By Mike Midkiff, ETBU Public Relations
MARSHALL, Texas – It had been more than 20 years since Pastor Aaron Dickinson of Swartz First Baptist Church in Monroe had set foot back on the campus of East Texas Baptist University.
On June 1, Dickson, who is in his first year as pastor at Swartz, returned to the campus June 1 and brought a group of senior adults from his church to attend ETBU’s annual senior adult conference, Hilltop University, to enjoy three days of fun, fellowship, worship, preaching, and Biblical teaching focused on revival and renewal.
Dickson said his group came to this particular conference because he was looking for a spiritual retreat experience for his senior adults that would be fun and inspiring.
“I knew about the Senior Adult Conference when I was a student here at ETBU,” said Dickinson. “I looked the conference up online to see if they were still holding it because I wanted to find a regional event our senior adults could attend. We do not have a conference like this one in Louisiana.”
Over 270 campers attended representing 56 difference churches — with 50 from Texas, four from Louisiana, and two from Arkansas. Brook Wood Baptist Church, Shreveport, First Baptist Church, Bossier, and First Baptist Church, Dubach, also attended from Louisiana.
Participants had a chance to experience a little bit of college life, staying in campus residential halls, eating in the Bennett Student Center and on the first night of the conference, enjoying ice cream while listening to 40’s and 50’s music in the “Soda Shoppe” created in the Huffman Student Activities area.
Chapel speakers for the event included: Robert Morris, founding pastor of Gateway Church in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex; D.L. Lowrie, a pastor, teacher, and author; his wife, Alice; and J. Blair Blackburn, the 13th president of ETBU.
Bible study sessions led by Lowrie followed the theme “Walking By Faith in the Seniors Years,” using 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10 as his text. The longtime Bible teacher shared in one session, “God never gives you something that weighs more than His grace can get you through.”
It was Helen Luft’s first experience at the Texas conference and she had high praise for the experiences at ETBU.
“The food is great, and the accommodations are perfect,” said the retired high school teacher and member of Swartz First Baptist for over 45 years. “I have enjoyed all the speakers and have been taking notes that I hope will help when I return home.”
She also shared how she was reminded during the multiple activities that “faith in Jesus Christ gets us through what we have to get through.”
The conference also featured entertainment from the Gospel singing family The Hoppers, Christian humorist Dennis Swanberg, and Gospel recording artist Guy Penrod.
The 2017 Hilltop University: A Senior Adult Conference is scheduled for May 31-June 2.