Torrey Conference 2022: “The Way”

“The Way” shows a path of suffering into alignment with God.


The first session for Torrey Conference kicked off with on-campus dance group “The Usual Suspects Crew,” spinning across the stage alongside a spoken word performance by senior English and commercial music major Evan Dickerson. The contemporary dance group set the stage for the conference’s theme, later announced by the video titled: “The Way.” The video darkened the entrance of “For All Seasons”’ set, the official band leading worship for the conference. 

After the worship ended, Torrey conference emcees senior interdisciplinary major Hannah Fodera and senior public relations major Michael McKay introduced and announced the events of the day, including a reference to the Mandolorian. Landon White, Worship and Formation Coordinator, sat in the bleachers with a Mandalorian mask, interacting with the emcees as cameras panned on him. 

Associate professor of Old Testament Carmen Imes delivered the message titled, “Finding our way in the Shadow of Disneyland,” a sermon centered on analyzing the effects of the culture of media and entertainment on Biolans’ spiritual walks. She challenged students to ascribe to a counter-cultural message of accepting suffering as part of a Christian’s resurrection. She then asked students to analyze and understand their spiritual habits or disciplines: rituals that encourage a deeper walk with God. To close, the worship band played “Build My Life” and Fodera and McKay announced the rest of the day’s events. 


The worship band “For All Seasons” opened the Wednesday evening session of Torrey conference with “All Hail King Jesus” and “Bigger Than.” During the set, band member Emily Hamilton explained that since God is bigger than any dream students have, they can surrender to him and trust his leading. 

After worship ended, Australian evangelist and speaker Christine Caine gave the night’s message. Caine, born to Greek immigrants who lived in Sydney, Australia, shared that she came from a marginalized community and was ostracized at school and sexually abused throughout her childhood. 

However, Caine pointed to the transforming love of Christ as the balm that healed her pain and inspired her to rescue those still trapped in environments of slavery and abuse. Caine explained that she founded a company, A21, to end the cycle of human trafficking and exploitation.

For the remainder of her message, Caine encouraged students to develop the spiritual practices of prayer, fasting, Bible reading and regular church attendance to foster intimacy with God. If believers do not intentionally participate in these practices, Caine warned, they will drift away from Christ and conform to the pattern of this world. Caine cautioned the audience against finding their identity in a falsely-curated social media image and reminded listeners to seek validation from God rather than man.


In the morning, crowds gathered for the third time in Chase gymnasium and overflow sections around campus. After “For All Seasons” again opened the morning session with worship, the student emcees joined the band on stage to explain the logo of the conference: it represents the three themes for the conference: suffering, story and spiritual discipline. The logo is a combination of three colored spheres inside of a door.  

This session, titled “Story Slam,” invited speakers from Biola as well as from other parts of the world to explain how God has worked in their lives. After each story, alumnus Sam Vance played an interpretive piano piece while Brian Petersen, founder of Faces of Santa Ana, worked on a painting in the background. 

Each story held unique power, covering themes of suffering, healing and miraculous resurrection. Petersen ended the session by telling a story about a person experiencing homelessness that he was currently working with, using his piece as a backdrop. He later explained the painting—an eagle in its molting process surrounded by butterflies—represented the transition and vulnerability that Christians experience as their stories unfold. 


As the sun set on Thursday Oct. 6, Biola students flooded Chase Gymnasium for the final night session of Torrey conference 2022. Torrey finally returned to its normal venue; last year, the conference took place in Metzger Lawn at a minimized scale. As the students found their seats, the energy in the building was palpable.

Before the speaker took the stage, three notable moments occurred. First, MCs Michael McKay and Hannah Fodera directed the crowd’s attention to two students who shared their most memorable moments from the conference. Then, they gave away six free shirts to random students in the crowd and showed a few sent-in BeReals from the conference. These opening moments rallied the crowd and amplified the atmosphere.

Carmen Imes returned to the stage to deliver her message, which centered on Philippians 3:7-14. The message addressed the importance of suffering, a tool that God uses to draw his people to himself. Imes focused mainly on Paul, who suffered in jail for God’s sake, and brought lost souls home to the kingdom as a result. Besides Paul, Imes spoke about St. Augustine, St. Gertrude and Moses. She exhorted the audience to prioritize God in all decisions. At this, students wrote prayer requests on the index cards as For All Seasons closed out in an extended period of worship.


On Friday morning, the last session of the 2022 annual Torrey conference invited reflection and prayer. Campus pastor Todd Pickett opened with a summation of the messages received over the week, then invited a praise and worship team to sing two songs. After the songs, Pickett encouraged students to share their experiences of the conference. 

Biolans discussed their anxiety turning to peace as well as the beauty of healing and reflection as students internalized the messages relating to spiritual discipline and suffering. Ending with a quiet song, the session was dismissed early and students left silently. During the week, it was evident through the stories told that there was a quiet and contemplative sense of God’s presence.  

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