You may be surprised to know that the New Canaan Society (NCS) consists of over 65 chapters nationally. And hang on to your hats….
Winston-Salem is the largest NCS Chapter.
And while we received numerous questions and accolades about our weekly gatherings and programs at last month’s NCS Leadership Conference, the conference was about so much more than what we are doing well here.
Jay Helvey helped organize the conference and arranged for it to be hosted at the Coca-Cola consolidated corporate headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. Our chapter was represented by Jay, Stu Epperson, Kalim Andraos and myself, Mike Baughan. With 40 chapters in attendance, it was a powerful and encouraging weekend, with chapter leader discussing their goals and challenges while sharing how God is working in their midst.
Many of you may have wondered how our local chapters relate to the others or benefit from being a part of the larger, relationship fellowship. Those questions were addressed throughout the weekend, with James Anderson, the head of NCS National, moderating discussion.
Chapters spoke about what they were doing, and our own Jay Helvey presented four of our go-forward initiatives:
Improved Communications (e.g. this newsletter)
A continued emphasis on missions (both going and serving)
While sharing what we were doing, we, in turn, were impressed with the energy and vitality of other chapters and how each chapter was bringing its unique style and methodology to our common NCS vision. For example, some chapters relied heavily on “name” speakers to help boost attendance, while others served a full hot breakfast. One chapter even featured live music at meetings! Interestingly, each stated a concern that they might be sacrificing authenticity for entertainment, and many were impressed with our more understated and balanced approach in Winston-Salem.
Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO, Frank Harrison, gave an inspiring keynote address. Harrison shared Coca-Cola’s unique corporate culture and his personal belief that faith and commercial goals can co-exist, even within a public corporation. The mission statement “To Honor God in Everything We Do” hangs prominently throughout the Coca-Cola facilities. Harrison reminded us how special and unique NCS is, encouraging us and praying for our time together.
On a personal note, I found that as I spoke with leaders from smaller chapters, they were often from cities much larger than ours. I was reminded how blessed we are to have not one but FOUR weekly gatherings, and how truly special and unique our chapter is. Many newer chapters meet only once or twice per month and struggle to attract anything near the large and diverse fellowship we have here. On the other hand, I felt a warning against complacency. We must continue to prayerfully consider new initiatives and programs and not merely rest on our past success.
God is clearly at work in each of the chapters, and through meetings like this, we can continue to share best practices, encourage one another and promote fellowship at a much broader and deeper level.