Students had the opportunity to attend an increased number of breakout sessions to hear about “Pneuma” at the 82nd Torrey Memorial Bible Conference on Oct. 11.
need for transformation through the Holy Spirit
Additional seating under a tent near Fluor Fountain allowed for the removal of the main morning session, present in previous years, thus giving students a break from the heat. In place of the main session, the conference offered four breakout session times on Wednesday, rather than the previous three. Coordinators briefly planned to use a ticketing system, but decided against it, believing students would have difficulty adjusting to the change, according to Torrey coordinator and senior intercultural studies major Kayla Bumpass.
While many students appreciated the diversity of views the breakout sessions offered, junior psychology major Daniel Solorzano missed beginning the day on the lawn.
“I enjoy all the breakout sessions because it’s a lot of variety, but because of the limited time that we have, it can be kind of stressful and a little tiring. I actually enjoyed the morning session we had last year because it was kind of like a good way to start my day,” Solorzano said.
During the Wednesday evening session on Metzger Lawn, associate senior pastor of New Life Church Glenn Packiam delivered the message, reminding audience members of their need for transformation through the Holy Spirit.
“It’s vital for all Christians, but I think even as young people―we’re entering into the world and we’ve got a lot of questions, maybe fears. And the Holy Spirit, [to] understand that he’s the companion with us, the comforter with us, the power of God with us, it can be a real source of strength,” Packiam said.
Sophomore environmental science major Jessica Callen enjoyed this year’s theme more than the previous year, which discussed the topic of shame.
“I really like this theme a lot better. I think it’s more relatable and something that everyone can feel very strongly about,” Callen said. “As a Christian community, we need to focus more on the Holy Spirit.”
Learning about the spirit through experience
Marcia Clarke, affiliate assistant professor of practical theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, shared the experiences she had as a missionary in Ghana and how the Holy Spirit has empowered women throughout history in the breakout session titled “I feel the Spirit: Pentecostal Spirituality in Black-British Female Experience.”
“I learned that part of learning about the Holy Spirit is not just an intellectual thing, but something you learn about him through experience, and I thought that it was beautiful to see that in the stories,” said Becka Stewart, freshman intercultural studies major.
During the first break between sessions, director of the Center for the Study of the Work and Ministry of the Holy Spirit Today Oscar Merlo hosted a luncheon, where he discussed the subject of spiritual warfare with dean of Talbot School of Theology Clinton Arnold. Senior journalism major Dayna Bayne believes the session carried both personal and communal importance.
“Almost a year and a half ago, I experienced spiritual warfare for the first time. And so I really wanted to hear and see what they were saying. And then, I do think it is something that’s, I guess, under-taught or kind of pushed to the side, so I think it’s cool that they’re opening this center,” Bayne said.
Despite the loss of the morning session, assistant professor at Talbot School of Theology Leon Harris, who led the breakout titled “Holy Spirit as Perfector of Koinonia: A Theological Account of Ecclesiology,” believes the conference builds relationships, which the Holy Spirit restores.
“I think my favorite part so far is every session we have students who normally wouldn’t hang out together. I love that you have different grades, different disciplines coming together. For me this shows a glimpse of this koinonia―that we’re all different, and have different goals and purposes, yet we come together in fellowship and we learn together,” Harris said.