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rethren regularly meet to corporately discuss issues of faith and practice as well as renew friendships. The earliest denomination wide gathering was convened by Martin Urner and George Martin in 1742 to discuss matters that could have affected the unique identity of the Brethren. About thirty-five years later the Brethren began meeting every year during the celebration of Pentecost, to especially emphasize their need of spiritual guidance in deciding matters of faith. Early members first referred to this event as Annual Meeting until around the turn of the Twentieth Century when they started calling it Annual Conference. Records and minutes of business proceedings were not kept until 1778. Delegate representation started in 1848. Majority rule was instituted in 1880. Online availability first began in 1996 through a cooperative effort of Church of the Brethren Network and the News Service of the General Board (now Mission & Ministry Board), since we had preceded the General Board's own web site (www.brethren.org) by several years. This technological innovation permitted non-conference goer's the opportunity to personally share in the activities of the Conference. The News Service would send daily postings about Conference activities including regular news items, sermon texts, and the daily Journal. When the General Board established their own web site and began uploading live Conference information, we shifted our emphasis toward a brief archive of the event itself. Here you will find a pictorial highlight, business history, local history, web addresses, exhibit displays, and other pertinent information. Conferences are listed starting from the most recent to the earliest.


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2017 Logo
2017 Grand Rapids, Michigan 231st

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The 231th Annual Conference (June 28 - July 2, 2017) of the Church of the Brethren was held in DeVos Place, located at 303 Monroe Avenue, NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. The conference center features a 162,000 Square Foot column free space for conventions or exhibits, comprised of a 40,000 square foot ballroom, 26 sub-dividable meeting rooms (32,000 square feet), and a 2,404 seat performing arts theater. DeVos Place is also home to the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. Michigan is the eleventh largest state and the eighth most populated. Education is a premium in Michigan, offering 22 colleges and 29 universities. Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan, and a three time All-American City. It gets its name from the Grand River which is the states largest inland river. Before roads and railroads provided faster travel, the 225 navigable miles of the Grand River served as a major transportation route. The city was built next to a large rapids (thus its name), much of which has disappeared from the installation of a low-head dam and fish ladder. The current rapids is actually a series of Smaller Ripples.

Grand Rapids hosts several noteworthy museums, such as the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and the Van Andel Public Museum. Fountains and Water Art are possible from the Grand River's rich supply of water. Lengthy River Walks on both sides permitted conference goers easy access to a Relaxing Stroll A number of river walkers received a Bird Attack from a Red-Winged Blackbird who was undoubtedly protecting her nested young. The usual catered buffet dining was served indoors and Al Fresco. Annual Conference was previously held three times in Grand Rapids: 1950, 1955, and 2011. In the 1950's, it was then held in the adjacent Civic Auditorium, a neo-classical building completed in 1932 which still remains apart of DeVos Place. Although most of the original facility is now ballrooms and meeting halls, the Former Lobby still retains its historical appearance. The anchor hotel for this year was the Amway Grand Plaza, a 1981 renovation of the 1913 Pantlind Hotel offering 682 guest rooms, spas, gift shops, fitness center, Meeting Rooms, and 5 restaurants. This hotel is a pleasant combination of Old & New facilities, retaining the Historic Richness along with the advancing contemporary. Skywalks above street level traffic offer greater safety. Many of the other downtown hotels also Connect to the same Walking Network that also includes Parking Garages. Some Brethren took advantage of Horse Carriage transportation. What is the meaning of this Business Sign? Is it the “Fifth” bank which happens to be the third one in the city? Or, is it the “Third” bank which happens to be the fifth one in the city?

The Amway hosted numerous Insight Sessions, Hearing Sessions, and provided several ball rooms for Reserved Dinners such as the Ministers Association. District Groups also found time to dine together and rekindle friendships. Saturday evening (July 1) the downtown area was treated to a very enjoyable Fireworks Display from several locations.


SPECIAL NOTES:

EXHIBITS:

OFFICERS & LEADERSHIP:

DELEGATE BODY:

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

  1. Recommends to the Mission and Ministry Board that the duties of the Leadership Team as described in Section III.C.2. of the Manual of Organization and Polity be amended as follows:
    g. Coordinate a gathering of denominational leadership every three to five years. The leadership gathering would potentially include representatives from denominational and agency staff and board members, Annual Conference-elected leadership, and district leadership. The purpose of the leadership gathering is to focus on matters of shared vision and ministry collaboration in the Church of the Brethren.
  2. Recommends to the Mission and Ministry Board that Article V., Section 1 of the Bylaws of the Church of the Brethren be amended to include further responsibility for ensuring the implementation of denominational vision, as follows:
    Coordinate denominational envisioning; assume responsibility for how denominational vision shall be implemented, giving consideration to emphasizing a unified vision among denomination, districts, and congregations.
  3. Recommends to the Mission and Ministry Board that the functions of the Leadership Team as described in Article V., Section 1 of the Bylaws of the Church of the Brethren be amended as follows:
    • general oversight for Annual Conference and its budget, in consultation with the Annual Conference program and arrangements committee, the Conference director, and the Corporation treasurer;
    employ the Conference director and provide for his or her periodic evaluation
    .
  4. Recommends to the Mission and Ministry Board that the membership of the Leadership Team as described in Article V., Section 2 of the Bylaws of the Church of the Brethren be amended with the addition of a district executive. The district executive would be recommended by the Council of District Executives and affirmed by Annual Conference, serving a three-year term.

    Section 2. Membership

    The leadership team consists of the current moderator, moderator-elect, Conference secretary, a district executive, and the general secretary. The district executive will be appointed by the Council of District Executives, approved by Annual Conference, and will serve a three-year term.
  5. Recommends to the Mission and Ministry Board that a study committee be appointed by the Mission and Ministry Board to assess prudent stewardship related to the General Offices in Elgin, IL.

    Recommendations #1 to #5 were accepted by the Delegate Body as one vote that all five be referred to the Mission and Ministry Board since they were by-law changes.
  6. Recommends to the 2017 Annual Conference that On Earth Peace no longer remain an agency of the Church of the Brethren.

    Voting from 650 of the 672 registered Delegate Body resulted in 370 voting Yes (56.9%) and 280 voting No (43.1%) which failed to meet the required two-thirds majority. Although this recommendation failed the required percentage necessary, it validated Tim Harvey's repeated assertion that On Earth Peace “ministers to some, but not all of the denomination.” The substantial 57% Yes votes reflects a growing dissatisfaction with the unpopular positions taken by On Earth Peace in recent years. In other words, although OEP has retained their official status, the denomination has given them an approval rating of only 43 percent. See also this implication to Recommendation #8.
  7. Recommends to the 2017 Annual Conference that all congregations, districts, denominational, and agency staff find ways to involve the work of On Earth Peace in the ongoing mission and ministry of the Church of the Brethren.

    This recommendation failed by a simple majority vote.
  8. Recommends to the 2017 Annual Conference that Query: Viability of On Earth Peace as an Agency of the Church of the Brethren be returned to the Southeastern District. Conference Secretary, Jim Beckwith ruled that Recommendation #8 was answered when Recommendation #6 failed.
  9. Recommends to the 2017 Annual Conference that all congregations examine their financial contributions to both district and denominational ministries, and bring their giving into compliance with the Congregational Ethics Polity as outlined in Chapter 4 of the Manual of Organization and Polity. Congregations that feel they cannot do so should be in conversation about this with their district, in accordance with the 2004 Annual Conference Statement, Congregational Disagreement with Annual Conference Decisions.

    This recommendation was adopted by the Delegate Body with a simple majority vote.
  10. Recommends to the 2017 Annual Conference that Standing Committee rescind the 2014 rejection of On Earth Peace’s Statement of Inclusion (2014 Annual Conference Minutes, p. 117).
    • On Earth Peace Statement of Inclusion: “We are troubled by attitudes and actions in the church which exclude persons on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other aspect of human identity. We believe God calls the church to welcome all persons into full participation in the life of the faith community” (2012 Annual Conference Minutes, p. 68).
    • 2014 Standing Committee response: “Standing Committee does not support the 2011 statement of inclusion of OEP as an agency of the church, but we will continue to commit ourselves to walk in love together in the face of differing interpretations of scripture and AC statements and decisions” (2014 Annual Conference Minutes, p. 117).

    A response from the current Standing Committee essentially nullified this recommendation: “Standing Committee humbly receives the chastisement of the Review and Evaluation Committee in Recommendation #10 of their report. We apologize for the misunderstanding and hurt caused by our 2014 response to On Earth Peace's Statement of Inclusion.”
  • In the sentence originally reading: “We will not take lightly decisions that will terminate an individual’s ministerial credentials or expel a congregation from the body.” The word “disorganize” will replace the former word “expel.”
  • Also delete “from the body” at the end of the sentence.
  • Added was “Some districts have begun to speak out about expelling member congregations but current polity and standard practice provide only for the disorganizing of congregations.”
  • Added to the next paragraph to read: “The officiating of same sex weddings by credentialed clergy shall be handled in the same way as any other report of ministerial conduct: if a district executive minister receives a report based on direct knowledge that a minister has performed a same gender marriage, the information shall be reported to the district's credentialing body as a matter of ministerial conduct. This is a standard practice established by the Council of District Executives”

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP:

SERMONS:

ATTENDANCE:

Annual Conference 10 Year Attendance

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2016 Logo
2016 Greensboro, North Carolina 230th

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The 230th Annual Conference (June 29 - July 3, 2016) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Joseph S. Koury Convention Center/Sheraton Hotel, located at 3121 Gate City Blvd, Greensboro, NC 27407, which claims to be the largest “hotel/convention center” between Atlanta and Washington, DC. The Convention Center offers over 250,000 square feet of meeting and event space, 100,000 square feet of pre-function and exhibition space, three major ballrooms that accommodates functions with up to 6,000 guests, plus 71 breakout rooms, and 14 board rooms. The entire complex includes wireless Internet access. The adjacent Sheraton Hotel is a member of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., and their Starwood Preferred Planner program is the largest reward and recognition program for meeting planners in the hotel industry. Across the parking lot was a Shopping Mall offering a variety of dining options in a food court that was frequented by Conference goers.

The Greensboro Sit-Ins began a series of nonviolent protests against racially segregated lunch counters beginning at the Woolworth department store at 132 South Elm Street in Greensboro. On February 1, 1960, four young black men sat down at the “white only lunch counter” of the Woolworth department store and asked for coffee. Known as the Greensboro Four, Joseph McNeil, David Richmond, Ezell Blair Jr., and Franklin McCain were denied service but refused to leave. This was not the first such sit-in but it became the most famous. In the coming days, hundreds of people joined them in similar protests at Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Durham, Charlotte, and out-of-state cities of Richmond, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee, and Lexington, Kentucky. The Woolworth store in Greensboro is now the International Civil Rights Center and Museum which preserves a section of the original lunch counter.

An hour drive east of Greensboro is the well known Research Triangle Park, a private non-profit organization created in 1959 by state and local governments, nearby universities, and local businesses to provide a high-tech research and development complex. Over seven thousand acres provides a home for over two hundred companies who employ about 45,000 persons and engage over 9,000 contractors. IBM operates their second largest service center in the world. Simply known as “The Triangle” it is bordered by North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and the cities of Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill.

Just about an hour's drive northwest of Greensboro is Mt. Airy, the home town of Andy Griffith whose immensely successful television program by the same name aired from 1960 to 1968. TV Guide magazine ranked it the 9th best program in American television history. It never fell below seventh place in the Nielsen television ratings service and held a solid first place during its last year. None of the show was filmed in North Carolina. Desilu Studios was the setting for all of the interior scenes, and the exterior scenes filmed at the famous RKO Forty Acres in Culver City, California. Even the woodsy opening to the show was filmed at the Franklin Canyon reservoir north of Beverly Hills.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

2015 Moderator David Steele will assume the responsibilities of the denominations General Secretary on September 1, 2016. He was introduced by Mission and Ministry Board chair Don Fitzkee during the Church of the Brethren report. The delegate body also expressed their gratitude to Interim General Secretary Dale Minnich, especially since his responsibilities broadened after the sudden death of Associate General Secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury in March 2016. Duties of the General Secretary include but not limited to the following:

Rev. Joel Stephen Billi was elected President of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) and began serving in that office on May 1, 2016. Billi replaces Samuel Dante Dali whose term would have expired in 2015 but was extended because of the terrorist conditions that affected the church in Nigeria. President Billi well understands the persecution climate of northeast Nigeria, having served several large congregations at Biu, Utaku, Maiduguri, and most recently at Michika which is considered on the front lines of the terrorist insurgency.

