Behind the scenes tasks are crucial to Torrey Conference

Although Torrey Conference only lasts three days, many people pour into the conference over the time leading up to and after it.

Amy Seed, Writer

For many students and faculty, the 75th annual Torrey Conference is more than a three-day event — it is a yearlong commitment.

“Preliminary planning begins right after Torrey ends, so it is one year in the works,” said Victoria Smith, manager of university events for Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). “There are countless hours that go into securing speakers, planning the schedule and logistics.”

Cooperation between on-campus departments

Preparing for the conference involves coordination between various departments on campus including IMC, Student Development, Event Services, chapel programs and the Associated Students Chapel Board.

“The speakers and theme for this year’s conference, ‘Blessed are the Peacemakers: Redeeming Relationships in the Conflicts of our Lives,’ were chosen by dean of Spiritual Development Todd Pickett and director of chapel programs Lisa Ishihara,” said assistant Chapel Board chair Kevin Zimmerman.

Selecting the theme

Pickett and Ishihara were unavailable for comment, but Zimmerman said the theme is not voted on and is instead prayed over, just like all other chapel program decisions.
“Since the conference takes a year to plan and orchestrate, the first decision made by those involved in the planning is the theme and desired speakers,” said Smith.
Along with faculty, students also contribute to planning and executing many aspects of Torrey Conference. The Torrey staff has been working for the past month and a half to carry out the final plans.

Selecting the staff

There were five chapel board members who worked behind the scenes, and each of these members recruited a student as a volunteer to help with planning.

“It’s just another way for students to be plugged in, said Zimmerman. “This is a conference for students, and so it’s a conference that definitely needs to have a student voice and have students plug in to what other students need.”

Students run setting up satellite locations for extra seating, coordinating worship for each session, and overseeing the 24-hour prayer room in the AS conference room and the prayer labyrinth in Rose Lower.

Emphasis on behind the scenes tasks

“Planning a conference of this magnitude requires a lot of effort and logistical planning,” said Sarah Sadler, a senior student intern for Student Development. “A lot of the tasks are behind the scenes.”

Sadler’s responsibilities for the conference include recruiting student volunteers to usher during the sessions and running the book table. Leanna Pelser, also an intern for student development, helped Sadler with these tasks. They will also manage the satellite locations in Sutherland auditorium and Lansing Auditorium, located inside the Crowell music building.

Worship leader Tavia Grubbs served as worship coordinator for Torrey and scheduled worship bands to play during each session. She also ensured that each satellite location will provide live worship, said Zimmerman.

Preparing technologically

Students are also involved in preparations from a technological standpoint. Event Services involves students in the transforming of Chase Gymnasium into a conference setting and making sure all required technology is working properly.

The process of figuring out the design and needed equipment takes a staff of three about 14 hours to complete, prior to actually prepping the gym.

Event Services usually uses a team of eight student employees to set up equipment in the gym the day before the conference starts, but there were nine available to help this year.

“On average, it takes a team of eight people eight hours to completely set up equipment,” said Event Services event coordinator Anthony Melendrez.

The layout is mostly designed by event services after speakers give them an idea of what they want during their particular sessions. The set-up changes from year to year.
“Most of the time, the speakers give us their vision, and we enhance their design,” said Melendrez.

Event Services prepares by rolling out the floor covering, hanging the screens, setting up the lighting and chairs, and testing all the audio equipment. During the conference, they monitor audio and lighting to help the sessions run smoothly.

After Torrey Conference is over, Melendrez said it takes 10 people about four hours to completely tear down the equipment and put it away on Friday night.

“It’s fun to be able to work at it and help in whatever way we can and wherever we can,” said Drew Grace, freshman volunteer with event services. “Even though a lot of it’s behind the scenes, it’s still rewarding.”

Continuing effort beyond the conference

All the efforts done by every staff member and student cannot be named. But behind the scenes of Torrey Conference is a year-long commitment to encouraging Biola community’s spiritual growth.

“It is exciting to see what’s gone on, but it’s more exciting to see how God orchestrates everything and how he’s the one that puts the pieces together,” said Zimmerman. “Torrey Conference really is God’s conference. There’s a lot of details that just fall into place, and that’s pretty cool to see.”

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