Today in Omaha – July 11, 2022

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come closer to me.’ And they came closer. He said, ‘I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life’…. Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, while Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them” (Genesis 45:4-5 and 14-15).

1) Madalyn Metzger to serve as moderator-elect, David Shumate to serve as Conference secretary, among election results

2) A dozen churches are welcomed into the denomination

3) In other Annual Conference business

4) Mission and Ministry Board approves budget parameter for 2023, opens executive director position, continues work on strategic plan

5) Annual Conference bits and pieces

A delegate participates in Bible study during the Conference business session. Photo by Glenn Riegel

Quotes of the day:

“Embrace is a good word. I’ve already seen lots of embraces [at this Annual Conference]…. But we’re here to embrace each other’s spirit, each other’s worth as a child of God…. Loving one another, there’s no one-time exemption for that.”

— Moderator David Sollenberger in his opening remarks to the delegate body at the start of the first business session of the 2022 Conference. He opened the business with lots of humor, even while explaining the rules of the meeting to the delegates. He also offered commentary on the instructions in the rules for when laughter is acceptable—at only three times, where there’s a general sense of amusement, happiness, or accomplishment. Laughing at the moderator’s jokes “will only encourage him,” he said.

The head table at today’s business session, with moderator David Sollenberger at center, moderator-elect Tim McElwee at right, and secretary Jim Beckwith at left. Photo by Glenn Riegel

“Prayer is the first thing. Do the Brethren way. Meet us halfway, a little presence here and there. Remember these churches and say, ‘Lord, how can we?’ … And say, ‘I see you,’ knowing that we are part of a bigger church…. We are called for such a time as then and we are the church together.”

— Founa Augustin Badet responding to a question from the moderator about how to support the dozen new churches welcomed into the denomination during the morning’s business session. Many of these churches are in Badet’s district, Atlantic Southeast, where she works as district staff with an emphasis on serving the ethnically Haitian congregations.

“We would like all districts to be represented [on the Annual Conference ballot].”

– Kim McDowell, reporting on the work of the Nominating Committee, a subcommittee of the Standing Committee of district delegates. She noted the numbers of nominations received by the committee after it worked hard to publicize the nominations process, and the fact that not all districts provide nominations, and that less than half of those nominated end up being eligible for the process and/or willing to volunteer for the church positions on the ballot. Nominations may be made online at the Annual Conference website

Leonor Ochoa preaching for worship. She spoke in Spanish, with her interpreter at right. Photo by Keith Hollenberg.

“What is it to be Brethren? It is to love…. to love beyond our race, beyond our language…so that we can come to an understanding as brothers and sisters…. We have to leave this place transformed, so we can take it to our congregations and then take it outside our congregations. Word, bread, and an embrace full of the love of Christ.”

— Leonor Ochoa preaching for the Monday evening worship service on the theme, “Loving Beyond the Pain,” and the story of the reconciliation of Joseph and his brothers in Genesis 45. She and her husband are pastors at Ebenezer Church of the Brethren in Lancaster, Pa., Atlantic Northeast District.

Tune into Annual Conference worship services yet to come at

Find photo albums from Omaha at Expect more photos each day of the Conference to appear at this same link.

Look for daily issues of Newsline reporting on the Annual Conference, through Thursday, July 14.

1) Madalyn Metzger to serve as moderator-elect, David Shumate to serve as Conference secretary, among election results

New officers of the Church of the Brethren have been elected by the 2022 Annual Conference in Omaha, Neb.

Madalyn Metzger of Goshen City (Ind.) Church of the Brethren in Northern Indiana District will serve as Annual Conference moderator-elect. She will serve as moderator for the 2024 Annual Conference.

David K. Shumate of Daleville (Va.) Church of the Brethren in Virlina District will serve as Conference secretary, for a five-year term.

Madalyn Metzger
David Shumate


2) A dozen churches are welcomed into the denomination

At the opening business session, Stan Dueck, co-coordinator of Discipleship Ministries, introduced church groups accepted into the denomination. Twelve groups are being recognized in 2022. Also, four groups were reintroduced that were formally recognized at the 2021 virtual Annual Conference.


Leaders of the new churches are recognized onstage during Monday morning’s business session. Photo by Glenn Riegel

3) In other Annual Conference business

Query: Breaking Down Barriers: The Conference adopted the recommendation from the Standing Committee of district delegates on the “Query: Breaking Down Barriers–Increasing Access to Denominational Events” (new business 3). Standing Committee recommended adoption of this item and the creation of an Annual Conference study committee. The delegate body will vote to name the study committee later in this Conference. From Living Stream Church of the Brethren, the denomination’s only fully online congregation, and Pacific Northwest District, the query asks, “Should the Brethren explore the possibilities of how we can faithfully, in good order and with proper representation, use technology to remove barriers and facilitate the full participation of delegates and those desiring to be present for Annual Conference and other events, who might be better served–and could better serve the body–from a distance?”

