PARKERSBURG - Helping the faithful realize their potential as "fisher of men" will be the focus of the annual Parish Faith Missions Conference in Parkersburg April 12-14.
This is the eighth year for the conference with participation from a number of United Methodist churches joining together for a weekend of Missions-focused events.
Participating churches this year include Christ United Methodist Church, St. Andrews United Methodist, Seventh Street United Methodist, Parkview United Methodist, Bethany United Methodist, Red Hill United Methodist, St. Paul's United Methodist and Murphytown United Methodist.
The annual conference will be held April 12-13 at Christ United Methodist Church in Parkersburg and Sunday evening on April 14 at St. Andrews United Methodist Church. Throughout the morning, April 14 missionaries at the conference will be conducting services at the participating churches.
All of the conference events are open to the public.
''The Gospel of Matthew records the inspiring call of the first disciples,'' said Pastor Tom McDowell of both Christ and St. Andrews United Methodist churches. ''In chapter 4:18-20 Jesus said to them, 'Come and follow and I will make you fishers of men.'
''That same call is shared by all of Christendom. The 2013 Mission's Conference theme is 'Making Fishers of Men.' This conference gives each of us an opportunity to become a part of a global partnership to spread the 'Good News' of Jesus Christ to everyone.''
The program will kick off with a drama illustrating the theme of being 'fishers of men,' said Priscilla F. Leavitt of the Parish Faith Missions Committee. Children from the participating churches will also gather and sing a song illustrating the theme as well.
The conference allows people to learn about and put their support behind people who are doing missionary work on a full-time basis.
Guest missionaries who will speak throughout the conference include Don and Chiqui Donaldson who are serving in Guatemala, Larry and Willa Yost who have done missionary work all over the world, Alex and Amanda Parker who have worked with college students in England, Harry and Lydia Boekell of Child Evangelism Fellowship, Shad Martin of Latrobe Street Mission and Anna Gill who will be serving as a young adult missionary through the Missions Intern Program over the next three years with work in Grenada and all over the United States.
''There are over 22 missions we support,'' Leavitt said. ''This is a way people can give to something that is bigger than what we are able to do as individuals and churches.''
The conference is hoping to raise $45,000 to support missionary work.
On Saturday, April 13, at 4 p.m. a free fly fishing class will be presented by Jenny Leavitt and Paula Voldeck. There will also be a fish'n'chips dinner. People will be able to demontrate their skills at 6:15 p.m. to the people who are coming to the evening service. The winning cast will win $100 to support one of the 22 missionary works supported by the conference.
Part of the Missions Conference is a special teen event where the entire District of United Methodist youth will gather at Christ church at 4:30 p.m. Sunday for two hours of interacting with all the missionaries - games, singing, food, etc. Christian comedian Hoss Ridgeway and Don Donaldson, who is also a chalk artist, will be featured. Any teen is welcome.
''We invite you to join with your fellow fishermen and make possible the continued work of God's people to take the message of the Gospel to all corners of the earth,'' McDowell said.
For more information, call 304-422-3016.