By Mandy Garcia
A dozen round tables filled the Ambassador West ballroom at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich., on the afternoon of July 4–ready for the first Congregational Life Ministry Fair at Annual Conference.
The tables were topped with signs reading “Stewardship,” “Young Adult Ministry,” “Church Planting,” and several other congregational ministry areas. Each table was hosted by a conversation facilitator, prepared with questions to guide discussion.
Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, moderated the event. He welcomed participants as they arrived at 4:30 p.m. After he introduced the staff and gave instructions, talking and careful listening ensued around the tables. The atmosphere was energetic, and attendees engaged in encouraging and enlightening discussion.
After 20 minutes, the group broke for a buffet dinner of pizza and finger food before reseating themselves at new tables with new topics. After another 20 minutes, attendees were reseated yet again for a third and final topic of ministry.
This “round robin” approach created a unique setting for conversation, and a diverse range of perspectives of ministry. Response to the Ministry Fair was positive, and the Congregational Life staff felt it was a success. It was a special time of fellowship and sharing that will be returning to Annual Conference in the future.
Coverage of the 2011 Annual Conference is by the News Team of Jan Fischer-Bachman, Mandy Garcia, Karen Garrett, Amy Heckert, Regina Holmes, Frank Ramirez, Glenn Riegel, Frances Townsend, and editor and news director Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Wendy McFadden serves as executive director of Brethren Press. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org