Quotes of the day:
“And so I say to all God’s people, distribute agape love. It is not yours to keep…. If ever you forget who loves you, remember it was God–with no conditions!”
— Dennis Webb, pastor of Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren, preaching this evening’s Conference sermon.
“Welcome to lunch! Here’s what folks are saying… ‘I had the fish sandwich, some crackers, a glass of red wine. It was delicious.’ – J. from Nazareth. ‘A little locust Latte freshly made. The perfect complement to Locust Marmalade.’ – J. The Baptist.”
— From the program for “12 Baskets and a Goat,” a comedy and benefit for Heifer International, presented by Ted & Co.’s Ted Swartz and Jeff Raught.
Annual Conference made a radical shift in tone at midday today, when business was suspended for a “Jubilee Afternoon.” The business agenda ended with no resolution of the delegates’ discussion of “Query: Same Sex Weddings,” which continues Saturday morning, but the afternoon brought opportunities for enjoyment and learning something new. “Jubilee” activities were as diverse as the crowd: Bus tours took people to the Civil Rights Museum at the old Woolworth’s building in downtown Greensboro, where a lunch counter sit-in helped change history. Service projects aided the surrounding community that is hosting this Conference. Workshops and insight sessions brought deeper understanding of topics like preaching, prayer, Bible study, leading music, and more. Concerts and dramas–including Ted and Co.’s “12 Baskets and a Goat”–brought light heartedness and laughter. And, of course, there was ice cream. And an opportunity to meet and greet David Steele as new general secretary-elect. And a chance to pet the nose of Joy, a heifer who visited a corner of the Brethren Press bookstore by the Heifer International booth in celebration of the children’s book about Heifer’s seagoing cowboys. Evening worship brought a powerful sermon by Naperville (Ill.) Church of the Brethren pastor Dennis Webb.
Conference ‘meets and greets’ general secretary-elect
General secretary-elect David Steele was introduced to the Conference by Mission and Ministry Board chair Don Fitzkee during the Church of the Brethren report to the delegates. Fitzkee outlined the broad range of ministry experience and administrative gifts that suit Steele to the job. They include experience as Annual Conference moderator, district executive, pastor, and camp leader.
Steele will begin as general secretary on Sept. 1. The Conference also applauded the work of interim general secretary Dale Minnich, who together with Fitzkee presented the report of denominational ministries. Fitzkee thanked Minnich, saying the interim post had been envisioned as a “caretaker” role, which developed into much more after the untimely death of associate general secretary Mary Jo Flory-Steury, and other unexpected staff changes. Minnich was described as an “unflappable presence” who has quietly prepared the way for the new general secretary.
Steele addressed the Conference, saying that he is humbled by the call to leadership and the opportunity to serve the denomination. He stressed his understanding of the need to build community and the hope that we embrace more fully what it means to be community together.
L’Arche receives BVS ‘Partners in Service Award’
At the Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) lunch, director of BVS Dan McFadden and European coordinator Kristen Flory presented the annual “Partners in Service Award” to L’Arche Ireland and Northern Ireland. The award was presented after a discussion by McFadden on the state of BVS and a recognition of BVS volunteers past and present. One BVSer was from the third BVS unit. Kendra Harbeck, who serves in the Global Mission and Service office, was the keynote speaker, telling her personal story of “Finding the Brethren Through BVS.”
Congregational Life Ministries sponsors disabilities ombudsman
For the first time, Congregational Life Ministries and the denomination’s Disabilities Ministry have sponsored Rebekah Flores as a Disabilities Ombudsman at Annual Conference. She is attending the event to provide support for those with physical and/or intellectual disabilities, and to provide a listening presence for caregivers as well as information and advocacy to make the Conference a worthwhile and beneficial experience for all. Flores is a member of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., and serves as an Anabaptist Disabilities Network field associate.
By the numbers:
— 2,394 Conference registrations as of Thursday, June 30, at 5 p.m., including 704 delegates and 1,690 nondelegates.
— $9,672.45 received in the evening offering.
— 217 simultaneous log-ins to the Wednesday worship webcast, in an update from webcast coordinator Enten Eller. The number of log-ins for the Wednesday worship was 176. The number of log-ins to the Thursday morning business session numbered 189. Some 290 log-ins were made to the Thursday afternoon webcast of business. The number of log-ins to Thursday evening worship, 283, included groups watching together so the number of people watching greatly exceeded the number of log-ins. The height of the log-in attendance at Annual Conference so far came this morning during the business session: 306.
— 1 heifer, named Joy, visited the Brethren Press bookstore to have its nose petted by young and old. The heifer was a part of the effort to share the story of Heifer Project’s seagoing cowboys who sailed across the ocean with livestock to aid war-ravaged Europe following World War II. The book “Seagoing Cowboy” is an illustrated children’s book telling the story for the younger generation.
The 2016 Annual Conference News Team includes: writers Frank Ramirez, Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett, Tyler Roebuck, Monica McFadden; photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Laura Brown; Conference Journal editor Eddie Edmonds; web manager Jan Fischer Bachman; web staff Russ Otto; editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford.