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August-September 2018


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Review of the 2018 Power Conference | May 28-29 | Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Empowered for Such a Time as This

By Eric K. Thomsen


On Monday, May 28, Alberto—one of the strongest sub-tropical storms ever recorded during the month of May—made landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast. At the same time, a few hours to the north, more than 400 Free Will Baptists from 15 states ignored the threatening clouds as they gathered at the Music Road Hotel and Convention Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, for the fourth annual Power Conference hosted by North American Ministries. While weather may have been less than ideal, the warm fellowship, uplifting music, and powerful preaching soon made conference attendees forget the wind and rain outside.

The opening session kicked off with a concert featuring award-winning gospel bluegrass group Southern Raised followed by a conference regular—comedian and songwriter Aaron Wilburn—and concluding with the unforgettable sounds of a 80-voice praise choir from Valley Forge FWB Church in Elizabethton, Tennessee. The congregation joined the choir on familiar gospel songs, and the convention center reverberated as hundreds of voices raised in jubilant praise.

After the music, Randy Johnson, pastor of Valley Forge Church, explored the Old Testament story of Esther, sharing three things required for such a time as this: 1) know God is the real source of power; 2) identify and embrace God’s “signals” of providence; and 3) serve God’s intended purpose, even when it puts you at risk. “Finish strong,” Johnson concluded. “Just keep on going. We need you. You’re ‘on the clock,’ and it is ticking down to the Lord’s return.”

Tuesday, two panel discussions were an exciting new feature to the conference. During the morning panel, five “seasoned” pastors—David Crowe (TN), Jeff Jones (NC), Curtis Linton (OK), Tim Stout (OH), and Randy Johnson (TN)—shared a broad spectrum of practical advice for thriving in ministry over the long term. Tuesday afternoon, five “under 50” pastors—Noah Taylor (TN), David Sexton (VA), Zane Brooks (KS), Josh Baer (NC), and Josh Bush (KS)—offered their unique perspective on ministry, with its challenges and stresses. These men urged listeners to continue Word-driven ministry that is always relevant yet true to the gospel.


Between the opening and closing panels, seminar speakers presented 12 sessions exploring a wide variety of topics, from taking faith to Facebook (and other social mediums), how to celebrate God and country appropriately, overcoming stress, and planning short-term missions trips.

Nursery and childcare (with activities and worship services designed for children) were provided throughout the conference under the direction of Nicole Hackett; Grace and Charity Crowe; Josh and Christy Llewellyn and daughters Destiny and Abby; Mollie and Linda Lawler; and Beth Roysden. From life-sized board games and crafts to action songs and Bible stories, children enjoyed a Power Conference experience geared just for them.

On Tuesday evening, attendees enjoyed an encore concert from Southern Raised and Aaron Wilburn before David Crowe, executive director of North American Ministries, delivered the closing sermon. Crowe reminded listeners of three times in God’s Word every believer should remember: even when (we were yet sinners; Ephesians 2:5); even now (there is hope; John 11:22); and even so (come, Lord Jesus; Revelation 22:20). He encouraged listeners not to get bogged down in the details of the future but to concentrate on the blessings and challenges of God’s will today. When believers are focused on what God has for them today, He gives more opportunities than ever dreamed possible. “When my time comes,” Crowe concluded, “I want to know I have been faithful today, because He has been faithful to me so many times.”


The Power Conference is a ministry of North American Ministries and provided free to all attendees. “Four years ago, we started this conference to help our denomination address the important issue of church revitalization,” shared conference director Jim McComas. “Since then, we have expanded our objectives to encourage pastors and their families, as well as workers in the pew. We love and appreciate our pastors and our people, and we have been honored to bring this conference back to Pigeon Forge.”

Conference planners were successful in meeting this goal of encouragement and inspiration, according to East Tennessee pastor Rodney Holloman: “I left the Power Conference this year feeling encouraged from the preaching and marvelous singing, equipped from the seminars and edified from the great fellowship. We are so thankful for this blessing from North American Ministries.”

“What a joy it was to meet in Pigeon Forge with Free Will Baptists from 15 states,” said David Crowe, director of North American Ministries. “It was our largest attendance yet, and the messages and seminars were spot on, providing inspiration and practical instruction. The singing by the Valley Forge Church Choir, Southern Raised, and Aaron Wilburn was amazing. I’ve heard nothing but positive comments and appreciation for the conference.”

For more information about North American Ministries and the 2019 Power Conference, visit

About the Writer: Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine and president of the Evangelical Press Association.



©2018 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists