Conferences: Our Family Reunion

by Sharon Fox

Conferences have been a very important part of the story of charismatic renewal in Western Washington. As I read back issues of GLEANINGS for information to share about WWCCR history, I feel like I am doing genealogy research on my family. In fact, this is true because we are the family of God. The more I read and listen to the stories of this family’s past, more I come to appreciate my “heritage”.

Early days

Prior to the incorporation of WWCCR, Conferences had been sponsored by other leadership groups in the area. When the WWCCR corporation was formed in 1977, we immediately joined forces with other leaders from the various dioceses of Washington, Oregon and Idaho to co-sponsor a Regional Conference in July 1978. This co-sponsorship continued for about 10 years, until the other dioceses began to sponsor their own conferences and no longer were able to be as involved as they had been. However, even to this day, the WWCCR annual conference regularly draws guests from the surrounding States and British Columbia.

Locations

The conference in 1978 was held at the Seattle Center in Seattle. I still hear people raving about it. Over the years, the location has changed and moved around the region a bit. There were the eight years that the conference was held at the Tacoma Dome Convention Hall in Tacoma. Then it moved to the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. Since then, the location has change each year to include Green River Community College in Auburn, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Mill Creek, and Everett Civic Auditorium in Everett, Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Immaculate Conception Parish, Everett and St. Ann Parish, Tacoma

Conference Speakers

We have had an amazing variety of conference speakers. There is a list of the conference general session speakers available here. This list is a kind of “who’s who” in charismatic renewal. Hundreds of others have been workshop speakers and given testimonies and homilies at the conferences. We have been greatly blessed by the ministry of all of our conference speakers. May God continue to bless their ministry wherever He leads them.

Volunteers

As with the other activities sponsored by WWCCR, volunteers for the conferences are our most valuable resource. We are rich with people who year after year have used vacation time and/or traveled great distances at their own expense to make themselves available for the service of others. If you have been greeted with a smile on your arrival or been given directions to a workshop, you have benefited from the faithful service of conference volunteers. And you have equally benefited from those whose faces you don’t see because they work behind the scenes. God has blessed us with a great heritage of servants, who have literally made the conference possible.

Youth, Jr. High, Children’s Track

A Youth Track has been offered since the beginning of WWCCR involvement in the conferences. At that first conference in 1978, Karen Trieber and John Burt from Steubenville provided the teaching to the youth at the conference. Over the years, different people have taken on the ministry to teenagers. During the 80’s, Randy & Theresa Anderson and the Catholic Youth Renewal Team (CYRT) provided the Youth Track. By 1990, WWCCR had formed a group of youth and adults who have come to be known as the Youth Ministry Team (YMT). Through drama, music, testimonies and teaching they continue to challenge today’s young people to allow Jesus to make a difference in their lives.

Jr. High and Children’s ministry is a more recent addition now provided at some of the conferences. In 1993, WWCCR hosted the National Charismatic Conference. That year, we had enough extra workshop spaces to provide this important ministry. Through clown ministry, games, and other activities these two separate tracks heard about God’s love in a way that was age appropriate. Whenever our conference site has sufficient space, volunteers and involved parents continue to make this ministry possible.

Prayer Ministry

From the beginning, prayer ministry has been an important part of the Conference experience. Prayer teams of lay people have often been available in a prayer room or at a Healing Service. Over the years, many priests have made the extra effort to be available to administer God’s healing through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and often to be involved at the Healing services as well. It has been through this ministry that the Lord has encouraged and healed hundreds of people. Many were baptized in the Holy Spirit and their lives have never been the same. The experience is just as profound for those who do the praying. To be used by the Lord to pray for another and to see with ones own eyes the miraculous ways that He works is a privilege and a great faith builder.

Bookstore & Tape Ministry

The Conference Bookstore requires the help of many volunteers to make it successful. Books written by the conference’s speakers are made available as well as hundreds of other titles selected to help build up the faith of those who attend. As space allows, we invite other vendors to join us to offer a wide variety of items that we don’t usually carry in our small bookstore.

WWCCR did not initially have its own taping equipment. Other ministries, like Martin Production of Seattle or Hosanna Tapes of Albuquerque, NM, were invited to come to tape the talks at the conferences. Eventually we took over the audio taping. Occasionally, we have had other ministries offer to do videotapes, and we have been glad to make that service available when possible. People buy the audio and video tapes as a way to continue to reflect on the teaching from the conference and to share the teaching with family, friends and prayer group members.

