Quotes of the day:
“Light of the world, into our darkness come… Let heaven’s will on earth be done.”
— The song written by music coordinator Shawn Kirchner, sung during the procession of lights that opens each worship service of the 2016 Annual Conference.
“For a few moments at least, all our lights together will light up the world…and we hope that the light will reach between us and beyond us all our days.”
— Kurt Borgmann, senior pastor at Manchester Church of the Brethren in N. Manchester, Ind., preaching on the topic “Light Up the Darkness!” At the end of the sermon, congregants were invited to take a small battery powered candle to hold while singing hymns together to close the service.
Today the 2016 Annual Conference began consideration of its business agenda, on a day that included age group activities, meal events, insight sessions, worship, opportunities to visit the exhibits, and more. A heavy business schedule with controversial items was offset by a light-filled evening worship service that focused on the light of God in each person and the power of saying the simple words, “I love you.”
Nigerian Brethren pray for the American church
Rev. Daniel Mbaya, general secretary of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) asked all the EYN DCC [church district] secretaries, heads of programs, and institutions to a day of fasting and prayer for the Church of the Brethren in the United States. “The Leadership of EYN with loud voice call on all Pastors, Reverends, and the entire members of EYN to a one day fasting and prayers. God to guide them in the 2016 annual conference,” his text said. “Having stood by us in our moments of trials of financial and through prayers, we need to stand by them through prayers at this crucial conference.” The Church of the Brethren in America and Mission 21 in Switzerland have assisted the devastated EYN denomination since it began to be attacked by the Boko Haram Islamist extremist group.
Shantilal Bhagat honored with award
At the Congregational Life Ministries and Intercultural Dinner, former denominational staff member Shantilal Bhagat was honored with the Revelation 7:9 Award. Now in his early 90s and living in La Verne, Calif., Bhagat is originally from India where he worked with the Church of the Brethren for 16 years at the Rural Service Center in Anklesvar. He came to the United States in 1968 to take a position at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill. He served with the former General Board of the denomination for over 30 years, in a variety of roles including as coordinator of social services for the Foreign Mission Commission, as community development representative, as Asia representative, as representative to the United Nations, and more. He wrote three books during his career, and made a focus on small church concerns, environmental concerns, and racism important parts of his ministry.
By the numbers
— $12,912.54 was received in the evening’s offering
— 290 devices logged in to the webcasts of the afternoon business session, which is estimated to represent between 375 to 400 people participating in the Annual Conference online today. Commented webcast coordinator Enten Eller, “Perhaps 20 percent of the people participating in business are doing so via the webcast……or, more significantly, perhaps 35 percent of the non-delegates following business are coming in from the webcast.” The webcast attendance at the opening worship service Wednesday evening totaled 217 simultaneous logins, with 176 logging in to the concert. To follow Conference via webcasts, go to www.brethren.org/ac/webcasts .
— 80 usable pints of blood have been donated in the Annual Conference Blood Drive, plus 12 “double reds” makes the equivalent of 92 pints total. The American Red Cross reports that about three people are impacted per pint, making the impact of the blood donated so far to reach some 276 people. The Red Cross also issued a bulletin for the Greensboro area that the need for blood donations has reached a crucial point, and elective surgeries are beginning to be delayed as a result. There are still slots available for donors to give blood tomorrow afternoon, Friday, on the second floor of the Koury Convention Center.
Members of the Annual Conference News Team contributed to this report: 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.