After canceling the Big Sandy April Family Conference due to COVID-19, the remaining conferences were in question. The conference teams continued to plan and prepare for the July conference, taking time to put health and safety protocols in place. By the mercy of God, the July Family Conference took place from July 27–31! More than 120 families gathered from around the country for a time of encouragement and fellowship. Due to the COVID-19 protocols, some families were hesitant to attend the conference, not knowing how it would go. While the additional guidelines were inconvenient, each one who came was strengthened and encouraged by the fellowship and messages.
Much of the conference was able to proceed as normal, just taking into account social distancing guidelines. The children’s programs met outside when possible, student choir rehearsal was moved outdoors, and the parent presentations and choir performance were held in a natural amphitheater. One major change with the Children’s Institute was the requirement that each family have a parent or older child with their children at all times. While this created some unique challenges for the team leaders, it also created a special time for families to learn together.
The general sessions proceeded as usual, with inspiring, challenging, and encouraging messages from new and returning speakers. Johnny Pope explained why this is “No Time to Go Wobbly” in our Christian faith. Curtis Bowers, the producer of Agenda and Agenda II, reminded parents of what is being done to destroy our society and the crucial role they play in shaping our culture. It was also a great honor to have former Olympian and U. S. Congressman Jim Ryun and his wife, Anne, share several messages. Referencing our conference theme “If Ye Abide in Me,” John Van Geledren spoke on our true source of Life. A highlight for attendees was a presentation by Darren Myers and Freedom Focus on Freedom’s Journey. Other speakers included Paul Blair, David McDonald, Scot Aniol, Bob Gray II, and Gil Bates.
Friday morning’s outdoor parent presentation and choir performance became a memorable experience when a thunderstorm broke loose overhead. The rain held off until the choir was singing their first song. What started out as a light rain quickly became a downpour as the students sang “some through the water, some through the flood, some through the fire, but all through the blood.” Later that afternoon, the entire audience sang the traditional closing song, When We See Christ. Many thankful families attended in person, and many others viewed the conference livestream from their homes.
Next year’s first Big Sandy Family Conference is scheduled for April 26–30, and housing is open! Visit familyconferences.org for details.