By Bishop J. Talmadge Gardner

I was honored to serve Bishop Stuart and Sheri Sherrill and the members of the Heartland Conference as their presiding officer on Saturday, April 28, 2018. The quadrennial conference was hosted at the Heartland Conference Retreat Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. At the start of the conference session, there were 254 registered delegates in attendance in addition to many guests/exhibitors.

Bishop Sherrill opened his State of the Conference Report by stating – “The Heartland Conference is a special family. We rejoice together when one of our members celebrates, and we grieve when one weeps. We help each other and cheer each other on. We are truly better together!”

Bishop Sherrill reported Heartland Conferences’ ministry footprint for the year ending 2017 as follows:

• 76 Member Churches (1 Affiliate Church)
• 5,322 Members
• 5,680 Worship Attendance
• 6 Church Plants

As of this Quadrennial Conference their clergy profile is:

• 150 Ordained Ministers
• 31 Licensed Ministers
• 43 Local Church Minister’s License

The Conference elected the following persons to serve as members of their Conference Executive Council:

  • Conference Superintendent: Bishop Stuart Sherrill (by acclamation)
  • Assistant Conference Superintendent: Rev. Terry Lowder (by acclamation)
  • Conference Secretary/Treasurer: Rev. Debbie Burpo
  • Conference Executive Council Member-at-Large: Rev. Justin Blankenship
  • Conference Executive Council Member-at-Large: Rev. John Leggett
  • Conference Executive Council Member-at-Large: Mr. Daniel Ice
  • Conference Executive Council Member-at-Large: Rev. Hallie Brown
  • Heartland may be the first U.S. conference to elect two ladies as Executive Council members. Praise God. We are making progress.

Clergy credentials were issued as follows:

Ordination (11) –

• Rev. Joaquin Aja
• Rev. Jimmy Bennett
• Rev. Ingrid Deleon
• Rev. Dustin Gardner
• Rev. Luis Guevara
• Rev. Jake Higgins
• Rev. Karla Maldonado
• Rev. Ethan Sellers
• Rev. Eme Tima
• Rev. Michael Whitman
• Rev. Jody Wright

Minister’s License (12) –

• Rev. Cherie Alvarado
• Rev. Hector Alex Arana
• Rev. Erika Arteaga
• Rev. Homero Avalos
• Rev. Robert Belcher
• Rev. Jonathon Carreto
• Rev. Oscar Castro
• Rev. Cenovio Deleon
• Rev. Heber Gonzales
• Rev. Julio Cesar Maldonado
• Rev. Bryan Nix
• Rev. Christopher Rush

The Memoirs Report was presented by video. Rev. Terry Lowder did a masterful job of narrating. The report not only memorialized the life and legacies of the clergy members listed below, it also honored the ministry legacy of former General Superintendent, Bishop James D. Leggett.

• Rev. Lucille Short
• Rev. Dorrance Manning
• Rev. Charles Calvin
• Rev. Marvin Goodpasture
• Rev. Wayne Webb
• Rev. Ernest Johnson
• Rev. Benjamin Parker
• Rev. Dillon Marsh
• Rev. Woodrow Wilson “Woody” Stevens
• Bishop James D. Leggett

It was an honor as the presiding officer to recognize the following conference attendees and guests:

• Mrs. Thelma McDowell, wife of former conference superintendent, Rev. James McDowell. Rev. McDowell also served the general church as a GEB and GBA member
• Rev. Bob & Edith Ely, former conference superintendent, West Oklahoma Conference, GEB & GBA member, and former president of Southwestern Christian University
• Rev. Bobby & Judy Stewart, former conference superintendent, West Oklahoma Conference. Rev. Stewart also served the general church as a GBA member
• Rev. Lynn & Marilyn Ice, former conference superintendent, Ozarks Conference. Rev. Ice also served the general church as a GBA member
• Rev. Charlene West, retired IPHC career missionary to Costa Rica, Venezuela, and Colombia. Rev. West also served as the first director of Intercultural Ministries for the denomination
• Rev. Luis Avila, director of Hispanic Ministries and INCaM, EVUSA, IPHC
• Rev. Johnny Upton, vice president, IPHC Extension Loan Fund
• Chaplain Colonel Jerry L. Jones, U.S. Army Retired, director and endorser for Chaplains Ministries, EVUSA, IPHC
• Rev. Bryan Nix, director of IPHC WMM People to People & TEAMS Ministries
• David & Michelle Riley, recently approved as IPHC missionaries to Africa
• Rev. Ed & Margie Rhodes, retired (but still very active) IPHC career missionaries to Africa
• Rev. Jeff Patterson, director of operations for the Global Ministry Center
• Rev. Steve Ely, former director of Youth Ministry, IPHC
• Rev. Terry Lowder, former assistant director, EVUSA, IPHC
• Rev. David Oxley, former assistant director, Stewardship Ministries, IPHC

Bishop Sherrill and I served together in Church Education/Discipleship Ministries. It is an honor to serve him and with him now on the Council of Bishops. Stuart’s election by acclamation affirms the trust that the delegates of the Heartland Conference have in his vision to move the conference forward. I believe that God will use Stuart and Sheri’s vast deposit and reservoir of experience and impartation to greatly benefit the Heartland Conference in the quadrennium ahead of them.

Stuart and Sheri Sherrill are wonderful people and great gifts to our church family, the IPHC. May the Lord who has ordered Stuart and Sheri’s steps to serve the Heartland Conference for this season now empower them by His Spirit to do so.

Photo Credits: IPHC Communications