Settle down folks, this is not a politically based column!  Actually, this is a column reminding you about our pastor and wife retreat called IGNITE which is held each fall.  (Yes, we even met in 2020 in Cody, WY!). Ignite provides a more relaxed atmosphere in which to learn from some great preachers, teachers, and skilled professionals.  Last year we had Ken Sande from Relational Wisdom 360, formerly of Peacemaker Ministries.  Many stated how they enjoyed the sessions and were left wanting more.  Others have come and gone and shared God’s Word and their own experiences that God used to change them.

Almost ten years ago, I came into contact with a gentleman in California that I thought was quite intriguing.  Listening to him tell of what God had been doing in his life and ministry, in such a sincere and humble manner, drew me to him and to look closer at his ministry.  It was evident the hand of God was on this man.  Around that time, Lori and I were privileged to attend some meetings in Southern California.  Not knowing each other very well, I took a risk worth taking, calling this gentleman and asking if Lori and I could take he and his wife out for dinner.  A beautiful friendship emerged from that time in San Diego.  He took me to the soon-to-be new building of his church.  We walked through it and discussed all kinds of ways to navigate such a big open space that had a huge upside.  It was invigorating to dream and think and strategize and envision what God could do!

Through the succeeding years, we remained in contact and worked together on some things that came to fruition and some things that did not.  Each time I was fortunate enough to see my new friend it was only, always good — like iron sharpening iron good!  Eventually, my friend sensed God leading him and his wife and family back to where they grew up.  From a greater distance, geographically, it was so cool to hear of how God was using my friend in new and fresh ways to accomplish His will and purpose.  Along the way, he earned a doctorate in ministry and continued to find favor with God and people.  Soon, a church that was on its last leg, so to speak, was being transformed, growth was taking place and relocation became a strategy to reduce debt, grow even more, and literally gain a fresh start in ministry.

Monday – Thursday, September 25 -28, 2023 at First Alliance Church in Great Falls, MT we will be having the last IGNITE conference that I’ll have any influence on.  Some special things are planned and we have a great speaker lined up to speak during our main sessions.  (We also have a special pastor’s wives luncheon planned on Tuesday and a youth pastor’s lunch on Wednesday!). Our main speaker will be Rev. Dr. Shawn Kennedy from Gulf Shores, Alabama.  As lead pastor at Genesis Church, Shawn has led this ministry to a resurgence in Gulf Shores and surrounding communities of Alabama.  He has lead them through a massive multi-million dollar building sale, relocation and name change. To reflect a regional vision now the church is called The Church at the Shores. I eagerly await what the Lord wants to do at Ignite this year and have been praying fervently for the Lord to have great freedom to honor the desires of those who attend.

Per the policies of the District, if you are unable to attend you need to secure the permission of the DS.  Somehow, informing doesn’t equate with securing permission in most other avenues of life, so please kindly let me know by asking if you can miss this.  I would tell you, my belief is that moving just about anything around to be present at Ignite would be well worth it!   So, for 2023 I am voting for Shawn Kennedy to be used of God at our Ignite conference!  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being with Shawn, learning from Shawn, and watching Shawn grow and mature as a pastor, leader, and preacher!  I invite you to join me in reading the emails that come your way concerning Ignite!

Serving Christ Together With You,


P.S. Lori and I think highly enough of Shawn that we have literally contracted with him to coach our son, Mark, who’s an ordained Alliance pastor in the St. Paul, MN suburbs!