Annual Conference by the numbers, and more from Cincinnati

Church of the Brethren Newsline
July 8, 2018

A participant in the junior high activities experiences one of the prayer stations offered on Saturday evening. Photo by Keith Hollenberg.

— For complete coverage of Annual Conference 2018 see . This index page offers links to news reports, photo albums, the “Conference Journal,” webcasts, selected sermon texts, worship bulletins, and more. Some highlights of the additional coverage available online:

Photo albums covering all the major events of the Conference as well as most of the additional activities and areas like the Exhibit Hall give a broad holistic picture of this year’s annual meeting of the Brethren, see

Reviews of selected insight sessions, meal programs, and other events include:

Candlelight vigil prays for separated families” at

A road to freedom,” a reflection on the experience of visiting the Underground Railroad center in Cincinnati at

Bethany Seminary unveils new logorecognizes Tara Hornbacker’s retirement” at

Elephants, faith, and focus: Notes from the Almuerzo” at


Young adults meet with Doris Abdullah, the Church of the Brethren representative to the UN. Abdullah hosted a booth in the exhibit hall focused on the problem of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. Photo by Laura Brown.


Poetry is something you discover” at

A BRF leader reflects on how a divided house can stand” at

World War I and the Church of the Brethren” at

The daily “Conference Journal” news sheet that was handed out on paper with the worship bulletins is available online in pdf format, links are at .

Recordings of the webcasts of worship services and business sessions are still able to viewed at .

Intercultural Ministries director Gimbiya Kettering and her daughter at the Families Belong Together candlelight vigil on July 4, during the 2018 Annual Conference. Photo by Glenn Riegel.

— By the numbers:

     2,233 people registered for the 2018 Annual Conference including 673 delegates (667 were present onsite) and 1,560 nondelegates.

2,088 people attended the opening worship service of the Conference on Wednesday evening, July 4, topping the attendance figures for the week. Some 1,631 people were in worship on Thursday, 1,475 on Friday, 1,304 on Saturday, and 1,173 in the closing worship service on Sunday morning.

$60,223.80 was received in offerings including $14,774 on Wednesday for the Nigeria Crisis Response, $13,157.03 on Thursday to support Church of the Brethren Core Ministries, $14,773 on Friday for disaster relief in Puerto Rico, $8,755.52 on Saturday for ministry among the Batwa (Pygmy) communities in the Great Lakes region of Africa, and $8,764.25 on Sunday to help pay for Spanish translation for Annual Conference–both written translation of documents and the live translation that is offered during the event.

$9,492.75 was donated in the form of cash, checks, and gift cards to benefit First Step Home, the recipient of this year’s Witness to the Host City. This total does not include the donations of goods and items such as diapers for use by the organization that serves women and children in Cincinnati.

$8,100 was raised for world hunger by the quilt auction of the Association for the Arts in the Church of the Brethren, where 8 quilts and quilted wall hangings were sold–some twice over.

$2,102 was raised for the Ministry Assistance Fund by the Minister’s Association.

159 total pints were received by the blood drive, including 85 on Thursday and 74 on Friday

“The Not-so-Big Church” is the Church of the Brethren’s annual report in video format for 2018.

— “The Not-so-big Church” is the title of a video section of the annual Church of the Brethren report this year. Presented in cartoon format, the video shows an illustrator drawing the story of the “Not-so-big Church” that had big ideas, and how those ideas have played out in the past year. The big ideas of this “not-so-big” Church of the Brethren include Children’s Disaster Services, disaster aid to Puerto Rico, the church’s growth in Spain and the Great Lakes region of Africa, and much more. View the video in the “feature box” at .

Bethany Seminary president Jeff Carter reports to Annual Conference–and displays the new logo of the seminary on his tie. Photo by Glenn Riegel.