A view of the delegate body from the head table. Photo by Glenn Riegel

Business agenda: A motion was approved to add to the agenda a 10-minute order of the day for questions after each agency report. The person who made the motion, Ben Polzin who serves on Standing Committee as a district delegate from Northern Indiana District, explained that he made the motion to return to the practice of allowing questions of each agency during the Conference business sessions. This year, the announced business schedule had not included such an opportunity. Instead, times for conversation with each agency have been scheduled outside of the business sessions.

Time at the mic: The delegates turned down a proposal from the Conference officers to shorten the amount of time allowed for speaking at the microphones, which would have been applicable only to this year’s Conference. The proposal had been to allow 2 minutes for a person’s first speech at the microphones, and 30 seconds for their second speech on the same item of business. Two delegates rose to oppose the proposal, noting how it would truncate conversation during a time when we are being encouraged to listen to one another, and how it would be detrimental for those with disabilities.

Study committee nominations: The delegates approved a request from the officers to require that nominations for a study committee be received the day before the final day of business, in order to give time for the Nominating Committee to do its work and for any run off elections that might be needed. The change applies only to this year’s Conference.

4) Mission and Ministry Board approves budget parameter for 2023, opens executive director position, continues work on strategic plan

The Church of the Brethren’s Mission and Ministry Board met in Omaha, Neb., on Sunday, July 10, ahead of the 2022 Annual Conference. The board’s Executive Committee began meetings the previous day, on July 9.

On the board agenda were a budget parameter for Core Ministries for 2023, a new staffing proposal, continued work on the strategic plan, the call of a new Executive Committee, welcoming international guests, an Open Roof recognition, a report on a FaithX trip to Rwanda that included board members, and recognizing board members who are completing their terms of service, among other business.


The Mission and Ministry Board uses a consensus model for decision-making, shown here holding up green cards to indicate agreement. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

5) Annual Conference bits and pieces

By the numbers:

— 1,310 total registration including 425 delegates, 746 nondelegates, plus 139 nondelegates attending virtually

— $6,687.48 was received for ministry training for international Church of the Brethren leaders, at this evening’s worship service. Online offerings totaled $265 for the same purpose, plus an additional $90 contributed to the Sunday evening offering for the ministry of Annual Conference, and $225 to support for the webcast ministry of the church. The Conference also received donations for Core and Girls, Inc. in Omaha.

The Clergywomen’s Breakfast. Photo by Donna Parcell
The musicians leading in worship. Photo by Keith Hollenberg

Anointing: The moderator reported that during the morning business session, in a time set aside for table groups to get to know each other, one table held an anointing service for a sister from Nigeria, anointing her for all the anxiety related to the violence in her home country. It was held up as an example of the ways that table groups may become faith family for each other during the Conference, offering each other support and conversation partners. The Conference also offers the opportunity to request a change of table if such supportive community is not experienced.

Partner award: Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) awarded its 2022 Partners in Service Award to the World Friendship Center in Hiroshima, Japan. BVS volunteers have helped host and manage the center for many years. The center helps support survivors of the atomic bombing, sharing their stories with visitors to Hiroshima and supporting the witness for peace and against war.

Photo by Donna Parcell
Photo by Jan Fischer Bachman

First timers: Program and Arrangements Committee member Carol Elmore Hipps gave information to the delegates about the two life-size figures that were carried into the worship service the previous evening, referring to them as some special “first timers” at Conference. The figures were created by artist Dave Thornburgh of Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis, Ind., commissioned by the Conference planners. More figures will be entering into each daily worship service to join the worship center that is placed in front of the stage. “Take a selfie with them!” Elmore urged Conferencegoers, suggesting that families, congregational delegations, youth groups, and others could enjoy photos with the figures. They represent the Conference theme’s embrace and welcome of each other, for the glory of God.

Photo by Frances Townsend

Junior high work day: Enthusiastic junior highers had the opportunity to help local people this afternoon in an off-site service project. Half a dozen cars took youth to visit people who needed a little help. Four youth and two adults went to Minden, Iowa, to help Alice and Jerry by washing windows and pulling weeds from flower beds. Alice recently had knee replacement surgery and Jerry is disabled. They enjoyed having the youth come and were excited to greet them and put them to work. Besides having them do the work, Alice was happy to show them around her garden, mostly planted in containers so she could tend the plants despite her knee problems. One of the youth sympathized with that, having recently suffered a knee injury. One of the goals of the service project is sharing, getting to know those whom we serve, and letting them get to know us.

Photo by Frances Townsend

Contributors to this issue include members of the Annual Conference press team: photographers Glenn Riegel, Donna Parcell, Keith Hollenberg; writers Frances Townsend, Frank Ramirez; website staff Jan Fischer Bachman, Russ Otto; and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren. Newsline is the email news service of the Church of the Brethren. Inclusion in Newsline does not necessarily convey endorsement by the Church of the Brethren. All submissions are subject to editing. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. Please send news tips and submissions to . Find the Newsline archive at . Sign up for Newsline and other Church of the Brethren email newsletters and make subscription changes at . Unsubscribe by using the link at the top of any Newsline email.

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