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Pastor Lyddale Akins, pastor of Triumphant Life Church of Asbury Park, N.J., conducts a workshop about Developing A Media Presence at Rauch Network of Churches Conference. The conference was held at Triumphant Life Church on March 21. —TRIBUNE PHOTO BY ROBERT MENDELSOHN

Bishop John Francis of the United Kingdom, the international director of the Ruach Network of Churches in Europe and the United States, made an appearance before a gathering of more than 1,000 people in West Oak Lane on March 21.

Francis was the headliner of a one-day conference held at the True United Church, 6201 Old York Road.

The event featured many workshops that drew evangelical Christians from as far away Westchester County and Brooklyn, New York and Prince George’s County, Maryland. Naturally, the True United Church under the direction of Bishop Shawn Bartley, had among the strongest showing of the audience.

Among the speakers was Pastor Lyddale Akins of Triumph Life Church in Asbury Park, N.J. Several pastors, including Francis, attended his workshop on “Developing a Media Presence.”

In the ministry wing he gave an overview of using social media tools to grow, finance and nurture one’s church including givelify, mannagiving, and mannamobile apps.

“This showed me how I can use Facebook and other social media platforms from different angles,” said Bishop C. Eugene Sermons of North Philadelphia who was seeking ways to increase church membership. “I have been following Bishop Francis for 10 years and I am only 30 now. This was a great discussion about how to learn new ways to access people where they are in this culture. I agree that church is both a spiritual place and a business.”

Pastor Edmond Campbell, of the New Life Ministry in Brooklyn, N.Y., said he attends many conferences that Francis has coordinated. As a more seasoned pastor he said that learning new media tools was useful. “My church has been coming to Philadelphia for these conferences because we get the right word at the right time,” Campbell said.

Other highlights of the day’s program was the leadership workshop with Overseer Peter Edmund from the Timbre Church International in Largo, Md., Pastor Joan Whittaker gave the workshop on “The Power of the Voice.” She is from the Horac Ministries at the House of Refuge Apostolic Church in Ossining, N.Y. There were also works on marriage, audiovisuals, developing manhood, and a youth rap session.

In his midday luncheon remarks, Francis energized the crowd gathered in the church’s lower level. “Everyone needs a Judas in your life,” Francis said. “Jesus was eating with someone who was trying to betray him. Jesus was an incredible person sitting with Judas. He knew what Judas planned to do. The greatness of a person sitting and eating with your enemy.

“The enemy knew that he was your enemy but he didn’t know that you knew. [So] Jesus ate with him, smiled with him, talking to him and Jesus even let him hold the money…put him in charge of the money.”

The British bishop pointed out that without the betrayal, there would be no cross, resurrection or salvation. He drew spontaneous applause and scattered standing ovations as his remarks reached a crescendo. “God can use certain people in your life [to move his agenda] so sometimes that enemy it is a gift,” Francis said.

Francis has been senior pastor of Ruach City Church in London since June 7, 1998. What started as a fellowship of 18 charter members has grown into a church with six locations and a network of more than 50 churches globally. The churches are located in England in Brixton, North London’s Kilburn, East London’s Walthamstow, Leicester and Birmingham as well as locally in Philadelphia. The churches have a combined active membership of more than 6,000, according to Francis.

The Ruach City Church Choir recorded on Donnie McClurkin’s “Live in London” which has reached platinum. The network held its “Order My Steps Conference” with tours in Germany, Jamaica, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Florida as well as Philadelphia last year. They are planning another series of conferences with a stop in Philadelphia this summer.

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