Christian Chronicle

The happiest place on earth?

In Disney World’s shadow, Equip Conference brings together pandemic-weary Churches of Christ.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

ORLANDO, Fla. — Mickey Mouse may be the big draw for millions of tourists who flock to Central Florida each year.

But for the roughly 1,000 Christians meeting at an Orlando hotel this weekend, the chance — at long last — to sing, pray and mingle with fellow believers beats Walt Disney World.

After over a year of virtual services and social distancing, the Equip Conference, a regional gathering of members of Churches of Christ, is abuzz with handshakes, hugs and happy reunions.

“I hope this is the next chapter to normality, you know what I’m saying?” said Brandon Smith, a worship leader for the Fifth Avenue Church of Christ in St. Petersburg, Fla. “This is awesome.”

For nearly four decades, Equip — formerly known as the Spiritual Growth Workshop — has helped strengthen ties among church members in Florida and beyond.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biennial event moved online last summer, featuring a shortened, two-night program on racial reconciliation. The success of the coronavirus vaccines allowed the in-person conference to return.

“It was a great, great event online, but we are thrilled to be back together,” said Larry Cline, a former University of Florida football player who directs Equip. “It’s so much better.”

Read the full story.

This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

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