Diocese to hold All Ministries Conference

This fall the Diocese of Charleston will hold the first All Ministries Conference, a unique event gathering together in one place all those working in various Catholic ministries across the state.

The conference will be held Monday, Oct. 12, 1998, at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Columbia with a closing liturgy at nearby St. Peter’s Church and will be part of the diocese’s efforts to mark the celebration of the Jubilee Year 2000. The event will be sponsored by the Institute for Parish Leadership Development in cooperation with St. Peter’s Church and School and the offices of Christian Formation and Education, Social Ministry, Stewardship and Development, Prayer and Worship, Communications and Information.

“One of the unique effects of this conference will be its bringing together of all those in the diocese united by ministry but separated by geography. The diocese is so vast in territory, at times we may think we are working in isolation. At this conference we can support one another and realize we are not doing it by ourselves,” said Bishop David B. Thompson.

The director of the Institute for Parish Leadership Development says its sponsorship of the event lives out the vision for the Institute. “Part of the dream of the Institute was that it be an umbrella organization over all the different ministries of the diocese. The All Ministries Conference really brings that into reality,” said Father Joseph A. Wahl. “We can come together and see that we have many gifts but we are all motivated by the same call to discipleship.”

The focus for this conference that will bring together Catholics of diverse vocations is the Eucharist, the center of the faith and the inspiration of Catholic ministry. “Everything we do is ultimately living out the Eucharist,” Father Wahl said. The theme of the conference is “Go, You Are Sent.”

Father Francis Kline, abbot of Mepkin Abbey and the director of prayer and worship for the diocese, will be the keynote speaker. A local expert on the Eucharist, Abbot Kline is also a well-known and inspirational speaker. Bishop Thompson said they are fortunate to have him speak at the conference. “He knows this diocese, he knows the people in it and he has worked with them in ministry.”

The conference will replace many others usually held on an annual basis, such as the Stewardship Day and the Social Ministries Convocation. There will be individual sessions on each of the six areas of pastoral life outlined in Enthusiasm for the Faith: A Design for Implementing the Vision of the Synod of Charleston: Prayer and Worship, Christian Formation, Evangelization and Reconciliation, Social Outreach, Stewardship, and Community building.

Local and national speakers will address several topics including adult catechesis and ministry formation, youth and young adult stewardship, racial harmony and racial diversity, psalmody, peace and justice issues, stewardship theology, liturgical music and others.

In his papal letter on the year 2000, Tertio Millenio Adveniente, Pope John Paul II calls Catholics to use these years before the millennium as a time of prayerful preparation. There are different themes for each of the years leading up to the year 2000 and the theme for 1998 is unifying the Church.

“The Holy Father has asked us as we approach the anniversary of Christ’s birth to look for ways that will inspire unity in the Church. A conference like this, that brings together those of so many different talents and gifts, is a good way for the Diocese of Charleston to respond to the pope’s call,” said Mary Jeffcoat, director of communications and information for the diocese and chairperson of the diocese’s Millennium Committee.

Father Wahl said they are currently examining the possibility of making the All Ministries Conference a biennial (every other year) event. The outcome of this first one may be the determining factor. The bishop said he has his own anticipated outcome.

“The theme is ‘Go, You Are Sent.’ Through this conference may we be sent with gifts being prepared to serve our people in the best way possible.”