshua 1:1-9. I did not take notes while he preached (which is not my usual practice) because I wanted to try to absorb everything about his message. I will go back and listen again to this great message.

Following this was a drama of two men who were impersonating the Apostle Paul and Timothy. The gist of the drama was that Timothy was trying to shirk his responsibility into doing the will and purpose of God for his life. He was going to pursue a much lesser goal of becoming a physician and serving that ancient age in that role. The last question that “Paul” uttered was “Timothy, who else is going to take this mantle if you follow this path?” At that moment, “Paul” and “Timothy” both froze and Bro. Haney walked down and said, “I will take this mantle!”

Bro. Haney then took this mantle and begin to speak of men who have passed on to their reward in the last few years. Two that were mentioned by name were S. W. Chambers and N. A. Urshan. Both of these men were former General Superintendents and both of these men left quite a legacy. I am too young to remember Bro. Chambers but I will always remember Bro. Urshan. He signed my General License back in 1992.

Seated behind Bro. Haney were several hundred men who were honored as elders. In this group of men were my pastor and father-in-law, Joe Patterson, and my District Superintendent. I lost sight of Bro. Patterson as the elders wound around the front seating area but I did see Bro. Lewis. So when we were directed to go to an elder, I went to Bro. Lewis for the passing of the mantle. Bro. Haney had already read a charge to us (I will try and get a copy of that from someone) and we had accepted it. Now was the time when the elders would not only pass the mantle to us but would lay hands on us and pray for us. It was a very moving time. I believe that much will be accomplished in our lives from this service.

Throughout the extended altar service, not only did Bro. Lewis pray for me but I also prayed with Bro. Patterson and Bro. Mike Patterson.

Afterwards, I saw Eddie Sermon from TBC, Michael Ensey (Texas District Youth President) who went to school with Mark Harrelson and Stephen Williams, and I also briefly saw Rodney Leamon who I have developed a friendship with in the last year or so.

I came away from this event with a huge amount of respect for the elders of the United Pentecostal Church. I did also manage to briefly see Anthony Mangun who always has some very kind words of encouragement to give to me. I literally ran into Stan Gleason also. Very ironically or rather providentially on Monday of this week, I pulled his message out of my tape library that he had preached at Because of the Times (2002, I think) and had listened to it twice. It is a message called “Let My Preacher Grow.” I don’t believe this was simply coincidence. When I told Bro. Gleason this, he very fervently prayed for me. I intend to follow up on this at a later point. We cannot take too lightly how important that encouragement of others really is!!!

I came away from this service with a heightened respect for the elders and I also came away with a greater love for the United Pentecostal Church. We cannot allow division and disunity to disrupt our purpose for this world.

On a closing note, I did manage to finally meet Don Ryan, who is a fellow pastor and RN. He pastors a church in Mount Vernon, Ohio. It was very good to meet him and you owe it to yourself to check out his blog also. He gave me directions to some used bookstores in Columbus and so I spent the rest of the afternoon chasing books. . . . you will be very surprised to know that I was quite successful!

1 comment:

shadrach said...

Sounds like a very moving service. I have said this before, but if there was a way for me to be there with you all I would!. Anyway, I'm sure you already know about this, but the next youth congress is going to be in Charlette, NC. And it is going to be about..... Passing the mantle, or preparing to recieve the mantle in our case. I only hope i can go again next year. Well got to iron clothes for choir practice. See-Ya