Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Regarding Annual Conference
Conference Facilities Information
Worship, Events and Exhibits
How is Annual Conference funded?
Presently there are four primary sources of income to fund day to day operations of the Conference office, Standing Committee, study committees, and the big annual event. They are Conference registrations, exhibit space rental, worship service offerings, and district assessments on membership. Annual Conference is not authorized to raise funds in other ways. The Annual Conference is expected to be self-sufficient.
Why do we pay Conference registration fees?
Registration fees are the primary source of budgeted income. These fees assist with such costs as rental of Convention facilities, decorator services, sound/video/lighting services, required insurances, and Program and Arrangements Committee and worship committee planning meetings, as well as study committees initiated by the delegate body. In comparison to registration costs one may pay at other conferences, our fees are very minimal for a Conference that stretches over five days. Payment of the registration fee provides a name badge which gives passage to Conference events and aids with any security requirements. The exception is that worship attendees need not show a name badge.
Why is Annual Conference so expensive?
The cost of each Conference is dependent upon the cost of the facilities and other primary vendor services such as the decorator and sound/video/lighting. Planning for 3,000+ attendees requires two sizable halls for meetings and exhibits and many smaller rooms for other events. Venues and services that can accommodate our conference needs are costly.
Why is it important for my congregation to send a delegate to Annual Conference?
Sending a delegate to Annual Conference is the only way to ensure your congregation has a say in decisions that affect the whole church. The Annual Conference delegate body is one of the most important–if not the highest–level of decision making in the Church of the Brethren. Each congregation may play a vital part in Annual Conference by sending a delegate or delegates. The number of delegates a congregation may send is relative to the number of members in the congregation.
What do delegates and their congregations get from Annual Conference?
Delegates benefit personally from the opportunities for spiritual renewal, continuing education, and faith formation. Their congregations benefit from the spiritual growth that their church leadership may bring back and share with the church. In addition to business sessions, each Conference features daily worship services, Bible studies, insight sessions on a wide variety of topics, support groups, meal events, an exhibit hall with booths and many free resources, a Brethren Press bookstore, and much more. All of these are open to every Conference-goer. Every congregation that sends a delegate will receive a copy of that year’s Annual Conference minutes, as well.
To take full advantage of sending a delegate, a congregation should make time for that person to report back following the Conference, so that they can share the experience with the whole congregation. For more information about how to send a delegate to Annual Conference, contact the Conference Office via e-mail or 800-323-8039 ext. 365.
Will delegates sit at round tables at Conference?
Yes! The excellent response we have received to seating at round tables means the delegate body will be seated at round tables at the next Conference. However, due to space constraints in the convention hall, there is not space for non-delegates to sit at tables so they will be seated in rows of chairs.
Conference Facilities Information
Why aren’t we using more university campuses? Aren’t they less expensive?
They often are less expensive but still come with a cost and are usually are not geared toward providing usage of the facilities in the same way as convention centers. Campuses with the facilities the size we would need are often not compact and Conference events are likely to be in several different buildings located throughout the campus. Residence halls for housing are long distances from where the meetings would be and frequently have single bed, shared rooms with shared restroom facilities and no air conditioning. Depending on location of the campus, public transportation may not be as accessible and may be more costly.
What about all the walking?
Walking really becomes a fact of life when attending conferences for attendance in excess of 3,000. A lot of walking can occur just within the center itself as well as to/from the hotels. The size of the convention center and its distance from the hotels is an important consideration for Program and Arrangements committee as site choices are made.
Why can’t Brethren personnel do some of the jobs that we pay for? Can’t Brethren volunteers set up and take down chairs, tables, and perform other labor tasks?
Convention centers have exclusive contracts with vendors to provide services within their facilities. Liability for possible injury is an important factor for consideration.
Why can’t attendees bring their own food into the convention center, thereby lowering our costs? Why are meal and food costs so high?
Each convention center has an exclusive contract with a food service vendor to provide meals and other refreshments for catered functions at the facility. Like any business they have expenses that are well above the cost of the food itself: facility maintenance, utilities, staffing, insurances, etc. The cost for them to produce a meal far exceeds that of a small, independent restaurant or national chain. The Conference Office works diligently to negotiate the best possible prices for catered meals.
Why must we be seated so close to those on either side in the meeting hall?
The seating in convention centers is determined by fire and safety regulations and requires the chairs to be hooked together side by side to form clean rows and to prevent them from being scattered in the event of an evacuation.
Worship, Events and Exhibits
How are preachers and musicians chosen for Annual Conference?
Program and Arrangements Committee gathers names from the yearly Conference Evaluation Forms and from its own knowledge of leadership within the denomination.
Does anyone censor the speakers’ messages at Conference?
No. Preachers are informed of the Conference theme and are given a daily theme, scripture texts, and general direction for their specific worship service. Manuscripts of messages are given to the Conference Office shortly before Conference for use by those doing language interpretation and for closed captioning.
