A robust Annual Conference 2023 is planned: Delegates to address recommendations from nominating committee, Doctrine of Discovery, among other business

Saturday, June 10, is the last day to register online to attend the Church of the Brethren’s 2023 Annual Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 4-8. Onsite registration will be available in Cincinnati at an increased cost.

To register and for detailed information about the Conference schedule and activities, go to www.brethren.org/ac.

For detailed information about registration, the fee schedule, the option to attend virtually as a nondelegate, and related information go to https://mailchi.mp/brethren/ac-2023-online-registration-and-housing-ends-june-10.


Leading the 2023 annual meeting will be moderator Tim McElwee, assisted by moderator-elect Madalyn Metzger and Conference secretary David Shumate.

The Program and Arrangements Committee includes Jacob Crouse, Nathan Hollenberg, and Beth Jarrett.

Rhonda Pittman Gingrich is the Conference director.

Above: The logo for the 2023 Annual Conference, in four languages widely spoken in the Church of the Brethren–Spanish, Haitian Kreyol, Hausa, and English–inspired by Ephesians 5:1-2.

Please pray… For all those planning, organizing, and working toward the 2023 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, and for the success of this year’s annual meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the first week of July.

Business agenda

The business agenda includes interim reports on two items of unfinished business, which were set in motion by queries approved at last year’s Annual Conference, and six items of new business.

Query: Standing with People of Color (unfinished business) originated in Southern Ohio and Kentucky District, asking “How can the Church of the Brethren stand with People of Color to offer sanctuary from violence and dismantle systems of oppression and racial inequity in our congregations, neighborhoods, and throughout the nation?” This year the committee is bringing an interim report sharing a list of questions they invite individuals and congregations to wrestle with and a conversation model for doing so.

Query: Breaking Down Barriers–Increasing Access to Denominational Events (unfinished business) originated with Living Stream Church of the Brethren and Pacific Northwest District, asking, “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?” The committee is bringing an interim report which outlines next steps.

Request for an Annual Conference Study on Calling Denominational Leadership (new business) originated with the Nominating Committee of the Standing Committee of district delegates. It cites a number of concerns including increased difficulty in filling the Annual Conference ballot, limited representation on the ballot from the breadth of the church, changing configurations of membership, and a shrinking pool of available leaders in the church.

Recommendation Regarding Nominations from the Floor of Annual Conference (new business) also comes from the Nominating Committee and Standing Committee, and would amend Conference Rule 12 to make nominations from the floor a two-step process requiring a motion to permit further nominations for one specific position with a statement of the reason, among other changes.

2023 Guidelines for Continuing Education (new business) revises the 2002 Annual Conference document of the same name. It clarifies procedures for awarding continuing education units for both live and recorded events; adds several focus areas for continuing education such as theology, intercultural ministry, and financial responsibility and leadership; and acknowledges the increasing numbers of part-time and bi-vocational pastors.

Restated and Amended Articles of Organization for Eder Financial (new business) is a revision of the current agreement between Annual Conference and Eder Financial (formerly Brethren Benefit Trust). This update brings the document in line with the new name/identity to be in compliance with polity.

With Actions and in Truth: A Lament of the Doctrine of Discovery (new business) was adopted by the Mission and Ministry Board in March, lamenting and seeking “to repent of the Doctrine of Discovery–the written documents and the pervasive ideologies that followed–which has been used for hundreds of years to justify the brutal and violent subjugation of Indigenous peoples around the world and in North America.” It includes sections explaining the Doctrine of Discovery and related concerns, as well as four recommendations for action by the denomination, its congregations, and leadership.

Recommended Cost of Living Adjustment to the Minimum Cash Salary Table for Pastors (new business) is a regular item that comes to each Annual Conference to set salary recommendations for the coming year.

Several congregations will be sharing their Jesus in the Neighborhood stories.

Find the full text of the business items at www.brethren.org/ac2023/business.