SPECIAL NOTES:

INSIGHT SESSIONS:

EXHIBITS:

OFFICERS:

BUSINESS-SESSIONS:

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP:

SERMONS:


2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2015 Logo
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.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

SPECIAL NOTES:

INSIGHT SESSIONS:

EXHIBITS:

OFFICERS:

BUSINESS-SESSIONS:

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP:

SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2014 Logo
2014 Columbus, Ohio 228th

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The 228th Annual conference (July 2-6, 2014) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the SMG managed Greater Columbus Convention Center, located at 400 North High Street Columbus, Ohio 43215. Originally opened in 1989, an $81 Million Dollar Renovation finished in 2001 now offers a total of 1.7 million square feet of space, including 426,000 square feet of exhibit space, two ballrooms, and 61 meeting rooms. Interior Design was spacious and complemented by Natural Lighting when possible. Welcome Signage was prominent throughout the Multilevel Facility and Floor Plans enabled quick access to specific areas of interest. Delegates convened in Hall C which provided 98,000 square feet of meeting space. The entire center covers more than four city blocks. Towering above the Convention Center was the Hyatt Regency which served as the official anchor hotel and site for many of the Insight Sessions and small group meetings.

“Ohio” is a word that originated from the Iroquois word ohi-yo´ meaning “Great River.” It stretches over 980 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the Mississippi River. At this confluence just south of Cairo, Illinois, it is actually wider than the Mississippi River. Columbus is both the capital and largest city of Ohio, the 15th largest city in the United States with a population slightly over 820,000. During the 1700's this region frequently suffered the pain of war and massacre between Native Americans, the encroaching French, and the determination of the British resulting in the French and Indian War on our homeland and the Seven Years war on the European continent. Ohio achieved statehood in 1803 and Columbus was designated as the capital in 1812. This river city soon became home to several major manufacturing businesses. Labor unions predictably evolved in this climate. The American Federation of Labor (1886) and the United Mine Workers of America (1890) were birthed in Columbus. Industry played a large role in the steady development of the city. More than two dozen buggy factories contributed to the city being called the Buggy Capital of the World.

The city of Columbus was planned from the beginning as the capital city in honor of Christopher Columbus. In 1992, to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of Columbus' Epic Voyage in 1492, the city commissioned a replica of his flag ship, the Santa Maria. Unfortunately during the summer of 2014, the Commemoration Replica was distant from visitors by a downtown revitalization project. Nationwide Insurance decided to headquarter here in 1926, and their label is seen on Building Entrances, Street Signs, Walkways, and their own downtown Nationwide Arena. Entertaining the city during this early part of July was a Street Fair that occupied many of the downtown streets, where vendors sold the usual goods anticipated at these short-term markets. Captivating the interest of many were the Balloon People advertising an event at the Columbus College of Art & Design. Students walked in colors of Green, Yellow, Orange, and mixtures. Two men utilized this opportunity to boldly proclaim the human penalty of Unforgiven Sin. A special initiative by the city to keep its downtown area safe and clean resulted in Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District which employs safety ambassadors, special-duty Safety Officers, a homeless outreach specialist, and a safety coordinator, all of which focus on a holistic approach to crime prevention. At major pedestrian hubs especially involving auditoriums and hotels, Overhead Skywalks are quickly becoming the normal fixture in many cities, and growing in popularity are out-of-the-weather Ground-level Skywalks. It was a blessing to escape the Hurried Walk of smaller avenues and the hazards of vehicular mishaps and criminal misdeeds. Peace minded Brethren offered humours observations of benign ill will in the conference center. In the very next hall was the USA Fencing National Championships where contestants of all ages engaged in sword fighting. Next to the convention center Food Court was Mischief that specialized in leather goods, jewelry, luggage, and travel accessories. Thursday night the city displayed its annual 4th of July Fireworks.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

A new technological first this year delighted Conference-goers having Smart Phones who could install a free, specially developed APP that would place an impressive amount of Conference Booklet information on their phones. Just by touching and scrolling, instead of laboriously thumbing pages, this innovation provided users with a Table of Contents, from which they could: retrieve an Area City Map, retrieve a map of the Facility, discover what exhibits are in the Exhibit Hall accompanied with clickable profiles about the exhibit presenters, research Insight Sessions, also, with clickable profiles about the presenters, and quickly refer to much of the Annual Conference schedule.

Nigerian families were shocked by the wanton abduction of the Chibok Schoolgirls Kidnapping. Brethren sent many Cards & Letters of prayerful support to the families and relatives of the girls. Dr. Rebecca Dali, wife of Samuel Dante the president of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria (EYN) was among the Ecumenical Guests, and gave an emotional testimony of the horrific and violent events in her homeland. See New Business. John Kline

The year 2014 marks 150 years since the tragic murder of John Kline, a very well known Brethren elder, pastor, four time Annual Conference moderator, and Horse Riding Preacher/Missionary. During the Friday morning business session, the Church of the Brethren, Inc. report chronicled many events in Kline's life. Throughout the Civil War he regularly crossed Battle Lines with the message of salvation and peace. While returning from Annual Conference in 1864 and almost within sight of his home, He Was Shot and killed from atop his horse by sharpshooters. Brethren authors continue to Write His Legacy of Giving Light to those in spiritual darkness. Brethren historians have suggested that he was one of the most beloved of all Brethren. It was also the 50th anniversary of the publication of Middle Man, the illustrated children’s book about John Kline by Dorothy Brandt Davis and her children.

SPECIAL NOTES:

The Registration Booths and the Message Board were situated in the main concourse adjacent to Hall C, the meeting place for worship and business sessions. During the opening Thursday evening worship service, Conference goers presented their “Witness to Host City” (AC2008) gifts of more than 20,000 diapers, over 1,700 hygiene kits, and Additional Goods for the new homeless shelter sponsored by the Columbus YMCA/YWCA. These hygiene kits should have included 1 hand towel, 1 wash cloth, 1 bath-size bar of soap, 1 bottle of shampoo, 1 container of deodorant, 1 container of dental floss, 6 band-aids, 1 comb, and 1 nail clipper.

The Brownsville COB of Knoxville, Maryland, donated 2,500 Prayer Shawls to Conference attendees, blessing each bearer with an Inspirational Reading. The usual food buffet in exhibit halls of most previous years was absent due to the huge Food Court that provided an enormous array of culinary delights, such as: Traditional Pizza, Asian Discoveries, Steak and Sides, Velvet Surprises, National Chains, and the more familiar Chicken & Eggs. In addition to this wide selection of eatery possibilities, Annual Conference also provides the opportunity for Special Groups to reacquaint themselves. Light-hearted moments with Peter & Paul offered a refreshing break. National Youth Conference which convenes this year was also highlighted.

INSIGHT SESSIONS:

This year, 51 Insight Sessions were offered to better educate, enlighten, and equip individuals and congregations for greater ministry in the avenues of faith, witness, discipleship, worship, Brethren specific topics, heritage, clergy specifics, family life, youth specifics, inter-culture, health issues, and legal advice . These photos display a small but representative glimpse of the wider selection of presentations that were available to Conference attendees.

EXHIBITS:

There were 32 booths in this year's Exhibit Hall that provided an opportunity for Brethren to learn more about established agencies within the denomination and the programs or services they offer, or special interest groups promoting their cause, or Brethren related commercial ventures, or to enjoy a glimpse of heritage and history.

OFFICERS:

2014 Conference Officers were Moderator Nancy Heishman, Tipp City, Ohio; Moderator-elect David Steele, District Executive Minister for Pennsylvania Middle District; and Secretary Jim Beckwith, Pastor of Annville COB, Annville, Pennsylvania.

BUSINESS-SESSIONS:

Moderator Heishman pleasingly endeavored to process a full schedule of business, yet for constraints of time, it was necessary to defer a couple items until the following year. Moderator Heishman had previously challenged the denomination at large to read Apostle Paul's Letter to the Philippians. Throughout the many business sessions, as well as worship, numerous verses from Philippians served as a Continuous Resource for on stage devotional moments. The same configuration of Delegates Sitting at tables, first introduced at AC2012 (St. Louis) is becoming the Conference standard. This year the tables extended all the way from the stage to the rear wall, leaving no room for rearward seating by rows. Grouping delegates around tables contributes to a unique discussion format that has come to be known as Table Talk In the interest of enhancing how the church does business, a new procedural framework was introduced this year labeled The Four D's: Discovery, Discussion, Deliberation, and Decision-Making, but as usual in the past Microphone Speakers could still voice their individual opinions.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP:

Evening Worship Drama was complemented by morning Bible Studies. Inspiration was enhanced by music coordinator Andrew Wright, orchestra director Victoria Ullery, Adult Choir director Joy Brubaker, and Children's Choir director Donita Keister. Of notable mention was the Candle-Light Moment following the Friday evening service when hundreds of glow sticks safely illuminated the worship area. During the Sunday morning worship service, the traditional Moderator Consecration installed David Steele as Moderator for 2015 (Tampa) and Andy Murray as Moderator-elect for 2016 (Greensboro).

SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2013 Logo
2013 Charlotte, North Carolina 227th

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The 227th Annual Conference (June 29 - July 3, 2013) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Charlotte Convention Center, located at 501 South College Street, Charlotte, NC 28202. It offers Halls A, B, and C featuring 280,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space that is divisible into separate rooms. Delegates convened in Hall C that provided 80,000 square feet of meeting space, which could accommodate 6,000 people, plus an optional raised seating for an additional 1,400 seats. Additionally the Central Ballroom offered 35,000 square feet with a ceiling height of 30 feet, and the Crown Ballroom is 40,000 square feet with a tiered ceiling height of 24 feet, plus a 17,800 square foot Ballroom Terrace for outdoor gatherings. It covers more than Four City Blocks which presents large trucks with a total of 20 covered loading docks with direct access to all exhibit halls. Bisecting the downtown Convention Center was the easy access Charlotte Area Transit System rail line which afforded Brethren a comfortable ride from surrounding hotels. Students of the University of North Carolina also utilize this service to the main campus which is just north of the city. Every year Brethren are presented with that same initial experience of where do we go? Yet they quickly familiarized themselves with the large Main Concourses which led to Hall C and the main gathering area for Business and Worship. Enhancing the spacious drama of the Center was Hanging Art. Complimenting the fresh exterior was a Fountain & Garden that offered Brethren a quiet respite from the fatigue of business and the scurrying tempo of rushing to meetings. Dominating the skyline above the Convention Center is the Westin Hotel, and immediately to the east is the Nascar Hall of Fame. The Night Skyline of North Carolina's largest metropolitan city is a performance of brilliant colors, enhanced only by a Welcome Sign to the Brethren. It is known as the Queen City, for it was named after Queen Charlotte Sophia and the surrounding county was named for the city of her birth, Mecklenburg, Germany. She was the grandmother of Queen Victoria and the wife of Britain's King George III, the one who fomented the American colonists toward Revolution. Americans looked upon him as a tyrant and the British regarded him as an abject failure at Colonialism. Incorporated in 1768, Charlotte became the center of the nations first Gold Rush when a 17 pound nugget was discovered in 1799. Railroads later made it a textile industry center and distribution hub. Today, it's metropolitan area ranks as the 23rd largest US city with a 2012 Census population of 2,296,569. It is a major U.S. financial center with total assets slightly behind New York City. Bank of America and Wells Fargo's east coast operations center are headquartered here.

Famous Christian evangelist Billy Graham was born just south of the city and raised on the Graham Family dairy farm. A foundation Moved The Buildings to this present site, in order to Preserve The Legacy of this great American. Entrance Is Free to all ages. Photography of the Graham House is permitted and staff graciously explain the Farm Business of that era. Kitchen Stories inspire us about every aspect of life, business, the Church, and the ministry of Jesus. Next to the farm area is a Memorial Garden where one may sit and enjoy the flowers or take a quick stroll to the grave of his wife, Ruth Bell Graham. She was born to missionary parents in China which explains the Chinese letter for Righteousness at the top of her grave plaque. His sermons were broadcast on radio and personal crusades on television. Graham became a spiritual adviser to many US Presidents. It has been estimated that more than 3.2 million people accepted Christ at his crusades. The George Gallup Poll figures repeatedly list Billy Graham as one of the most admired men in the world, appearing on the list 55 times since the 1950s, which is more than any other individual.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

Jim Beckwith began his first year of a five year term as Annual Conference Secretary, filling the position of Fred Swartz who completed two terms of service last year. As Moderator of AC2008, Beckwith quickly demonstrated strong administrative capabilities. His reading of motions, proposed amendments, and knowledge of past decisions was articulate and easy to understand.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Online Registration was situated in one of the Main Concourses which conveniently faced worship and business sessions in Hall C. Live coverage was projected on Three Large Screens with a fourth mounted on the rear of a large ceiling support column. Webcasts of the proceedings were also available online. During the opening Sunday afternoon worship service, Conference goers presented their (AC2008) “Witness to Host City” School Kits. Absent this year were the Message Boards which had been a regular fixture at every Conference in recent memory, including the later addition of a Prayer Board, and the addition of a Call Wall at AC2012. No explanation was given. Pleasingly noticeable was the Signage leading attendees to their proper destinations. Adults received a special treat this year as the Chidren's Choir sang twice. First on Monday Evening followed by a Special Story, and then again at their traditional Tuesday Evening songfest.

