The conference venue in Seneca Falls, New York, was so first-century--with the exception that not many people wore togas. During my opening remarks on Friday night, I told the congregation, "I think Paul would have spoken at a place exactly like this." Then I added, "In fact, I think Paul did speak here on his way from Corinth to Ephesus."
Last night was a first. The organizers, Len and Lenny, scheduling no formal speaking slots Saturday night. Instead, we opened the podium to those wishing to share their testimony. Never before had I seen a 7-11 p.m. time slot on a Saturday night, but this proved to be Len and Lenny' stroke of genius. Who sticks around until 11 pm? Everyone. Forty people became a family in a large, rustic living room with a roaring fire. Time disappeared as people shared their lives and trials. Not one person consulted a watch. No clock on the wooden walls marked beginnings or ends. The podium soon became irrelevant, and men and women spoke from their seats. How does it happen that people you have never met become, in so short a time, members of your family? It is the spirit of God, and the intimacy of membership in the body of Christ.
Here is a slow pan of the well-peopled conference "hall" on Saturday afternoon, as the sun streamed into the east windows. A chill threatened the room, beaten back by the steadily-stoked fire. Clyde read an opening verse for Dan Sheridan as I hit "play," and Dan was quite pleased with the proceedings, as you can see.