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2015 Tampa, Florida 229th
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The 229th Annual Conference (July 11-15, 2015) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Tampa Convention Center, located at 333 South Franklin Street, Tampa, Florida 33602. Built in the very heart of downtown Tampa at the mouth of the Hillsborough River, this mid-sized Convention Center opened in 1990 with 600,000 square feet of event space, 200,000 square feet of exhibit space with a 30 foot ceiling, a ballroom accommodating over 2,000 guests, and 36 meeting rooms. The $140 million facility opened in October 1990 and hosts over 300 events each year. In 2012 it served as the media center for the Republican National Convention which met in the nearby Tampa Bay Times Forum. The word Tampa is thought to possibly mean ‘sticks of fire’ in the language of the Calusa, a Native American tribe. This meaning could have resulted from the frequent lightening strikes in the area. Tampa is the name of the city and Tampa Bay is the entire area surrounding the bay which also includes: St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bradenton, Largo, Gulfport, and ending just north of Sarasota. Two hotels adjacent to the Convention Center were the Embassy Suites and facing it next to the bay was the Marriott Waterside and the seemingly never ending Bayside Marina.

The area surrounding Tampa has experienced international culture as having first been ruled by the Spanish in the 1500s under the governance of Hernando de Soto. Great Britain later acquired Florida in 1763 as part of the treaty ending the French and Indian War. During this time the bay was renamed “Hillsborough Bay” after Lord Hillsborough who served as Secretary of State for the American Colonies from 1768 to 1772. A stipulation of the Treaty of Paris which concluded the American Revolution in 1783 was that control of Florida should return to Spain. And lastly, the United States purchased Florida from Spain in 1821. The city of Tampa now offers a rich cultural experience from the contributions of the British, Spanish, Cuban, and several native tribes. There are numerous world famous attractions in the area. Disney World is about seventy miles from Tampa, but just thirty miles to the east near Winter Haven is the lush expanse of Cypress Gardens, a botanical garden theme park opened by husband and wife Dick and Julie Pope in 1936, charging an admission price of 25 cents. Only a few more miles beyond is the famous Bok Tower, a National Historic Landmark commissioned by Edward W. Bok, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, successful publisher, humanitarian, and advocate of peace. This 250-acre garden and centerpiece 205-foot Singing Tower with its carillon bells is built on Iron Mountain, one of the highest points in the state of Florida.

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“They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them,
should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders (about this question).”
Acts 15:2

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