INSIGHT SESSIONS:

There were many opportunities for Brethren to learn about programs of the church and grow spiritually through numerous Insight Sessions and Equipping Workshops. Springs of Living Water, is a spiritual renewal project of David Young for churches that are interested in revitalization. There were a multitude of other topics such as: Grace, Forgiveness, Worship, Discipleship, Music, Scripture, Youth, Faith-sharing, Diversity, Nurturing, Justice, Evangelism, Service, Loving Others, Demographics, Sharing, Training, Economics, Gifts, Mission, Curriculum, Disaster Ministries, Investing, and Leadership.

EXHIBITS:

This year's Exhibit Hall was spacious enough to accommodate all Brethren interests with room to spare. Virlina District was the host district. Council of District Executives offered an imaginative way to view the Denominational Membership, of course, by Districts. Each Grain represented one member of that Respective District. Most of the regular exhibitors were present again this year. Brethren Affiliated Colleges offered interpretative literature plus an attractive Logo Shirt Display. Brethren Seminary presented a comfortable area to view Mission Statements, Gather Literature, Post Your Thoughts, and then Read Other Thoughts. Brethren Benefit Trust explained their Financial Products (Charlotte had its own unrelated BBT). The Bible Project gave visitors an opportunity to see How It Came into existence in Various Forms with Actual Samples. One even had the chance to have their name automatically written in Five Languages. Also seen were Food Resource Bank, Brethren Press, Brethren Volunteer Service, Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists, Global Women's Project, Brethren Heritage, New Community Project, On Earth Peace, Rule of Faith, and SERRV. There were several Park Benches available for the tired, and Sign Posts for the not so tired. Handouts and Brochures were commonly seen. It was a great opportunity to learn about All Things Brethren. Next year AC 2014 will be held in Columbus, Ohio.

OFFICERS:

2013 Conference Officers were Moderator Robert Krouse, pastor of Little Swatara COB, Bethel, Pennsylvania; Moderator-elect Nancy Heishman, Tipp City, Ohio; and Secretary Jim Beckwith, Pastor of Annville COB, Annville, Pennsylvania (first year of first term).

BUSINESS-SESSIONS:

Delegates were seated at Round Tables again this year as implemented in AC2012, an innovation of the Revitalization Task Force recommendations of Doing Church Business AC2007. Tables were Numbered from 1 to 100. Last years trial run of this arrangement was enthusiastically received by Delegates for many reasons, such as the increased opportunity to discuss issues with people holding varied opinions on the same issue. Each table was assigned a Facilitator to enhance discussion, request a scribe to document opinions, and call for a Reporter to speak for their Table at the microphones. Having designated speakers from each Table minimizes the inclination of someone to dominate speech at the Microphones for frivolous reasons. The first Business Session convened on Monday morning.

Some thoughtful individual(s) had children in mind by providing them with Activity Materials during business and worship.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP:

Sunday evening, Moderator Krouse led members in an evening Concert of Prayer since business was limited to Monday and Tuesday only. Moderator Krouse also handed out Wooden Crosses made by his congregation, Little Swatara COB. During the Wednesday morning worship service, the traditional Moderator Consecration installed Nancy Heishman as Moderator for 2014 and David Steele as Moderator-elect for 2015.

SERMONS:


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2011 Logo
2012 St. Louis, Missouri 226th

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The 226th Annual Conference (July 7-11, 2012) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the America's Center Convention Complex, located at 701 Convention Plaza Street, Louis, MO 63101. The Conference Center features 502,000 square-feet of exhibit space, 80 meeting rooms, a 28,000 square-foot ballroom, and a 1,400 seat theater. The Main Concourse was lined with easy to read Signage, large artwork, and comfortable seating, comfortable enough on which To Sleep (Note: the man's face has been blurred to respect his privacy). Worship Services convened in the same hall as business. Just across Washington Avenue, the anchor hotel this year was the Renaissance Grand. St. Louis is an up-to-date city where pedestrian signs Count Seconds for your added safety. It is also an attractive town where Street Musicians quietly entertain. The Missouri River is the Longest River in North America, flowing 2,341 miles to join the Mississippi about fifteen miles north of St. Louis. Although both rivers first touch at Confluence State Park, aerial photographs demonstrate that they do not “thoroughly mix” until the outer limits of the city of St. Louis.

Missouri is nationally known as the “Show Me” state, with a population that stems from early German immigrants who highly valued tobacco and alcohol. In fact, Missouri is one of the nations largest producers of tobacco and alcoholic products. Still on the books is a law, Section 290.145, that restricts an employer from refusing to hire or discharge employees who legally use tobacco and alcohol during non-working hours. Prohibition became the law of the land with the passing of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1920, but the issue was locally rejected by voters in 1910, 1912, and 1918. The Anheuser-Busch Brewing Co. is headquartered in St. Louis, famous for Budweiser, its flag-ship product.

The city is also the historic gathering point for westward migration during the 1800s. Along the shore of the Mississippi River is the Thomas Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as the Gateway Arch, a 630 foot Stainless Steel memorial that offers a spectacular East View of Illinois, and a West View of the city from its Observation Deck. The courageous and non-claustrophobic ride to the top in a Tram of small Five Seat Pods which operates something as a cross between an Elevator, a Ferris Wheel, and a Cable Car - but entertains with heat, noise, and vibration. The basic structure of the Arch was completed on October 28, 1965, but the dedication was not realized until May 25, 1968, following years of constructing the north and south Trams. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Corp of Discovery in 1803 with U.S. Army Captain Meriwether Lewis as its leader, who then selected William Clark as his assistant and partner. Jefferson wanted them to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase for the purpose of gaining sovereign control over the territory itself and a Northwest Route to the Pacific Ocean and its Asian markets. Although westward migration trails and the Lewis-Clark Expedition started from nearby cities, St. Louis commemorates all these endeavors at the Thomas Jefferson National Expansion Memorial National Park and Museum of Westward Expansion with the Gateway Arch as its symbol.

Momentous legal decisions for civil rights were argued in the Old Courthouse where Dred Scott sued to gain freedom from slavery in 1847, and Virginia Minor was the plaintiff in Minor v. Happersett, when she argued in 1874, that the Fourteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote. Both litigants were unsuccessful. Scott was a slave who put a face on the issue of slavery. He had traveled with his master Dr. John Emerson, a surgeon in the US Army, to free states - Illinois and Minnesota (then Wisconsin Territory). Scott argued that since he had lived in free states, he should be regarded as a free man. The Missouri court agreed but appeals from higher state and federal courts extended the case through eleven long years of litigation. Eventually, the United States Supreme Court ruled in March of 1857, with a landmark decision, that slaves were non-citizens and therefore could not sue in a federal court. The Scott decision brought the nation one step closer to the Civil War, and Minor's defeat precipitated the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution. The infant nation, not yet a century old, was gradually forced to reassess its views regarding civil liberties. The realities of time and practice sometimes teach hard lessons.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

The civil landscape of Annual Conference was altered this year with the controversial approval of exhibit space for BMC, a sexual orientation interest group. The homosexual issue has been dividing Brethren for many years, and each side has only become more entrenched in their desire, to prevail. Many conservatives assumed that the AC 2011 decisions would arrest further discussion of this issue at the Annual Conference level, thus approval of a booth in the exhibit hall for BMC by the Program & Arrangements Committee was met with tension and dismay. Districts and congregations registered their concerns to leadership previous to the Conference. One congregation has officially left the Church of the Brethren while others ponder various methods of dissent. On the other hand, progressives viewed this decision as a minor victory toward full acceptance of alternate lifestyles within the scope of ordination. Since the AC 2011 amendment called for discussions to continue “outside of the query process,” an exhibit booth was determined to be outside of Conference business. Repeated pleas for unity from both sides seemed largely ignored, as unity is too often presumed by at least some to infer defeat. For an historic peace church, the battle lines have been drawn and the trenches have been dug.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Registration took place in the modest size lobby where Attendees may also complete their Registration Online. Presented along side the main concourse were the Bulletin Boards and the Prayer Board. A new innovation this year was the Call Wall, an opportunity to suggest individuals deemed worthy of a higher calling. In keeping with AC 2008 Conference Witness to Host City, during the Sunday morning worship service, worshippers brought forward 417 Backpacks filled with school materials for the St. Louis school districts. Another 40 boxes of supplies was estimated to fill an additional 600 backpacks, for a total of more than 1,000. Tuesday evening continues to be the traditional moment for the Children's Choir, and presenting the evening worshippers with a nice selection of music was the Adult Choir. Brethren continue their pursuit of technology as numerous Laptops were a common sight throughout the conference center. Especially noted were the growing number of hand-held devices, in one case this man was using Two at Once. Spanish Language Translation was available for those not yet bilingual. St. Louis offers many dining experiences. The PA Southern District Group celebrated another Conference together at The Spaghetti Factory, a former hotel that saved Head Boards from discarded beds to fashion booths. A new innovation this year was Delegate Seating around assigned tables, instead of lined chairs. This arrangement encouraged delegates to be More Interactive with each other, and hopefully achieve greater participation in discussion and learning from each other. It may not have succeeded at some tables but some others were All Smiles. Only time will judge if it was a wise and successful endeavor.

INSIGHT SESSIONS:

Many and diverse were the Insight offerings this year. Conference goers had a wide and pleasant range of topics to chose from, and often confronted with how to decide which one of several to attend at the same time. Some were new, others continued previous interests. One of the new ones was Bullying in the Church, skillfully presented by Eric Bishop who gently illustrated how factions within a congregation utilize behaviours and tactics that both damages fellow members in Christ and further creates mistrust. Laughter was heard a few times when he forcefully made a point, only to be lovingly told by Attendees to “Stop Bullying.” Deb Olskin presented Demystifying Clergy Taxes with an impressive knowledge of tax structures and how to remove the veil of mystery. The Dunker Church of Antietam Battlefield was impressively presented by Terry Barkley, who now serves in place of the late Ken Shaffer at the Brethren Historical Library and Archives.

EXHIBITS:

With dismay the Conference Director announced that the SERRV Exhibit Booth experienced the disappointing theft of an undisclosed amount of their products resulting in the loss of hundreds of dollars. It was unclear when the articles were taken, or who the suspects might have been. Concerned individuals donated a total of $750 to reimburse them. The regular exhibits displayed their customary literature, brochures, and gifts to those interested, such as the Colleges, Brethren Benefit Trust, Brethren Ministry, Brethren Press, On Earth Peace, Brethren Publications, and Council of District Executives. Also seen were Outdoor Ministries, Heifer International, Midwives for Haiti, and A Changing Climate.

OFFICERS:

2012 Conference Officers were Moderator Tim Harvey, pastor of Central COB, Roanoke, Virginia; Moderator-elect Robert Krouse, pastor of Little Swatara COB, Bethel, Pennsylvania; and Secretary Fred Swartz (his tenth and last year). Swartz began serving at AC 2003 in Boise, Idaho, after Cathy Huffman completed her service at AC 2002 in Louisville, Kentucky.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

Attendance Chart

WORSHIP SERMONS:


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2011 Logo
2011 Grand Rapids, Michigan 225th

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The 225th Annual Conference (July 2-6, 2011) of the Church of the Brethren was held in DeVos Place, located at 303 Monroe Avenue, NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. The conference center features a 162,000 square foot column free space for exhibits or conventions, a performance theater, four ballrooms, and 26 meeting rooms. DeVos is home to the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. Michigan is the eleventh largest state and the eighth most populated. Education is a premium offering with 22 colleges and 29 universities. Grand Rapids is the second largest city in Michigan, and a three time All-American City. It gets its name from the Grand River which is the states largest inland river. Before roads and railroads provided faster travel, the 225 navigable miles of the Grand River served as a major transportation route. The city was built next to a large rapids (thus its name) much of which has disappeared from the installation of a low-head dam and fish ladder. The current rapids is actually a series of Smaller Ripples. Grand Rapids hosts several noteworthy museums, such as the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and the Van Andel Public Museum. Fountains and Water Art are possible from the Grand River's rich supply of water. Lengthy River Walks on both sides permitted conference goers easy access to a Relaxing Stroll. The usual catered buffet dining was served indoors and Al Fresco.

