Many Suddenly Undone at Aldersgate 2011
Bishop James Swanson of the Holston annual conference addressed the pre-conference session of Aldersgate 2011 by saying “Aldersgate has become a city of refuge for me, a place where I can come and I can magnify and praise the Lord—a place where you are stripped of all titles… and you can just enjoy the goodness of the Lord. …The Council [of Bishops] has not assigned me to Aldersgate. The Holy Spirit assigned me here. I come of my own volition as I have become a regular attendee.” This 35th annual national conference on Spirit-filled living sponsored by Aldersgate Renewal Ministries [ARM], was held in Dayton, OH July 27-31. 1317 children, youth and adults gathered at Dayton for this United Methodist family conference.
Worship at the adult conference was led by a worship team from the UGA Wesley Foundation who sang traditional hymns woven together with contemporary worship songs. Dancers, banner bearers, and an artist all ministered during the celebrations. Worship artist, Mary Ellen Martin of Joelton, TN also led an equipping session on prophetic art. A clergywoman from Ohio wrote on her evaluation form regarding the worship: “A question: Why is this an ‘arm’ of the UMC and not The UMC? Worship like this should be part of our conferences and churches.”
As a part of the conference, 132 “Prophetic Prayer Appointments” took place offering an individual 15 minutes with a 2 person team with gifting in prophecy and in words of knowledge who would pray and then speak God’s words into the attendees’ lives.
The children’s ministry celebrated the theme TRANSFORMED. Kids learned lessons from people who encountered Jesus, the ultimate transformer. Highlights included creative games, a global prayer night and worship leadership in the Sunday morning Holy Communion celebration.
At the Gate 2011, 314 young people begin to desire and discover an extraordinary life of faith; becoming ‘Devastated by God’s Love and Ruined for the Ordinary.’ One young man said of his experience, “I have been a Christian since I was 12. I thought I was living a life that was very pleasing to God. I never smoked or drank, but that truly was not all that mattered. I found out I need more of God in my life, and I need to give more of myself to Him and now feel that God is giving me a calling.”
Adult session speakers were; Rev. Jasmine Smothers from Norcross, Georgia; Rev. Dr. Jeff Greenway from Reynoldsburg, OH; Rev. Jacquie Leveron from Wellington, FL; Rev. Dr. Mark Virkler from Buffalo, NY; and Rev. Dr. Craig Green from Livingston, TN.
When asked, “How has the conference helped you in your spiritual journey?” a lay woman from Pennsylvania answered, “Re-filled, renewed, resting in the arms of my God!” A Kansas participant wrote, “It’s so refreshing to know that there are Spirit-filled Methodists in place around the US and the world. We’re expecting a mighty move of the Holy Spirit to sweep through the Methodist church soon!” A clergy person from Indiana answered saying , “Inspiration to persevere in local church ministry. It gives me hope for the future of the UMC; God’s not finished with us yet! I’m refreshed, revived and ready to initiate new prayer ministries in the church I pastor.”
Since the conference ARM has received testimonies of physical healings, people being filled with the Holy Spirit, and speaking in tongues for the first time.
Does attending an Aldersgate conference really make a difference? A father from Tennessee wrote: “I loved it so much but I didn't realize the full extent of what God was doing until the ride home. He has healed areas I didn't know were broken. He has broken off things I didn't know I had. Monday, my 11 year old daughter asked me ‘What happened to you in Ohio? You are different, what did they do to you? You are so much nicer.’ And thanks to the equipping sessions [with Mark Virkler], I now understand my dreams. God is showing me the difference between my thoughts and His voice. He really speaks a lot if I will only listen, and since I left Aldersgate 2011, I have been.”
Bishop Ernest Lyght has already welcomed the Aldersgate conference back to Charleston, WV July 11-15, 2012 saying, “We have started praying for Aldersgate 2012 that it might be a marvelous Pentecostal experience for all participants.” You can go to www.Aldersgate2012.org to register for next year’s conference. Keynote speakers for that next conference are Rev. Bernadine Daniels (Pastor of Yale UMC), Rev. Jasmine Smothers (Associate Director, Connectional Ministries at North Georgia Annual Conference of the UMC), Richard Rhodes (founder of Fire in the Mountains Ministry) and Bishop João Carlos Lopes, (President of the Council of Bishops of the Methodist Church of Brazil).