In the Crowne Centre during a mid-morning service, audiences listened intently to the oratorical and rhetorical delivery of Dr. Raymond Barber. The seasoned statesman with over 70 years of ministry experience directed listeners to a Scripture passage, only to pause and remind them of a powerful truth. “Oh, did I mention? When you open the Bible, you open the mind of God,” he said, flipping to his sermon text. “Let’s see what He’s thinking about.”
For a few days, classes at the College were put on pause, and during that time, students focused their attention wholly on God’s Word during PCC’s 47th Bible Conference. Services were offered at early and late options to allow for social distancing, with the student body still enjoying the special sense of camaraderie commonly shared with the conference.
“I like that [Bible Conference] draws you away from being so focused on school and it reconnects the whole school together as an assembly, a body of Christ,” said Keirstin Turnquist (So., WI). “It’s a time of fellowship. It really impacts your hearts and your minds, and I just love that so much.”
Bible Conference, an anticipated spring event, has historically been a time of spiritual rest, reassurance, and refinement defined by powerful messages and heartfelt congregational and special music. “A large part of the PCC experience is chapel four times a week and church services,” said Dr. Troy Shoemaker, president of the College. “They’re part of our routine. There’s something about Bible Conference. Something unique and spiritually edifying when you come away from your studies like we’re doing for the next two days and look wholly at what God has to say through the preaching of His Word.”
This year, Bible Conference welcomed guest speakers Dr. Rusty Smith of Mikado Baptist Church (GA), Dr. Johnny Pope of Christchurch Baptist Fellowship (TX), and Dr. Raymond Barber of Worth Baptist Church (TX). The conference also included messages from Dr. Tim Zacharias, assistant pastor of Campus Church, and Dr. Jeff Amsbaugh, a PCC and PTS faculty member. Throughout the conference, their messages highlighted the importance of prayer, the sting of bitterness, Jesus as the fulfillment of the law, God’s goodness, and the power of God’s Word.
During the conference, Marie Michael (Fr., VA) took away the importance of staying in the Bible as an overarching theme of the conference. “It’s a good time to set apart and rededicate your semester to God, even though it’s [only] one month into the semester, just to recalibrate and refocus,” she said.
Kai Bland (FL), a junior who transferred to the College this past fall, enjoyed sitting under familiar speakers, catching up on class assignments, and spending downtime with friends. “It’s like a break. Some people have a couple tests or projects this week, so it’s a break from all of that and having time to focus on God,” he said. “I’ve known [Dr. Pope] from Teen Extreme. Listening to him officially as a student here is super nice.”
Students also enjoyed times of recreation at the Bible Conference Picnic, a tradition best enjoyed in beautiful weather, during scheduled split times on Tuesday and Wednesday. Following the theme “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” students enjoyed a socially distanced outdoor experience where they were catching bags of peanuts tossed by roaming attendants and hearing the brass chamber ensemble play nostalgic songs like “Go, Cubs, Go.” Across Eagle Field, they found booths set up with various games like cap toss, base hits, and plinko, and fan-favorite foods like hot dogs and ice cream. Some dared to try their hand at strongman, while others enjoyed a leisurely trolley ride around campus.
“I am so thankful that PCC hosts the Bible Conference and the picnic,” said Taylor DiPaola (Sr., VA). “Bible Conference is such a joy to my soul, and it uplifts the mindsets of all on campus. The picnic is a sweet reminder to appreciate God’s blessings, enjoy fellowship with friends, and take a rest from the busy semester schedule. The atmosphere felt like a warm spring day full of nostalgia and fun. Enjoying the breezy day on Eagle Field and on the hay ride around campus helped me relax and appreciate Bible Conference even more.”
After Bible Conference concluded, students finished the shortened week of classes, returning to their familiar semester routines with renewed perspectives and personal goals.