“Be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to he interest of others” (Philippians 2:2b-4).
“To be concerned so absurdly with the interests and needs of others…that’s the incredible wondrous Christ that Paul wanted the Philippians to see.”
— Annual Conference moderator Nancy S. Heishman, preaching for worship.
“We are called in this practice to waste time in a world that values productivity above all else…. Are you free to waste something in order to listen to what God has to say?”
— Bible study leader Linda Alley, describing the purpose of the practice of “sacred reading and sacred listening.” She introduced the delegate body to this practice during the hour-long Bible study that took place during the morning business session.
“This is the largest incoming class in more than five years.”
— Jeff Carter, president of Bethany Theological Seminary, during the institution’s report to the delegate body during afternoon business. He reviewed the current situation of the seminary and noted the growth in the numbers in hits year’s incoming class.
“Is it a movement or an organization? Maybe it’s a support group.”
— Questions about what the new Annual Conference app stands for, during a humorous video segment by the AC (pronounced “ack”) News Team “on loan from the NOAC News Team.” Their guesses: Angry Pastors Parade, Anxious Pastors Parade, Angelic Pastors Parade, and Anabaptist Pietist People. It actually is an app for Conference goers who use smart phones that offers easy access to the Conference information, maps, updates, personalized scheduling, and more. Download it from www.brethren.org/ac/app.html .
By the numbers
Statistics from the opening Conference worship service on Wednesday evening: 1,815 people in the congregation, an offering of $8,416 received for the ministry of Annual Conference
Introduction of international guests
As the first morning of work wound down for Annual Conference delegates, Jay Wittmeyer strode on stage to introduce the international guests. Wittmeyer is 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 the 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 also warmly greeted Rebecca Dali from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria). From the Brethren Evangelism Support Trust (BEST) in Nigeria were Dr. Njidda Oadzama and Apagu Ali Abbas.
The applause for all the international guests was warm and heartfelt.
Womaen’s Caucus prayer gathering
The Womaen’s Caucus held a gathering to pray for the women on the ballot today at 1:20 p.m. in the Exhibit Hall, in advance of the vote for the ballot during the afternoon business session. An invitation from the group said, “It takes great courage to accept the call to be on the ballot at Annual Conference. We would like to invite you to help us support the women who are on the ballot this year.”
New conversation circle
In the Exhibit Hall this year a new configuration of the Open Table Cooperative, BMC, Global Women’s Project, and Womaen’s Caucus includes a space for conversations sponsored by these groups. A series of conversation circles are planned during the Conference on the theme “Courage Rising: Conversations of Challenge, Risk, and Solidarity.” Each organization will be hosting several conversations. Conversations started off early this afternoon with a conversation hosted by BMC with a group of Church of the Brethren college and university chaplains reflecting on the intersection of faith, gender identity, and sexual orientation at their campuses. Several more conversation circles on a wide variety of topics are planned today through Saturday.
The Annual Conference News Team includes photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Justin Hollenberg, Alysson Wittmeyer; writers Frank Ramirez, Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett, Eddie Edmonds, Britnee Harbaugh; web staff Jan Fischer Bachman, Don Knieriem, Russ Otto; communications staff Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press, Mandy Garcia of donor communications, Messenger editor Randy Miller, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services, who serves as editor.