Wee Kirk Conference

Making Room

For leaders of small membership churches

A Montreat Conference Center Event
October 15–17, 2018

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man loves me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. –John 14:23 

The Wee Kirk conference aspires to provide Christ-centered opportunities for inspiration, encouragement, and community among leaders of small membership churches so they can do the same in their congregations and regions. This year’s conference offers the following tracks:

  • Barnabas Track
  • Missional Track
  • Spiritual Formation Track
  • Retreat Track

You will select one track that will be your focus throughout the conference (see “Track Descriptions”). Everyone will be together for plenaries and worship. Participants will be housed in the Assembly Inn, however all participants taking the Barnabas track will be housed at the William Black Lodge.

THIS CONFERENCE IS A LOVE GIFT to those serving small membership congregations. The average cost per person is $380. Through the generous support of governing bodies, large churches, co-sponsors and individuals, the conference fees for actively-serving Presbyterian congregational leaders (PCUSA, ECO, EPC, PCA etc.) are reduced substantially.

On-site conference registration check-in will begin at 1 p.m. on Monday, October 15 in the Assembly Inn upper lobby. Housing check-in is available AFTER 3:00 pm on day of arrival. The main conference begins with the first seminar on Monday at 3:00 p.m. and concludes with lunch on Wednesday. The Barnabas Track begins a day earlier on Sunday, October 14. Dress is casual.

Child care is NOT available for this event.

Check out more details below, including leadership, track descriptions, accommodations, registration, and more.  Be  prepared to choose your track before you register.

Key Leadership

Worship Leader

Rev. Dr. Robert Austell serves as pastor of Good Shepherd in Charlotte, NC. Previously he served as associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lenoir, NC. He is a graduate of Davidson College, studied at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Boston, MA), and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with a MDiv in 1996. In May of 2008 he completed his dissertation on worship and music and graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte with a DMin. Robert is a life-long musician and continues to write and record music. He is married to Heather and has three daughters.

Morning and Evening Prayer Leader

Rev. Dr. Robert McRae, Pastor Emeritus at Galatia Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Eagle Rock, VA, served Galatia as pastor for thirty-two years before retiring in May of 2016. Robert has been active in Presbyterian Pilgrimage Spiritual Retreats since 1988. Robert has a DMin from Union Theological Seminary, and for 17 years worked as a teacher and principal in Mississippi before attending seminary. He is married to Jane C. McRae, and they have four children and eight grandchildren. Robert’s favorite outdoor activities are biking, hiking, and camping. He and his wife have attended all but two of the Montreat Wee Kirk Conferences.

Music Leader

Eric VanderHeide is the director of music ministries at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. Eric has a personal and vibrant faith, with many years of worshiping and serving in the Christian Reformed Church. He leads the traditional choral program as well as the contemporary worship team ministry, coordinating and planning worship with the pastor around the biblical and theological themes of the service. Besides being a gifted vocalist and director, Eric has training and experience in music education, musical theater, and visual arts. He is married to Lisa and they have two children.

Barnabas Track Leaders

Rev. Jonathon Brown is the lead pastor of Pillar Church in Holland, MI. Pillar Church was the first church established in the city of Holland in 1847. In 1882 there was a major split between two denominations, the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC), that occurred at Pillar and prompted Pillar to leave the RCA and join the CRC. In the recent past Pillar experienced significant decline and considered closing its doors. Today, by a wonderful work of God’s spirit, Pillar Church is a thriving, dual-affiliation congregation of both denominations. Jon’s heart for reconciliation beats with Pillar’s heart in this way. Jon joined the Pillar team in the summer of 2012 after nearly 10 years as the senior pastor of First Reformed Church in Oak Harbor, WA. He has been the keynote speaker at a number of events including: The Nicaraguan Pastors Conference of the Moravian Church, The Cascades Family Bible Camp, and many events at Hope College. He is a regular writer for the Words of Hope devotionals, as well. Currently he is pursuing a doctoral degree from Western Theological Seminary in Holland. Urging the church forward to participate in the mission of Christ in the world is where Jon finds the deepest joy and greatest sense of purpose.

Rev. Jonathan Gabhart is a pastor and musician from Holland, MI. He serves as the pastor of worship arts and discipleship at Pillar Church, and graduated from Hope College and Western Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister in the Reformed Church of America. Often, one might find him cooking dinner or baking bread with his wife, Anna, as well as listening to and making music with his friends.

Missional Track Leaders

Rev. Dr. Herb Codington was born and raised on the mission field (Korea), as was his wife Suzan (Brazil). They have five children, one of whom is a missionary in Albania. Herb pastors three smaller congregations in Lauren’s County, SC. He also serves with a small mission agency with work in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. In addition, he teaches an introductory missions course at Presbyterian College. Herb is a conference speaker and has led the Laurens cluster of 16 churches for 25 years.

Rev. Dr. Lisa Baroody Culpepper serves as pastor of St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church in Hemingway, SC. She is a graduate of Furman University (BS), as well as a magna cum laude graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (MDiv and DMin). Lisa serves in leadership with a missional cluster of five churches in New Harmony Presbytery, and has been involved in short term cross cultural mission for 25 years. Her most recent involvement is in Lebanon with the Outreach Foundation’s ministry to Syria and Lebanon.

Spiritual Formation Track Leader

Rev. Marina Gopadze, a native of Philadelphia, PA, began her career as a clinical microbiologist in Richmond, VA, following graduation from college. Through several years of separation from the Lord of her childhood, Jesus Christ brought her back into His fold, opening up the path He had waited to place her on. She graduated from Union Presbyterian Seminary in 2000, and became pastor of Buchanan Presbyterian Church in Virginia, where she has served since 2002. Her passion lies in helping men and women find the depth of relationship with the Lord Jesus, becoming one with Him.

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