WRITTEN BY: SAVANNAH DUFFY | STAFF WRITER
The Nazarene Compassionate Ministries (NCM) is back up after 15 years. The conference is for people with a passion for helping people in poverty and in need, who want to make a difference in their communities. The conference is at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois July 14-16.
The website states, “The Com- passion Conference is a gathering designed for leaders, learners and practitioners from the Church of the Nazarene, but it is open to anyone interested in church-based holistic ministry.”
In the past, these conferences had been held by the NCM once every three to four years, but NCM had not done so in 15 years. The director, Larry Bollinger, chose to start-up the conferences again.
The Compassion Conference website offers packages available needed to attend the conference, with prices ranging from $149-$499. The deadline to register for the conference is June 1.
PLNU Alumna ’10 Nell Becker Sweeden is in charge of structuring the conference and workshops. Sweeden is an Education Coordinator for NCM. Sweeden said this is the first time the NCM has made the Compassion Conference a global event.
“We’re opening up a wider venue to talk about compassion in the broader church, so that’s exciting,” Sweeden said.
She added that there are roughly 500 people signed up to attend the conference.
Sweeden said the Plenary Session Team chose the speakers for the conference. One of the members of the Plenary Session Team is Robert Gailey, who is PLNU’s Director of the Center for International Development and Professor of Business. Gailey is also the Chair of the Board of the Nazarene Compassionate Minis- tries Inc., which is a non-profit set up by the Nazarene Church that is separate from, but works with NCM.
Gailey said a number of speakers associated with PLNU will be attending and helping with the conference, including Reverend Celestin Chishibanji, the NCM field coordinator in the Central Field of the Church of the Nazarene’s Africa Region. Reverend Chishibanji has spoken in PLNU’s chapel and hosted LoveWorks teams.
Other PLNU associates who will be helping at the conference include Dr. Gailey; Jamie Gates, Professor of Cultural Anthropology in the Department of Sociology and Social Work; Brian Becker, Director of International Ministries; Esteban Trujillo, Associate Director of International Ministries; Ron Benefiel, lead consultant for Mission Resources and Pastoral Relations; and George Williamson, Director of Worship Arts.
Gailey stated that he would like students to return from the Compassion Conference with an excitement for reaching out to the communities with a Wesleyan approach to com- passion, meaning that compassion is shown to those in need with the intent of displaying God’s love and the hope that people will come to know Jesus through experiencing that love.
Gailey gives the example of America’s hesitancy to take in Syrian refugees out of the fear that some immigrants may be a threat. Gailey said he hopes that the response of the Church is to accept and love the refugees, regardless of the fear some Americans may be facing.
“You might still be scared, but you have to say ‘love overcomes fear.’ Love has to be the thing that drives what we do and how we act because that’s what Christ calls us to. Even at the risk of our lives,” Gailey said.
PHOTO BY NAZARENE COMPASSIONATE MINISTRIES’ FACEBOOK