— The 2014 Conference, by the numbers: 2,524 total registration including 719 delegates and 1,805 nondelegates, 115 units of blood collected by the Conference Blood Drive from 123 presenting donors with the help of 26 volunteers, $5,100 raised for hunger at the Quilt Auction of the Association for the Arts in the Church of the Brethren (AACB), 514 downloads of the new Annual Conference app, and 20,875 diapers collected by the Witness to the Host City service project for a YMCA/YWCA shelter in Columbus. Also received in the offering of goods for the shelter: 1,750 hygiene kits and “more socks than we can count.”
— Among groups choosing new leadership at this Annual Conference were the Council of District Executives (CODE) and the Ministers’ Association. CODE named an executive committee that includes Ron Beachley as chair, Kevin Kessler as vice chair, Emma Jean Woodard as secretary, and David Steele as treasurer. Serving on the Ministers’ Association executive committee are Erin Matteson as chair, Christina Singh as first vice chair, Eric Anspaugh as second vice chair, Stephen Hershberger as secretary, and Tim Sollenberger-Morphew as treasurer.
— Results of the Brethren Benefit Trust Fitness Challenge, an early morning five-kilometer walk/run at a park a few miles from the Greater Columbus Convention Center: in the runner category, male and female first participants over the finish line were Nathan Hosler and Christy Crouse; in the walker category, male and female first participants over the finish line were Don Shankster and Bev Anspaugh.
—International guests who attended the Conference were introduced as the first morning of work wound down for the delegates. Introducing the group was Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of Global Mission and Service. Alexandre Gonçalves and Gislaine Reginaldo were welcomed together. They are from Brazil and are a part of the community at Bethany Theological Seminary. Darryl Sankey was welcomed as a representative of First District of the Church of the Brethren in India. Also welcomed from India were Silvans S. Christian, Bishop of Gujarat, and Sanjiukuma Christian, from Valsad, both representing the Church of North India. In a time when the hearts and prayers of Brethren are centered upon Nigeria, the delegates warmly greeted Rebecca Dali from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). Also from Nigeria, guests representing the Brethren Evangelism Support Trust (BEST) were Dr. Njidda Oadzama and Apagu Ali Abbas. The applause for all the international guests was warm and heartfelt.
— Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) gave its annual Partners in Service Award to Manchester University campus minister Walt Wiltschek, who also gave the presentation for the BVS luncheon on the topic, “Worth Remembering.”
— The 2014 Manchester Church-University Service Award was presented to leaving Manchester University president Jo Young Switzer at the university’s luncheon. “It felt important, as we reflect on Jo’s decade-long tenure as president and her work at Manchester before that, to honor her for the work she has done in helping to keep the connections between Manchester and the Church of the Brethren alive and vital,” said an announcement of the award, which listed hallmarks of her legacy as Manchester’s first female president: a 25 percent growth in enrollment, a new Doctor of Pharmacy program on a new campus in Fort Wayne, a $100 million “Students First!” campaign, several new buildings on the Manchester campus including a new Academic Center, Science Center, and Union that now bears her name. The award especially noted her “commitment to draw education and faith together.”
— The Outdoor Ministries Association honored two volunteers and two staff at its Annual Conference luncheon: Dean Dohner and Jim Oren, both from Camp Woodland Altars, received the Volunteer of the Year Award; Paul Witkovsky from Camp Blue Diamond, and Ann Cornell from Shepherd’s Spring Outdoor Ministry Center, were recognized as Staff of the Year.
— This year, 2014, marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Civil War-era Brethren elder and martyr for peace John Kline. It also is the 50th anniversary of the publication of “Middle Man,” the beloved Brethren Press illustrated children’s book about Kline by Dorothy Brandt Davis and her children. John Kline, portrayed by Nate Hosler of the Office of Public Witness, and Kline’s horse Nell, personified by a life size version of the colorful drawing of Nell from “Middle Man,” both were on stage for the Church of the Brethren live report to the delegates. Later that day, Nell was spotted in the Exhibit Hall posing for photos with Dorothy Brandt Davis and daughter Sarah Davis.
The Annual Conference News Team included photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Justin Hollenberg, and Alysson Wittmeyer; writers Frank Ramirez, Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett, Eddie Edmonds, and Britnee Harbaugh; web staff Jan Fischer Bachman, Don Knieriem, and Russ Otto; communications staff Wendy McFadden, who is publisher of Brethren Press, Mandy Garcia of donor communications, “Messenger” editor Randy Miller, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services, who served as editor for the team. The next regularly scheduled issue of Newsline is set for July 15 and will include a preview of the 2014 National Youth Conference.