By DEIRDRE C. MAYS
COLUMBIA — The 1998 All-Ministries Conference, held Oct. 12 in the shadow of the state capitol at the Adam’s Mark Hotel, was a celebration and convergence of diversity.
It was the first event of its kind in the diocese and offered proof that there is just not enough time in the day. All ministries in the Diocese of Charleston were represented, and the inspiring events were packed into a day full of activity and inspiration. The theme was “Go, You Are Sent,” with a focus on the Eucharist as the unifying element of all diocesan ministries. It also began the celebrations of the Jubilee Year 2000.
The Procession to St. Peter
The conference opened with a welcome from the Very Rev. Joseph A. Wahl, director of the Institute for Parish Leadership Development that hosted the event. The Most Rev. David B. Thompson introduced the keynote speaker, the Rt. Rev. Francis Kline, abbot of Mepkin Abbey and director of Prayer and Worship.
In breakout sessions, 11 nationally known speakers discussed subjects that fall under the six Synod topics: Evangelization, Christian Formation, Prayer and Worship, Social Outreach, Stewardship and Building Community.
The day culminated with an impressive liturgical procession of all of the participants from the hotel two-and-a-half blocks to St. Peter Church. The closing liturgy was presided over by Bishop Thompson.
Julie Downs, a member of the conference’s planning committee, said that 81 parishes and 20 schools were represented along with clergy, religious and laity tallying up the 500-person attendance limit.
It is hoped that the level of participation will grow in years to come. Father Wahl said the Institute plans to hold the conference every other year, on even-numbered years, but that is subject to more review. The Oratorian priest said he is very pleased with the results.
“I thought there would be a high level of enthusiasm, but it was a pleasant surprise that the level of spirit exceeded my expectations,” Father Wahl said. “So many people were so appreciative. One of the exhibitors said that she goes to many of these events and has never seen one with quite the same level of spirit and enthusiasm.”
The conference was sponsored in cooperation with St. Peter’s church and school, and the diocesan offices of Education and Evangelization, Social Ministry, Stewardship and Development, Prayer and Worship and the Office of Communications and Information.