Today in Tampa – Saturday, July 11, 2015

“Dear friends, let us love each other, because love is from God” (1 John 4:7a).


Quotes of the day:

Photo by Keith Hollenberg
Joyce Rupp speaking to the Ministers Association

“Refresh our hope, renew our wonder, deepen our capacity to trust.“
— From a “Prayer of Hopefulness” that was part of the opening worship service.

“Jesus was moved with compassion.
What compassion is not:
Not pity
Not only giving
Not passive
Not just an emotion.”
— One minister’s notes from the Ministers Association pre-Conference meeting led by Joyce Rupp (submitted by Keith Hollenberg).

“The irony of love: it presses us to the margins and makes us uncomfortable…. When we bear the fruit of love…’those people’ will become brothers, sisters, because love is transformational.”
— Annual Conference moderator David Steele, preaching for the opening worship service.


Photo by Glenn Riegel
Annual Conference moderator David Steele

By the numbers

2,037 registrations include 647 delegates and 1,399 nondelegates, as of 10:15 p.m. this evening.

$7,195 received in the evening offering.


An overview of the day

Photo by Regina Holmes
The EYN Women’s Fellowship Choir sang for the opening worship service of the 2015 Annual Conference

As Annual Conference 2015 gets underway, some 2,200 Brethren are gathering in Tampa, Fla., from across the United States and Puerto Rico. Also attending are more than usual numbers of international guests including the EYN Women’s Fellowship Choir and BEST group numbering some 50 to 60 people from Nigeria, and church leaders from Haiti, Spain and the Canary Islands, and Brazil. Quaker pastors from Burundi and Rwanda are two of the special guests this year.

Pre-Conference events this week included the annual meeting of the Standing Committee of district delegates, the Mission and Ministry Board’s summer meeting, meetings of the Council of District Executives, and workshops offered by Congregational Life Ministries, among others.

The Ministers Association continuing education event this year featured Joyce Rupp speaking on the topic of compassion.

An Open Table Mix and Mingle offered an opportunity for fellowship and snacks before worship. A free ice cream social brought the whole congregation together for fellowship after worship.

An evening worship service officially opened the Conference, with moderator David Steele preaching on “Abide in My Love…for Us” based on 1 John 4:7-16. The EYN Women’s Fellowship Choir visiting from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) sang to the beat of drums, while a praise team from Miami (Fla.) First Church of the Brethren lifted up the offering and blessed it with a beautiful a capella piece by a women’s trio.


About those round tables…

The Conference business will be held at round tables, with delegates seated in small groups that include people from various parts of the denomination. The seating at round tables is intended to facilitate good sharing and fellowship with ease of face-to-face discussion of the business of the church. Guiding and training the table facilitators is “table guru” and former moderator Tim Harvey. At a table facilitators training this afternoon, he distributed cards with the following instructions:

How to be a table facilitator in 5 easy steps
1. Have fun.
2. Encourage people to talk, especially sharing different opinions and perspectives.
3. Let me know how else I can help you [his phone number]
4. Wing it, when necessary. The line between “being led by the Spirit” and “flying by the seat of your pants” is often a dotted line, at best.
5. When all else fails, see step 1.


The News Team for Annual Conference 2015: photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Justin Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Alysson Wittmeyer, Alyssa Parker; writers Frances Townsend and Karen Garrett; Eddie Edmonds, Conference Journal; Jan Fischer Bachman and Russ Otto, web staff; Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, news director.


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