The church, speakers, and participants, heartily sing there is “Power in the Blood.”
Woolsey is one of the co-founders of Coming Out Ministries, who partnered with Village Church and Know His Love Ministries for a week of spiritual emphasis. The three-in-one event was comprised of a week of evening meetings for all, a two-day pastors and elder’s conference, and a five-day private event called Coming Together Live. Topics included abortion, pornography, family and parenting dynamics regarding LGBTQ issues, personal journeys of victory, and spiritual care. Some of the presentations were given by people who wanted to give the help and resources they wish they had received when going through their own trials.
The broad range of over thirty presenters included: Elder Jay Gallimore, former Michigan Conference President; Dr. Clinton Wahlen, Associate Director of the Biblical Research Institute; Dr. Greg King, Dean of the School of Religion at Southern Adventist University; Dr. Eric Walsh; Pr. Stephen Eccles; and Michael Carducci of Coming Out Ministries.
The first-hand testimonies of God’s care and deliverance made the event especially powerful. Daniel Varela, formerly a member of the gay community, testified at the event. His parents also came to share their part of the story and to encourage other parents to fast and pray for their struggling children. Daniel was accompanied to the event by his girlfriend who also shared part of her testimony. Musician Neville Peter loved the testimonies. He enjoyed hearing how Christ changes people’s lives: “...you start off as one thing, and you end up as something totally different.”
Dan Augsburger found the pastor’s and elder’s conference very educational. He was “incredibly encouraged that there is a lot of hope and a positive way to deal with this in the church.” Pastor Gerhard Erbes was inspired by the scriptural and practical information for members and pastors “presented with a heart of love.” Pastor James Ash loved singing “There is Power in the Blood” with the church ringing from one end to the other “because people have experienced the power of God in their lives and they are singing out of their own experience. It is absolutely electric.”
One young man drove nine hours join Coming Together Live, because he wanted to meet Jesus and gain victory. He found community, comfort, and love, and believes being at the event has helped him. He highly recommends to others: “come and find Jesus here.” Another participant gained much hope and encouragement, and said she felt the power of God present in their prayer meeting. A guest named Debbie came to get spiritual food and was fed “by the testimonies of those who have come out of the greatest struggles of their lives through the power of the blood of Jesus Christ...nothing is more encouraging than to hear those testimonies.” The family-like atmosphere was appreciated and Donna Burland reported that “I have never seen such love from people in my entire life as I have this week.”
Wayne Blakely, of Know His Love Ministries, premiered a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the muddied topic of conversion therapy. With the upcoming film, Wayne’s goal is to preserve religious freedom and people’s right to choose what therapies are available. He hopes his film will not only help Adventists, but also the wider Christian community and the world at large.
“In organizing this event I can say that I am probably the recipient of one of the greatest blessings” said Dr. Ron Kelly, Senior Pastor of Village Church. Kelly reported that he “learned so much, connected to so many wonderful people, and now I have some hope and power about how I might actively, properly, effectively, link with a segment of society that nobody seems to know how to deal with.” Pastor Bryce Bowman, said that the whole week could be summarized in the word “hope,” and his take-away message was: “there is no pit too deep that He [Jesus] cannot rescue you from.” He recommends watching the testimonies for encouragement. Regardless of what sins we struggle against, there is still power in the blood! Testimonies can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/@villagemediaministry
Robert Rice, Village SDA Church Bible Worker