General registration opens Feb. 26 at 12 noon (central time) for the 2014 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren in Columbus, Ohio, on July 2-6. The theme, “Live as Courageous Disciples,” is from the New Testament letter to the Philippians. Events take place at the Greater Columbus Convention Center and the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
The Conference will be led by moderator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman assisted by moderator-elect David Steele and secretary James Beckwith. Also on the Program and Arrangements Committee are Cindy Laprade Lattimer, Shawn Flory Replogle, and Christy Waltersdorff. Conference office staff are director Chris Douglas and assistant Jon Kobel. Site coordinators are Burt and Helen Wolf. Find a list of preachers, worship leaders, musicians, choir directors, age group activity leaders, and more of the volunteers who make Annual Conference possible at www.brethren.org/ac/2014/annual-conference-leadership.html .
A preview of the 2014 Conference follows below. Find more detailed information and the registration link that will go live Feb. 26, at www.brethren.org/ac .
A family friendly focus
Conference planners have focused on family friendly activities, in particular events on Saturday evening--the last night of the Conference--that are for all ages. A concert will bring to the Conference stage three groups who will be enjoyed by adults and children: Blue Bird Revival Band, Community of Song, and Mutual Kumquat. In addition, intergenerational activities are being planned with help from the Outdoor Ministries Association.
“We are hoping that families within driving distance who can’t come for the whole Conference will at least join us for the weekend,” said Conference director Chris Douglas. “Saturday night is planned to give exciting options for them, along with Exhibit Hall. And then at the closing worship on Sunday morning we hope to draw a lot more Conference-goers.”
Saturday evening’s intergenerational activities include “Get Real: Living as Courageous Disciples!” an event featuring biblical and modern-day stories of courageous disciples, as a way to explore the Annual Conference theme with camp-type activities. Participants will choose from games, arts and crafts, a sing-a-long, a book nook, nature exploration, personal challenges, dramatic storytelling, word puzzles, movies, and more.
The three music groups that headline Saturday evening’s concert will provide something for everyone. Performing from 7-7:30 p.m. is Blue Bird Revival, a high-energy gospel band featuring new versions of traditional hymns, as well as their own down-home combination of country, bluegrass, ragtime, and gospel. Community of Song will perform from 7:45-8:15 p.m., a 10-member Church of the Brethren male ensemble from Southern Ohio and South-Central Indiana Districts that for eight years has been singing a variety of religious music including early American, contemporary, spirituals, and gospel. Mutual Kumquat closes out the concert from 8:30-9 p.m., a popular Brethren band that has performed at Annual Conference, National Youth Conference, National Older Adult Conference, Song and Story Fest, and many regional youth conferences and district conferences and Brethren related colleges. The group formed in 2000 as students at Manchester College and since then has travelled across the country with an eclectic sound and a positive message and unique combination of danceable rhythms, stick-in-your-head melodies, rich harmonies, and poignant, uplifting, and humorous lyrics.
To register for the full Conference, adult nondelegates will pay $105 using the online registration process (open from Feb. 26 through June 3). The daily rate for adults is $35. Young adults post-high school to age 21 will pay only $30 to attend the full Conference, or a daily rate of $10. Children age high school and younger do not pay a fee to register, but fees for age group activities still apply. Children and youth must register in order to attend. All registration fees increase significantly after June 3, at which time online registration closes and participants must register on-site in Columbus.
Hotels and lodging
The conference hotels are the Hyatt Regency Columbus, the Crowne Plaza Columbus Downtown, Drury Inn and Suites Columbus Downtown, Red Roof Inn Columbus Downtown--all of which are either part of the convention center or connected by a covered walkway or within a block distant. Hotel reservations open at the same time as online registration, on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 12 noon (central). Find more information about the Conference hotels at www.brethren.org/ac/2014/ac-hotels.html . Information about camping and RV park options also is posted at www.brethren.org/ac/2014/camping-info.html .
The Conference opens on Wednesday, July 2, with evening worship starting at 6:50 p.m. Hearings on Conference business will be held Wednesday after worship.
On Thursday, July 3, and Friday, July 4, worship services take place in the evening. On Saturday, July 5, worship is in the morning at 8:30 a.m.
Business sessions are Thursday through Saturday in the morning and afternoon. On Thursday and Friday business begins with Bible study, and is scheduled from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and 2-4:30 p.m. On Saturday, business is scheduled from 10:15-11:30 a.m. and 2-4:30 p.m.
Saturday evening will offer a variety of activities for the whole family, including music concerts and intergenerational activities from 7-9 p.m.
Sunday morning worship on July 6 at 8:30-10:30 a.m. will close the Conference.
On each day, Conference-goers may participate in a wide range of additional activities such as insight sessions on topics of interest; catered meal events (tickets may be purchased along with Conference registration); age group activities for early childhood through elementary grades, junior and senior high youth, and young adults; activities for singles; support groups; the Conference exhibit hall; and more.
