2014 Columbus, Ohio 228th
2014 Logo

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.


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.


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.


This year, 51 Insight Sessions were offered to better educate, enlighten, and equip individuals and congregations for more effective ministry. Topics ranged over a wide category 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.


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.


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.


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.






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).


“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