— Bethany Theological Seminary unveiled a new logo and tag line at its annual luncheon July 6, during the 2018 Annual Conference. The event also recognized recent graduates of the seminary and the Brethren Academy, and heard a presentation from retiring professor Tara Hornbacker. President Jeff Carter gave a preview of the full report he would give to the delegate body that afternoon including an introduction to the new logo. The logo’s image of a book opening, with the colors yellow and green added to Bethany blue, point to the unfolding of knowledge, hope, and growth that come from education. The logo is a visual of the new Bethany tag line, “…so that the world flourishes.” The tag line is designed to be placed at the end of a phrase such as “Practicing conflict transformation… so that the world flourishes,” or “Living a Spirit-filled life… so that the world flourishes.”

— Recognitions and awards were given during the Mission and Ministry Board meeting. The Bittersweet Gospel Band received the Revelation 7:9 Award from Intercultural Ministries. Present to receive the award were current and past members of the band including Gilbert Romero, Scott Duffey, Leah Hileman, David Sollenberger, Andy Duffey, and Thomas Dowdy. Three congregations received Open Roof recognition by Discipleship Ministries (formerly Congregational Life Ministries) staff Stan Dueck and disabilities advocate Rebekah Flores: Columbia City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren, Harrisburg (Pa.) First Church of the Brethren, and Snake Spring Valley (Pa.) Church of the Brethren.

— International guests were recognized and introduced by Global Mission and Service executive Jay Wittmeyer. They included guests from Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) and the Church of the Brethren in Venezuela. Guests from EYN included president Joel Billi and his wife, Salamatu Billi; Yuguda Mdurvwa, director of EYN’s Disaster Response Ministry; and EYN liaison officer Markus Gamache and his wife, Janada Markus. Guests from Iglesia de los Hermanos Venezuela (ASIGLEH) included Jose Ramon and Anna Peña, who were accompanied by their son Joel Peña, who pastors in Lancaster, Pa. Jose Ramon Peña serves as spiritual advisor and a pastoral leader for ASIGLEH.

The top finishers in the BBT Fitness Challenge 5K (from left) female and male walkers and male and female runners, and their times: Susan Fox (40:42), Don Shankster (35:56), Matthew Muthler (18:48), and Karen Stutzman (25:03). Photo by Glenn Riegel.


— Clergywomen: save this date! At the Clergywomen’s Breakfast, the “Quinquennial Church of the Brethren Clergywomen’s Retreat” was announced for Jan. 6-9, 2020. The retreat for ordained, licensed, and commissioned women ministers will be held at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Ariz., as “a time of spiritual renewal, refreshment, and precious time with sisters in ministry.” Mandy Smith, pastor of University Christian Church in Cincinnati, will be the speaker.

— The SERRV store returned to Annual Conference this year, after Conference-goers missed the opportunity to purchase the organization’s fair trade goods that offer fair compensation to craftspeople and chocolate, tea, and coffee farmers around the world. The store this year was offered on a consignment basis, run by Northern Ohio District volunteers with leadership from pastor Tina Hunt. Purchases had a doubly good purpose–a percentage of the money from each item purchased was contributed to the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries.

Nigerian women share in the insight session about Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN) and the Church of the Brethren. They were part of a group of EYN members who participated in the Cincinnati Conference from BEST, a Nigeria organization of business people who support the church’s evangelism efforts. Photo by Donna Parcell.


— The Annual Conference news team celebrated Regina Holmes’ 20th year on the team as a volunteer photographer. She has served under several different news directors over the years, and has spent countless hours in Conference business sessions and worship services working to get just the right pictures of church leaders in action. View her photos and those taken by the group of talented photographers who documented the Conference this year in Cincinnati at

— See you in Greensboro! Don’t forget to head east, not west for Annual Conference next year at Koury Convention Center and Sheraton Hotel in Greensboro, N.C. Dates are July 3-7, 2019.

Clergywomen’s Breakfast group celebrates 60 years of women’s full ordination to the ministry. Photo by Regina Holmes.


The news coverage of Annual Conference 2018 is made possible through the work of communications staff and a volunteer news team: Frank Ramirez, Conference Journal editor; photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Laura Brown; writers Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett, Alyssa Parker; youth team member Allie Dulabaum; web staff Jan Fischer Bachman, Russ Otto; Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services; Wendy McFadden, publisher. Contact

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