-- The Annual Conference officers for 2019 were moderator Donita Keister, with moderator-elect Paul Mundey and Conference secretary James Beckwith. Three elected members of the Program and Arrangements Committee--along with the officers, Conference director, and staff--were responsible for planning and organizing the event. Focusing on worship this year was John Shafer, with Jan Glass King focusing on the business and compelling vision sessions, and Emily Shonk Edwards focusing on the exhibit hall. Onsite coordinators who joined in the work of organizing the Conference were Dewey and Melissa Williard. Conference director Chris Douglas expressed the church’s gratitude to these and the numerous additional volunteers whose hard work made the Conference possible.
-- Find the news index page with links to all the online coverage of the 2019 Annual Conference, including the worship bulletins among other resources, at www.brethren.org/ac/2019/coverage .
-- A “Wrap-up DVD” featuring highlights of the Conference (approximately 20 minutes plus bonus material) and a “Sermons DVD” including all of the Conference sermons are suggested resources to help delegates report back to their congregations and districts. Costs are $29.95 for the “Wrap-up DVD” and $24.95 for the “Sermons DVD.” A $10 shipping fee applies. Order from Brethren Press at www.brethrenpress.com or 800-441-3712.
-- For “Today in Greensboro” overviews of each day starting with pre-Conference meetings Tuesday, July 2, through the closing worship service Sunday, July 7, go to the following links. These pages feature the day’s theme, a scripture text, quotes from preachers and other speakers, brief information about special events, photos from a variety of activities, and more.
Today in Greensboro - Tuesday, July 2 www.brethren.org/news/2019/2019-annual-conference-in-greensboro-nc/today-in-greensboro-tuesday-july-2.html
Today in Greensboro - Wednesday, July 3 www.brethren.org/news/2019/2019-annual-conference-in-greensboro-nc/today-in-greensboro.html
Today in Greensboro - Thursday, July 4 www.brethren.org/news/2019/2019-annual-conference-in-greensboro-nc/today-in-greensboro-july-4.html
Today in Greensboro - Friday, July 5 www.brethren.org/news/2019/2019-annual-conference-in-greensboro-nc/today-in-greensboro-friday-july-5.html
Today in Greensboro - Saturday, July 6 www.brethren.org/news/2019/2019-annual-conference-in-greensboro-nc/today-in-greensboro-july-6.html
Today in Greensboro - Sunday, July 7 www.brethren.org/news/2019/2019-annual-conference-in-greensboro-nc/today-in-greensboro-sunday-july-7.html
-- Webcasts of the worship services concerts, and business sessions--including the compelling vision conversations--continue to be available to view online. Find links to the webcasts at https://livestream.com/livingstreamcob/AC2019 .
-- Daily photo albums of Conference activities ranging from worship to business to meal events to age-group activities and more are at www.bluemelon.com/churchofthebrethren/2019annualconference .
-- Five new congregations and one new project were welcomed into the Church of the Brethren denomination. The new project is Ebenezer in Atlantic Northeast District. The new congregations are:
Faith in Action Church of the Brethren, Northern Ohio District
Floyd Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Vida, Virlina District
Hanging Rock Church of the Brethren, West Marva District
Living Stream Church of the Brethren (online congregation), Pacific Northwest District
Veritas Church of the Brethren, Atlantic Northeast District.
-- Two official representatives from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) attended: president Joel S. Billi and staff liaison Markus Gamache. A dozen or more Nigerian Brethren also were in Greensboro including a group from BEST, the Brethren Evangelism Support Trust of EYN.
-- A candlelight peace vigil was held July 3, on the first evening of the Conference, in solidarity with immigrants and praying for all those suffering from a situation of injustice. Various leaders in the church’s intercultural community spoke. The vigil was sponsored by the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy.
-- The Conference on July 4 approved the annual increase in the minimum cash salary table for pastors. An increase of two percent was approved for 2020. The recommendation for the increase was made by the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee.
-- The Sunday morning offering was received for “Calling the Called” workshops sponsored by the Office of Ministry. Each of the 24 districts in the Church of the Brethren is challenged to hold a workshop in the coming year for people discerning their calling to ministry. “Imagine if every district held a yearly event with the result of hundreds of persons being newly called to ministry across the wider church?” said the call to giving on the back of the Sunday bulletin. “The hope is that God’s Spirit will anoint women and men of all ages, all cultures, with beautifully varied gifts, at any stage in life to say ‘yes’ to following Jesus into the holy work of ministry in their communities.” Virlina District was held up as a model of a district who already is offering workshops on an annual basis. The offering received Sunday will help promote such events across the denomination.
Three special concerts were offered during the 2019 Annual Conference. Above, a noontime organ recital by Jonathan Emmons (photo by Keith Hollenberg); below and at bottom, concerts by the Blackwood Brothers and Friends with the Weather (photos by Glenn Riegel).
-- The top 10 titles sold at the Conference’s Brethren Press bookstore:
1. “Not-so-big Church”
2. “September Mourn”
3. “Seeing Jesus in East Harlem”
4. “25 Days to Jesus”
5. “Seagoing Cowboy”
6. “Speak Peace: A Daily Reader”
7. “Covenant Bible Studies: Fruit of the Spirit”
8. “Deacon Manual: Calling”
9. “Deacon Manual: Caring”
10. “Alexander Mack: A Man Who Rippled the Waters”
-- Conference director Chris Douglas announced the location for the 2022 Annual Conference during the report of the Program and Arrangements Committee on July 4. Omaha, Neb., will host the Conference to be held July 10-13, 2022. Douglas noted those dates represent a return to a Sunday through Wednesday schedule in order to take advantage of a discount for hotel room prices for a meeting over a Sunday night.
-- “God’s Adventurous Future ” will be the theme for Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., next summer, announced 2020 moderator Paul Mundey. Inspired by Revelation 21:1, Mundey said, “Based on the word of God, I declare that new creation is possible!” He told the congregation at the close of the last worship gathering of this year’s Conference that “the world urgently if not desperately needs another way of living in Jesus. Sin is ravaging human life...ending up with incredible despair. It is easy to just give up or leave or abandon our faith or even our denomination.” However, he urged Brethren, “Stay the course! And keep your eyes on Jesus. I believe God can lead us forward.”