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First Presbyterian Church to host missions conference

The First Presbyterian Church is hosting a missions conference next weekend, a chance for people to learn more about missionary work and those who serve.

“This is our 24th annual world missions conference,” said First Presbyterian minister Tommy Carr. “So, 24 years ago, the people at the church decided that they needed to be more outwardly focused than inwardly focused, and they started a missions conference.

“We will have missionaries come from various parts of the world, and they come and spend the weekend with us. We will have worship service and a keynote speaker, and the missionaries have a time during the worship service where they talk with us about what they are doing and what the Lord is doing through them and how the mission is going.”

The conference will also feature a men’s breakfast on Saturday morning and a women’s luncheon.

“One of the missionaries will speak to the men,” Carr said, “and the women’s luncheon usually has a panel come and explain to them what’s going on and their perspective on the missions.

“Not all of the missionaries are sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church. From time to time, we will bring people in with the hopes that we will be able to support them. It doesn’t always happen, but we like to do that from time to time. The people that we support are not always available. Some of them are still in the field or they are going to other missions conferences.”

Some of the featured missionaries will be Aaron Zapata, who is supported by the First Presbyterian Church, and Laura Knetzer and Hope and Wes Parsons. The Parsonses are becoming career missionaries to Columbia, their first time in the field. Knetzer is a housewife and mother in Panama City, Florida, who has developed a ministry to women and children in Uganda.

“We have about 20 missions and missionaries,” Carr said. “We have missionaries in Japan, Chile, Bolivia and Ethiopia. We have a missionary on the Mexican border. We also support the African Christian Training Institute and CareNet, the local crisis pregnancy center which we support on a regular basis.”

The missions conference is open to anyone who wants to come.

“We would especially invite anyone to come this year, because we have such a renowned keynote speaker,” Carr said. “Stuart McAllister works with Ravi Zacharias International Miinstries. He has literally been all over the world teaching and preaching. Just a few weeks ago, he and Ravi did a big conference in Birmingham. I think that people will really enjoy hearing Stuart preach.

“Hearing Stuart preach will be a treat, and we get to worship and sing, and that’s always a lot of fun, as far as I’m concerned. Then, they’ll get to hear what the Lord is doing in individual missions around the world. That’s always encouraging to me: You hear about what the Lord is doing in various places. Sometimes, we get so focused on our own area, and we neglect the rest of the world, so to speak. So, it’s good to hear from time to time what the Lord is doing in other places as well, and that He is doing something. Sometimes we wonder – the way the world is today – what’s going on, but He is working, and He is doing a lot of work around the world.”

Carr said that it doesn’t take a certain talent to become a missionary; just a desire to help.

“There are people who retire, for instance, and they go into the mission field,” he said. “Basically, whatever you’ve done in life, you can use those skills on the mission field. You don’t have to be a preacher or even a teacher, because they can use accountants, people who work with computers – just about anything you’ve done in life can be used on the mission field.

“But, if a younger person, for instance, wanted to do that, it would depend on what they wanted to do. They would have to apply to a mission-sending agency – ours is Mission to the World – and they would have to go through that process, and that may require more training, depending on what they wanted to do.”

The conference schedule is:

Friday, Feb. 26: Fellowship soup supper, 6-7 p.m.; Worship service with Wes and Hope Parsons and Laura Knetzer, 7-8:30 p.m.; Refreshments and informal fellowship, 8:30-9 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 27: Men’s prayer breakfast with Wes Parsons and Aaron Zapata, 8-9:15 a.m.; Ladies’ lunch with Hope Parsons and Laura Knetzer, 11:30 a.m.; Hamburger supper, 5-6:30 p.m.; Worship service with Aaron Zapata (keynote speaker Stuart McAllister), 6:30-8 p.m.; Refreshments and fellowship, 8-8:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 28: Sunday school for children, 9:30-10:30 a.m., Fellowship and coffee, 10:30-11 a.m.; Worship service (keynote speaker Stuart McAllister), 11 a.m.- noon; Wrapup potluck luncheon, noon-1:30 p.m.