Annual Conference was previously held twice in Grand Rapids: 1950 and 1955. It was then held in the adjacent Civic Auditorium, a neo-classical building completed in 1932 which still remains apart of DeVos Place. The anchor hotel for this year was the Amway Grand, a 1981 renovation of the 1913 Pantlind Hotel offering 682 guest rooms, spas, gift shops, Meeting Rooms, and 5 restaurants. Skywalks above street level traffic offer greater safety. Many of the other downtown hotels also Connect to the same Walking Network that also includes Parking Garages. Some Brethren took advantage of Horse Carriage transportation. The Amway hosted numerous Insight Sessions and provided several ball rooms for Reserved Dinners. Monday evening (July 4) the downtown area was treated to a brief yet enjoyable Fireworks display.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Registration took place in the immense lobby where Attendees frequently stopped at the Bulletin Board and the Prayer Board. What would a Brethren gathering be without Four Square. Lunch & Dinner buffets were also served in the main lobby, and beautiful weather made Outside Dining especially enjoyable. Unfortunately, sound on the main conference floor was disappointing as reverberation was strong from the middle backward, and especially near the back wall of the large room. The suspect unlowered Middle Partition may have contributed to the poor sound quality. People seated in front of the Partition were able to sense better sound quality. Thus, seats at the front of the hall became a premium. During the Saturday evening worship service, and immediately following the receiving of the regular offering, worshippers brought forward School Kits that had been assembled and collected during the previous months. Church World Service will distribute these to needy children. Each of the twenty-three districts were asked to bring a Comforter (similar to a quilt) that would be sold during a silent auction to also benefit Church World Service. Tuesday evening continues to be the traditional time for the Children's Choir to precede the evening worship. Reflecting on the Conference Theme of Extending the Table, Moderator Alley arranged for a Special Table at each worship service. Each evening/morning, worship participants sat around this table to express harmony and unity of spirit.

EXHIBITS:

A new first-time exhibit from the Council of District Executives appeared this year. Maps & Greetings were to the left, and various pieces of Resource Literature was on the right. District Staff have worked together since the early 1970s for these Statements of Purpose. Monday afternoon they presented their Annual Report to the delegate body. The high ceiling Exhibit Hall provided ample space for the usual booths from the Colleges, a lofty On Earth Peace, Brethren Press, SERRV, Church World Service, Mutual Aid Agency, Outdoor Ministries, and many other Projects & Interests.

REPORTABLE AGENCIES:

Brethren Benefit Trust arranged for Free WiFi throughout the conference building. Technology is becoming more important to the Brethren as numerous Laptops and hand mobiles were seen on the main conference floor. WiFi first appeared at 2007 Cleveland in a very limited area. Bethany Theological Seminary again provided Webcasts through LiveStream.com which made it possible for anyone with a computer and Internet connection to view worship and business sessions.

OFFICERS:

2011 Conference Officers were Moderator Robert E. Alley, pastor of Bridgewater COB, Bridgewater, Virginia; Moderator-elect Tim Harvey, pastor of Central COB, Roanoke, Virginia; and Secretary Fred Swartz.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:



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2010 Logo
2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 224th

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The 224th Annual Conference (July 3-7, 2010) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, located at 1000 Fort Duquesne Boulevard, immediately adjacent to the Allegheny River, and in the very heart of the downtown area. Decades ago, the city of Pittsburgh had the unfortunate reputation of being a polluted city that was usually covered with a blanket of smoke due to the numerous Steel Mills in the area. That has dramatically changed over the years, as mayors, city planners, and vested interests have striven to produce an environmentally friendly city with Clear Blue Skies. The conference center is touted as a Green 1ST facility. Not only was it constructed with environmentally responsible innovations such as more than 75% of the building using natural light through Moveable Sail Panels and open walkways with Glass Walls, but that natural light is then reflected from Brightly Colored Walls. Its daily operation incorporates policies such as Recycling and conservation. The Light Weight Roof is suspended by cables attached to Huge Anchors that were also seen inside the Conference Center. Brethren were Welcomed to a structure that also reflects many of their simple living values. The adjacent Westin Hotel served as the primary base for attendees. It is connected to the Center through a Skywalk that reminded some Brethren of the many similar Skywalks of the Des Moines 2006 Annual Conference.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Also known as the City of Bridges, at a total of 446, Pittsburgh has three more bridges than Venice, Italy. Persistence could have been learned by Conference goers from this tree that was growing from a bridge abutment. The downtown area is a mixture of different Building Styles, cultural flavors, and the opportunity to get wet on a hot afternoon at the PPG Complex. Along both the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers which parallel the city, one can see a wide variety of River Craft. Coinciding with the Brethren event was the annual Three Rivers Regatta that garnered even more boats and thousands of people to the riverfront. Saturday evening the hometown Pittsburgh Pirates lost to the visiting Philadelphia Phillies, 12-4 at PNC Park. Sports fans in this town are stridently loyal. Hometown colors of Gold & Black are prominent everywhere. Late Sunday evening, the July 4th Fireworks entertained most of the city and surrounding river-front districts. River Construction also provided attendees with side-enjoyment.

This is a great place to dine with friends. Two hundred and one Pittsburgh restaurants have national reviews. Friends, Relatives, and District Groups had no trouble finding a nice place for their annual get-to-gether. Lunch & Dinner were again offered to attendees in the Exhibit Hall. Children & Youth were often seen going to activities. Tuesday evening is the traditional evening for the Children's Choir to perform. After singing, the Children presented Moderator Replogle with a Special Quilt that had been uniquely signed by each child with their painted hand. Presenting evening worshippers with a nice range of music was the Adult Choir. The Message Board held many notes, and the Prayer Board had a few requests. This year a new face gave official announcements. Chris Douglas assumed responsibilities as the new Conference Director in September 2009, from the retiring Lerry Fogle who had served Conferences 2003-2009. Standing Committee member John Shelly found time to have some fun.

INSIGHT SESSIONS:

A total of 63 sessions gave attendees a wide range of topics and interests from which to choose. Many attended the Special Response Committee. During this same time frame, Youth Activities gave younger Brethren a chance to similarly grow, learn, and interact.

EXHIBITS:

The very low ceiling of the San Diego 2009 exhibit hall returned to the customary High Ceiling of most Conferences (2008 2006). The 2010 Exhibit Hall represented a wide array of Brethren concerns and interests. Spacious walkways and unused areas provided ample room for the traditional Brethren game of Four Square and the new innovation of Nine Square. While youth waited for the Sunday evening July 4th fireworks display, Four Square was enjoyed on the roof top walkway of the Center.

REPORTABLE AGENCIES:

A first for the Church of the Brethren. Webcasts of many Annual Conference events were streamed by Bethany Theological Seminary through the services of LiveStream.com. Brethren "back home" and elsewhere were able to view live televised events over the Internet. This worldwide offering gave non-attending persons the opportunity to, at least, feel as though they were apart of the event.

OFFICERS:

2010 Conference Officers were Moderator Shawn Flory Replogle, Co-Pastor of the First Church of the Brethren, McPherson, Kansas; Moderator-elect Robert E. Alley, pastor of the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren in Bridgewater, Virginia; and Secretary Fred Swartz. Moderator Replogle drew attention to the captioning that appears at the bottom of the large screens, to inform delegates that this service was actually being done by a firm in his native state of Kansas. Everyone laughed when the captioneer responded by stating that they were actually located in Topeka. He replied by saying: “That's where my taxes go.”

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

No Ice Cream

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2009 Logo
2009 San Diego, California 223th

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The 224th Annual Conference (June 26-30, 2009) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Town & Country Resort & Convention Center located at 500 Hotel Circle North, in the Mission Valley district or the heart of San Diego. Extending over 32 acres, guests are accommodated in 996 rooms in either of Two Main Towers or many ranch style Garden Bungalows. Unlike most Conference venues with a large city auditorium in the midst of several downtown hotels that requires walking on unfamiliar streets at night, this location is better described as a walled Campus that offered attendees meeting space, accommodations, eateries, and shopping, immediately surrounded by a treasure of beautiful scenery, all in one place without the incursion of walking at night on city streets. There were several very good campus Restaurants, a few providing Alfresco Dining.
Personal security afforded by this type of location was overheard in not just a few conversations. Additional delights of the Town & Country Resort were spacious Brick Walkways surrounded by Flowers. There were Tiny Pools, Large Pools, and Ornate Pools. There were Short Trees, Tall Trees, and Banana Trees. Conference is a time for chatting and there was Lady Chatting, Group Chatting, Dinner Chatting, and Puzzle Chatting. Security was a blessing for young as well as old. Frequently one would see Children & Youth going about their activities in Complete Safety of the campus confinement. Tuesday evening remained the traditional time for the Children's Choir. Saturday evening, worship leader Jonathan Shively told a Children's Story on the main floor.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Across the San Diego River was a huge Shopping Mall complete with many familiar stores and great restaurants. The Metropolitan Transit System, referred to by locals as The Trolley, completely encircles the city of San Diego with its pleasing mixture of Old & New. Any visit to this region begs to also include a side trip to the world famous San Diego Zoo. Confusing for at least a few Brethren was the fact that the city of San Diego has its own Convention Center adjacent to the harbor. Presuming this venue to be the correct location for Conference, they had reserved rooms in one of the nearby Towering Hotels without going through the Annual Conference office. Landing at the San Diego airport from the east includes one of the steepest descents in the nation. Airplanes must clear the ridge of Balboa park and then drop over 250 feet to the runway in less than one mile, further complicated by a parking garage immediately under the flight path. Ex-military pilots now in commercial aviation enjoy the extra challenge and passengers facing west get a spectacular view of the Downtown Area.
The Main Entrance to the Conference Center from the city was seen by fewer Brethren as most entered from the opposite Campus Side of the building. Registration took place in the lobby inside from the the city entrance. First greeting inside the campus doors was the host Pacific-Southwest District's Hospitality Room. Technology has not replaced the old fashioned Bulletin Board which is always a mixture of personal contact requests and mini-announcements.

EXHIBITS:

High ceilings of previous years gave way to low ceilings and multiple rooms for exhibits. The regulars such as SERRV, Brethren Colleges, Outdoor Ministries, and Brethren Press, to name a few, were well represented. New themes were witnessed in Cross-Cultural Ministries emphasis or life-style changes from Brethren Volunteer Service. Exhibit booths came in all dimensions from the elaborate of Stewardship to the plain message of Global Missions, to the exotic of the Brethren Service Center. A variety of WiFi Games (bowling here) were available and enjoyed by all ages.

OFFICERS:

2009 Conference Officers were Moderator David Shumate, District Executive of the Virlina District; Moderator-elect Shawn Flory Replogle, pastor of McPherson COB, McPherson, Kansas; and Secretary Fred Swartz.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2008 Logo
2008 Richmond, Virgina 222th
300th Anniversary 1708~2008

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The 222nd Annual Conference (July 12-16, 2008) and the 300th Anniversary of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Richmond Coliseum, 601 East Leigh Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219. The facility opened in 1971 at a cost of $24 million with 10,000 seats and was upgraded in 1993 with additional seating for 2,500, all on Five Levels. Nearly 180,000 square feet was available for Brethren Exhibits that were displayed in the Greater Richmond Convention Center, located just across the street from the Coliseum at 403 North 3rd Street. Registration took place in the massive front lobby. The second floor Food Court was one of several on site eateries. Smiling Faces and happy tummies were easy to find. As in other years, Contracted Buses assisted Brethren moving back and forth from their hotels and the Conference site.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

This year marked an historic event as two of the largest Brethren denominations that emanated from the original Schwarzenau Brethren, the Church of the Brethren and The Brethren Church, jointly worshiped and fellowshiped in a spirit of unity. A unity that had not occurred at the denominational level since the year 1882 when H.R. Holsinger was repudiated or disowned by Annual Conference (then Annual Meeting). His progressive wing of Brethren members quickly joined together the very next year to establish The Brethren Church.
It was auspicious that this Conference of Unity took place in the historic city of Richmond, Virginia, for it was here that Abraham Lincoln came on April 4, 1865, immediately following the evacuation of the Confederate government and only five days before the surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox Court House. Then, it was a time and place for healing national wounds. Now, both the Church of the Brethren and The Brethren Church would seek to heal denominational wounds that have left scars since their split more than a hundred years ago. Lincoln's visit was more symbolic than substantive. Some residents looked upon Lincoln with disdain. He was greeted mostly by Freed Slaves. Much of the city Lay In Ruin, either from bombardment or set afire by fleeing Confederate soldiers. The mercantile Shockoe District (pronounced SCHOCK-ohh) was immediately rebuilt and still retains the same pre-war appearance. Shops along its Cobblestone Streets make it a great walking tour. It is especially noted for shopping, dining and entertainment. You'll be greeted by an occasional Cannon Barrel which now serves as a depository for cigarettes. President Lincoln came to Richmond “To Bind Up the Nations Wounds.” It would be many years before genuine reconciliation occurred between the North and the South, but Richmond was a beginning. Likewise, it will be many years before both Brethren denominations stand in full reconciliation with each other, but Annual Conference 2008 in Richmond was a step in that direction.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Also sharing space in the front lobby was the 300th Anniversary Quilt, composed of 4,779 two inch squares made from 223 different fabrics, intricately pieced together by artist Rachel Brown. On a Convenient Table was a large book detailing all the submitted Patch Work. This quilt represents the Colors and Textures of people that are bound together by common threads. The more diverse are the colors the more beautiful the overall appearance. Brown reflects on her project: “At every step of the way, I found myself wondering how grand the church of Jesus Christ could be if we would begin to treat each other as pieces in a quilt ... If a block seems out of place, think about the people in your community that might feel out of place in your church ... The church needs to be the model for a world unraveling.

