When Pastor Brian McCrorie planned this year’s SEED conference at Heather Hills Baptist Church, he wanted to emphasize Christian fellowship. But he was also looking for “something beyond coffee and donuts on Sunday morning.”

“A lot of church relationships are only on the surface,” says McCrorie, explaining that he wanted to help his church “put into practice what we have learned about Christian fellowship so that our relationships will grow deep together.”

Three years ago Pastor McCrorie started the annual conference as a way to teach his congregation one of eight core ministry values. Prior to this year’s fellowship theme, previous conferences were devoted to the Bible and prayer. His original intention was to teach and equip his own congregation, but this year he added a Church Leadership Day, to which he invited area pastors. About 25 registered for the event.

Two speakers were featured: Phil Johnson, the executive director of John MacArthur’s Grace to You broadcasts and the editor of MacArthur’s major books; and Conrad Mbewe, pastor of Kabwata Reformed Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia. One sermon by Pastor Mbewe led to an unexpected thrill in the McCrorie family. “My oldest son believes that he came to Christ as the result of one of Conrad Mbewe’s sermons,” Pastor McCrorie reports. “He made a profession of faith when he was 3 or 4, but struggled with assurance. Now he’s trying to own his faith. For him, this is a landmark moment.”

Heather Hills Baptist is already planning next year’s conference (March 17–19) to reflect its core value of worship. Guest speakers will be David Peterson, author of Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship, and Harold Best, dean emeritus of Wheaton College Conservatory of Music and author of Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts.

Kevin Mungons is managing editor of the Baptist Bulletin. Darrell Goemaat is director of photography.

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