Living parables: A preview of Annual Conference 2018

Church of the Brethren Newsline
May 25, 2018

Annual Conference 2018 takes place at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 4-8. The theme is “Living Parables” (Matthew 9:35-38).

Online registration is open through June 11 at After that date, registration will take place onsite in Cincinnati, at an increased cost.

Moderator Samuel K. Sarpiya will be assisted by moderator-elect Donita Keister and secretary James Beckwith. Serving on the Program and Arrangements Committee are Founa Inola Augustin-Badet of Miami, Fla.; John Shafer of Oakton, Va.; and Jan King of Martinsburg, Pa. Chris Douglas is the Conference director.

In addition to business sessions, Annual Conference offers opportunities for non-delegates to participate in spiritual enrichment, earn continuing education credit, take part in family friendly activities, and fellowship with Brethren from across the country and around the world.

Delegates will address 11 new and unfinished items of business and will receive numerous reports. New business includes “Change in Delegate Representation at Annual Conference,” “Vision for a Global Church of the Brethren,” “Brethren Values Investing,” “Polity for Electing Brethren Benefit Trust Board Directors,” “Polity for Electing the District Representative to the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee.” Unfinished business includes “Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century,” “Vitality and Viability,” “Creation Care,” “Compelling Vision,” “Denominational Leadership Gathering,” and various amendments to the denomination’s bylaws. See the article below for brief descriptions of the business items. Find the full text of business items at

Preachers for the Conference are moderator Samuel Sarpiya, pastor of Rockford (Ill.) Community Church of the Brethren, Wednesday; Brian Messler, pastor of Ephrata (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, Thursday; Rosanna Eller McFadden, pastor of Creekside Church of the Brethren, Elkhart, Ind., Friday; Angela Finet, pastor of Nokesville (Va.) Church of the Brethren, Saturday; and Leonard Sweet, the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew University in New Jersey, Sunday.

Offerings will be received for the Nigeria Crisis Fund on Wednesday; Church of the Brethren Core Ministries on Thursday; Puerto Rico hurricane response on Friday; assistance to the Batwa-Pygmy communities in the Great Lakes region of Africa on Saturday; and funding of Spanish translation at Annual Conference on Sunday.

In pre-Conference activities, theologian and author Diana Butler Bass is the speaker for the Ministers’ Association event on “Gratitude: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks.” Three sessions will be led by Butler Bass on Tuesday evening, July 3, and Wednesday morning and afternoon, July 4. See

Dikaios & Discipleship, a July 3-4 event combining a bus tour with group discussions, will focus on the history of race and slavery in the Cincinnati area, sponsored by Intercultural Ministries. “The Ohio River has long been a symbol: On one side slavery and on the other, freedom,” said an announcement. “Our history, as a denomination and as a nation, is just as interwoven with the complexities of race and racism. Of freedom and enslavement. Of oppression and injustice.” The tour will visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe Museum and the house where Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written; stops on the Underground Railroad; site of a former slave market; sites connected with 2001 race protests; sites connected with William Bradley–a governor who spoke up in the Jim Crow era; and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Although the tour is filled, go to to be placed on a waiting list.

A tour to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is offered for nondelegates on the afternoon of July 6. Cost is $15.

A group outing to see the Cincinnati Reds play the Chicago White Sox is Tuesday evening, July 3. Tickets are $12.

This year’s Witness to the Host City will benefit First Step Home, a treatment center that helps women rebuild their families as they break the cycle of drug and alcohol addiction. This is the only addiction treatment center in Cincinnati allowing children to live with mothers who are in treatment. Conference-goers are invited to bring donations of needed items. Find a list at

Go to for more information about the Conference schedule and activities. Daily worship services and business sessions will be webcast live online, find the webcast schedule at

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