Wide Pedestrian Areas between the Coliseum and the Exhibit Hall provided room for spacious exhibits such as the Eyes Wide Open peace exhibit. Each pair of boots represented a fallen US service man or women and each pair of shoes represented a civilian Iraqi casualty. The presentation was organized by the American Friends Service Committee and sponsored by the Brethren Witness/Washington Office and On Earth Peace. This wide area also gave opportunity for presentation of The John Kline Horses. Newly released Business Session Delegates happily stopped to enjoy some “hands-on” interaction with the horses, even Little Hands. Tuesday evening is the traditional time for the Children's Choir, and solid color T-shirts are an instant give-away that Our Youth are involved in a well planned schedule of indoor and outdoor activities. The Adult Choir delivered inspiring musical selections for worship services.

UNITY NOTES:

It has been almost 126 years since members of the Church of the Brethren and members of The Brethren Church last worshipped together at their Annual Meeting in a field in Kosciusko County, Indiana. On Sunday July 13, 2008, members of both denominations worshipped together again, to mutually celebrate their 300th Anniversary. It was only appropriate that they sang that historic hymn: “Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord, our God.”
A highlight ceremony of unity was the mixing of Waters. Poured into a Common Pool was symbolic water from: the Eder River (scene of the original European baptisms), both denominations, numerous districts, congregations, agencies, and church camps. It exemplified a spirit of reunification as they mixed their differences into a Final Commonness.
First Sermon: Arden Gilmer, pastor of Park Street Brethren Church, Ashland, Ohio, titled, “No Root; No Fruit.”
Second Sermon: Shanthi Edwin, pastor of Brush Valley Brethren Church, Adrian, Pennsylvania, titled, “Power In Unity.”
Third Sermon: Chris Bowman, pastor of Oakton COB, Vienna, Virginia, titled, “Well Grounded Grain Brings Phenomenal Fruit.”
The 2008 Annual Conference officially began the previous Saturday evening with Moderator Jim Beckwith, pastor of Annville Church of the Brethren, Annville, Pennsylvania, calling all Brethren to unity with the sermon title: “Begin With Surrender.” Beckwith spoke of the challenges faced by Alexander and Anna Mack as they sought to do the Lord's will at a time when European state churches were hostile to people seeking their faith mission outside of their established protocols. He was 27 and she was 25 but they risked everything to count the cost of radical discipleship, by surrendering all they had known and fleeing their home. Beckwith also revealed his personal genealogical connection to the original founding eight Brethren, “My great-grandmother, was a Vetter, descended from Lukas Vetter, one of the first 8 Brethren baptized in the Eder River at Schwarzenau in 1708.”

PREDICTABLE NOTES:

Brethren are partially defined by their Fellowship around mealtime. Richmond was no different. Numerous Groups related by congregation or district sought nice restaurants to celebrate another year together. Eugene had exceeded his gastronomic limits but ordered desert anyway, thinking that there was still room for Chocolate Cake. He was wrong. Several people gratefully came to his rescue. This eatery was one of several great restaurants in the historic Shockoe part of Richmond.
Technology is becoming more a part of the Brethren lifestyle. Use of personal Laptops during Annual Conference is increasing. Business sessions are accompanied by a greater dependency on the digital side of things, and occasionally you may see Two Laptops in the same row. These conference goers might be researching the history surrounding a current item of business on the conference floor, or searching for a good restaurant, or perhaps using a map program to better navigate the city -- but certainly not playing games.

EXHIBITS:

As membership of the Brethren continues to diminish, it would appear that their Exhibit Space at Annual Conference continues to increase. Much of the increase this year was certainly due to the 300th Anniversary Celebration. Brethren Memorabilia of all types from Several Collections were on display, including the first and second edition Christopher Saur Bibles. The Saur editions are actually reprints of church reformer Martin Luther's German Translation. Of special trivia note is that some leaves were reversed: Psalm 38 before Psalm 23. Note: Slideshow of exhibits is now under reconstruction.

Compare Books

OFFICERS:

2008 Conference Officers were Moderator James Beckwith, pastor of Annville COB, Annville, Pennsylvania; Moderator-elect David Shumate, District Executive of the Virlina District; and Secretary Fred Swartz.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

National Christian Choir

The National Christian Choir blessed worshippers following the Saturday Evening Worship Service.

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2007 Logo
2007 Cleveland, Ohio 221th

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The 221th Annual Conference (June 30 - July 4, 2007) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Cleveland Convention Center Public Auditorium, 500 Lakeside Avenue East, Cleveland, OH 44114, located next to Lake Erie, the Cleveland Browns Football Stadium, the Great Lakes Science Center, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the latter promoted by 9 foot Guitars on most street corners. Lake fronts provide an attractive place for Weddings and more Weddings, and in Cleveland the customary transportation is a Stretch Hummer. The Convention Center has over 278,000 square feet of exhibition space, a 10,000 seat Auditorium, a 3,000 seat Music Hall, a 600 seat Little Theater, and a spacious 21,000 square foot Registration Lobby. Unfortunately, this facility was not as modern as Brethren have enjoyed recently. Construction of this neoclassical edifice began in 1920 and received a few upgrades, the last being in 1964. But as of 2007, this auditorium is an aging facility. Plaster is hanging loose from walls and ceilings. Fixtures are heavily worn. Ramp paving blocks have numerous chips and cracks. Springs are pushing up through the padding of balcony seats. Entrance to the facility is confusing. One entrance is above ground, a second is below ground, and the lobby is Underneath Both. City Planners have been seeking to replace it for several years, yet it is one that is rich in history. Despite its drawbacks, the convention officials were accommodating and rolled out the Welcoming Banner.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

The word Cleveland brings to mind one of the all-time great football legends, Jim Brown, who played professional football for the Cleveland Browns from 1957 until 1965. His lifetime statistics are overwhelming, especially considering the league's expansion to 16 games in 1978. In National Football League history, Brown is the only rusher to average more than 100 yards per game for a career. Brown's record of scoring 100 touchdowns in 93 games withstood all challengers until the 2006 season. He was the rusher who could not easily be tackled. Brown's lifetime rushing record was an astonishing 5.2 yards per carry. Sometimes it required three or four opponents to bring him to the turf. One surely must wonder what his lifetime stats would have been if he would have played 16 games per season instead of 12. Jim Brown is rated by the NFL as the #2 Player of all-time (as of the 2009 season).

Another milestone took place in 1957, when two denominations met in this very Auditorium to form a new denomination of about two million members: The Evangelical Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Churches became the United Church of Christ. History was made again this year when Belita Mitchell, pastor of Harrisburg First COB, became the first African-American women to preside as Annual Conference moderator. (The first African-American man to serve as moderator was William Hayes in 1988, and the first women to serve as moderator was Elaine Sollenberger in 1989.) Mitchell has achieved a milestone which reflects a growing openness among Brethren to diversity and cultural issues. Her Sunday Morning sermon emphasized the need for prayer in every avenue of our life. She encouraged members to be intense about the work of Christ: “I don't believe declining membership was a part of Christ's mission!”

SPECIAL NOTES:

A pleasant drive south on Interstate 71 from Cleveland is the city of Ashland which is headquarters to our sister denomination The Brethren Church and home to Ashland University, founded in 1878. Administrative control and hence the future mission of this university (then a college) was hotly contended by two major factions in The Brethren Church during the 1930s. Thousands left to form the Grace Brethren denomination and those remaining in The Brethren Church were sometimes referred to as the Ashland Brethren. Continuing south along the Interstate is the city of Mansfield and the Bible Walk museum and Cathedral which portrays biblical stories through numerous scenes of Wax Figures. (Note: These wax figures are in the lobby where photography is not restricted.) Just around the corner is the former Ohio State Reformatory whose Castle Like structure has been film location for several movies including the emotionally charged Shawshank Redemption. It is now a museum and open to the public for scheduled events such as meetings, parties, and receptions, as well as regular guided tours.

With a post 2000 Conference shorter time frame for business it has forced Conference Officers and the Delegate Body to work harder in order to process the usual amount of business. The long times of conversation following business sessions of many years ago have been exchanged for Rushing and Running. This year it was necessary to convene a special two hour business session immediately following the Tuesday evening worship service, in order for Delegates to process the load of business. Many other particulars seemed to continue as usual: persons in wheelchairs found special niches provided for them in the main seating area, persons with allergies congregated to the odor free zone, closed-circuit captioning was again provided for the hearing impaired, and Spanish Translation was available for those not understanding English.

Year by year, Whole Families are taking advantage of the unrestricted open area behind the main conference seating. Children love to run and this open area permits a freedom that would otherwise be hindered by regular connected chair seating. Conference-goers were happy to make friends with Fuzzy Dog who gave warm hugs and hand-shakes. Tuesday evening worship is the traditional time for the Children's Choir to sing.

INSIGHT SESSIONS:

Numerous opportunities abounded for Conference attendees to be enriched by these classroom type sessions, and several agencies offered more than one. Enhancing Worship with Digital Stained Glass or Multimedia Worship explained how technology is enhancing the worship service and also how to stay focused on the essence of worship so that technology does not become a distraction. Awards were given for the best submitted presentations.

EXHIBITS:

Well represented were Agencies, Colleges, Special Interests, Brethren Press, Just For Kids, and the General Board. Ohio Northern District and Ohio Southern District were the host districts which typically provides a Hospitality Center where people can relax, enjoy Puzzle Working, play games, and chat. Bible Visit encouraged Brethren to reexamine their biblical connections with a strong emphasis on reading the Bible and understanding their biblical heritage. Free DVDs were passed out to further explain their purpose, especially the historical contributions of the Christopher Saur family. An original Saur Bible printed in 1763 along with accompanying Framed Pages and interpretative text was on display.

REPORTABLE AGENCIES:

A first for Conference this year was the public use of Wi-Fi (pronounced why-fye) or wireless Internet connection offered by Bethany Theological Seminary. Conference goers having wireless enabled devices could pick up the SSID of Bethany when inside the broadcast perimeter of their Access Point. Bethany also provided Laptop Computers for anyone to stop and check their e-mail. Bethany president Eugene F. Roop announced his retirement at AC 2006 and has been succeeded by Ruthann Knechel Johansen.

