200 attend House of Peace Worship Church leadership conference

Published 4:31 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023

The House of Peace Worship Church International was the setting Friday and Saturday for a weekend program of prayer and instruction as area pastors, ministers and residents from the surrounding area met for the church’s eighth annual Pastors, Ministers & Leadership Conference.

House of Peace pastor the Rev. Linda Sweezer-Rowster estimated 200 people attended the conference, which was also streamed through the internet to people who registered virtually for the conference. Sweezer-Rowster said the idea for the conference was “the inclination of the Holy Spirit. I started thinking about how pastors and ministers and leaders should come together.

“We don’t need to just do church events. We need to have community-wide events,” she added. “I started seeing the vision of adding businesses and people who had businesses and social service and community agencies.”

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The initial plan for the conference included bringing people together and then expanding the conference to include people from other states and encouraging the leaders in the communities and churches.

“There are statistics that show that there are a number of pastors who quit every year,” Sweezer-Rowster said. “Many pastors leave the pulpit because the work is so hard.”

She said pastors need the support of their congregations and “from people who know how to help you; who know how to come in and do what we call hold up the pastor’s arms like they did with Moses in the scripture.”

The conference was canceled in 2021 and was a one-day event in 2022, so this year’s event was a special milestone for the church.

“This is the first time I’ve come back full force for this conference since last year,” Sweezer-Rowster said.

The conference began Friday morning with a praise and worship program followed by a series of workshops featuring local officials and residents like Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace and a panel discussion featuring Vicksburg surgeon Dr. Eugene Ferris and internist Dr. James Hall, followed by a program for church youth.

“The young people, the young adults, did an excellent panel,” Sweezer-Rowster said.

The conference, she said, “Was something for everybody. I brought somebody in that taught the children on the other side of the church, and the young children had their own leadership classes.”

The Saturday program included Vicksburg Police Chief Penny Jones, the Rev. Neddie Winter, executive director and president of Mission Mississippi, and a keynote address by Dr. Terry Weems, senior pastor of New Life Fellowship Full Gospel Church.

Another feature of the conference was the number of vendors who attended the program.

“There was a business piece to this conference; it’s not just about the church,” Sweezer-Rowster said. “Bringing business people, entrepreneurs in and then making entrepreneurs. We’ve got some of the young people from our church who are vendors, which has been (impactful) for me because we’re training them, and then we have people who have businesses in the community and some people come from other states.”

She estimated vendors from nine states, including California, attended the conference.

“This has been one of the best PM&L conferences I’ve ever had,” Sweezer-Rowster said. “It’s not about the number of people but to me, this has been one of the greatest conferences. The people have just really been incredibly excited and passionate coming in to receive and people have just really understood that the vision of this conference is to bring people together.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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