— A Congregational Life Ministry Fair is offered for the second year in a row as a special opportunity for Conference-goers, 4:30-6:30 p.m. on July 10. A “round robin” format will offer roundtable discussions with staff on topics such as children’s ministry, stewardship, deacons, and more. Also sponsored by Congregational Life Ministries are receptions for new fellowships and congregations (afternoon of July 8) and for intercultural networking and mentoring (afternoon of July 7), as well as numerous insight sessions, mutual help groups, and networking opportunities for church planters and emerging churches. The flier of Congregational Life Ministries events is at www.cobannualconference.org/StLouis/
— Conference-goers are invited to tour Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Ind., on their way to or from St. Louis. “Going I-70 west to St. Louis? We’d be glad to have you stop for a visit at Bethany!” said an invitation. Pre-Conference tours will be offered July 5-7. After Conference tours begin July 11 at 12 noon, and continue on July 12. Please call ahead to let the seminary know how many are in your group and an estimated time of arrival. Contact Monica Rice at 800-287-8822 or firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information find a flier at www.cobannualconference.org/StLouis/BethanyTour.pdf .
— Heading up Bethany Seminary’s list of insight sessions and meal events is a midday session on July 8 billed as an “intellectual travelogue.” Faculty and students will share insights from a cross-cultural seminar to visit Christians in Germany, planned for this May. Also on the schedule with seminary sponsorship are the “Brethren Life and Thought” luncheon featuring Washington University professor Hillel Kieval speaking on “The Challenges and Risks of Integration” from the experience of American Jews, and the Bethany Luncheon featuring a panel of seminary graduates discussing the role and responsibility of Bethany alumni. Luncheon tickets are $17. The flier of Bethany events is at www.cobannualconference.org/StLouis/InsightSessionBethany.pdf .
— Seminary president Ruthann Knechel Johansen is the featured speaker for the Womaen’s Caucus Luncheon on July 9. Her address, “The Love Poem,” will respond to the question, “How do we shape the gift of our own lives as works of art that make it possible to live in solidarity with others and in reconciliation and forgiveness when faced with offenses?” Luncheon tickets are $17. A flier for the Womaen’s Caucus Luncheon is at www.cobannualconference.org/StLouis/WomaensCaucusLuncheon.pdf .
— “New Fire: Youth and Young Adults and the Ecumenical Movement” is the presentation by Jennifer Leath for the Ecumenical Luncheon on July 10. Leath is an ordained minister and itinerant elder in the First Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and a doctoral candidate at Yale University in African-American studies and religious studies with an emphasis in religious ethics. She serves as co-moderator of the Joint Consultative Group between the World Council of Churches and the Pentecostal churches, and is a member of the WCC youth commission. Tickets are $17. See www.cobannualconference.org/StLouis/EcumenicalLuncheon.pdf .
— “Last year the Spiritual Directors Network hosted a Labyrinth at Annual Conference with some success,” reports Joshua Brockway, director of Spiritual Life and Discipleship. “Several persons asked over the course of the year if that labyrinth was available for use around the denomination. I am happy to share that Congregational Life has purchased that labyrinth! We will again bring it to Annual Conference along with a beautiful interpretive card.” For more information about the spiritual practice of walking a labyrinth, or for more about the Spiritual Directors Network, contact Brockway at email@example.com or 800-323-8039 ext. 227.
— On Earth Peace is sponsoring a Peace Vigil and Drum Circle to close out the young adult experience of the Conference. The event is to “bring God’s Shalom and Christ’s peace in a quiet, peaceful, spiritual event in downtown St. Louis.” Young adults are invited to bring their voices, prayers, stringed instruments, and drums when they gather at 10 p.m. on July 10.
