New leadership is consecrated, theme for 2022 Annual Conference is announced

At the close of this morning’s Annual Conference worship service, new leadership was consecrated with prayer and the laying on of hands. David Sollenberger (kneeling at left) was consecrated to serve as moderator of the 2022 Conference, and Tim McElwee (kneeling at right) was consecrated as moderator-elect.

In his remarks as the new moderator for the Church of the Brethren, Sollenberger called the church into the adventurous future of this year’s theme, and announced the theme for 2022: “Embracing One Another as Christ Embraces Us.”

“This adventurous future that God is promising also requires trust,” he said. “We’re at the point of the church’s life, I think, where we now need to trust God and each other a lot more.

“We’ve spent four years deciding to be Jesus in the neighborhood and that’s essential to our life together,” he said, referring to the compelling vision statement that was affirmed by the delegate body during this Conference. “We can’t lose sight of that. But while we’re doing that it wouldn’t hurt to start being Jesus to each other.”

Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

Citing Romans 15:5-6, “live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus,” Sollenberger described the nature of living together in harmony in the church. “Harmony implies variety,” he said. “Yes, agreeing that Jesus Christ is Lord, God’s son, and savior of the world. But it also means learning to accept, work with, respect, and rejoice in each other’s gifts and perspectives, being faithful to a Christ who embraces us, who loves us, who desires unity without expecting uniformity.

“We need the different voices in the church. The conservative voices that ground us in the faith and traditions, and the progressive voice that challenges us to think beyond what has always been. It’s the kind of love Paul wrote about in the 15th chapter of Romans when he said accept or welcome each other as Christ accepted or welcomed you. And in that way bring praise to God.”

After a closing prayer, the Conference music team broke into Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop”–and with the magic of an online event, Sollenberger was shown rushing out of the General Offices in Elgin, Ill., with guitar in hand, jumping into his car, and reappearing alongside music coordinator Josh Tindall at the piano in Elizabethtown, Pa., to add a guitar riff to the celebration.

The rendition of “Don’t Stop” and the consecration service are available to view in the recording of this morning’s Annual Conference worship service at https://livestream.com/livingstreamcob/ac2021/videos/223007903.