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Church to hold 59th missions conference

Faith Presbyterian Church, located at 400 Magee Drive, will host its 59th annual Mission Conference the weekend of Jan. 29 through 31.

The main speaker for this year’s conference is Rev. Mark Bates, senior pastor of Village Seven Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He will preach Friday and Saturday nights at 6:30 and at the morning worship service Sunday at 10:45.

“We’re excited about having Rev. Mark Bates come to speak because he is known as one of the most outstanding pastors in our denomination,” said Bob Massengill, mission team leader at Faith Presbyterian. “We don’t have revivals per se, [but we have the conference] in January which kind of gets us excited for full missions for the whole year.”

Bates’ primary responsibilities at Village Seven are leadership and preaching. He has been actively involved in numerous mission trips throughout the world, Massengill said. His wife Tricia, originally from Jackson, will be joining him for the conference.

Also attending the conference will be Rodney and Jana Davila, Mission to the World missionaries to Costa Rica. The Davilas will teach Sunday school at 9:30 a.m. and will share some of their experiences then. They have been in Costa Rica since 2009 and prior to that served as missionaries to Chile for over 10 years.

Leading up to the conference, Faith Presbyterian is hosting guest pastors such as campus minister Brian Sorgenfrei from Mississippi State University the first weekend in January. This Sunday, Faith Presbyterian will host world missionaries to Southern France.

The conference will begin with a potluck covered dish supper Friday at 5:30 p.m. The public is welcome to participate in any or all of the activities over the weekend. Each night, Massengill said, offerings are collected to cover the cost of a conference project. This year, the project is modeled after a ministry started by Dolly Parton, the Imagination Library.

“The ministry gives newborn children, typically lower income children, a book each month for four years,” Massengill said. “The only cost for the book program is the request that the parent read the book to the child.”

Faith Presbyterian is associated with a ministry in northern Belize that has created a similar program through area churches. In a recent visit, the man in charge of the ministry told the church about the efforts, inspiring this year’s project.

“In these 23 little, country villages — impoverished, with unpaved roads — there are very few if any books in their homes,” Massengill said. “Our project is to raise the money for 1,760 Jesus storybook bibles in both English and Spanish, and we hope to ship those 1,760 bibles so we’re trying to raise about $13,000.”

At the end of the conference, congregation members fill out Faith Promise cards that pledge a certain amount toward missions for the year. Massengill said with those contributions, the church is able to prepare the budget — typically about $120,000 each year.

“It’s a real team effort,” Massengill said of the conference. “It takes the effort of a lot of folks to put it on. It’s a neat thing to have a large number of people involved.”

Faith Presbyterian Church leaders describe it as a missions-minded church that emphasizes missions all during the year. They have outreach locally, ministries throughout Mississippi and the U.S., are involved in campus ministries at several colleges and universities in Mississippi and help support over 25 missionaries worldwide. The members of Faith Presbyterian have taken numerous mission trips through the years.