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Sesquicentennial venue divinely provided

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“If God met our needs in this magnificent way a year and a half out,” says Canadian conference event planner Michelle Penner, “we’re excited about what will happen as we gather together [in July for Celebration 2010].” The planning team includes Canadian conference executive director David Wiebe, communications director Cam Rowland, Penner, USMB executive director Ed Boschman, USMB administrative secretary Donna Sullivan Penner.

The team travelled to B.C.’s Lower Mainland in February 2009 to find a venue for the binational gathering. They urgently needed to secure a location so they could start planning other facets of the event, and earlier plans had fallen through.

Prayer, Penner says, was their first response. “‘No’ is a great answer,” she admits, “because it’s often a catalyst to finding the thing that is right for you.”

Church administrative staff at B.C.’s ChurchWorks conference had provided some leads but the only place that responded was the Chandos Pattison Auditorium on the campus of Pentecostal school Pacific Academy in Surrey, B.C. “Is this just an appointment, or a divine appointment?” Penner wondered. She’s convinced it was the latter.

“We were blown away by the facility,” she says – and when they heard the affordable price, “we were doing the happy dance.” But the clincher was yet to come.

As the planning team was leaving, the facility manger said, “Just one last thing…all the rental income goes overseas to support education, food, health care, and clean water for children.”

“We all sat with our jaws hitting the ground after hearing that,” says Penner.

Long before Celebration 2010, Penner is celebrating how God is providing for the conference. “God’s faithfulness in this event is similar to his faithfulness to us over the last 150 years. Our goal is to create a space where community can happen, and God can speak – and God has provided that place.”

—Karla Braun

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