Calvary Servants’ Conference 2021

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Kansas Calvary Chapels Enjoy Joyful Fellowship in June

Story by Patrick Farrell
Photos by Susan Smouse

“We’re back!” declared Joe Crowley, senior pastor of Grace Calvary Fellowship, a Calvary Chapel in Wellington, KS, and host of this year’s Calvary Servants’ Conference in Kansas.

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Pastors pray for the return of prodigals at the one-day 2021 Calvary Servants’ Conference held in June at Grace Calvary Fellowship in Wellington, KS.

One of the Calvary Chapel movement’s first church planters, Joe and his wife traveled back from an early pastors’ conference in 1974 to begin a Bible study that soon became Calvary Chapel Ark City, KS. From those early roots, the Lord eventually brought forth numerous new works in the area, including churches in Wellington, Emporia, and Elk Falls. Together with Calvary Chapel Wichita, planted in 1981 out of Calvary Chapel West Covina, CA, the fellowships gather each year to renew friendships, celebrate God’s faithfulness, and dig deep into His Word.

 

The Book of Joy

The year’s June 5 conference in Wellington, appropriately titled The Book of Joy, featured the senior pastors from participating churches teaching through the book of Philippians. They included Steve Bliss, pastor of Calvary Chapel Elk Falls; Brad Bowen, pastor of Calvary Chapel Emporia; Patrick Farrell, pastor of CC Wichita; Rick Hawkins, who has served various area Calvary Chapels since 1974; and Ryan Nichols, pastor of CC Ark City, KS.

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Joe Crowley (left), senior pastor of Grace Calvary Fellowship in Wellington, KS, and Brad Bowen, senior pastor of Calvary Chapel Emporia, KS, pray after a teaching on Philippians Chapter 2.

“From the moment I began praying about this year’s gathering, the Lord laid the apostle Paul’s prison epistle to the Philippians on my heart,” exclaimed Pastor Joe as he opened the conference. “And I’m so glad he did. After the year we’ve all had, we need to remember God’s promises—and God’s joy!”

2021 began with tears for Pastor Joe and his wife Jean, as their adult son Jalon died unexpectedly from COVID–19. Joe declared, “We didn’t think he’d get to heaven before us. But that doesn’t change where he is. Or where we’re going. Or what we’re called to do in the meantime. In Jesus’ presence is fullness of joy. We just keep clinging to that and keep trying to round up as many people as we can to go spend eternity with Jesus and with our son Jalon and eventually with us.”

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Pastor Ryan Nichols of Calvary Chapel Ark City, KS, teaches on Philippians Chapter 4.

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Pastor Steve Bliss of Calvary Chapel Elk Falls, KS, teaches on Philippians Chapter 1.

Family Reunions

These gatherings become family reunions. In 1976, for example, Robbie Nichols left CC Costa Mesa, CA, and began attending Calvary Chapel Ark City. At the church’s next baptism, he met Joe’s sister-in-law, Diane. Before long they were married, Robbie was ordained, and the two began four decades of ministry not only at CC Ark City but Calvary Chapel Johnson County (KS), Calvary Chapel Wellington, and CC Wichita before coming full circle in 2019 back to Ark City to assist the church’s current pastor—their son, Ryan.

“Joe played a big part in my ministry journey,” related Pastor Ryan. “Coming back from Calvary Chapel Bible College, in 2001 I went through a phase of not having a lot of confidence in my gifting. In the middle of that confusion, and probably knowing full well where I was at, Joe called me up and asked me to teach for him on a Sunday morning. Looking back, that was really a turning point. That weekend did a lot to confirm God’s calling on my life.”

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Old friends catch up with each other. Joe Crowley is flanked by Robbie and Diane Nichols. Robbie and Diane served with Joe for many years, originally at CC Ark City, KS, and later at CC Wellington. They now assist their son Ryan, the senior pastor of CC Ark City, the church Joe planted in 1974.

Although the annual Calvary Servants’ Conference lasts only a single day, the relationships it fosters among the churches continue to enrich the body of Christ throughout the year. The month before the Book of Joy gathering, for example, area Calvary Chapels gathered in Wichita for a daylong men’s retreat. Only a week afterwards, Calvary Chapel Emporia hosted a regional prophecy conference. And just a month later, CC Wichita youth served at Ark City’s VBS, while CC Ark City’s teens joined CC Wichita for their summer youth camp the very next week.

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A small group from CC Wichita, KS, plan a summer youth project with Pastor Joe (center). Left to right are Ann Farrell, wife of Senior Pastor Patrick Farrell; Juan Juarez, youth pastor; Pastor Joe; his wife Jean Crowley; and Rob Young, assistant pastor.

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Rick Hawkins, who has served various area Calvary Chapels since 1974, shares a prophecy update.

First-time participant Dakoda Smith reflected, “Ever since I’ve been saved, I’ve been hearing that [the] Calvary [Chapel movement] is about relationships. It’s so cool to see that concept come to life in an event like this where literally four generations of disciples are together in one place. As probably one of the youngest people here, today really reminds me of the opportunity God has given us to learn from those He called before us and the responsibility we have to pour into those who will follow us.”

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Graysen and Hector Villaseñor of CC Wichita lead worship for the conference, along with Juan Juarez (not pictured).

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Patrick Farrell, senior pastor of CC Wichita, worships at the conference.

 

All verses above are quoted from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

© 2021 Calvary Chapel Magazine (CCM). All rights reserved. Articles or photographs may not be reproduced without the written permission of CCM. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.® Used by permission.

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