Lytles SingingLANCASTER, PA. — Guests at the opening session of the 2007 National Conference sang hymns about the church and heard a sermon by Dr. Richard VanHeukelum from a text in Matthew 16.

VanHeukelum, pastor of Walnut Ridge Baptist Church in Waterloo, Iowa, was a civil engineer before coming to Christ. His sermon title was taken from the second stanza of a Timothy Dwight hymn: I love Thy church, O God/Her walls before Thee stand/Dear as the apple of Thine eye/And written on Thy hand.

Commenting on recent trends toward alternative churches, VanHeukelum said, “The new generation is fed up with churches that don’t reach their community for Christ.”

“It is triumphantly surviving, and in the form that its Creator wants it to be in,” said VanHeukelum. “The church is not dying. We are thriving by God’s standards, and in God’s way….Don’t hang your head when you say you are part of the church of Jesus Christ!”

Earlier in the day, Chaplain Grover DeVault of the Pennsylvania State Police addressed the Chaplains Professional Development Conference; he related his experiences responding to the Lancaster school shootings in 2006. DeVault noted that the chaplain’s job is to ask everyone else how they are doing, listen to their response, then offer comfort and a Biblical response to questions.

“But no one ever asks the chaplains how they are doing,” said DeVault, who suggested the chaplains develop a few friends and prayer partners who are willing to offer personal support during and after traumatic events.

After the evening session, Chris and Deb Hindal hosted a reception for the International Partnership of Fundamental Baptist Ministries, a global coalition of independent Baptist organizations.

In the last year, four new groups have joined:

  • Indonesian Baptist Ministry—Rev. Ferry S. Paoki, Director
  • Pollachi Baptist Fellowship—Rev. Dr. W.S. Vedha, President
  • Chin Association of Baptist Churches—Rev. Hoi Cung Tum, President
  • Association of Baptist Churches of Guyana—Rev. Everard Cadogan, Chairman

Daily coverage of the conference can be found at www.garbc.org/conference, including photos, news articles, sermon MP3s, and downloads.

Listen to the June 26, 2007 opening session.

View images from Tuesday, June 26, 2007.