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Directors’ Conference: 1951

Summary: This brief article consists of excerpts from the earliest directors’ conference, held on February 22-24, 1951 in San Francisco. It reveals how we were thinking about how best to minister outside the US, and the beginnings of our publicity within the US. Attention at the conference was given to servicemen

Conference Participants

Directors Dawson Trotman, Lorne Sanny, Charlie Riggs, and Lee Sundstrom guided the discussions. Present were all directors except Don Rosenberger, Dave Rohrer, and Roy Robertson.

Other participants were Louie Bock, Larry Nielsen, George Bostrom, Doug Sparks, Rodney Sargent, Ed VanDellen, Hank Noffsinger, Ken Swan, Lila Trotman, Irene Johnson, Leila Elliott, Addie Rosenbaum, Jean Keith, Ouida Arnold, and Mildred Hopkins.

Prominent Excerpts from the Conference Notes

  1. We have made a distinct change of policy from established mission boards in putting our men to work immediately at a ministry. Roy Robertson was able to maintain language study despite not following other missions who did not allow a new missionary to have his evenings out or do any ministry: Roy gave all of his evenings to this work. During the last two months in Shanghai, he was able to assist in an evangelistic effort and put Chinese to work. Some two hundred souls a week came through for the Lord. He also set up centers in four areas of China which included thirteen provinces and forty-six cities. More than one thousand are now on the Topical Memory System (TMS) in Chinese. Good relations with the China Inland Mission (CIM) and other missions were maintained.
  2. Visits to foreign countries must now be timed somewhat to align with the completion of the preparation of men to minister in the areas visited. This is because visits always wind up with a request for a man.
  3. “We definitely believe that European countries and others are to furnish their quota of those to go abroad.”
  4. It would be very healthy for some of our men on the west coast and elsewhere to be transferred to Minneapolis under Don Rosenberger, while perhaps some of his men could be placed under Charlie Riggs. “Often, a new area gets an opportunity for a fellow to get out of a rut or it offers a new challenge to tackle certain neglected phases of his life with new fervor.” Bids can be made by directors for men in other areas to be sent to their own. However, “there cannot be too much shifting or weakening of an area through such reallocation.”
  5. Nick Kalivoda will move to LSU, “partly because of the large group of foreign students there.”
  6. Directors will more or less be expected to keep in touch with the servicemen who become interested in their own areas. A serviceman’s transfer from an area does not eliminate further responsibility on the part of the original key man.
  7. We expect to give servicemen’s work high priority, “but it will not be exactly on the same basis as World War II, because we have an entirely different outlook. With the Lord’s help, we expect not to be sidetracked into a very wide but shallow ministry with masses of men. We’ll do what we can, as always, for the greatest possible number, but we will direct our best efforts towards producing reproducers.”
  8. We agreed to make some effort to contact the many Intervarsity men who are going into the service. Charles Troutman1 had written to us – “we expect to have six-to-seven thousand ex-InterVarsity men in the armed services by September 1. Beyond this business of encouraging our Christians to do a job for themselves, we (IVF) do not intend to go into any military camps or military service. . . . Please carry on follow-up directly with these men without the nonsense of trying to go through us.”
  9. Daws has been invited by Billy Graham to be on his evangelistic team. Seven reasons are given in the report on the Directors Conference.
  10. “We definitely feel that the Lord wants information about the work to get out to the right people. The Holy Spirit used facts. It is our responsibility to get these facts out. We have never had a publicity department and have even fought publicity. But, since the Nav work is not supported entirely by Navs, and we must go to the outside. . . . We definitely feel that a program of getting out information is necessary.” Sanny has had ten interviews so far in which he presents the facts, with a good financial response.
  11. Six reasons were given why we should set up our Orient HQ in Tokyo as against Taipei.
  12. As regards Europe, we wanted to man the Big Four, which at least included Italy, Netherlands, and UK. Perhaps also France or Germany.

It is important to note that a strategy-setting conference was usually held soon after the start of a decade. Thus:

  • February 1951, Directors Conference, San Francisco
  • January 1961, Overseas Policy Conference 1, Glen Eyrie
  • Dcember 1972, presentation of “A Strategy for the 70s,” Glen Eyrie
  • February 1980, International Leadership Conference, Glen Eyrie
  • February 1992, first meeting of International Team, Boca Raton
  • November 2001, Cyprus 2001: The Core, Platres
  • March 2002, Niagara 2002: The Core
  • May 2002, The Core unanimously affirmed, Vancouver

Source: Dawson’s Report to the staff on Directors Conference, dated March 29, 1951.
Note the gender of the “other participants” (eight men and seven women).

By Donald McGilchrist
951 Words

See also articles on:
Navigators Among the People of God
Military Ministries
Overseas Policy Conference 1961


  1. Charles Troutman was IVF’s associate general secretary under Stacey Woods.
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