Today in Grand Rapids – Friday, June 30, 2017

Church of the Brethren Newsline
June 30, 2017

Photo by Donna Parcell.

“But I will hope continually,
    and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
    of your deeds of salvation all day long,
    though their number is past my knowledge.
I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God,
    I will praise your righteousness, yours alone” (Psalm 71:14-16).

Theme for worship:
Risk Hope: Witness to God’s work in the world

Quotes of the day

“Ebenezer, up to now the Lord has helped us.”
A Haitian phrase shared by the Friday evening preacher Michaela Alphonse, who said she is heartened by hearing this said in churches in Haiti despite the people’s suffering from many natural disasters, the nation’s history of violence, and the fact that it is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

“Tell the world about the hope you have within you…. Tell the world about Jesus. Can I get a witness?”
— Michaela Alphonse, preaching the evening sermon. She is transitioning from her work as mission staff in Haiti, to a new position as pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Miami, Fla.

“Can I get a witness, a witness for my God?”
— Chorus of a song by Ken Medema, which he created in response to the evening’s sermon by Michaela Alphonse at the close of the Friday worship service.

Michaela Alphonse preaching for the Friday evening worship. Photo by Glenn Riegel.

By the numbers

2,306 people: the total number registered for the Conference as of Friday evening, including 672 delegates, 1,634 nondelegates

1,591 people: the number in the congregation for worship Friday evening

$11,653.54: the offering received in worship Friday evening, for the church’s ministries in Haiti

190 pints: the total amount of blood collected during the 2-day Conference Blood Drive, well exceeding the goal of 160 pints. On Thursday, 84 pints were collected and on Friday 106 pints were collected.

Welcoming Brethren cousins

At the close of the business session Friday morning, general secretary David Steele introduced guests from the Brethren Church and the Old German Baptist Brethren Church New Conference. Both denominations are “close cousins” of the Church of the Brethren, part of the same Brethren movement that began with the baptisms in the Eder River in Germany in 1708.

Jubilee afternoon

This afternoon, instead of a business session the Conference celebrated a “Jubilee” time of spiritual opportunities, professional growth, refreshment, relaxation, music, field trips, and more. Service projects took place at two sites in Grand Rapids–Well House and Mel Trotter Ministries–and donations to the Witness to the Host City were boxed up at the convention center. Buses took people to a garden and arboretum, and others walked together as groups to local museums. Many took the opportunity to enjoy concerts given by Ken Medema and Jonathan Emmons, while “mini concerts” by other Brethren musicians graced the Exhibit Hall. Some Conference-goers simply took the free time to chat and catch up with old friends, and make new ones.

Volunteers sort and box donations to the Witness to the Host City collection. Photo by Glenn Riegel.


The afternoon concert by Ken Medema today was sponsored by Bethany Theological Seminary.

For more onsite coverage of Annual Conference go to .

The news coverage of Annual Conference 2017 is made possible through the work of the volunteer news team: Frank Ramirez, Conference Journal editor; photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Laura Brown, Allie Dulabaum; writers Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett, Gene Hollenberg; with web staff Jan Fischer Bachman and Russ Otto, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services. Wendy McFadden, publisher. Contact

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