Praise and Worship

One of the identifying marks of Charismatic Renewal is the enthusiasm with which we praise God and the depth of worship that is expressed at Mass and at other times of prayer. At the conferences, this “praise and worship” is of primary importance, so we don’t hurry the liturgies or the prayer times at the other general sessions. These are the moments that we can experience and express our deep, intimate relationship with our loving God. The music ministry is a key element in these times of praise and worship and over the years this ministry has been provided by a variety of people. For 17 continuous years, the group ANAWIM provided very wonderful and dynamic music ministry for our conferences. For the Jubilee Year, we did an experiment in diversity and invited six different groups to provide the conference music ministry. This was quite challenging but was also a great blessing for many. Since 2003, a group has been formed from the Youth Ministry Team and their friends to lead praise and worship. Though the teaching and fellowship at the conferences are very important, for many participants it is the times of praise and worship in a community that is fully participating that makes them return year after year.

Translation and Hospitality

We must not forget those who work as language translators, one of the most difficult jobs at any event. Whenever it has been requested and we have had willing and capable volunteers available, we have been able to provide interpretation into Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and American Sign Language. This makes it possible for many more people to enjoy and benefit from the conferences. Other areas of hospitality over the years have included services such as catered meals, carpooling, and community housing.

Conference Planning

Conference planning and preparation is a year-round activity at the WWCCR office. Dozens of meetings and hundreds of phone calls and letters are involved. The conference brochure is worked and reworked so that the information is as accurate and attractive as possible. It’s a major task to coordinate all the committees and volunteers so that the conference runs as smoothly as possible. It never goes exactly as planned, and we’ve come to expect last minute “surprises”, but we know that the energy and resources we expend are important in providing the environment for the Lord to do His mighty work during the conference.

The conference is the place where our “family” gathers, like a family reunion. For some people, the conference is WWCCR and charismatic renewal, their once-a-year chance to connect. For others, it’s an eye-opening introduction to the spiritual renewal that is fostered by Catholic Charismatic renewal. This largest WWCCR event of the year is an important time for us to gather together to be refreshed and strengthened for our mission of sharing the Good News wherever we live.

Conferences - Days of Renewal - Pentecost Celebrations
1978 - They Shall Be One in My Hands

Main Speakers: Fr. John Bertolucci, Dr. Vinson Synan, Ralph Martin

July 7-9 – Seattle Center

1979 - Put On the Mind of Christ

Main Speakers: Sr. Briege McKenna, Fr. Hal Cohen & Paul DeCelles

June 15-17 – Seattle Center, Seattle

1980 - My Joy Will Be Your Strength

Main Speakers: Msgr. Arthur Mertens, Rev John Garlington, Fr Leo Thomas, OP & Judy Vitzthum

August 29-31 – Kennedy High School, Seattle

1981 - The Kingdom of God is Among Us

Main Speakers: Abbot David Geraets, Mary Mauren, & Fr. Dan Wetzler

June 12-14 – Kennedy High School, Seattle

1982 - Christian Challenge: Growing in Maturity

Main Speakers: Fr. Marlin Connole, Ann Shields, & Fr. Mike Scanlan

June 11-13 – Kennedy High School, Seattle

1983 - Live in the Spirit

Main Speakers: Bert Ghezzi, Kevin Ranaghan, & Jack Brombach

June 3-5 – Kennedy High School, Seattle

1984 - New Fire

Main Speakers: Fr. Mike Kolar, Rev John Garlington, Msgr. Arthur Mertens, & Dr. Gene Wiesner

