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THE LAST WORD

Missionary Church convention reflects attraction to city

Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 12:01 am

The National Conference of the Missionary Church wrapped up four days in Fort Wayne at the Grand Wayne Center Thursday evening.

An estimated thousand people attended to hear nationally renowned pastor-speaker-author Francis Chan. It was a perfect storm of activity on a hot summer evening with people cramming the downtown for that event, a TinCaps game and the Fort Wayne Newspapers Three Rivers Festival.

One of the announcements at the convention’s closing was that the national convention will return to the Summit City in 2015. It was humorously presented in a closing presentation onscreen that included such non-descriptions of Fort Wayne as “No beaches,” “No mountains,” etc., which brought laughter from the huge crowd.

That piggybacks on a column we published this week on prospects of Fort Wayne hosting its first-ever Indiana Republican Convention. Last year, of course, it hosted the state Democratic Convention.

Though an official decision won’t come until August, columnist Kevin Leininger wrote on Wednesday, “it seems likely that the state GOP convention – long restricted to Marion County by party bylaws – will come to Fort Wayne for the first time in 2014, attracting an estimated 2,500 delegates and visitors and injecting about $300,000 into the local economy.”

As noted by Grand Wayne Convention Center General Manager Robert Lister in a letter to the editor following the Democratic Convention here last year, “This gathering drew more than 2,000 attendees to the downtown area, many who had never been to Fort Wayne or visited us in several years. As noted in media reports, many of these influential visitors were impressed by how our central business district is transforming into a busy activity and recreation center.

“The Grand Wayne Center’s primary role is to be a magnet providing the facilities and technology that draw conventions and meetings to Fort Wayne. … Many visitors are surprised to find a state-of-the-art convention center, baseball, festivals, restaurants and entertainment within walking distance.”

In Wednesday’s News-Sentinel we also published an article by Steve Stephens of the Columbus Dispatch, who had visited our city to write about Fort Wayne as a great destination for his Ohio readers. He wrote, “The city offers plenty of diversions for day-trippers who are interested in history, sports or food.”

Hence, such events as the Missionary Church convention, which included the election of Fort Wayne’s Steve Jones as the new national president. Fort Wayne is home to the national headquarters of the Missionary Church. Jones has served as senior pastor of First Missionary Church in Fort Wayne and as the Central District superintendent of the Missionary Church, serving churches in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.

Kerry Hubartt is editor of The News-Sentinel.