OFFICERS:

2007 Conference Officers were Moderator Belita Mitchell, pastor of First COB, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Moderator-elect James Beckwith, pastor of Annville COB, Annville, Pennsylvania; and Secretary Fred Swartz.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

  1. Merger of General Board and Association of Brethren Caregivers including Annual Conference Council
  2. Leadership roles examined and enhanced for consistency
  3. Core values should be promoted through identity and heritage curriculum
  4. Evangelism needs to be strengthened
  5. Stewardship education with necessary staffing
  6. Professional growth and sabbatical to alleviate burnout. Review calling out process
  7. Stagger denominational conferences so as not to convene in the same year
  8. Technological methods should be explored to better communicate information and activities
  9. Congregational Life Teams need to promote their mission to congregations
  10. Encourage churches to be more welcoming to diverse cultures and ethnic backgrounds

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2006 Logo
2006 Des Moines, Iowa 220th

Photo Outside
Photo Inside
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The 220th Annual Conference (July 1-5, 2006) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Iowa Events Center, 730 Third Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309, a four-time “All American City.” Finished only about two years ago at a price tag of $217 million, this complex is the most costly public project in the state's history. It consists of the renovated 7,200 seat Veterans Memorial Auditorium, the 250,000 square-foot Hy-Vee Hall, and the 17,000 seat Wells Fargo Arena. When the Auditorium was first constructed in 1954, it was one of the largest auditoriums in the nation, rivaling those of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Especially appropriate for the gathering of a peace church was the Veterans Peace Memorial which stands just outside the Auditorium. Two Hands reach skyward beckoning passersby to pray for peace. Worship services and business sessions were held in the Auditorium. Registration, Exhibits, Insight Sessions, Message Boards, and the Cash Buffet were located in Hy-Vee Hall.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

It was in 1908 Des Moines that the German Baptist Brethren decided to change their name to the Church of the Brethren. The divisions of twenty years earlier had left them groping for a new identity. The conservatives departed in 1881 and the progressives two year later. Few members spoke German anymore and their agrarian subculture was slowly disappearing. They simply were not who they used to be. No longer distinctly German and eschewing the word baptist, the label Brethren was the only thing left, so, they became the Church of the Brethren. In 1958 in this Same Auditorium, the Church of the Brethren celebrated its 250th Year of Existence and 172nd Annual Conference. Several Brethren who had attended that 1958 Conference posed for a commemorative Group Photo. Madison County to the southwest has many Covered Bridges that have been featured in books and movies.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Iowa leads the nation in the production of corn, soybeans, pork, and eggs. Alternative fuels proponents will be happy to know that at 1.2 billion gallons annually, Iowa produces more ethanol per year than any other state. Just a few miles south is the little town of Winterset, birthplace of television and movie star John Wayne. The house is, naturally, located on Wayne Drive. The capital of Iowa is Des Moines and boasts nearly Three Miles of enclosed climate-controlled, overhead walk-ways called Skywalks. You see them all over town. There are Short Spans, Long Spans, and Inside Building spans. It was especially nice for Conference Goers to be sheltered from both rain and traffic. It's the most extensive such system “per capita” in the world. After Monday evening services, a beautiful Rainbow blessed worshippers as they walked back to their hotels. Conference is also that time of year when Brethren are blessed with the opportunity of renewing friendships. In addition to regularly scheduled agency luncheons and dinners, many Brethren arrange private group get-to-gathers such as the members of Southern District, Northern Zone at the Spaghetti Works. Tuesday evening is the traditional time for the Children's Choir. Of special appreciation were the Shuttle Buses that operated on a regular loop from all hotels to the Auditorium. Lunch and dinner were again served with a Cash Buffet which permits good dining without leaving the convention complex. This year Brethren had the opportunity to post special prayer requests on the Prayer Square board. A small textual change to the Conference Theme added Spanish to the common English version.

EXHIBITS:

The spaciousness of HY-Vee Hall provided Ample Room for Exhibits. Brethren agencies and related organizations were well represented such as Church World Service. At the booth of Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists Thomas Liby explains their work and provides tips on research. Northern Plains District was the host district which typically provides a Hospitality Center. SERRV had a special table for Nativity Scenes.

REPORTABLE AGENCIES:

Association of Brethren Caregivers sponsored a wellness campaign this past year called Lighten Up, Brethren! It challenges members to re-examine their lifestyles and adopt behaviors that would promote better physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Posters throughout the complex reminded Brethren to consider healthier living practices. Brethren Benefit Trust promoted this theme by constructing a working Miniature Golf course in their exhibit area. Bethany Theological Seminary president Eugene F. Roop will be retiring after fifteen years of leadership.

OFFICERS:

2006 Conference Officers were Moderator Ronald Beachley, District Minister of Pennsylvania Western District; Moderator-elect Belita Mitchell, pastor of Harrisburg First COB, Harrisburg Pennsylvania; and Secretary Fred Swartz.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2005 Logo
2005 Peoria, Illinois 219th

Peoria Civic Center - Outside
Peoria Civic Center - Inside
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The 219th Annual Conference (July 2-6, 2005) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Peoria Civic Center, 201 SW Jefferson Avenue, Peoria, IL 61602. The Center comprises three separate venues under one roof: the Carver Arena with a total seating capacity of 12,145, an Exhibit Hall providing 63,668 square feet of display space, and a Performing Arts Theater, plus additional small Meeting Rooms. Business and worship convened in the large Carver Arena, also home of the Peoria hockey team the Rivermen. Some conference attendees joked about sitting in the penalty box. It is the largest convention facility anywhere in mid-state Illinois. Peoria is the third most populated city in the State, and the largest on the Illinois River. It was named after the Peoria Tribe. Because of references to Peoria in Horatio Alger's novel “Five Hundred Dollars” and perceiving Peoria to be a good representation of an average American city, Vaudeville entertainers would often say that succeeding in Peoria, meant succeeding anywhere. That phrase or question “Will it play in Peoria?” has now become common place in American mainstream conversation. Peoria is also known as the home of Caterpiller, Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel engines, and gas turbines.

Leisure activities were plentiful along the riverfront, including a flea market with local Artisans demonstrating their trade, Street Musicians entertaining passersby, and children jumping around in this animal Air House. Especially refreshing to Adventurous Brethren was the afternoon cruise on the resident paddle wheeler The Spirit of Peoria that offered Comfortable Seating, refreshing mist from the Paddle Wheels, calm river breezes, and Friendly Faces, lots of Friendly Faces. Can you see Mother Duck? This female mallard sat quietly and motionless as People Waited to board the Paddle Wheeler. The Convention Center Grounds was more like a city park, with ample room to sit on the warm grass or under an Umbrella Table. Families and Special Groups frequently used the ornate Pedestal Clock as a meeting spot.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Special words of greeting were expressed to the delegate body on Tuesday afternoon from Ken Hunn, Executive Director of The Brethren Church, especially remarking that their past Conference theme centered on Evangelism, and their current theme centers on Evangelism, and that their next theme will center on Evangelism. Also during the Tuesday evening worship the traditional Children's Choir blessed worshippers with several songs. Immediately before each worship service the Christ Candle was lit. A new technological innovation for the deaf and hearing impaired this year was the use of Closed-Circuit Captioning instead of Sign Language. Meals were served at lunch and dinner from a buffet. There was a large area of tables and chairs, where Brethren had no difficulty in Fellowshipping with other Brethren.

REPORTABLE AGENCIES:

Bethany Theological Seminary celebrates their 100th Anniversary with a large exhibit of archived material including former student desks, paraphernalia, and numerous photographs covering their different ministry phases: Hastings Street Mission, Bethany Bible School (1905-1909), Bethany Bible School (1909-1931), and the Bethany Biblical Seminary (1931-1963) on Van Buren Street. Brethren Benefit Trust, the people with the green logo, encouraged us to Think Pink, in an effort to create awareness concerning good health (taken from the common slogan of being “In the Pink”).

OFFICERS:

2005 Conference Officers were Moderator Jim Hardenbrook, Idaho District Executive; Moderator-elect Ronald Beachley, Pennsylvania Western District Executive Minister; and Secretary Fred Swartz.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2004 Logo
2004 Charleston, WV 218th

Charleston Civic Center - Outside
Charleston Civic Center - Inside
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The 218th Annual Conference (July 3-7, 2004) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Charleston Civic Center 200 Civic Center Drive, Charleston, West Virginia 25301. The CCC is a megaplex of four venues: the the Municipal Auditorium, the Little Theater, Convention Center, and the Coliseum with a seating capacity for up to 13,500. Additionally, there are numerous conference rooms, parlor rooms, a large Banquet Hall, and a Convention Hall that offers over 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, plus on site paid parking that can accommodate up to 2,000 vehicles, with adjacent paid parking for more than 4,000 vehicles within a three-block area. The original 1959 facility completed at a cost of $3 million offered 6,000 seats. In February, 1966 Wilt Chamberlain broke the NBA’s all time scoring record at the Civic Center. National Hotels were nearby with Spacious Room with nice Dining Facilities that offered comfortable features as well as great food. A huge Shopping Mall enabled Brethren to pickup traveling necessities and souvenirs. Near the middle was a Water Fall that became a favorite meeting spot for Brethren groups.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

The issue of slavery is the reason for the existence of the State of West Virginia. Following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 who was a strong advocate of freedom, Southerners became enraged that the previous 32 years of Jacksonian-Democratic control might come to a halt in the US Congress, and that would jeopardize their heritage and industry built on slavery. Eleven states quickly seceded from the Union and the State of Virginia, voted to join them on April 17, 1861. However, 26 northwestern counties refused to go along with them, for the rugged terrain of this area made slavery unprofitable, and social development year by year only increased the differences between these two parts of Virginia. At the Wheeling Conventions they repealed the Ordinance of Secession passed by Virginia, and became known as the “Restored Government of Virginia,” and later, West Virginia.

SPECIAL NOTES:

The Coliseum gave Worshippers plenty of room. The uppermost blue section was originally roped off but the volume of attendees eventually forced convention officials to open it, and it remained open throughout the week. Talented Musicians enhanced the spiritual atmosphere of each service. A Brass Ensemble performed for the Saturday evening worship service, and also for passersby in the convention lobby, a wide area that depicted many Historical Items of Charlestown. On Sunday morning, worshippers were blessed to hear the Palmyra Canticle Bell Choir. Tuesday evening worship is the treasured moment to hear the Children's Choir, this year one song involved Coordinated Movement. New for this year was a special “fragrance free” section located at the front-right of the convention hall to accommodate persons suffering from allergies or similar health related issues. Live Updating of business on the projection screens, allowing delegates to more clearly visualize how proposed amendments from the floor would affect the reading of the original draft. This is a welcome improvement

EXHIBITS:

Brethren agencies displayed and interpreted their ministries in the Exhibit Hall. Art enthusiasts had an opportunity to express their ideas for peace through the Living Peace Church Art Project

OFFICERS:

2004 Conference Officers were Moderator Christopher Bowman, pastor of Memorial COB, Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, and former General Board Chairperson; Moderator-Elect Jim Hardenbrook, Idaho District Executive; and Secretary Fred Swartz.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

300th Anniversary

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2003 Logo
2003 Boise, Idaho 217th

The University Pavillion
Inside the Pavillion
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The 217th Annual Conference (July 5-9, 2003) of the Church of the Brethren was held on the 175 acre main campus of Boise State University in their 13,000 seat, 17,472 square foot sports complex called The Pavilion (later renamed Taco Bell Arena). The university has an enrollment over 19,000 students pursuing 190 fields of interest with degrees of undergraduate, graduate, technical programs within the scope of seven colleges. Their football stadium, home to the Broncos, is the only such stadium with a Blue Field playing surface. Earl Boen and a few other Boise State alumni have become famous motion picture stars.

Idaho produces more potatoes than any other state in the nation. Approximately 400,000 acres are planted every year and accounts for about 34% of the nation's consumption. More than thirty varieties are grown in regions from high elevations to the low flat lands. What makes this area of the country so unique is that Idaho enjoys the warmest mean temperatures in the Northwest. Every year farmers can expect about 90-100 growing days within a 180 frost-free day window. Potato Souvenirs are to be found in most Boise Gift Shops.

Nicknamed the City of Trees, Boise has a population slightly over 403,000 and rests at an elevation of 2,842 feet. Straddling the Boise River, it has become a haven for water sports and recreational pursuits such as Rafting. There are many city parks and Court Fountains that offer relief from the hot dry climate. This shift to a campus environment is in keeping with increasing requests to lower the cost of Annual Conference by utilizing the facilities of universities or second-tier cities.

Ice-Blocking is a fun sport in the Boise foothills. Visitors to this area usually ask: “What's Ice-Blocking?” It's sort of like sled-riding, except without snow or a sled. You sit on a block of ice and glide down a hill of grass. You won't have trouble finding a hill of grass. Just look towards the foothills and it will be the only Green Hill visible. Potato magnate J.R. Simplot lived in the mansion on that green hill, but donated the entire hill to the State of Idaho to be used as the governor's mansion. Children in the area soon discovered that they were welcomed to play on its slopes and that's when Ice-Blocking was invented (in this area anyway). Local residents were about the friendliest of any recent Annual Conference venue. Many Brethren were surprised to discover being waved at from across the street. Boise shows its religion on its arm-sleeve. Rescue Missions and charity minded associations were noticeable everywhere. Transportation around the city often had a Western Flair.

SPECIAL NOTES:

There is a new Annual Conference Executive Director this year. Lerry Fogle of Frederick, Maryland, assumes the helm from Duane Steiner who resigned at AC 2002. Traditional buffet meals were served in the Student Union cafeteria, and the western bar-b-que style under outside tenting. Groups had no difficulty locating a place for their Annual Dining get-together. Judging by the photographs in the COB-NET photo album, the Message Boards contained more notes than any other Annual Conference, before or after. In Jesus' Name was the theme and logo of the Conference but Prayer was the emphasis. Youth from each District made drawings of what prayer meant to them and was displayed on Prayer Walls. Each one expressed their deepest Heart Feelings of what they such prayer would accomplish. Tuesday evening provides worshippers with another opportunity to enjoy the Children's Choir.

EXHIBITS:

Exhibits were housed in both the college Pavilion (main Conference arena) or the adjacent Kinesiology Center. The regular agencies, SERRV & Outdoor Ministries were well represented with a few new ones Proclaiming Christ and listing every living Church of the Brethren Licensed and Ordained minister.

