Southern Ohio and Kentucky District Conference celebrates ‘firsts’

A report from district moderator Vicki Ullery

The Southern Ohio and Kentucky District celebrated its 186th District Conference on Oct. 7-8, the first in-person district conference since the beginning of the pandemic. The entire event was made available online via Facebook Live and Zoom, of which many people took advantage.

The theme was “Celebrate God’s Abundant Goodness” from Psalm 145:3-7 (NIV). Over the preceding year, the district was encouraged to focus on celebrating God’s goodness in the life of the district and each congregation. What would happen if we really celebrated how God has abundantly blessed our ministries?

In one of the “firsts,” a general session on “Visionary Leadership” was followed by a two-hour service project. Including service opportunities for everyone at the district conference was a first. People chose from the list of six service projects.

At the end of the two hours:
— 1,000 hygiene kits were assembled
— work was done at the local food pantry called FISH
— 100 cards were created for the residents of the Brethren Retirement Community
— outdoors maintenance work was done at the local Boy Scout camp (Cricket Holler) where the district’s summer camping ministry is held
— 70 journey kits for the homeless were assembled for the ministry of a local Church of God congregation
— assistance was given during a picnic at a local elementary school

“Table talk” with Annual Conference moderator Tim McElwee (sitting with his back to camera) during the Southern Ohio and Kentucky District Conference. Photo by Ted Foster
Representatives from the Trotwood City Schools receiving donated items as one of five agencies or outreach ministries chosen for the district conference’s “Witness to the Host Communities.” Photo by Ted Foster

Please pray… For Southern Ohio and Kentucky District Conference’s “firsts” to bear fruit as the district moves forward.

Next, everyone gathered to share stories of their service projects, followed by a session on the Annual Conference theme for 2023, “Living God’s Love,” led by moderator Tim McElwee.

That evening’s enthusiastic activities included a worship celebration with a combined choir from the New Carlisle and Trotwood congregations and an orchestra of 25 musicians from the Happy Corner, Lower Miami, New Carlisle, and Trotwood congregations. David Shumate, who is retiring as district executive of the Church of the Brethren’s Virlina District, was the preacher. The service ended with communion. The evening wrapped up with an ice cream social.

Another “first” was the idea to have multiple congregations host the district conference. The five congregations were Good Shephard, Happy Corner, Lower Miami, New Carlisle, and Trotwood, and each had a point person who took responsibility for some aspect of the conference. This was a wonderful opportunity to share the work and have more congregations involved.

An additional “first”: a “Witness to the Host Communities” with each host congregation choosing an agency or outreach ministry for all the congregations of the district to support by bringing items to donate.

Throughout the year, the moderator listened to the pastors across the district share what was exciting in their congregations and the things they were celebrating. Interviews were recorded and shown throughout the business session, which ended with a presentation of more than 125 slides showcasing the exciting ways God is working in the lives of each congregation, and in the district ministries.

The district celebrated Karen Dillon as she announced her retirement as the district director of Outdoor Ministries. Charlene Foster’s 60 years of involvement in the camping ministry also was celebrated.

Ty Pyles will be the next district moderator for 2023.


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