Plans Announced for 300th Anniversary Events at Annual Conference

Church of the Brethren Newsline
July 30, 2007

The 2008 Church of the Brethren Annual Conference will feature special events celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Brethren, 1708-2008, as announced recently by the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary Committee. The Conference will be held in Richmond, Va., on July 12-16.

The Conference planners are challenging congregations to increase their Conference attendance in 2008 by 300 percent, or three times their 2007 attendance. “Please promote this in your congregations by reminding your members that not every generation gets to be part of such a historic event,” said the committee.

The opening worship service on Saturday evening will feature a sermon by the 2008 moderator James Beckwith, followed at 8 p.m. with a concert by the National Christian Choir. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, the choir includes members from all over the midatlantic region representing a variety of denominations. About 15 of the 200 choir members are members of the Church of the Brethren.

Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday are planned as days of formal joint fellowship with the Brethren Church, a sister denomination to the Church of the Brethren. The two denominations will be together in the conference facilities as well on Monday and Tuesday, when there will be more time for informal fellowship between Conference-goers.

A team of speakers is planning the Sunday morning worship service including Chris Bowman, pastor of Oakton Church of the Brethren near Vienna, Va.; Shanti Edwin, pastor of Brush Valley Brethren Church at Adrian, Pa.; and Arden Gilmer, senior pastor at Park Street Brethren Church in Ashland, Ohio.

During “An Experience of Brethren Faith Journeys” from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Sunday, participants will choose from 27 opportunities including history and music presentations, intercultural forums, art events, Bible studies, a panel discussion with representatives from the sister denominations, and sharing from Youth Heritage Travel Team members.

On Sunday evening the Conference will gather Brethren from around the world to share what God has been doing with Christian ministry outside the US.

The Monday and Tuesday worship services will take place in the mornings. Monday evening will feature a concert by Christian musician Ken Medema, who has performed at several National Youth Conferences and at the recent National Junior High Conference of the Church of the Brethren. Tuesday evening will feature a drama about the life and martyrdom of Ted Studebaker, a Church of the Brethren volunteer and conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.

Wednesday morning’s closing worship is being planned by a team of leaders including Melissa Bennet, pastor of worship and youth for Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Shawn Flory Replogle, pastor of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren; and Lee Solomon, dean of the doctor of ministry program at Ashland (Ohio) Seminary.

The Anniversary Committee also plans a “service project blitz” around the Richmond area, to take place all day on Saturday, July 12, and Monday morning, July 14. The Monday service projects will be for nondelegates only, because they will coincide with a business session. There will be a variety of projects planned. “We want to make a difference in the Richmond community,” said an announcement in the anniversary newsletter. “We are hoping that thousands of Brethren will participate, showing our Christian love by helping others in this way.”

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The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to Submit news to the editor at For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.