Who may display materials in the exhibit hall?
The exhibit hall is primarily used to present the programs and agencies of the Church of the Brethren as well as Brethren-related organizations, groups, businesses, and partner organizations. In most cases, the denominational-wide missions of the Church of the Brethren are on display. Exhibits must support the ideals, purposes, and priorities of the Church of the Brethren. Each year exhibitors must complete an application for exhibitor status including an agreement of guidelines and expectations along with a listing of their mission and purpose.
How are Insight Sessions determined?
Insight Sessions are used to present information on the missions and programs of the denomination. They are primarily sponsored by the four agencies that are accountable and reportable to the Annual Conference. Other groups may seek sponsorship from one of the four agencies.
How do I register for Annual Conference, and where can I find out more information?
All information and advance registration for Annual Conference will be available online at the Annual Conference homepage. Delegate registration typically opens at the beginning of January and non-delegate registration typically opens at the end of February. (Delegates are the official representatives from their respective congregations and have a vote on conference business. Non-delegates are everyone else.)
Our church needs to change our delegate. How can we do that?
A congregation may change or replace a registered delegate by submitting the request in writing via email. The request needs to state the name of the delegate being replaced and the name, address, phone number, and e-mail of the new delegate. The request must be made by the pastor, moderator, or church representative.
I need to cancel a registration. How can I do that?
Please refer to the Annual Conference Cancellation and Refund Policies.
I’ve registered for Annual Conference online and now need to purchase more meal tickets. How can I do that?
Registering online is like shopping at a store. Once you’ve completed your transaction and ‘checked out’ you can’t go back with your receipt and add more items to it. You can however, just go back to the store and buy more items. Simply go back to the online registration page, go directly to the area you want to purchase (meal tickets, booklets, etc.), choose the items you want then proceed to check out.
Do children under 12-years-old need to be registered for Annual Conference even though they pay no registration fee?
Yes, the Conference Office requires registration for children under 12, although there is no registration fee for that age group. Registration is a security consideration for the children who are present, giving each child a name badge and making sure that the Conference Office has contact information about the child and his or her parents or adult caregivers.
Does a child’s registration for age-group activities include Annual Conference registration?
No. Every child needs to be registered for Annual Conference first. Age-group activities are a separate registration.
How do I reserve a hotel for the Conference?
All hotel reservations for Annual Conference are handled each year through a central reservation service, NOT through the hotels themselves. Once you have registered for Conference a confirmation e-mail will be sent to you automatically which will include a link to the hotel reservation system. Delegates who are registered during the early registration period will be sent the link when housing opens. All Conference-goers including delegates and non-delegates are encouraged to reserve rooms in the Conference hotel block.
Why should I reserve in the hotel block, if I can find a cheaper hotel room somewhere else?
By reserving blocks of rooms at certain hotels the Church of the Brethren has been able to get a cost break on renting the convention center facilities. This is what makes it possible for the church to secure meeting space large enough for our Conference. By reserving rooms in the official hotel block, each attendee and church delegate does their part to share the overall expense of the annual meeting.
Why do I have to give a credit card when I reserve my hotel and when I check in?
In order to guarantee your reservation at the hotel you will be asked to provide a credit card number. No charges are immediately made to the card, but if you need to cancel the room, you must do so in advance (typically 72 hours prior to arrival) or your card will be charged for one night’s lodging plus tax.
When you check in, you will be asked to provide a credit card as a guarantee against any charges you might incur, like charging meals to your room, paid movies, internet, etc. The hotel wants to be covered should a guest incur those charges then walk out without paying. It is every hotel’s policy to check with your credit company to see if the card you give them is good/valid for the cost of your entire stay. When they do this, the credit card will see it as a potential charge and hold it against the credit limit of your card. If no charges are made, the hold is removed, usually in 2-3 days. NOTE: If you are using a Debit card to guarantee charges, the bank will put a hold on the cash available in your account until the hold is removed.
How can I serve as a Conference volunteer?
Each year the Annual Conference seeks volunteers for many tasks, which range from singing in the Conference choir to helping out with registration, staffing age group activities, serving as ushers, counting ballots, and more. Volunteer opportunities are shared on the Annual Conference home page, or more information about volunteer needs can be obtained from the Conference Office via e-mail or 800-323-8039 ext. 365.
What should I do if I know someone who would be a good candidate for an open office on the ballot?
Nominations for the Conference ballot are received each fall for the positions open on the ballot the next year. The nomination process is both online at the Annual Conference home page and available on paper (send a request for a paper nomination form to the Conference Office via e-mail or 800-323-8039 ext. 365). Before making a nomination, be prepared with the consent of the person being nominated, the title of the open position on the ballot, contact information, and e-mail address.