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June-July 2019

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2019 Vertical Three Conference | July 21-24 | Cincinnati, Ohio

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Defining Our Identity in Christ

By Lauren Biggs

Every believer can relate to this year’s theme, Identity, based on Ephesians 4:24. We all are made in God’s image and identified as chosen, loved, forgiven, and with purpose. Service, worship, leadership, and talents are just a few ways the 3,299 students who gathered in Cincinnati, Ohio, this week expressed what it means to live out their Christ-centered identities.

Truth and Peace students Ethan McCraney, Lanae Hoffman, Jackson Watts, Ana Johnson, and Matthew Pinson kicked off the week by leading Sunday School. They communicated age is not a factor or limitation when it comes to our identity in God’s plan for our lives. If we surrender and humbly obey Him, like Josiah in 2 Kings 22, it has the power to impact future generations. Derreck Lute (pictured below), pastor of student ministries at Porter FWB Church (OH), continued during Sunday morning worship in Ephesians 2, explaining how God’s great love gives victory over death and sin. Christ’s sacrifice redeems us, gives us purpose, and makes us alive in Him.


On Sunday evening, John Howell, pastor of Chipley First FWB Church (FL), used Ephesians 4:17-24 to remind students that hope in this dark world is found in Jesus alone, because we have been redeemed, created in His image, and called His own.

Monday evening, Donald Myers, worship pastor at Kirby Church (MI), unpacked Ephesians 1:3-7 to remind students they are fully known, loved, chosen, and forgiven. He encouraged students to stop chasing counterfeit acceptance.

During the final service, Troy Sadowski (GA), executive vice president of Cornerstone Estate Planning, shared his testimony about being trapped in sin. He inspired students to find their identity by fully surrendering to God.


All week, the Youth Evangelistic Team led V3 in worship. These 13 students spent their summer traveling to ten states (3,110 miles) and serving two North American Ministries church plants.
Even children learned more about their identity in Christ and how to apply biblical truth to their lives. Katie Greenwood led 106 preschoolers in exciting Bible lessons, games, and crafts each night. Johnny Miller guided 256 first through third graders in fantastic worship and inspiring Bible lessons. Steve Greenwood corralled 305 energetic fourth through sixth grade students in 456 Worship, challenging them to grow in their faith.


Kids’ Corner provided a carnival experience for children so parents could attend Engage seminars or CTS Expo events. Eighty-two sessions offered a plethora of topics: spiritual growth, discipleship, parenting, and more.

Jane Parker taught students to minister through Serve the City opportunities across the Cincinnati community. Ten volunteers served Matthew 25 Ministries, a disaster relief organization. Others assembled and distributed 128 care bags filled with personal items and non-perishable foods to the homeless population of Cincinnati and residents at Bethany House Ministries. Nine people boxed food for homeless shelters at Free Stone Food Bank. Others donated blood through the V3 Blood Drive. Serving others reminds conference attendees to love others like Jesus.


During the Wednesday evening ceremony, CTS and other awards were presented. Youth Leader of the Year award went to Russell Ray. Youth Group of the Year was awarded to Sign Choir youth in Owensboro, Kentucky. Youth of the Year went to Erin Goucher. The Jim Lauthern Award was presented to Jim and Donna Brewer (pictured above) for a lifetime of hard work and dedication. This year’s CTS Ministry Expo had 976 entries and 1,199 competitors; the Wednesday night awards recognized the hard work of competitors and coaches.

CTS Expo planners announced a new CTS Expo Initiative designed specifically for students with special needs. These students will compete and be judged and awarded for their talents and participation.

The 2020 Vertical Three Conference will take place in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and explore the theme Resolved from Daniel 1:8.

See you next July!

About the writer: Lauren Biggs is a marketing assistant at Randall House Publications.


©2019 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists