April 23-24, 2018, Camp Christian Conference CEnter
Submitted by: Glenna With

The Georgia Men’s Commission organized the annual Men’s Retreat April 23-24 at Camp Christian in Gordon, Georgia.  There were twenty-two men who participated in the event, and the keynote speaker was Rev. Dr. Percy Johnson, Jr. The Men’s Commission President, Roger With, of Liberty Christian Church in Newnan, GA, opened the event with prayer, and several meals and fellowship were enjoyed by those in attendance.  Men from all over state participated in song, with music provided by Bob and Mary Grant, and Rev. Will Johnson on the keyboard.

A business meeting was part of the part proceedings, and two other speakers, Tommy Freeman spoke of the needs of Camp Christian, and Rev. Denise Bell also spoke to the men regarding future plans of the church and its ministry.  On Friday evening, Steve Willard, of Augusta Central Christian Church, the 2017 Layman of the Year spoke to the men.  His devotion was about being a servant and his ongoing work with GAP, a ministry to those in need in the Augusta area.  

Rev. Dr. Percy JohnsonDr. Johnson’s theme for his three presentations was, “Servant Leadership for the 21st Century.”  Dr. Johnson’s background is founded in academia, ministry and practice.  He has degrees from Troy State University, Vanderbilt University School of Divinity and United Theological Seminary.  He is a teacher, a minister, a counselor, and a group facilitator.  Through power point  presentations and handouts, his thought provoking lecture and guided questions  challenged those in attendance to think about the future of the church, its role in modern society and  to look at reorganization in our thoughts, actions, and mission to the people in our communities.

Friday night’s session introduced his topic, and the men were asked to consider the role of the church in society, and to consider the racial implications of worship, self-identity, and need to be sensitive to the different life styles and religious heritage of a vast number of people.  Does the church, in its present state,  unite Christians?  Is the church doing an adequate job of meeting the needs of the people?  Is the church uniting all under the love of Christ?  And most importantly, do the people have a voice?  Is there anyone speaking out for those who are voiceless? Dr. Johnson noted that the quest for self-identity is often clouded by competitive success, consumerism, sexism, and racism.  He also stated that  “Any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them and the social conditions that  

Saturday morning’s session was entitled “Are we willing to see and hear the other?”  Some of the topics that were discussed were the economic situation of the lower middle class, the loss of jobs, and the use of media and advertising to define self-identity.  The inability to listen to those in need was also considered, and  he included a presentation about our perceptions about humanity and its present trajectory.  The men were asked to define the role of church in each of these situation, and how can the ministry be inclusive and dynamic to those in need.

The third workshop was entitled “The Role of the Church in a Fractured and Polarized Society”.  The church is growing in the Southern Hemisphere, and the church itself and its leaders need to consider diversity within our inherent unity.  For the church to remain relevant and vital it needs to take positive action, and use Christ’s light to illumine the oppressed.  (Oscar A. Romero, The Violence of Love).  Doctor Reverend Johnson offered a Six Step Approach to dealing with some of these issues?

  1.  Gather information-via media, social and civic organizations and the people involved.
  2.  Educate Others-Better understand the problem, build a team of people devoted to finding solutions, and include the people directed affected.  Avoid the savior mentality.
  3.  Remain Committed-Don’t give up, there will be obstacles and pain and agree to encourage and inspire others.
  4.  Peacefully negotiate-Talk to both sides.  Go to people who are contributing to the breakdown of a peaceful society.  Use humor, intelligence, and grace to find solutions to the greater good.
  5.  Take action-peacefully.  Always be willing to act peacefully with demonstrations, sit-ins, letter writing campaigns, etc.
  6.  Reconcile-Keep all actions peaceful and constructive.

Those in attendance at the Men’s Retreat left feeling challenged, energized and more committed to further investigating Dr. Reverend Percy’s topic as it applies to the various home churches represented.  Having a place to begin the dialog was an important first step to achieving the goals of the presentation.

Other announcements included a Camp Christian workday was scheduled for April 6-7 for the Men of the state of Georgia.  The workshop was concluded with a worship service and communion led by Medie Still, and in closing the men sang, “Blest Be the Tie that Binds”.

Dinner Friday night - DM President Roger With welcomes Rev. Dr. Percy Johnson.

Buddy taking a photo of Glenna taking a photo of Buddy

The men gather before a program - Steve Willard brings a devotion.

Rev. Dr. Johnson, Rev. Tom VanLandingham, Steve Willard, Layman of the Year and John Anderson

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