Annual Conference Theme and Speakers Are Announced for 2011

Moderator Robert Alley speaking at the National Youth Conference in July. Photo by Glenn Riegel
Church of the Brethren
Sept. 9, 2010

The theme and main speakers have been announced for the Church of the Brethren’s Annual Conference next year, July 2-6, 2011, in Grand Rapids, Mich. Moderator Robert E. Alley announced the theme “Gifted with Promise: Extending Jesus’ Table,” based on the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

“This story is one of few to appear in all four Gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; and John 6:1-14),” Alley noted in his announcement. “In every age including our own, Jesus continues to challenge disciples to respond to people with the sustaining benefit of the Gospel whether in compassionate service, forgiving grace, or abiding hope.

“In ‘Gifted with Promise: Extending Jesus’ Table,’ Brethren encounter a challenging assignment: (1) to discover afresh their giftedness with Gospel and (2) to envision their role in loving the world enough to share the physical and spiritual benefit of the Gospel,” the moderator’s statement continued. “This theme connects our common interests in spirituality and service, practice and prayer. We extend the table with promised resources of grace and love. The theme calls us to mission and evangelism where we not only share and invite but we cultivate discipleship as we offer tangible resources of food, clothing, medical care, and more. At the table, we share, we receive, and we learn.”

Alley also announced a theme song, “Praise, I Will Praise You Lord,” and the preachers and worship leaders for the daily worship services:

Saturday evening, July 2: Moderator Robert Alley will preach for the opening worship service, on the scripture Mark 6:30-44, with moderator-elect Tim Harvey as worship leader.

Sunday morning, July 3: Craig H. Smith, executive minister for Atlantic Northeast District, will preach, with worship leaders Joel and Linetta Ballew of Lebanon Church of the Brethren in Mount Sidney, Va. The daily focus will be “Jesus extends the table in the midst of domestic life,” based on the day’s scriptures of John 2:1-12 and Matthew 14:13-21.

Monday evening, July 4: Preacher Samuel Sarpiya, pastor of Rockford (Ill.) Community Church, a new church plant, will be assisted by worship leader Nathan D. Polzin, executive minister for Michigan District and pastor of the Church in Drive in Saginaw, Mich. The daily focus will be “Jesus extends the table by accepting the hospitality of others” with the day’s scriptures taken from Luke 7:36-8:3 and Mark 8:1-10.

Tuesday evening, July 5: The message will be brought by preacher Dava C. Hensley, pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Roanoke, Va., with worship leader Peter J. Kontra, pastor of Oakland Church of the Brethren in Bradford, Ohio. The daily focus will be “Jesus extends the table beyond our own kind and our own community,” with daily scriptures Luke 14:12-14 and Luke 9:10-17.

Wednesday morning, July 6: The closing service will hear from the Church of the Brethren’s general secretary Stan Noffsinger, with worship leader Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, an ordained minister from Minneapolis, Minn. The daily focus will be “Jesus extends the table to us.” The day’s scripture focuses will be John 21:9-14 and John 6:1-14.

Additional leadership at the 2011 Conference will be provided by music coordinator Bev Anspaugh of Rocky Mount, Va.; Conference Choir director Alan Gumm of Mount Pleasant, Mich.; organist Josh Tindall of Elizabethtown, Pa.; pianist Jenny Williams of Richmond, Ind.; and Children’s Choir director Rachel Bucher Swank.

The full text of the moderator’s theme statement for 2011 will be available soon at  .

In related news, the Conference Office has announced a deadline for submitting nominations for church leadership positions to be filled through elections at the 2011 Conference. The deadline to submit nominations is Dec. 1. A packet of election information has been mailed to each Church of the Brethren congregation, listing the leadership positions that are open. That information and nomination forms also are available at  . (In a correction to the Annual Conference election mailing, on the grid of the last page of the Call to Accountability document the columns of numbers marked “Men/Women” should be reversed to read “Women/Men.”)

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