Committee Shares Hopes for Sunday of Renewal, Releases Logo for 2013 Annual Conference

A logo for the 2013 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, and more details about the schedule including a Sunday focused on spiritual renewal, have been released by the Program and Arrangements Committee. The 2013 Conference takes place June 29-July 3 in Charlotte, N.C., and is open to all church members and families, as well as delegates from congregations and districts.

The planning group met recently at the General Offices in Elgin, Ill. The committee includes the Conference officers–Bob Krouse, moderator; Nancy S. Heishman, moderator-elect; Jim Beckwith, secretary–and committee members Eric Bishop, Cindy Laprade Lattimer, and Christy Waltersdorff, with Conference Office director Chris Douglas.

The logo, designed by Debbie Noffsinger, presents the theme, “Move in Our Midst,” which also is the title of a beloved Church of the Brethren hymn by the late Ken Morse and Perry Huffaker (#418 in “Hymnal: A Worship Book”).

A Sunday of renewal

The largest block of the committee’s meeting was spent “fleshing out the Sunday plans as a day of renewal,” reported Douglas. This is a new initiative of Program and Arrangements, following calls for an emphasis on spirituality at the annual meeting, along with a worshipful context for the carrying out of church business.

“It is so different than what we’ve done before, we want to call people’s attention to that,” said Douglas. “We really are trying to focus pretty closely on tools and resources that people may use back in their congregations,” she explained.

Plans for Sunday, July 1, include two worship services–morning and afternoon–with guest preachers Philip Yancey and Mark Yaconelli, a Concert of Prayer in the evening, and in between two sets of “equipping workshops” designed to provide experiences and resources for personal and corporate spiritual renewal.

The day is to begin with a morning focused on the “inward journey” of spiritual formation and spiritual disciplines, and then in the afternoon move to consideration of the “outward journey” of sharing our faith with others through word and deed.

The committee has worked hard to identify leaders for equipping workshops from the grassroots of the denomination, Douglas said, such as church members who are doing creative ministries in congregations and local practitioners of spiritual formation and Christian witness.

The Sunday schedule is at www.brethren.org/ac/documents/2013-day-of-spiritual-renewal.pdf . Douglas reported that the list of equipping workshops is still being created, and will be shared sometime early next year.

In other business

Exhibits were granted according to Exhibit Hall guidelines. This year Program and Arrangements has granted exhibit space to several new exhibitors in an attempt to expand the ability to receive information from various voices on current topics of discussion in the church. A full list of exhibits planned for this year can be found online at www.brethren.org/ac/exhibitors.html .

Listings of main Conference presenters and leadership is complete and available online. The Program and Arrangements Committee has released information about the Conference preachers, worship planning team, and the musicians who will be leading singing, accompanying, and directing choirs, as well as the volunteer coordinators. Find the list of preachers, worship planning team, and music leaders at www.brethren.org/ac/preachers.html . The listing of volunteer coordinators is at www.brethren.org/ac/volunteer-coordinators.html .

Classroom Central has been chosen as the Conference service project. The organization receives donations of school and classroom supplies and then allows teachers from the Charlotte area to “shop” for free supplies for use in their classrooms. The effort aids both students and teachers who often otherwise must pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. The group also partners with the Charlotte Convention and Visitors Bureau to receive leftover “freebies” such as pens and pads of papers that convention exhibitors may throw away when packing up their exhibits. The Conference Office will provide a list of most-needed school and classroom supplies for Conference-goers to give to a special offering benefitting Charlotte-area schools.

Two tour possibilities will be offered for nondelegates: to the Billy Graham Home and Library, and to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Douglas describes her own visit to the Billy Graham Home and Library as “very interesting,” including the original Graham home relocated to a beautiful wooded setting surrounded by gardens where Ruth Graham is buried. The library, built in a dairy barn style suited to the family’s roots on a dairy farm, includes lots of multi media exhibits. The NASCAR Hall of Fame directly across the street from the convention center in Charlotte also offers “fabulous” interactive exhibits, Douglas said, such as the opportunity to take part in a simulated pit crew and a simulated race car driving experience.

Travel scholarships will be offered to delegates from congregations west of the Mississippi River. The reimbursement of up to $150 will be given to delegates after the Conference concludes, so that the Conference Office may confirm their attendance.

Some of the Conference functions usually carried out during business sessions will begin this year during the opening worship service. Delegates are particularly encouraged to be in attendance for the full Conference in order not to miss any of these events. For example, Douglas shared that the Program and Arrangements Committee is considering the Saturday evening service and the Sunday of renewal as essential preparation for the business sessions that follow. There are plans to present the pictorial ballot as part of the Saturday evening offering, celebrating gifts that nominees are willing to give to God’s use and to the church. New congregations and fellowships also will be presented during Saturday evening worship.

Dec. 1 is the deadline for nominations for church-wide offices. The Conference Office notes that there have been very few nominations made to date, and requests church members from across the denomination to nominate people for the positions open in 2013. To make nominations, use the online process found at www.brethren.org/ac . Nominees also must fill out the Nominee Information Form, available online, to indicate acceptance of the nomination. Both forms must be filled out with consent from the nominee in order for there to be a completed nomination.

For more information about the Annual Conference, go to www.brethren.org/ac . For questions contact the Conference Office at 800-323-8039 ext. 365.

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