Annual Conference 2019 will be a very different event this year, according to Conference director Chris Douglas. Instead of a usual business schedule, the delegate body will spend much of its time in compelling vision conversations. Nondelegates may reserve seats at tables during the business sessions in order to fully participate in those conversations. And the Conference will hold a love feast for the first time in decades.
Annual Conference 2019 takes place July 3-7 in Greensboro, N.C., at the Sheraton/Koury Convention Center. It will be led by moderator Donita Keister, assisted by moderator-elect Paul Mundey and Conference secretary Jim Beckwith. “Proclaim Christ; Reclaim Passion” is the theme, inspired by 2 Corinthians 5:17-18.
Online registration and hotel reservations open March 4 at 12 noon (central time) at www.brethren.org/ac .
Compelling vision conversations
During several business sessions the delegate body, and nondelegates who reserve seats at tables, will engage in conversations intended to help the Church of the Brethren seek a compelling vision for its future.
Business sessions will include the usual reports from agencies as well as elections and some other matters, but the 2019 Conference will receive no queries or recommendations and will address no additional new business items. Business sessions will include a half-hour worship service to start each morning and an interactive Bible study during each afternoon. On Saturday afternoon, July 6, the Conference will hold love feast as part of the closing business session (see more information below).
Compelling vision conversations will take place around tables beginning Thursday afternoon, July 4, continuing through Saturday morning, July 6. Questions for conversation and a process to receive input from the tables will be led by the Compelling Vision Process Team with technical facilitation by the firm Covision, which specializes in meeting technology and guiding groups through “thoughtful process design.” The special technology for the 2019 Conference will include a computer tablet at each table, which will be used to log input during each session. The Compelling Vision Process Team will receive the input and each evening work to prepare a presentation of learnings for the next day’s session.
Delegates will be assigned to tables. Nondelegates who wish to sit at tables to participate in the compelling vision conversations should reserve a seat when they register for the Conference, and will be assigned to tables. Seat reservations are free and require no extra fee payment. Theater-style seating also will be available for nondelegates.
Nondelegates who sign up to sit at a table are asked to commit to participate in all business sessions. “If you sign up you’re expected to be there,” Douglas said, emphasizing the importance of committing to the full process.
Table reservations are a part of the online registration process for nondelegates. Those who complete their registrations without making a table reservation may contact the Conference Office to request a seat at a table if space is still available. Call 847-429-4365.
The love feast on Saturday, July 6, will be part of the afternoon business session that starts at 2 p.m. Love feast will begin after the passing of the moderator’s gavel signifies the formal closing of business.
The love feast will be led by Keister, Mundey, and immediate past moderator Samuel K. Sarpiya. It will include the traditional meal, feetwashing, and communion service, but in a simplified way, said Douglas. The meal will be very simple, she said, perhaps consisting of a small snack. Congregations or districts may be asked to bake bread for the meal, or make communion bread for the communion service. The feetwashing will be done using traditional basins but they will hold large moistened washing cloths rather than water, which is not allowed in the convention hall. Participants will be able to choose to wash feet in a setting where only men or only women are present, or in an area that includes all who would like to participate in the ordinance together.
Those seated at tables and those in the nondelegate theater seating will all be invited to participate in the love feast.
Additional special events
The following special events at the 2019 Annual Conference are free to all Conference participants unless otherwise noted:
A bus trip to the Civil Rights Museum in downtown Greensboro will be offered on Thursday, July 4, leaving the convention center at 9 a.m. An extra fee is charged.
A concert by the gospel singing group Blackwood Brothers Quartet will be offered on Wednesday, July 3, at 8:30 p.m.
An organ recital and concert by Jonathan Emmons will be given on Friday, July 5, at 11:30 a.m., immediately after the close of the morning business session.
A concert by the Brethren singing group Friends with the Weather is offered on Friday, July 5, at 8:30 p.m.
Pre-Conference gatherings and events
The Ministers Association continuing education event features David C. Olsen speaking on the topic “Saying No to Say Yes: Everyday Boundaries and Pastoral Excellence.” It takes place July 2-3 at the Koury Convention Center. Olsen is an adjunct professor with the Sage Colleges and executive director of Samaritan Counseling Center. For registration, schedule and fee information, go to www.brethren.org/sustaining . Registration begins March 4.
The Intercultural Ministries offers a Dikaios and Discipleship Pre-Conference Pilgrimage on July 2-3, starting in Greensboro and including an overnight stay at a hotel in Cherokee, N.C., and visits to the Museum of the Cherokee and Oconaluftee Living Village. The event focuses on themes including righteousness and justice, a history of faith, land and lament, and doctrine of discovery. Said an invitation: “Greensboro…is a few hours from Cherokee–a place that is at once a sacred homeland for the Cherokee tribe, a place of modern cultural rebirth, and a tourist destination. It is a place where layers of history and a modern American dream collide. Join us on a scripture inspired tour of a region to reflect on how our values–and those of our ancestors–have shaped the lives of Native Americans.” For more information about schedule, speakers, and fees, go to www.brethren.org/dikaios . Registration opens online March 4.
For more information about Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac .