Annual Conference Bits and Pieces: June 29-July 3 in Charlotte, N.C

— A Church of the Brethren Reception will be held in the Annual Conference exhibit hall in the Charlotte Convention Center on Sunday evening, June 30, following the Concert of Prayer. “You are invited to a reception sponsored by the Church of the Brethren Mission and Ministry Board and the General Secretary in the Exhibit Hall on Sunday evening 8:45-10 p.m.” said an announcement. “Come enjoy complimentary ice cream novelties and popcorn while you visit the various exhibit booths and engage with those staffing the exhibits.”

— The Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) Fitness Challenge at the 2013 Annual Conference will be a 3,000 Miles for Peace fundraising event benefiting On Earth Peace, says an announcement from BBT. The annual 5K run/walk will be held on Sunday, June 30, starting at 7 a.m. at Freedom Park, approximately three miles from the Charlotte Convention Center. Participants provide their own transportation to and from the event. Directions will be available from the BBT booth in the exhibit hall, or go to for links to driving directions. The 3,000 Miles for Peace nation-wide fundraiser supports youth peace education, conflict resolution, living peace churches, and nonviolent social change efforts of On Earth Peace, in honor of the late Paul Ziegler. Participants should first register for the BBT Fitness Challenge using the link at ; then click on the “Fundraise” button at the same website to set up a personal fundraising page. The registration fee is $20 for individuals until May 31 ($25 after May 31) or $60 for families of four or more. Mail registration forms and payment to BBT by May 31 for the early-bird race fee. Go to .

— Advanced Deacon Workshops are offered pre-Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C., on Saturday, June 29, for deacons and other caregivers to attend in person or via webcast. The morning session “Listen and Play: Ministry with Children in Times of Stress” is from 9 a.m.-12 noon (eastern) with leaders from Children’s Disaster Services and the Deacon Ministry. The afternoon session “Conflict Transformation” from 1:30-4:30 p.m. (eastern) is based on training provided to the Annual Conference Ministers of Reconciliation Team, and is designed for those who already have a good understanding of conflict transformation, prior training, or experience. To attend in person go to to register online and pay by credit card, or download the registration form and mail it with a check . Cost is $15 for one workshop; $25 to attend both workshops. Continuing education units are available through the Brethren Academy for those who attend in person and those who view the live webcast. Registration is not required to view webcasts and there is no fee, but viewing live sessions is limited to the first 95 participants and a donation to cover costs is appreciated. Continuing education units are not offered for viewing recorded sessions. The deadline to register is June 21. Go to .

— A Bible Visits Exhibit will be featured in the Annual Conference exhibit hall in Charlotte. A note in the Virlina District newsletter reports that the exhibit highlighting the Bible will offer children, youth, and adults the opportunity to share their love for God’s Word by submitting poems, choruses, or hymns they have created about the Bible. These will be put on display at the Bible Visits Exhibit, “which will share how and why the Bible came to us and how it is being shared around the world today,” the newsletter said. All items to be put on display must be submitted by June l to Bible Visits, c/o Al Huston, 6210 Townsend Lane, Waxhaw, NC 28173.

— The Global Women’s Project is celebrating 35 years at this Annual Conference. It has been 35 years since Ruthann Knechel Johansen, now president of Bethany Seminary, delivered the speech, “Giving Birth to a New World,” which gave impetus to the Global Women’s Project. The speech was delivered at a July 1978 women’s event at Manchester College. Johansen “reminded us that ‘neither a great social program nor a sophisticated theology are prerequisites to live in harmony with life. We need only the simple stuff of life–a commitment to the essential goodness by transcending the old order and creating new relationships and structures that nurture justice,’” remembers Pearl Miller of the Global Women’s Project steering committee, in a recent newsletter. “She challenged the gathered women ‘to refuse to purchase luxury (non-essential) items, or to tax our luxuries and redirect the luxury monies toward meeting the needs of people who are victims of our consumption.’ I felt the current of excitement that pulsed around Cordier Auditorium as women nodded and clapped and cried ‘Yes, here is something we can do.’” Conferencegoers are invited to celebrate the anniversary by stopping by the Global Women’s Project booth in the exhibit hall for “Tea Time” on Tuesday afternoon, July 2. Also, those who were at the 1978 North Manchester Women’s Gathering are invited to share memories at .

— The Open Table Cooperative is starting off at the Annual Conference in Charlotte with “a truly Open Table Reception/Supper, inviting any and all to ‘come…eat…without money and without price’ (Isaiah 55:1),” said an announcement. “We’ll offer a variety of finger foods and share them along with a stimulating panel discussion on Saturday evening before the opening worship.” The reception is scheduled for 5 p.m. on June 29 in the Charlotte Convention Center, no ticket is required.

— Service projects and other witnesses to the host city during the 2013 Annual Conference include two special opportunities for junior and senior high youth, and young adults and single adults. On Monday and Tuesday, July 1 and 2, the young adult and single adult groups will serve meals at the Charlotte Rescue Mission from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon. On Monday, July 1, the junior high and senior high will help with the Trout Unlimited River Clean Up, accompanied by David Radcliff of the New Community Project. For more about these and other activities during the Conference, visit .

— The Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists will hold its Annual All-Member Business Meeting at 12 noon on Monday, July 1, during the Annual Conference in Charlotte, N.C. The agenda will include a presentation by Tom Crago on the fellowship’s past and future, and recognition of several early Brethren families by the newly established First Brethren Families Project, as well as election of officers and other business. Crago’s address and the First Brethren Families Project awards ceremony will be open to all interested in attending. The business portion of the meeting is for members only. Conferencegoers are invited to visit the Fellowship of Brethren Genealogists display booth in the exhibit hall, where volunteers will be on hand to answer questions about fellowship activities including the First Brethren Families Project. The meeting room location will be announced at the display booth.

— The Annual Conference Blood Drive is held at the Westin Hotel this year. Those interested in donating blood should go to the Westin Hotel across from the Charlotte Convention Center on Monday, July 1, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. or on Tuesday, July 2, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

— Laura Stark, a professor at Vanderbilt University, is researching the partnership between the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonites, and Quakers) during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s. During those decades, medical research in the US increased substantially and required many healthy volunteer participants for medical work and testing, so the NIH set up a number of programs with colleges and denominational groups to recruit volunteers. Beginning in 1954, Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) and several Brethren colleges partnered with NIH to send young people to the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., to serve as subjects of clinical trials and to work as research assistants for these trials. Stark hopes to attend Annual Conference and would like to talk with Brethren who participated in NIH programs while in BVS or in college, in order to discuss the experiences of the “normal control” research subjects. If you are interested in learning more about Professor Stark’s research or if you can donate an oral history interview about your personal experience, contact or 860-759-3406.