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“This is going to be a week to remember!”

With that declaration Angie Richey, the evening’s co-emcee and co-pastor of The Gathering (Santa Clarita South Foursquare Simple Church Network) in Canyon Country, Calif., kicked off the first session of Foursquare Connection 2012: Speak—Reclaim Our Voice.

More than 3,500 delegates from across the U.S. and around the world, including record numbers of under-35 leaders, gathered Monday night at the Phoenix Convention Center, eagerly anticipating a week of renewal, refreshment and connection with friends old and new.

In observance of Memorial Day, co-emcee Marcus Ellington, senior pastor of Lighthouse (San Clemente Foursquare Church) in San Clemente, Calif., introduced Foursquare Chaplain Lt. Col. Warren Watties, who led the gathering in prayer, referencing the men and women who have given their lives in service to their country.

Singer, songwriter and recording artist Matt Redman led several worship sets interspersed throughout the evening session, including a particularly stirring rendition of “All to Us.”

Between worship sets, Foursquare President Glenn Burris Jr. and his wife, Debbie, greeted the delegates, challenging them with a thought-provoking quotation—”The blueprint for the next 100 years is found in the first 10″—and a reminder that Foursquare “began as a single church with a global mission and has become a global church with a single mission.”

The dozens of Foursquare national leaders in attendance—representing The Foursquare Church on six continents—were introduced and honored, along with past and present missionaries. Matthew Barnett, senior pastor of Angelus Temple and the Dream Center in Los Angeles, then introduced his father, Tommy Barnett, senior pastor of Phoenix First Assembly of God. The elder Barnett officially welcomed Connection 2012 registrants to the city of Phoenix, noting “I’ve got a Foursquare heart.”

In a one-on-one interview conducted by Angie Richey, veteran church planter Ralph Moore, senior pastor of Hope Chapel Kaneohe Bay (Windward Oahu Foursquare Church) in Hawaii, stressed the importance of making disciples, emphasizing that it is crucial to regaining our voice as a movement and noting, “It’s as easy as a cup of coffee and a book that you read together.”

That dialogue segued into an engaging, inspirational presentation by church planter and author Wayne Cordeiro, senior pastor of New Hope (Oahu South Foursquare Church) in Honolulu, who told listeners, “Reclaiming our voice is knowing the difference between what must never change and what must change.”

Using the iPhone assistant Siri as an illustration, he stressed the importance of knowing what your assignment is, knowing who made you, and knowing what things are outside your scope of action.

“Renewal isn’t that we change our core values—it’s that we redesign an operating system to deliver afresh what we’ve always believed,” Wayne explained. “We have good orthodoxy; we must have equally good orthopraxy.”

Noting that the penalty for non-renewal is extinction, he encouraged everyone to not be stopped by fear of change, reluctance or procrastination, but instead to see renewal as an adventure.

The evening concluded with Wayne anointing eight Foursquare leaders with oil, then sending them into the audience to anoint others who would, in turn, anoint those around them. In just a few minutes, everyone in the packed-out room had been anointed—a tangible illustration of Wayne’s closing appeal for each Foursquare leader and church to engage in intentional discipleship and church planting that will multiply with exponential results.

The evening concluded with folks visting the Connection Center, the all-new exhibit hall that includes live music, food and games. In addition, Wayne Cordeiro hosted a standing-room-only session for leaders 35 and under. New this year, the Mentoring Young Leaders session included a Q&A time, and was focused on a respected Foursquare leader pouring into the next generation of leaders.

Read More About Connection 2012

Day 2: Celebrating Young Leaders and Focusing on Evangelism

Day 3: Youth and International Focus; Hundreds Gather for Conexión Hispana

Day 4: Connection 2012 Concludes With Commitment to Reclaiming Our Voice in This Generation

Final Wrap-Up: Foursquare Looks to the Future During Connection 2012

Order the Connection 2012 Experience Kit

Learn What Happened at the Global Summit

By: Beth Mead, a Foursquare credentialed minister who serves in the National Church Office

is a freelance writer living in Long Beach, Calif.