Annual Conference pivots from hybrid to online event in 2021

2020 Annual Conference Logo
The Annual Conference logo.
Art by Timothy Botts

A release from the Program and Arrangements Committee of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference

The Program and Arrangements Committee has determined that the 2021 Annual Conference will be entirely online. The committee hoped to have a hybrid (both in-person and online) Conference as announced last fall. However, due to the continuing challenges of COVID-19, the committee deemed that it is not wise to have an in-person component for Annual Conference this summer. As Program and Arrangements Committee has consistently stressed, the health and safety of Annual Conference participants is the highest priority.

This was a difficult decision to make since last summer’s Annual Conference needed to be cancelled entirely because of COVID-19. While we know that meeting in person eventually will be safe again, we sadly do not believe that it will happen in time to safely have an in-person event at the end of June 2021.

This will be the first time that the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference has gathered entirely online, as many of our congregations have been doing these past 10 months. While we lament that we cannot be together in person to hug one another, sing together, and eat at tables together, we are nevertheless excited about the new opportunities an online gathering offers. We will be able to open Annual Conference to much greater participation than ever before. Instead of traveling long distances and having only 2,000 or so Brethren gathered together, we are throwing wide the doors to thousands of Brethren who never before have been able to participate fully in Annual Conference.

Imagine an opportunity for many people from each one of our congregations to participate in the virtual opportunities that will be included in the 2021 Annual Conference, gaining tools and resources for their congregations’ ministries, benefiting from leadership development, earning continuing education credits, participating in spiritual growth, and networking with other Brethren who share similar ministries and interests.

We are offering a one-time reduced price for non-delegate adults to register for the online Annual Conference for only $99. That fee will support the ministry and on-going expenses of Annual Conference and will give non-delegates access to:

–all six business sessions;

–all Insight and Equipping Sessions;

–all networking events;

–a virtual concert by Fernando Ortega. Ortega is a multi-Dove award winner and singer-songwriter whose hits include “This Good Day” and “Jesus, King of Angels”;

–resource sessions led by Tod Bolsinger, best-selling author of Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory. Bolsinger is the vice president and chief of leadership formation at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.;

–daily Bible studies, along with Insight Sessions, led by Michael Gorman, author of more than 20 books on biblical theology. Gorman is the Raymond E. Brown Chair in Biblical Studies and Theology at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, Md., and a frequent lecturer at church and clergy gatherings.

Note: All five worship services will be available free of charge to non-registered persons.

Delegate fees will remain at $305 and includes access to all of the above in addition to the right to vote during the business sessions and participation in virtual “table talk” discussions of the proposed compelling vision for the Church of the Brethren.

Delegates will need to have access to a computer or mobile device with Internet connectivity and sufficient computer skills to participate in an online event.

Annual Conference registration will open on March 2.

Thank you for your commitment and support of Annual Conference as we seek to hold the 2021 Conference in the safest possible way. May we continue together in this new format to fulfill the Annual Conference mission: “Annual Conference exists to unite, strengthen, and equip the Church of the Brethren to follow Jesus.”

–The Program and Arrangements Committee of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference:
Emily Shonk Edwards
Carol Elmore
Jan King
Paul Mundey, moderator
Dave Sollenberger, moderator-elect
Jim Beckwith, secretary
Chris Douglas, ex-officio as Conference director

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