The ballot

Topping the ballot are candidates for moderator-elect: Dava Hensley, pastor of Roanoke (Va.) First Church of the Brethren, and Del Keeney of Mechanicsburg (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, a retired pastor and former executive for Congregational Life Ministries.

The full ballot was announced and published in Newsline in February (see www.brethren.org/news/2023/ballot-is-announced-for-2023). Since then, the Nominating Committee became aware that one of the nominees for Bethany Theological Seminary representing laity was no longer eligible because she had been ordained since being nominated. Nominating Committee presented two names to Standing Committee to replace her on the ballot. Standing Committee selected one of those nominees to be placed on the revised final ballot.

The ballot will include the names of Mark Gingrich and Steve Mason for Bethany Theological Seminary Trustee representing laity.

Biographical information for all nominees on the final ballot can be found at www.brethren.org/ac2023/business/ballot.

Worship services and preachers

Tuesday evening, July 4: Annual Conference moderator Tim McElwee will preach on the theme “Living God’s Love,” drawing on John 13:34-35, Ephesians 5:1-2, and 1 John 4:7-12.

Wednesday evening, July 5: Sheila Wise Rowe, a Christian counselor, spiritual director, educator, writer, and keynote speaker for this year’s pre-Conference Brethren Ministers’ Association event, will preach on the theme “Bearing the Fruit of God’s Love,” drawing on Mark 12:28-34 and John 15:1-17.

Thursday evening, July 6: Deanna Brown, founder and facilitator of Cultural Connections and a member of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., will preach on the theme “Responding in Love to the Needs of Others,” drawing on Luke 10:25-37 and 1 John 3:16-24.

Friday evening, July 7: Jody Romero, pastor of Restoration Los Angeles (Calif.) Church of the Brethren and lead chaplain for the Los Angeles Christian Health Center, will preach on the theme “Seeing and Loving Like God,” drawing on Luke 7:36-50 and 1 Corinthians 13.

Saturday morning, July 8: Audri Svay, an English professor, pre-school teacher, and pastor of Eel River Community Church of the Brethren in Silver Lake, Ind., will preach on the theme “Loving the Least in the Family of God,” drawing on Matthew 25:31-46 and John 21:15-19.

Witness to the Host City

Conferencegoers’ donations will benefit Found House Interfaith Housing Network, an organization in Cincinnati that provides shelter, housing, and support to families experiencing housing insecurity, and works to strengthen those services through interfaith and community partnerships. Find out more at www.brethren.org/ac2023/activities/witness-to-the-host-city.


The Walking Roots Band (TWRB) will perform the evening of Wednesday, July 5. TWRB is based in Harrisonburg, Va., described as “an acoustic, Americana, folksy, blue-ish-grassy roots music group…steeped in Anabaptist hymn-singing traditions.”


On Wednesday, July 5, a bus tour will take Conferencegoers to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

On Friday, July 7, a bus tour will go to the Nancy and David Wolf Holocaust and Humanity Center.

Ministers Association

This pre-Conference annual event for Church of the Brethren ministers is planned for July 3-4 with Sheila Wise Rowe speaking on “Healing Racial Trauma: The Road to Resilience and Beloved Community.” Register and find detailed information at www.brethren.org/ministryoffice.

Silent auction

The Program and Arrangements Committee is holding a silent auction, with two-thirds of the proceeds supporting Brethren Disaster Ministries and one-third offsetting Annual Conference expenses. The organizers seek contributions to the auction, volunteers to assist with the auction, and bidders. The auction will be held in the Exhibit Hall throughout the Conference week. Find out how to participate at www.brethren.org/ac2023/activities/gather-and-connect.

For more information

Go to www.brethren.org/ac for registration and to find the full schedule of events including equipping sessions, meals events, the blood drive, quilting, age group activities, and more.

For detailed information about registration and related costs, the fee schedule, and the option to attend virtually as a nondelegate, go to https://mailchi.mp/brethren/ac-2023-online-registration-and-housing-ends-june-10.


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