Foursquare Connection 2016 embraced all that the Aloha State had to offer during the annual event that took place May 30–June 2 at the Hawai’i Convention Center in Honolulu.
Nearly 3,000 people, including nearly 300 kids, came from 49 states and 51 countries for four days of learning, worship, teaching and connecting.
The event opened with the first-ever ‘Ohana Dinner where 2,500 pastors, leaders and students connected with other leaders in their districts over traditional Hawaiian food. The well-fed group was then both entertained and moved by Polynesian-style dancing that told the story of Christianity coming to the islands.
The theme of “Empowered” was woven throughout the four-day event. Local Hawaiian speaker Sheldon Lacsina, lead pastor of New Hope Hilo Hawaii (Hilo Foursquare Church), noted that every single person has something to bring to the table: “If you want to courageously face the future, you have to courageously face today,” he said.
Randy Remington, senior pastor of Beaverton Foursquare Church in Beaverton, Ore., brilliantly addressed penetrating the darkness with the light. “Before the light can shine through us, the light has to shine in us,” he asserted. Randy also recalled one of Pastor Jack Hayford’s teachings: “Our praise and worship is an act of warfare against the enemy. That you are free from attack … because you are on the attack.”
Aussie turned New Yorker Jon Tyson, who received much applause throughout his talk, wove his inspirational and practical story of church planting throughout New York City boroughs, looking to Barnabas and Saul’s journey of trials and boldness in Acts. Jon ended with a call and challenge for Foursquare to plant churches in the city centers of the world, supporting the Global Cities strategy, but noting that while the Foursquare Gospel has spread far and wide, the denomination is “under represented” in major cities.
“I’ve really been struck by the prayer of Acts 4:30 that Jon Tyson brought us to on Tuesday night,” said Senior Pastor Paul Harmon, who was attending from Hope Chapel (Huntington Beach Foursquare Church) in Huntington Beach, Calif., with his wife, Assisting Minister Ainsley Harmon. “I’ll certainly be returning with the petition that God would stretch out His hand on us.”
In the final session, Author Margaret Feinberg not only inspired the audience, she put a smile on their faces with her transparent message of fighting back with joy. “I don’t know what you came to Connection facing,” she concluded, “but, your heavenly Father wants to speak to you. And one word from Him can change everything.”
On the Main Stage
Worship was also a reminder of how the Holy Spirit has already “Empowered” His people. Tiffany Thurston led a team of local Hawaiians each morning; the group then came together with recording artist Anthony Evans for powerful evening worship.
Several prophetic words were given throughout the event, including Lead Pastor Mark Warren from Grace Capital (Pembroke Foursquare Church) in Pembroke, N.H., who was led to share “it’s one thing to sing about His miraculous power, but it’s better to believe in His miraculous power,” then called on anyone who had cancer to ask for full healing. The prophetic words that were given can be viewed online.
“We have seen how the Holy Spirit has been bringing our family back to His purpose in preparation for revival and the harvest that is to come,” said United Kingdom National Leader Surekha Hulugalle, who attended convention with his wife, Chrishani.
TED-style QuickTalks also brought bursts of inspiration and a glimpse of how local pastors and missionaries have been empowered. A chaplain responder, Foursquare Missionary Teresa Koop had to put her chaplain-response training to practice in her own life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She honestly and boldly shared how she didn’t understand why God didn’t heal her when she prayed and followed all the right steps, but ultimately learned “there are treasures to be found in darkness.”
As in recent years at convention, the Foursquare Missions International (FMI) offering continued to work its way through the MENACA region. While specific details of previous offerings haven’t been able to be shared due to local security risks, Kazakhstan has the unique privilege of being a nation that is still open to the gospel.
FMI Director Jim Scott excitedly called the Foursquare family to contribute toward the building of a new ministry center in Kazakhstan, which has the potential to reach 68 million people. He noted that, just as the countries surrounding Kazakhstan are closed, they expect the country will not remain open much longer, so this is a rare opportunity to contribute while we can still access the nation. “Let’s do something historic that will change a nation and, we believe, a region,” Jim encouraged.
Celebrate + Learn
Additional celebrations happened throughout the week, including “Ascending Night,” when President Glenn Burris Jr. and General Supervisor Tammy Dunahoo celebrated church planters and missionary candidates. Turkey National Leader Ihsan Ozbek received the Empowered Award for his work with caring for refugees, and through a special video, it was announced that Pastor Jack Hayford’s entire library will be available to all credentialed ministers in a digital format by the end of the year.
Additional events happened offstage throughout the afternoon on Tuesday and Wednesday, including the annual Conexión Hispana event that celebrates all that God is doing through the growing Hispanic movement in Foursquare. District Supervisor Fernando Castillo brought a profound message on the anointing that comes from being pressed on both sides, while a team from Dios Restaura (Glendale Hispanic 2 Foursquare Church) from Glendale, Calif., led worship. The event, which gathered more than 225 people, was in Spanish, but English translation was available.
Training Sessions on Wednesday afternoon allowed attendees to go deeper on topics such as how to introduce the Holy Spirit to congregations, with Pastor Daniel A. Brown, Ph.D., and how to engage post-Christian culture, with mainstage speaker Jon Tyson.
Amidst learning and connecting, important business was also accomplished. The National Church Office (NCO) gave full reports and updates on the three missional objectives—leadership formation, church and congregation multiplication, and church transformation. NCO also took time to honor longtime C.A.R.E. director Chuck Shoemake, who recently raised up Paul Kuzma as a successor for the role of director of Center for Spiritual Renewal—East.
The proposed bylaw amendments were explained on Tuesday, and time was given for questions and clarification. They were discussed further at the Q&A time with the Foursquare board of directors on Wednesday morning. Then, in Thursday morning’s business session, the convention deliberated in preparation for their vote. Glenn noted: “This is less about a business decision and more an intensely missional alignment. Every decision we make should be about keeping the door open for whoever would come to be a part of [Foursquare].”
The bylaw proposals all passed, and an updated version of the bylaws will be posted soon. Full business wrap-ups will be available by the end of June at foursquare.org/business.
Even through some technical difficulties due to Internet constraints at the Hawai’i Convention Center, 20,000 people watched Connection Live in 69 countries. Due to the technical difficulties, live streaming of all sessions has been extended through Sunday, June 12. In addition, daily video wrap-ups can also be viewed.
Foursquare Connection 2017 will be held in Washington, D.C., starting on May 29. Information will be sent out to all credentialed ministers later this year on speakers, special hotel rates and details.
Main session speakers, QuickTalks and trainings can be purchased as digital downloads for $99, and will be available to view within four weeks after the conclusion of convention.