Annual Conference Bits and Pieces: Messenger Special Response Series, Join in Sunday Webcast, Follow AC News, and More

— The “Messenger” series of Special Response essays has been collected into a single resource available as a download. The six essays were published from Sept. 2010 through June 2011 to help readers prepare for the 2011 Annual Conference. “Considering the Special Response Process” can be downloaded for $1.99 from .

— A new and important survey is now posted on the Annual Conference website at . The Revitalization Committee, appointed last year by the Church of the Brethren Leadership Team, wants people who have never gone to Annual Conference, those who have attended sporadically, those who used to go but no longer do, and those who attend regularly, to all fill out this brief survey. “Please help us shape the future format and design of Annual Conference by taking time to give your input,” said the Conference Office.

— For the second year in a row, congregations are invited to join in worship with Annual Conference by viewing the webcast of Sunday morning worship together at . “Using a computer to project Sunday morning’s worship live (or recorded, in the case of congregations in western time zones), congregations can share in the prayers, the singing, and the preaching right from the Conference floor for their worship services on July 3,” said an invitation from the Conference Office. Last year, estimates were that well over 1,000 Brethren from more than 16 states joined in. For technical assistance to join in the service, contact Enten Eller, director of Electronic Communication at Bethany Seminary,  or 765-983-1831.

— There will be many ways to follow events at Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 2-6. Webcasts of every business session and worship service are planned, find them at , click on “Annual Conference.” A recording of each webcast will be available shortly after the session concludes. Daily news reports and photo albums will be at , along with the daily sermon and worship bulletin. Facebook updates will be posted at .

— The 2011 Annual Conference will make a witness to host city Grand Rapids. The Michigan District Witness Commission is planning service projects that are within walking distance of the convention center. Sign up at . On the right hand side of the page, there are three different service options for Tuesday, July 5. Click on any of the three to get more information and to participate.

— In other service projects Conference attendees are invited to prepare and bring along School Kits and non-perishable food items to Grand Rapids. The School Kits are used by Church World Service to give children affected by disasters, or those in impoverished schools, refugee camps, or other difficult settings, some of the basic tools for learning (instructions are at ). The School Kits will be presented during the opening worship service on the evening of July 2. The food offering to benefit the West Michigan Food Bank will be led by the junior and senior high youth during the evening worship service July 4. The following day, the youth will load the food onto a truck for delivery to the food bank. “Our goal is for Annual Conference 2011 to contribute 4,000 items. ‘Can’ we do it?” asked an announcement.

— Free Wi-Fi will be available throughout the DeVos Place Convention Center during the Conference, made available by Brethren Benefit Trust, which is paying the cost for all participants. Username will be “brethren benefit” (with a space between the two words). The password will be “trust” (all lower-case). “We’re grateful for their sponsorship, which will make it easy to stay connected to Internet while in the convention center,” said Conference director Chris Douglas.

— A number of international guests have been invited to Annual Conference, but the Global Mission Partnerships staff fear many will not be granted visas by the US government to enter the country. Those who have been invited include Jinatu L. Wamdeo, general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria; Elijah Tumba, director of finance for EYN; Agnes Thliza, national secretary of the EYN women’s organization ZME; Jean Bily Telfort, general secretary of the National Committee of Elgise des Freres Haitiens (the Church of the Brethren in Haiti); Vivek and Shefali Solanky of the Church of the Brethren in India and currently attending Bethany Seminary. Mission workers who are expected include Robert and Linda Shank (North Korea), Grace Mishler (Vietnam), and Jennifer and Nathan Hosler (Nigeria).

— Save a life by giving blood at the Annual Conference Blood Drive on July 4, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and on July 5, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The blood drive will be in the Recital Hall. Each donor must show photo identification (driver’s license for most) or two pieces of non-photo identification (credit card, library card, blood donor card, etc.). Appointments may be scheduled in advance at the Conference registration area. “Donors and volunteers to help with the donation area are greatly needed to make this a success,” said an announcement from coordinator Bradley Bohrer. “We met our goal last year of 200 units. Let’s exceed that this year!” Contact Bradley Bohrer, Pastor, Crest Manor Church of the Brethren, 574 291-3748 or 574 231-8910, cell 574 229-8304, .

— A gathering to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Youth Peace Travel Team will be held on the first evening of Annual Conference on Saturday, July 2, at 9 p.m. at Ah Nab Awen Park in Grand Rapids. Past years’ teams will join the 2011 team–Mark Dowdy of Huntingdon, Pa.; Tyler Goss of Mechanicsville, Va.; Kay Guyer of Woodbury, Pa.; and Sarah Neher of Rochester, Minn.

— Volunteers and mediators from the Ministry of Reconciliation (MoR), a program of On Earth Peace, will be available during all of the business sessions at the 2011 Annual Conference, according to an announcement from On Earth Peace. The mediators will be present in order to assist participants in resolving conflicts during a year in which business items are considered particularly controversial. On Earth Peace also is advertising a special insight session, “What Have We Learned from the Special Response?” on July 5, at 9 p.m. “As a people we are striving to learn how to communicate faithfully so that we can hear the voice of God among us when we have strongly different opinions,” said an announcement. “What would we like to carry forward from our experiences with the Special Response Process for next time? What would we prefer to leave behind? Come prepared to share and hear experiences of this unprecedented process as we seek to build and care for the body of faith in the midst of conflict and difficult conversation.” For more information contact Leslie Frye at  or 620-755-3940.

— Church of the Brethren staff have been invited to prepare for Annual Conference by setting aside a time of prayer and scripture each weekday. Beginning this week, employees based at the denomination’s General Offices in Elgin, Ill., have been invited to gather in the chapel each day from 9:15-9:30 a.m. Those unable to join the gathering can participate through a worship guide posted on the General Secretary’s page of the church’s website.

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