by Frank Ramirez
A contingent of family, friends, and church representatives gathered on the stage during the closing worship of the 2017 Annual Conference for the consecration of new leadership. The service consecrated Samuel Sarpiya as Annual Conference moderator, Donita Keister as moderator-elect, and James Beckwith for a second term as Conference secretary. Sarpiya will preside over the 2018 Annual Conference.
Carol Scheppard, moderator of the 2017 Conference, offered a prayer: “Remember who you are: a blessed child of God chosen for this work.... Let the power of your faith be a rock to you.”
“As I take this charge,” Sarpiya reflected, “I am remembering in the Church of the Brethren our faith is in action. It is not in celebrity or from fame or our wealth. Our faithful work is the ethical showing up day by day, shoulder to shoulder.”
In his brief remarks, he added, “Our theme for 2018 is ‘Living Parables,’ based on Matthew 9:35-38.”
He continued, “Let us proclaim the good news of the kingdom” as Jesus did. “When he [Jesus] saw the crowd he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless.... Jesus’ life provides the template.... Remember we are called to be living parables.”
General secretary David Steele concluded the short service in prayer.