In addition to Bible study, singing, games, and other daily activities, special age group activities include:
-- For the elementary ages: presentations by Yurtfolk and the New Community Project, mobile interactive science booths provided by Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry, and trips to the Columbus Zoo.
-- For the junior high: presentations by Yurtfolk and New Community Project as well as local fair trade and international crafts store Global Gallery, a puppet workshop, mobile interactive science booths provided by Columbus’ Center of Science and Industry, a trip to the Columbus Zoo, and a chance to hang out with Mutual Kumquat after the Saturday evening concert.
-- For the senior high: presentations by the National Youth Conference coordinators, workcamp coordinators, On Earth Peace, the New Community Project, and the Brethren colleges; a chance to attend the Brethren Volunteer Service luncheon and one of the Brethren college luncheons; a local service project; trips to the Columbus Zoo, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, and the Center of Science and Industry; and hanging out with Mutual Kumquat.
-- For the young adults: outings to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, game and movie nights, a special chance to get to know the music and ministry of BlueBird Revival and founder Josh Copp, and a service project to “Pack a Sack” for the homeless for distribution by the Columbus Community Shelter Board/YMCA/YWCA in cooperation with the Sawmill Interfaith Community Care Group, which includes Living Peace Church of the Brethren.
Age group activity fees range from a small daily fee for early childhood, to $65 (going up to $90 onsite) for the full Conference for elementary ages, to $85 ($100 onsite) for junior and senior high. For activity fees for young adults and singles see the activity listings at www.brethren.org/ac/2014/age-group-activities.html .
Tour historic German Village
A tour of the Germany Village, a historic district in Columbus just 10 minutes from the downtown, is offered on Saturday, July 5, from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Because the tour conflicts with a business session, it is offered to nondelegates only. The guided tour will start at the visitor center at the German Village Meeting Haus, with an award-winning video offering an excellent historical overview of the area. Each visitor receives a map and guide highlighting area shops and restaurants, and will be guided through the brick streets lined with quaint homes, gardens, shops, galleries, and restaurants. Afterward, the group will spend time shopping and have a chance to eat in one of the authentic German restaurants. Ken Kreider, retired professor and Brethren historian, will accompany the tour, give introductory comments and information about the background of the Brethren movement into Ohio and the major Brethren bodies in the area. Cost is $10 and includes bus transportation, guided tour, and visitor guide/map.
"O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!" (Psalm 95:1) is the theme scripture for the 2014 Conference Choir. “I extend the invitation to sing uplifting songs of praise and worship,” said Joy Brubaker, choir director, in an invitation to singers. The choir will sing five numbers during Conference worship services. Rehearsals are held daily after the afternoon business session until 5:45 p.m.
Congregations are invited to send finished quilt blocks for the Annual Conference Quilting Bee sponsored by the Associate for the Arts in the Church of the Brethren. Finished 8 and 1/2 by 8 1/2 inch blocks must be constructed according to the instructions. All quilt blocks should be postmarked by May 15, and mailed with a dollar donation (make checks payable to AACB) to offset the cost of quilting materials. Quilt tops are assembled prior to the Conference and quilted onsite in the Exhibit Hall. The completed quilts and wall hangings are auctioned with proceeds benefiting hunger relief. See www.brethren.org/ac/2014/documents/2014-aacb-quilting-info.pdf .
5K Fitness Challenge sponsored by BBT
Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) is sponsoring the 5K Fitness Challenge, a walk/run held early morning of July 5, and open to all ages. Start time is 6:30 a.m. The event will be held approximately three miles from the convention center at Franklin Park Conservatory. Participants provide their own transportation to the park. Completed registration forms with check payable to Brethren Benefit Trust must be received by May 23 for the early-bird fee of $20 ($25 after that date). Families of four or more may register for $60. Go to http://brethrenbenefittrust.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/2014%20Pre-Registration%20Form.pdf .
Tour Bethany Seminary on the way to Conference
Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., right off I-70 west of the Indiana-Ohio state line, is offering tours for Conference-goers to stop on their to or from the Annual Conference. “As you take a break from the road, we’ll give you a tour of the Bethany Center and introduce you to the Bethany community of today,” said an announcement. Tours will be offered July 1 and 2 and 7, Sunday, July 6, after 1 p.m. Contact Monica Rice at 800-287-8822 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For directions, go to www.bethanyseminary.edu/about/directions . For information on lodging, restaurants, and local places of interest, go to waynet.com .
Much of what takes place at Annual Conference is supported by the many volunteers who give their time. Volunteers are sought for the following areas: registration, ticket sales, information, packet stuffing, ushering, tellers, hospitality/greeters, early childhood care and assistance with other age group activities, and first aid. Sign up at www.brethren.org/ac/registration/volunteer.html .