June 8-10 – Kennedy High School, Seattle

1985 - And the Word Was Made Flesh

Main Speakers: Sr. Josephe Marie Flynne, Fr. Sam Jacobs, & Fr. Perron Auve

August 9-11 – Tacoma Dome Convention Hall, Tacoma

1986 - You Shall Be My Witnesses

Main Speakers: Sr. Nancy Kellar & Charlie Osburn

August 1-3 – Tacoma Dome Convention Hall, Tacoma

1987 - Be Holy for I am Holy

Main Speakers: David Thorp & Sr. Francis Clare

July 31-Aug 2 – Tacoma Dome Convention Hall, Tacoma

1988 - Fan into a Flame the Gift that God Gave You

Main Speakers: Fr. Michael Manning & Sr. Linda Koontz

August 12-14 – Tacoma Dome Convention Hall, Tacoma

1989 - Bear Fruit through Perseverance

Main Speakers: Fr. Jim Bermingham & Babsie Bleasdell

August 11-13 – Tacoma Dome Convention Hall, Tacoma

1990 - Know, Live, Proclaim the Good News

Main Speakers: Fr. George Montague & Marilyn Kramar

August 10-12 – Tacoma Dome Convention Hall, Tacoma

1991 - Build the Kingdom of God

Main Speakers: Fr. Ken Metz & Sr. Nancy Kellar

August 9-11 – Tacoma Dome Convention Hall, Tacoma

1992 - Come Back to Me with All Your Heart

Main Speakers:  Patti Mansfield & Ron Ryan

August 7-9 – Tacoma Dome Convention Hall, Tacoma

1993 - Fanning the Flame: Renewing the Heart of the Church

Main Speakers: Fr. Emil LaFranz, Sr. Nancy Kellar, Bishop Sam Jacobs, & Fr. Chris Aridas

July 9-11 – Seattle Center, Seattle

1994 - Rejoice in Hope

Main Speakers: Fr. George Montague & Pat King

August 5-7 – Tacoma Dome Convention Hall, Tacoma

1995 - Jesus Lives!

Main Speakers: Fr. Armand Nigro, SJ, Sr. Pauline Cinquini, SC & Megan Giffin

August 11-13 – Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue

1996 - Journey to Holiness

Main Speakers: Jim Murphy & Dr. Ronda Chervin

August 9-11 – Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue

1997 - Jesus: Yesterday, Today and Forever

Main Speakers: Patti Mansfield & David Thorp

August 8-10 – Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue

1998 - Who Is the Holy Spirit?

Main Speaker: Sr. Nancy Kellar

August 14-15 – Green River Community College, Auburn

1999 - Journey to the Father's Heart

Main Speaker: Linda Schubert

August 6-7 – St Elizabeth Seton Church, Mill Creek

2000 - Come Celebrate the Great Jubilee

Main Speakers: Fr Benedict Groeschel & Sr. Nancy Kellar

August 4-6 – Everett Civic Auditorium, Everett

2001a - Living, Proclaiming & Nurturing Baptism of Holy Spirit

Main Speaker: Fr. George Montague

June 29-30 – Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma

2001b - Resounding Love

Main Speaker: Fr. Richard McAlear

October 5-6 – Immaculate Conception Church, Everett

2002 - Come & Worship Jesus, the Light of the World

Main Speakers: Deacon Bill Brennan, Tom Curran, & Fr. Art Cooney, OFM CAP

August 9-11 – Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma

2003 - Be Not Afraid; Walk in Joy

Main Speakers: Ralph Martin & David Thorp

September 12-14 – Immaculate Conception Church, Everett

2004 - Let All Who Are Thirsty Come

Main Speakers: Fr. John Gordon & Aggie Neck

August 6-7 – St. Ann Church, Tacoma

2005 - You Too Are Living Stones

Main Speakers: Fr. Tom Forrest & Patti Mansfield

August 5-7 – Immaculate Conception Church, Everett

2006 - Rescued from Darkness

Main Speaker: Fr. Peter Sanders, Orat.

August 12 – Immaculate Conception Church, Everett

2007M - At the Service of the King: Hearts Attuned to God's Mercy

Main Speaker: Jim Murphy

March 24 – Bellarmine Prep. School, Tacoma

2007N - At the Service of the King: Letting Our Light Shine - WWCCR 30th Anniversary Conference

Main Speaker: Chuck Hornsby, Closing Mass with Archbishop Alexander Brunett

November 3 – St Brendan Church, Bothell

2008 - Open the Eyes of Our Hearts - Day of Renewal

Main Speaker: David Thorp

August 16 – Bellarmine Prep. School, Tacoma

2009PC - Ignited by the Spirit - Pentecost Celebration

Main Speaker: Maria Vadia

April 15 – Blessed Sacrament Church, Seattle

2009 - Stewards of the Good News - Day of Renewal and Hope Rally

Main Speaker: Peter Herbeck

August 15 – St. Michael Church, Snohomish

2010 - Unleashing Spiritual Gifts in Community - Pentecost Celebration Day

Main Speaker: Jim Murphy

May 22 – Kennedy High School, Burien

2011 - Be Clothed with Power - Pentecost Celebration Day

Main Speaker: Dr. Tom Curran

June 11 – St. Michael Church, Snohomish