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September 2022

Give Me That Mountain!


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Like a Reunion: 2022 Vertical Three Conference Review

By Derek Altom


One of the greatest things Free Will Baptists do is gather each summer for the National Convention and Vertical Three Conference. The interaction with friends from across the denomination gives the meeting a “family reunion” feel. You cannot attend a convention without getting a brief earthly glimpse of what Heaven will be like someday.


CTS Ministry Expo

One of the ways Free Will Baptists connect is through the CTS Ministry Expo. This year, 1,412 students competed in 747 categories of Bible and fine arts. However, the emphasis of CTS is not competition but students using their talents to glorify the Lord in music, art, writing, digital media, and Bible. The future of the Free Will Baptist family is bright. It is my prayer the students in our movement will continue to hide God’s Word in their hearts and use their talents for His Kingdom and glory.


Truth & Peace Student Leadership Conference

The 2022 Truth & Peace Student Leadership Conference was the largest conference in its history, gathering 164 students from across the denomination. They were trained on the campus of Welch College for ten days prior to the Vertical Three Conference. The journey from the college to Birmingham proved quite an adventure. One of three charter buses broke down on I-65 in North Alabama. Thanks to many kind members of the Free Will Baptist family and the experienced conference staffers, the crew arrived safely in Birmingham, only a few hours behind schedule.


Starting on Sunday, Truth & Peace put their recent training into practice when they became the workforce needed to execute the CTS Ministry Expo and various other components of the Vertical Three Conference.

The 2022 Truth & Peace Conference marked the 25th year for Allen Pointer as conference director. The Bible is clear: honor should be given to those to whom honor is due. The Free Will Baptist denomination owes Allen a huge debt for shaping the lives of young people for over two decades.



Youth Evangelistic Team

One of the highlights of the Vertical Three Conference is the Youth Evangelistic Team leading other students in worship. Thirteen students assembled at Welch College in late June for a week of training and rehearsal before heading out on a two-week tour through Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama. After a short break, the team reunited in Birmingham to lead the Vertical Three Conference worship services and present their full program following the Monday evening service.


Serve the City

The 2022 Vertical Three Conference saw the return of Serve the City. Jane Parker led this ministry. Families from across the denomination gathered to distribute care bags to the homeless population of Birmingham and to provide items for a children’s and women’s shelter. Seeing moms and dads serve alongside their children is truly heartwarming.


Worship Services

Though all of the ministries are important, I see the highlight of the Vertical Three Conference as the various worship services. Preschool worship, as in the previous 20 years, was led by Katie Greenwood (TN). Johnny Miller (AR) led children’s worship. Like Katie, Johnny has led children’s worship for over two decades. Steve Greenwood (TN), leader of 456 worship, led preteen students in high energy songs and relevant Bible lessons helping shape their biblical worldview at this crucial age.

Along with YET leading in worship, middle school and high school students heard sermons centered on John 14:6 and Jesus being “the way, the truth, and the life.” The Lord used pastors Tommy Franks (AL), Caleb Milling (OK), Chris Edwards (SC), former missionary to Spain Kristi Johnson (TN), and youth evangelist Jeffrey Dean Smith (TN) to challenge Vertical Three attendees. The conference was capped off by a night of fun and laughter with comedian Byron Trimble (MI).


Just Like Family

The convention is a place where college friends reconnect, Truth & Peace alumni gather over coffee and share stories of bygone conferences, and new friendships are formed to last for decades to come. Just like a family reunion? Absolutely!

About the Writer: Derek Altom is director of the Vertical Three Conference.


2022 Vertical Three Conference at a Glance

Registration – 2,894

Truth & Peace – 164 participants

Competitive Entries: 747

Competitors: 1,412

Buck-A-Week Offering: $5,029.56*

* Initial count may be adjusted


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists