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West Michigan Church Leaders Learn to Discern at Conference


Along Lake Michigan’s shores, a wave of the Spirit washed over a group of over 160 souls from the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and the Reformed Church in America (RCA). They gathered at Camp Geneva in Grand Haven, Mich., to learn how to discern and cooperate with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

An illustration of the lessons for the Growing the Church conference.

From March 11-14, pastors and lay leaders from West Michigan and beyond attended the Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit conference based on a book by the same name. It was sponsored by ministry agencies of the CRC, RCA, and Presbyterian-Reformed Ministries International (PRMI).

The idea for the gathering came out of a monthly prayer group of area RCA and CRC leaders. “We felt this passion and hunger in our denominations to know how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and be the church in the power of the Holy Spirit,” said Mary Sterenberg, one of the organizers and a teacher at the conference. Sterenberg serves as CRC Home Missions prayer mobilizer for the Great Lakes region.

Other teachers included Martin Boardman, pastor of Brooks (Alberta) CRC; David Westra, pastor of Gold Avenue CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich.; and David Huizenga, pastor of Bridgewood CRC in Savage, Minn.

Participants spent time in teaching sessions, small groups, corporate worship, confession, and prayer.

“I began to suspect this experience was going to be life changing,” said Angela Taylor Perry, a prayer coordinator for Kingdom Enterprise Zones, an RCA-CRC church-planting collaboration. “It was awesome to be in a community of people who were expecting the Spirit to move them.”

Participants left with a real sense of the Spirit’s working and with tools to continue this work in their own congregations. “This move of God is coming into our Reformed body of churches,” said Sterenberg. “And you want to ride this wave, because it’s amazing.”

Growing the Church conferences will also be held in Edmonton, Alberta, and Guelph, Ontario.

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