OFFICERS:

2003 Conference Officers were Moderator Harriet Finney, Co-District Executive of Indiana South-Central District; Moderator-elect Christopher Bowman, pastor of Memorial COB, Martinsburg, Pennsylvania; and new Secretary Fred Swartz beginning his first term, as Cathy Huffman finished her service at AC 2002.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

2002 Logo
2002 Louisville, Kentucky 216th

Louisville Convention Center - Outside
Louisville Convention Center - Inside
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The 216th Annual Conference (June 29-July 3, 2002) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Kentucky International Convention Center, 221 Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40202, just a few blocks from the Ohio River with the State of Indiana on the opposite side. Brethren enjoyed the use of a 1999 renovated facility that covers 300,000 square feet of total space, including 200,000 square foot of exhibit space, 145,000 of which is column-free, plus 52 meeting rooms. Additionally impressive were the terrazzo flooring which depicted many of the important events in Kentucky history. The settlement that later became the city of Louisville was founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark and named after King Louis XVI of France. Locating the convention center was very easy as three major Interstates I-64, I-65, and I-71, all pass within a few blocks of the facility and surrounding Hotels. Downtown atmosphere was enjoyable, residents were friendly, and many notable figures of Kentucky were easy to engage in Conversation.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

Louisville is naturally home to the Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum, easily located by its mammoth 120 foot tall Baseball Bat leaning against the building. Since 1884 they have been literally Turning Out Bats for all major league baseball players, a few of which have been retired to their Baseball Museum following an impressive player career or one-time event. The river walk permitted Conference-goers an opportunity to relax, take a quick river tour on a Paddle-wheel Boat, or adjust their time to the gigantic 40 foot Colgate Clock at the Colgate-Palmolive factory across the river. It has been featured as a backdrop in several motion pictures. For those who like side trips, it's only a few blocks south to Church Hill Downs, famous for the Kentucky Derby, or several miles south to the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Moderator Paul Grout opened the Saturday evening worship service by erecting his Cross of Jesus. He implored conference goers to recognize that sincere repentance is an extremely important segment of preparation before conducting and processing denominational business. Following the Old Testament custom for repentance as found in Daniel 9:3, “And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes,” Grout provided several tables of Ashes & Sackcloth. Following the main worship service but still under inspirational music, Willing Penitents spread ashes over their heads and set patches of sackcloth on their shoulders to outwardly express their inward spiritual need. Candles on the Worship Table were lit before each service to continually emphasize the theme of repentance. The Children Walking in their monitored groups were often observed around the city, and Tuesday evening is the treasured moment to hear the Children Singing before the evening worship service. Volunteers Quilted hundreds of patches sent in from districts and congregations. Finishing touches are given to the main 2002 Logo Quilt, featuring the Conference logo prominently centered and surrounded by patches from congregations, districts, camps, and agencies. A technological innovation permitted delegates to visually see Proposed Admendment Changes on screen, instead listening to them being read by the Conference Secretary. It was a welcome change.

OFFICERS:

2002 Conference Officers were Moderator Paul Grout, pastor of Genesis COB, Putney, Vermont; Moderator-elect Harriet Finney, Co-District Executive of Indiana South-Central; and Secretary Cathy Huffman.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

Logo
2001 Baltimore, Maryland 215th

Baltimore Convention Center - Outside
Baltimore Convention Center - Inside
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The 215th Annual Conference (June 30-July 4, 2001) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Baltimore Convention Center, 1 West Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, located about three blocks from the Inner Harbor complex which includes the National Aquarium and the Baltimore Maritime Museum. The City of Baltimore owns the facility and built it in two phases. An opening date of 1979 at a cost of fifty-one million offered over 425,000 total exhibition and meeting room space square feet with a ceiling height of thirty feet. Just in time for the Brethren, a second building phase completed in April 1997 increased the Center's total space to 1,225,000 square feet. Nearby hotels and the Inner Harbor are accessible by elevated open air skywalks. Annual Conference has previously visited the State of Maryland thirteen (13) times: Pipe Creek, (moderator unknown) in 1778, 1783, 1787, 1799, 1804, 1814, 1830, and 1867 H.B. Davy, Moderator; Beaver Dam, 1842 (moderator unknown) and 1853 George Hoke, Moderator; Hagerstown, 1891 Daniel Vaniman, Moderator; Frederick, 1897 L.W. Teeter, Moderator; and Baltimore, 1983 Paul W. Hoffman, Moderator.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

There were historical things that happened at this conference Messenger, the Church of the Brethren flagship publication celebrates its 150th anniversary. During the Tuesday morning business session Henry Kurtz (portrayed by Lee Krahenbuhl) was invited to share his views on the need for a denominational publication during the 1850s. The real Henry Kurtz started the Gospel Visitor in 1851 in a spring house on a small farm in Ohio. It later merged with the Christian Family Companion and renamed The Primitive Christian. In 1876 it absorbed the Pilgrim. J.T. Myers and L.A. Plate started the Brethren's Messenger from Germantown, Pennsylvania and then moved it to Lanark, Illinois, with a new title, Brethren at Work. In 1883, these two papers were merged to form the Gospel Messenger. The word Gospel was dropped with the January, 1965 issue and the frequency of publication changed from weekly to monthly. All these publications were on exhibit under the title, In The Midst of You.

SPECIAL NOTES:

A Tuesday morning Fire Alarm during a business session witnessed the orderly and respectful egress of delegates from the building, which gave an impressive and memorable witness to the Brethren way of doing things. Thankfully the cause was due to an electrical short-curcuit which present no actual danger to anyone. Some delegates expressed their need for a welcome break. Friday evening is the treasured night to hear the Children's Choir.

SHALL WE GATHER AT THE RIVER:

The theme of the Conference was “Revive Us Again” taken from Psalm 85:6. Intending to light the fire of revival, Moderator Phil Carlos Archbold gave a stirring call for the Church of the Brethren to be “Helpers instead of Hinderers.” Moderator Archbold further reminded us that God stirs people to accomplish great tasks for His glory, as when Nehemiah was moved to revive building of the Jerusalem city wall. During the opening part of Saturday's evening worship, a slow procession of worshippers carried District Banners from most of the twenty-three districts. They entered to the music of Shall We Gather at the River,” a traditional hymn written by Robert Lowry in 1864. Its poetic call to final rest with God was stiring.

OFFICERS:

2001 Conference Officers were Moderator Phil Carlos Archbold, pastor of Brooklyn First COB, Brooklyn, New York; Moderator-elect Paul Grout, pastor of Genesis COB, Putney, Vermont; and Secretary Cathy Huffman.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

PRESENTATION:

2001 Annual Conference Report created in Power Point by Michael D. Martin of Phoenix First COB in the Pacific-Southwest District. One hundred and twenty different slides explain Annual Conference business, elections, and committee reports. Great for presenting information to your local congregation.

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

Logo
2000 Kansas City, Missouri 214th

Bartle Hall - Outside
 of Bartle Hall - Inside
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The 214th Annual Conference (July 15-19) of the Church of the Brethren was held in Bartle Hall of the Kansas City Convention Center, located at 301 West 13th Street, Kansas City, Missouri 64105. This huge multilevel convention center houses six different multipurpose facilities which encompasses over eight city blocks and 388,800 square feet of Column Free presentation space. This is achieved with roof mounted cables attached to towers called Sky Stations that support the entire roof, permitting extremely large display constructions which companies now expect of exhibition centers. It was a feat almost necessary since Interstate 670, a six-lane highway, passes directly underneath the center. To permit steady flow of interstate traffic, four 300 foot pylons called Sky Stations to support the center by cables. Bartle Hall claims to be the largest, column free convention environment in the world. Total cost of the project was 91.7 million. It opened in 1994 on schedule. Movement throughout the building is intuitive and enhanced by several well placed escalators and elevators.

Kansas City has more fountains than any city in the world except Rome, Italy. Kansas City is known as the City of Fountains. There are slightly over 200 Fountains within the city limits. The nearby Missouri River provides no shortage of water for these fountains, most of which continuously recycle their own water supply. Green conscious Brethren will be happy to know that the League of American Bicyclists has awarded Kansas City, Missouri, with a Bronze Level rating as a Bicycle Friendly Community.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

Several miles west on Route 40 one can visit what is left of the Oregon Trail, a 2,000-mile east to west wagon route that linked the Missouri River to Oregon and California. The early trapper footpath of the 1810s was improved enough for wagons by 1840. The Gold Rush of 1849 found it also being called the California Trail. However, the advancing Union Pacific Railroad gradually displaced its usefulness by the 1870s, especially after the completion of the Transcontinental Railway at Promontory Summit, Utah, May 10, 1869.

Annual Conference has previously visited the State of Missouri, five times: St. Louis, 1988 William A. Hayes, Moderator; Sedalia, 1920 I.W. Taylor, Moderator; St. Joseph, 1911 D.M. Garver, Moderator; Carthage, 1904 H.C. Early, Moderator; Pertle Springs, 1890 Enoch Eby, Moderator. Brethren are not new to this part of the nation, for Annual Conference has also visited the State of Kansas, nine times: Wichita, 1994 Earl K. Ziegler, Moderator; 1982 Earle W. Fike, Jr., Moderator; 1976 A. Blair Helman, Moderator; 1917 H.C. Early, Moderator; McPherson, 1943 W.W. Peters, Moderator; Lawrence, 1938 V.F. Schwalm, Moderator; Ottawa, 1896 D.E. Price, Moderator; 1887 Enoch Eby, Moderator; and Bismark Grove, 1883 Enoch Eby, Moderator. This is a first time, though, for the city of Kansas City, which happens to be on the Missouri side of the Missouri River. An easy way to explain the difference between Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas, is that all the tall buildings are on the Missouri side of the river. Kansas City on the west side is mostly flat row-homes, factories, schools, and parks.

SPECIAL NOTES:

A new Annual Conference schedule begins this year commencing with Saturday evening worship, followed by Sunday morning worship, Sunday evening business sessions (a first), and continuing with regular daily business sessions, luncheons, insight sessions, and age group activities finishing with closing ceremonies on Wednesday morning. Brethren Ministries LIVE is a new innovation for Annual Conference reportable agencies to present their reports through imaginative use of drama. It was hoped that a storytelling / dramatic approach would create greater interest and appreciation, instead of the traditional often stale monotone reading of reports.

Fuzz Ball Moderator Emily Mumma ended her Saturday evening message The Most Excellent Way by telling of a woman in her congregation who experienced continuous, intense pain. Carol telephoned pastor Mumma to say that she had had enough. She was going to end it. The phone call was just her way of saying goodbye. Out of that true life story came Fuzzies. Not the warm, fuzzy experiences to provide comfort and emotional stability that is too often shattered by the cold prickly events of daily life. No, real Fuzzies that you can hold in your hand, stroke, and feel the intimacy of knowing that someone loves you. With a challenge to serve and love from Moderator Mumma, Carol committed herself to making 10,000 Fuzzies by the time of Annual Conference. Someone has suggested that: “For every Prickly experience, it generally takes about eight Fuzzies to compensate.” Mumma announced to worshippers that she wanted to share Fuzzies from her friend Carol. During the last of her message, Mumma would occasionally throw a Fuzzie out into the audience from the stage area. It was a positive expression of love to compliment the Annual Conference theme: Love as I have Loved You, which is taken from the Gospel of John 15:12. Later, ushers carrying boxes filled with Fuzz Balls roamed the aisles and gingerly tossed them into the worshippers. It was a barrage of Fuzzies. It was a love fest. Many recipients thankfully remembered those precious moments of celebrating the warm, fuzzy feeling of receiving Christ's love, as demonstrated through Carol.

