As a member of Open Door Church in Raleigh, NC, and as a previous volunteer, I had been close to the Pillar Network for years, but I had no idea that being so intimately involved in this year’s Unite Conference would be such an eye opener. I quickly realized that this year’s experience would be different as I stepped into a larger role by operating the opening registration table and helping to serve in several new ways. I found myself smiling as things took off on Tuesday afternoon, with church planters, board members, church members, G-Linkers, potential Pillar Network partners, their families, etc., from all over the United States came walking in to Open Door. The conference itself had a similar buzz of excitement throughout!
Dr. Phil Newton, the primary Unite speaker, did a fantastic job opening the conference, preaching from 1 Timothy 4:11-16, expounding our main theme of Cultivating a Leadership Culture. This set the tone for the next few days as Phil taught on Training and Sending and closed with a session highlighting the Models of Ministry from Acts 20:17-35. Dr. Newton followed each of these sessions by hosting a Q&A which proved to be crucial in clarifying and illuminating several important points of application.
One of the major advantages of the Unite conference includes dedicated time to connect and network with like-minded pastors, families, churches, etc. This is accomplished in two major ways. First, thematic breakout sessions are scheduled over several days which provides face to face interactions with men and women who have gone through the church planting/revitalizing process. Second, specific networking-only gatherings are built into the schedule which provide for further uniting opportunities, along with a great cup of coffee!
As a woman, I cannot say enough about the time spent with the conference ladies. I feel quite confident that those in attendance felt loved, connected, cared for, and encouraged through the different women’s breakout sessions. The focus for the ladies’ time this year was Choosing Joy. Tara Dew, Sarah Rogers (Serving others with Joy), and Carol Dale (Joy through the Seasons), provided an awesome time together concentrating on the choice of joy in our everyday lives. Beyond awesome instruction, the ladies also appreciated a special “spa day” thanks in part to the younger women at Open Door. During the week, the ladies also partook in an Afternoon Tea, and a Ladies Night Out, where we visited a local coffee shop and learned the art of lettering together.
Another aspect from Unite ’17 that sticks in my mind included the Wednesday night festivities. After a full day of solid biblical instruction, the conference attendees gathered together in the evening to share a homecooked meal thanks to Kay Milioni and other volunteers. Beyond great food, conference goers heard testimonials of what the Lord is doing through Pillar churches, and experienced a powerful time of worship from combined Pillar Network musicians. You could really feel the passion, love, and singular focus (Making Him known), and the burden for the lost as voices were lifted high. This literally brought tears to my eyes as I felt such privilege to be a part of what God is doing through the Pillar Network and the Unite Conference year after year!
There was so much right about this conference that I am already excited for the 2018 Unite Conference! I hope you felt the same if you attended this year.