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Focus on ministering victoriously: Church Refreshed 2023

Bishop Dale C. Bronner, senior pastor of Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral in Austell, Georgia speaks on "Victory in Everyday Living."

February 1, 2023

By Bob Holmes

Columbia International University’s annual Church Refreshed conference began in 2021, as a way to encourage regional churches struggling to find their footing in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Three years later, the conference emphasis was on living victoriously and leading congregations through the changes and adjustments the pandemic left behind.

Over 200 church leaders attended the two-day 2023 conference. The event was a part of CIU’s 100th anniversary celebration offering pastors and staff members encouragement and resources to overcome fear, reignite their faith and confidently focus on the future.      

Among the plenary speakers was Bishop Michael Blue, the senior pastor of  The Door of Hope Christian Church in Marion, S.C., and the chief presiding prelate of the Christian Covenant Fellowship of Ministries. In a fiery message he encouraged fellow pastors not to go back to outdated pre-pandemic approaches.

“As we endeavor to refresh the church, I want to encourage you not to apologize for innovation, I don’t want you to apologize for doing things differently. I don’t want you to apologize for the fact that some of what existed pre-COVID is now reconstituted,” Blue exclaimed from the stage of Shortess Chapel. “Some of those things should have died a long time ago.”

Attendee Eric Rush, senor pastor Bible Way Church of Sumter, noted the positive church changes that came from COVID, saying, “we are confident and seeking God for ways we can better connect with people digitally.”

Sitting near Rush was 2016 CIU alumnus Ethan Brown, senior pastor of Stephen Greene Baptist Church in Winnsboro who has attended all three Church Refreshed conferences and appreciates the fellowship the conference offers.

“To be around everybody, to learn from other people, to know everybody cares — that is refreshing in and of itself,” Brown said with a big smile.

The event organizer each year is CIU Dean of Students and Campus Unity Dr. Andre Rogers. Looking around the Chapel, he noted the energy in the room and the reaction to a concert by local church choirs on the evening of day one.

“We had a time where the heavens opened, and the Lord really blessed us,” Rogers said of the concert.          

As the conference ended, CIU alumnus Dr. Clarke McGriff, who has been in ministry for 44 years as an army chaplain and now as a local pastor, was glowing about Church Refreshed and his CIU education.

“Great, great school,” said McGriff who earned his CIU Doctor of Ministry degree in 2019. “And I love (Church Refreshed). This was my third year.”

CIU is celebrating 100 years of its mission to “educate people from a biblical worldview to impact the nations with the message of Christ." The university consistently ranks among the Top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News & World Report, as well as a Best Value Regional University in the South. Apply now or request information on enrollment by contacting Admissions at (803) 807-5024 or          

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