CANASTOTA, N.Y.—The Empire State Fellowship of Regular Baptist Churches held its Fall Conference Oct. 15 and 16 at Heritage Baptist Church, a church plant of Open Door Baptist Church, New Woodstock, N.Y.
On the morning of the 15th, 90 pastors and wives arrived for a preconference session from noon to 2:00—“an amazing attendance” for that first-time event, says Jeannie Vogel, wife of ESF State Representative Jim Vogel. Jim led a brief seminar titled “6 Simple Concepts for Improving Our Preaching” while Jeannie shared with pastors’ wives on “Embracing Our Humanity.”
At 3:00 Col. John Murdoch, director of Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries, opened the Fall Conference with a worship service; Pastor Ben Phillips of Central Baptist Church, Yorkshire, led music. Chaplain Murdoch was the main speaker for the two-day “God and Country” conference; one of his three sessions focused on chaplaincy.
Other individuals led workshops designed to offer practical help to ministry leaders: “The Secret of Drawing Men to Your Ministry” with Pastor Bruce Scott of First Baptist, West Danby; “Fishing 101: Strategies to Reach Lost Women” with Jeannie Vogel; “Ministering to Youth” with Youth Pastor Curtis Kenyon of West Windsor Baptist, Windsor; “Political Priorities for the Believer” with Jason McGuire of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom; and “Ideas for Strengthening Marriages” with Associate Pastor Mark Hurlbut of Grace Baptist, Batavia. In addition, Jim Vogel taught a “Doctrinal Thinkubator” on the authority of Scripture and preached in the final service, casting his vision for the year ahead.
While attendees received practical help and encouragement, they also received a joyful surprise when they learned that a house had been donated to the ESF on five acres of wooded land. It will be the new home of Jim and Jeannie Vogel and the office of the ESF. The Vogels will move into the home in December, and plans are under way to further develop the property into a ministry center to serve the people of the ESF. The Vogels, new to leading the fellowship after relocating from the Chicago area, have been living in the parsonage of Tuscarora Baptist Church in Addison and sharing office space with the staff at First Baptist Church in Horseheads while waiting on the sale of their former home. Referring to the parsonage and office space, the Vogels say, “We are so thankful for these provisions, which have allowed us to continue our ministry in the midst of our home transition.” They expressed to the ESF their thankfulness for the new house, saying, “We consider it a reflection of the prayers of God’s people regarding our housing, as well as the generosity of an anonymous donor.”