— Also sponsored by On Earth Peace are a number of insight sessions including “The Vision of On Earth Peace: A Conversation with the New Executive Director” (to be named prior to Conference); “The Science of Sexuality” led by McPherson (Kan.) College natural science professor and church deacon Jonathan Frye; “Welcome Matters: Understanding and Managing Social Change” led by Carol Wise of the Brethren and Mennonite Council for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Interests; and “From Marine Sergeant to Conscientious Objector” featuring CO and former Marine Corey Gray, among others. The Step Up! program for youth and young adults is the focus of the On Earth Peace Breakfast on July 10. Breakfast tickets cost $16. Find the On Earth Peace event flier at www.cobannualconference.org/StLouis/EventsOnEarthPeace.pdf .
— Join Brethren Press for a 20th anniversary hymn sing celebrating 20 years of “Hymnal: A Worship Book.” Nancy Faus-Mullen, who was a leader in the Hymnal Project and one of the creative musicians who helped put the Hymnal together, will be a special guest at the hymn sing scheduled to start at 9 p.m. on July 10.
— The Brethren Press Messenger Dinner on July 8 will feature Guy E. Wampler speaking on “What Holds Brethren Together?” A former Annual Conference moderator, he also chaired the Annual Conference study committee on human sexuality in 1983. Dinner tickets cost $25. Other Brethren Press insight sessions address “Fresh Talk for Sunday Morning” led by Gather ’Round project director and editor Anna Speicher; “Facebook Horror Stories: Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media” led by Brethren Press publisher Wendy McFadden and news director Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford; and “Calling All Children’s Sunday School Teachers” offering success stories, tips, questions, and concerns about Sunday school. More information is at www.cobannualconference.org/StLouis/InsightSessionBrethrenPress.pdf .
— The Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) Fitness Challenge begins at 7 a.m. on July 8. The 3.5 mile walk/run will be held at Forest Park, six miles from the America’s Center convention center (participants arrange their own transportation to the park). Cost is $20 per person (going up to $25 after May 25), or $60 for a family of four or more. Registration will be available with general Conference registration at www.brethren.org/ac beginning Feb. 22. For details see www.cobannualconference.org/StLouis/BBTfitnessChallenge.pdf .
— Also sponsored by BBT are a number of insight sessions including “Long-Term Care Insurance: It’s Not Just for Your Parents,” “Living and Leaving Your Legacy,” and “Stocks and Bonds and Money Markets, Oh My!” The full listing is at www.cobannualconference.org/StLouis/InsightSessionBBT.pdf .
— A new meal event on the Conference schedule is the CODE Celebrating Excellence Dinner on July 9. The event is sponsored by the Council of District Executives. Tickets are $25.
— Each Church of the Brethren congregation is invited to create a quilt block for the Conference. The blocks should be postmarked by May 15 and will be assembled into quilt tops in advance of the Conference and quilted onsite in St. Louis. The quilt auction begins after the close of business on July 10, with proceeds benefiting projects to alleviate hunger. Detailed instructions for making quilt blocks are at www.cobannualconference.org/StLouis/AACBQuilting.pdf .
— The young adults and singles/night owls join together for a night-time, by flashlight experience of the City Museum of St. Louis on July 7. This “Night at the Museum” is offered at a greatly reduced entrance fee of only $6 per person. “Housed in the 600,000 square foot former Shoe Company, the museum is an eclectic mixture of playground, funhouse, surrealistic pavilion, and architectural marvel,” says the flier. See the Information Packet at www.brethren.org/ac .
— The junior high youth will have a unique opportunity to spend the morning of July 10 at St. Louis’ Old Courthouse learning about the Dred Scott case and 19th century slavery, and considering the issues of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Daily rate for July 10 is $35. Cost to attend junior high activities for the entire Conference is $85, which includes a visit to the Gateway Arch, a Mississippi River cruise, and the St. Louis Zoo, among other events. Other groups planning to visit St. Louis’ Gateway Arch include the middlers (grades 3-5) and senior high. See the Information Packet at www.brethren.org/ac for more age group activities and fees.