OFFICERS:

2000 Conference Officers were Moderator Emily Mumma from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania; Moderator-elect Phil Carlos Archbold, pastor of Brooklyn First COB, Brooklyn, New York; and Secretary Cathy Huffman.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

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1999 Milwaukee, Wisconsin 213th

Milwaukee Arena - Outside
Milwaukee Arena - Inside
Click images to enlarge     

The 213th Annual Conference (June 29-July 4, 1999) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Milwaukee Arena which is now the U.S Cellular Arena, 400 W. Kilbourn Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53203. The exhibition center opened in 1998 with 188,695 square feet of contiguous exhibit space along with a 37,506 square foot ballroom. The arena seats 12,700 people and offers 41,000 feet of floor space. Extensive activity has recently surrounded this convention center with renovation and new construction, as the city is erecting a new exhibition hall that will cover four city blocks at a projected cost of $172 million. According to legend, Milwaukee gets its name from Algonkian Indians who called this area Millioki: “gathering place by the waters” (Lake Michigan and three converging rivers). It's a culturally diverse city with restaurants serving a broad taste of ethic groups: French, Irish, German, Norwegians, Poles, Czechs, Russians, Yugoslavs, Italians, and Greeks. Preferences also differ from Lake Michigan fresh seafood, cuisine-focused bistros to cheap bohemian college cafes.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Annual Conference was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, once before in 1990 with Moderator Curtis W. Dubble presiding. It may have seemed unusual to some Brethren that the Program & Arrangements Committee would have picked Milwaukee as location for Annual Conference, since Milwaukee has enjoyed and even touted its city acclaim of being: “The Beer Capital of the World.” Some of the most famous breweries, Pabst, Schlitz, and Miller have contributed to its fame. Actually it was the other way around. Lack of 4th of July holiday business drove the Milwaukee convention association to invite the Brethren to come back at very reasonable rates, explained Duane Steiner, Annual Conference Director. He further addressed questions from delegates as to why Annual Conference is held over this holiday since traffic accidents pose an increased risk. Steiner explained that Annual Conference receives extremely good rates on convention space and hotel accommodations nation wide because most other groups rarely meet over this holiday; an important consideration for the Annual Conference Office that struggles to make financial ends meet. On Friday evening, National Youth Conference Speech Contest Winners presented their messages. Linetta Alley, a student at Bridgewater College, spoke to the title: “Living in Community.” Cindy Laprade, a high school student from Franklin County, Virginia, addressed evening worshipers with the title: “Staying Reconciled.”

Friday evening is the treasured night to hear the Children's Choir. The groups consists of about 140 children under the direction of Peg Lehman from Elgin, IL. Next to the Conference Arena is the Midwest Express Center (now Frontier Airlines Center) which hosted all the agency and special interest exhibits. But what seemed to attract the most attention for Conference-goers and vacationers was the incredibly lifelike house Security Guard who stood right inside the 4th Street tower entrance. Many people stood for several minutes to admire the intricate attention to detail of this plastic and wax creation. Detail of perhaps a sixty year old man that showed freckles, skin deformities, protruding veins, fuss arm hair, naturally looking hands, and the most lifelike facial features.

OFFICERS:

1999 Conference Officers were Moderator Lowell Flory, chairman for business and economics at McPherson College; Moderator-elect Emily Mumma from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania; and Secretary Cathy Huffman.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

1998 AC Logo
1998 Orlando, Florida 212th

Orlando Convention Center - Outside
Orlando Convention Center - Inside
Click images to enlarge     

The 212th Annual Conference (June 30-July 5, 1998) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Orange County Convention Center, 9800 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819, the second largest convention/exhibition facility in the nation (just behind McCormick Place in Chicago). Spanning over a half-mile in length, this three story building comprises six huge convention halls and seventy-four meeting rooms, individual reception rooms, plus Gigantic Hallways that converge into spacious atrium's with large amounts of glass for natural lighting. Although not open to outside traffic, the central hallway is wide enough to accommodate four coach buses, side by side. The entire complex would provide 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space within a building totaling 4 million square feet. If you like to walk, you've found the right place. In fact, many physically challenged Brethren without the benefit of scooters did express disappointment at the long walking distances which also included another three to four hundred yards from the convention complex to the two closest hotels. The convention center was completed in four phases between 1983 and 1996, two short years before the Brethren arrived. The newness of the facility was noticeable and appreciated.

Seven quick miles southwest on Interstate 4 toward Tampa is Disney World, the world's largest and most-visited recreational resort having four major theme parks, twenty-three on site hotels, camp grounds, fitness centers, and spas. The park opened in 1971 with the Magic Kingdom and its towering castle. Epcot Center was added in 1982, Hollywood Studios in 1989, and Animal Kingdom in April 22, 1998, just two short months before the Brethren arrived. Twelve miles northwest is the host Atlantic Southeast district's outdoor ministry Camp Ithiel and its motto: “A Quite Space ... near a Busy Place.”

HISTORICAL NOTES:

Conference-goers participated in two major historical celebrations that were observed this year: “75th Anniversary of Nigerian Church of the Brethren” and “50th Anniversary of Brethren Volunteer Service.” On Friday morning, July 3, delegates were treated to a re-enactment of that 1948 historical moment when 22 year-old, 4' 10" Ted Chambers mounted a strategically placed orange crate in front of a microphone, to introduce a new business item that was not on the regular agenda. In his place, Matt Stauffer, assistant director of BVS orientation stood on a similar crate as did Chambers in 1948, but this time proposing another 50 years of volunteer service projects. Moderator Sollenberger asked for all BVSers and future prospective inductees to stand in recognition. The motion to continue BVS for another fifty years was adopted with a concert of applause.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Moderator Elaine Sollenberger is the first woman to serve as Annual Conference moderator in 1989 and again in 1998, thus completing two historical firsts. She was appointed by AC 1997 delegates to fill the position of Moderator vacated by Moderator-elect Jimmy Ross who resigned for health reasons. The new General Board web site Brethren.Org is now online and conference business, news, tid-bits, and sermons will go immediately from the News Service to this new web presence, instead of through COB-NET.

OFFICERS:

1998 Conference Officers were Moderator Elaine Sollenberger from Everett, Pennsylvania; Moderator-elect Lowell Flory, chairman for business and economics at McPherson College; and Secretary Cathy Huffman.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:


2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

1997 AC Logo
1997 Long Beach, California 211th

Long Beach Arena - Outside
Long Beach Arena - Inside
Click images to enlarge     

The 211th Annual Conference (July 1-6, 1997) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Long Beach Convention Center, 300 East Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, California; consisting of a convention center, a performing arts center, and an arena nicknamed the Fish Tank because the exterior wall is covered with the worlds largest mural of any type. The city gets its name from a land deal involving the Long Beach Land and Water Company when it was incorporated as a city in 1888. Originally the six mile long ocean front was planned to be a resort community but its proximity to the ocean eventually gave way to shipping interests. Long Beach is the nations second busiest container port and one of the world's largest shipping ports. It is the fifth largest city in California and the nations largest municipally owned marina comprised of 3,400 boat slips. The waterfront marina and especially Terminal Island has been host to literally a boatload of movie sets.

SPECIAL NOTES:

Annual Conference was held only once before at Long Beach (1961) in the former 8,000 seat Municipal Auditorium, a classical 1932 building which hosted some the greatest entertainers in show business. In 1961, the Fish Tank arena was still under construction. The rear of the old Municipal Auditorium can be seen at the far right. It was demolished in 1975 to make room for the new convention facility. That former auditorium is not the only thing that has been descending. In March of 1995, the General Board was given the news that significant budget shortfalls were expected for the foreseeable future. In wrestling with the implications of this news, the board discerned that the problem involved something deeper than finances. “While the financial realities had brought our situation to our attention most forcefully, this deeper problem had more to do with vision and identity”.
This year also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the General Board. To begin the process the board appointed a Vision Discernment Team and after receiving their report, established a Redesign Steering Committee to gather information from all corners of the denomination, and to develop the initial elements of the new design of the General Board. From July 1995 through October 1996 the committee worked hard to sort out what can be done to restore momentum to the program and mission of the Church of the Brethren General Board. A sometimes overlooked aspect of this redesign is the changes of staff persons who are employed by the various departments of the board. The committee has been listening to hundreds of people describe what is going on, what has happened in the past, and what their aspirations are for the church tomorrow. The process continued as a Transition Team worked to bring the new organizations into existence. Here's what they found (submitted by then board chairman Christopher Bowman).

OFFICERS:

1997 Conference Officers were Moderator David Wine, then president of Mutual Aid Association; Moderator-elect Elaine Sollenberger from Everett, Pennsylvania; and Secretary Anne Myers.

FIRST ANNUAL CONFERENCE MODERATOR ON THE WEB:

Moderator David Wine
Moderator David Wine also has the distinction of being the first “Moderator on the WEB.” Moderator Wine and the Program & Arrangements Committee worked in cooperation with Church of the Brethren Network to issue eight special web publications directed toward denominational and congregational leadership. It was called the MODCOB (Moderator + Church of the Brethren). Moderator Wine is the president of Mutual Aid Association, a Church of the Brethren oriented insurance company located in Abilene, Kansas. He is the first Moderator to significantly participate in the electronic age by using e-mail, list servers, and COB-NET to augment his desire to reach as many Brethren as possible, with news and information about this years Annual Conference in Long Beach. Get to know him and his vision by reading the following issues of his newsletter, The MODCOB. Included in these several issues are business items of the Conference, the redesign of the General Board, and basic information about how questions from districts and congregations are sent to the denominations highest ruling body. The theme of this years Conference is taken from Luke 28:14 where Jesus admonishes His disciples to “Count the Cost” of following in His footsteps. The price of salvation has been paid by Christ's substitutionary death on the cross, but the cost of sacrificing personal desires and behavioral patterns is enormous.

Moderator Wine, a graduate of McPherson College, Bethany Theological Seminary, and General Board chairperson from 1991 to 1995, has issued a call for all Brethren “to become more deeply grounded in faith by renewing our investment in prayer and the things of the Spirit ... Let us count well the cost of spiritual discipline” (Agenda Newsletter, January/February, 1997). Brother Wine has raised the bar for all Brethren by taking meditative strolls and praying an hour each day.

MOD-COB NEWSLETTER:

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

OTHER BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:

DAILY NEWSLINE:

June 30, 1997

July 1, 1997

July 2, 1997

July 3, 1997

July 4, 1997

July 5, 1997

2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996

1996 AC Logo
1996 Cincinnati, Ohio 210th

The First Church of the Brethren Annual Conference on the WEB

A cooperative effort of COB-NET and the News Service of the General Board

Sabin Convention Center - Outside

The 210th Annual Conference (July 3-7, 1996) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the (then named) Albert B. Sabin Convention Center, 525 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. When the convention center opened in 1968, it was named after Dr. Albert Sabin who developed the polio vaccine. Over the years it has been renovated several times and experienced three grand openings, the last being in 2006 as the Duke Energy Convention Center. There is over 750,000 square feet of exhibit hall, meeting hall, and entertainment space. Duke Energy, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, is a Fortune 500 company supplying 35,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity in the Carolinas and the Midwest, and natural gas distribution services in Ohio and Kentucky. Brethren will be happy to know that Duke Energy is a green company that is focusing on renewable sources of energy.

HISTORICAL NOTES:

Annual Conference has been held in the State of Ohio seventeen times and twice before in Cincinnati: 1987 with Moderator Guy E. Wampler, and 1972 with Moderator Dale W. Brown. In 1790, the city (more of a settlement) was named after Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the retired Roman consul who was entreated from his farm to save the Republic by Senators who promised him unchecked authority. He saved the city of Rome from plunder by the Sabines from one direction and the Aequi from another. He humiliated both foes with incredible wisdom and iron-fisted resolve. Rome welcomed their hero with a gigantic celebration, but after enjoying the unquestioned power of a dictator for only sixteen days, he relinquished that power and returned to his farm and family. Cincinnatus is regarded as the virtuous politician who truly serves the people by completing his term and then leaving office to go back home, instead of the modern career politician who feathers his/her nest with exemptions, privileges, favors, pensions, and most of all - tenure. What an inspiration for the delegates this year as they tackle a mountain of business.
COB-NET 1996 was the first year that Annual Conference enjoyed a cyber home “ON THE WEB,” a technological milestone for the Church of the Brethren. The COB News Service of the General Board worked directly with Church of the Brethren Network, by providing special communication about news, daily journals, and sermons to be uploaded each day of the week. Non-conference going Brethren were able to keep updated on Conference business and worship as the News Service of the General Board sent information directly to COB-NET for posting. In the middle 1990s this achievement was of little notice to many Brethren, for only a three churches, two colleges, and one camp had a web site. Nonetheless, this is history.
1996 was also the first year that Habitat For Humanity enjoyed a simultaneous presence with Conference attendees. In what has been described as a “blitz-build,” hundreds of volunteers labored to construct and completely finish, “Three Houses in Ten Days.” This was also the tenth anniversary for Habitat for Humanity in the city of Cincinnati. Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity was present at a Friday luncheon to personally congratulate the workers and encourage all Brethren to: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

OFFICERS:

2011 Conference Officers were Moderator H. Fred Bernhard, then pastor of Oakland Church of the Brethren, Gettysburg, Ohio; Moderator-elect David Wine of Abilene, Kansas and then president of Mutual Aid Association; and Secretary Anne Myers.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS:

NEW BUSINESS:

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

WORSHIP SERMONS:

DAILY NEWSLINE

July 1, 1996

July 2, 1996

July 3, 1996

July 4, 1996

July 5, 1996

July 6, 1996

July 7, 1996

CONFERENCE JOURNAL

July 2, 1996

July 3, 1996

July 4, 1996

July 5, 1996

July 6, 1996

“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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