It was recently my great pleasure to represent Pathway Church at EFCA One, our denomination’s bi-annual national conference.  This year it was in Austin, Texas, so I booked the cheapest flight I could find, happy that it was on one of the well-known national carriers, thinking that might increase the likelihood of a smooth flight experience. It didn’t.  

It’s never a good sign when you arrive at your gate and the jetway is not nuzzling up to an airplane. It’s even worse when they tell you at your scheduled departure time that the airplane that should be connected to that jetway is actually 500 miles away sitting at another airport. However, the agent said with too little empathy, “That plane is still coming to Pittsburgh to get yinz, and it should arrive in a couple hours.”

Ugh, that means missing my connecting flight. 

I did miss that connecting flight and I also would have missed the later one I was rebooked onto, except for the fact that it was delayed significantly as well. Sounds like good news, right? Not exactly. The delays meant that I would arrive in Austin AFTER my rental car agency closed. Thankfully, I was able to reach them before they locked the doors and prevailed on some poor soul to wait for me to arrive. He asked if the plane would get there when the airline said. Great question!

 The agent promised to wait until 2am, which, as it turns out, gave me just enough time to sprint from the gate to the rental counter after the plane landed. Mission accomplished — well, almost. The weary-eyed agent said they had messed up the reservation and had given my car to someone else. “But,” he added, “I am willing to give you the one vehicle I have left. How would you like a minivan?” The truth was, I didn’t want a minivan and it turned out I wouldn’t need anywhere near that amount of cargo space, because once I backtracked to baggage claim I discovered my luggage had been lost! 

Circumstances eventually improved, though not prior to one early morning run. Leaving the room at 6am, the temp was already in excess of 80 degrees, though I didn’t actually mind the heat.  I would just cool off with a nice shower upon returning to my room. Or not. Now drenched in sweat, I learned that the shower was not working and that I was scheduled to soon be with others representing Pathway!  

You’ll be pleased to know I found a way to remove the layers of sweat and accompanying odor before anyone recommended removing Pathway from the denomination. You also will be pleased to know that apart from the turbulent beginning to the trip, it was an excellent conference spent with many others who share our heart for the gospel and reaching people with the love of Jesus Christ.  

There were a number of highlights to the conference including great times of worship led by the teams of Austin Oaks EFC, along with great messages from the likes of D.A. Carson, Jared Alcantara, Kevin Kompelein, president of the EFCA, and others.  There also were numerous intensive sessions to choose from and I benefited from presentations on creativity in ministry, LGBTQ issues and more.  The gathered delegates also adopted a resolution advancing the biblical definition of marriage and began the discussion of a proposed amendment to the ninth article of our statement of faith regarding eschatology.  Our congregation will have the opportunity to interact on that subject in the days to come.  The soonest the proposal could be acted on nationwide is at the 2019 conference.  Pathway will be able to speak into the proposal and also make its own decision on the potential change. 

I also had the opportunity to connect with several friends, fellow pastors, Pathway missionaries and denominational leaders during my time in Texas. One of them who is familiar with Pathway spoke of the great things he is aware of and commended you as a church family for the impact you’re making. I enjoyed telling others about your generous heart and willingness to make sacrifices for people you haven’t even met.  Those who didn’t know about Pathway said it sounds like we have a great congregation. I said, “We sure do.” 

The events of EFCA One are still vivid in my mind and I’d be happy to tell you more about it. It remains fresh in my mind because it was an excellent conference and it just ended. In fact, I am writing this as I sit in the airport waiting for my return flight home. It turns out I’ll have plenty of time to write. They just announced my flight is delayed.