1998 Orlando, Florida 212th
1998 AC Logo

The 212th Annual Conference (June 30-July 5, 1998) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Orange County Convention Center, 9800 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819, the second largest convention/exhibition facility in the nation (just behind McCormick Place in Chicago). Spanning over a half-mile in length, this three story building comprises six huge convention halls and seventy-four meeting rooms, individual reception rooms, plus Gigantic Hallways that converge into spacious atrium's with large amounts of glass for natural lighting. Although not open to outside traffic, the central hallway is wide enough to accommodate four coach buses, side by side. The entire complex would provide 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space within a building totaling 4 million square feet. If you like to walk, you've found the right place. In fact, many physically challenged Brethren without the benefit of scooters did express disappointment at the long walking distances which also included another three to four hundred yards from the convention complex to the two closest hotels. The convention center was completed in four phases between 1983 and 1996, two short years before the Brethren arrived. The newness of the facility was noticeable and appreciated. Seven quick miles southwest on Interstate 4 toward Tampa is Disney World, the world's largest and most-visited recreational resort having four major theme parks, twenty-three on site hotels, camp grounds, fitness centers, and spas. The park opened in 1971 with the Magic Kingdom and its towering castle. Epcot Center was added in 1982, Hollywood Studios in 1989, and Animal Kingdom in April 22, 1998, just two short months before the Brethren arrived. Twelve miles northwest is the host Atlantic Southeast district's outdoor ministry Camp Ithiel and its motto: “A Quite Space ... near a Busy Place.”


Conference-goers participated in two major historical celebrations that were observed this year: “75th Anniversary of Nigerian Church of the Brethren” and “50th Anniversary of Brethren Volunteer Service.” On Friday morning, July 3, delegates were treated to a re-enactment of that 1948 historical moment when 22 year-old, 4' 10" Ted Chambers mounted a strategically placed orange crate in front of a microphone, to introduce a new business item that was not on the regular agenda. In his place, Matt Stauffer, assistant director of BVS orientation stood on a similar crate as did Chambers in 1948, but this time proposing another 50 years of volunteer service projects. Moderator Sollenberger asked for all BVSers and future prospective inductees to stand in recognition. The motion to continue BVS for another fifty years was adopted with a concert of applause.


Moderator Elaine Sollenberger is the first woman to serve as Annual Conference moderator in 1989 and again in 1998, thus completing two historical firsts. She was appointed by AC 1997 delegates to fill the position of Moderator vacated by Moderator-elect Jimmy Ross who resigned for health reasons. The new General Board web site Brethren.Org is now online and conference business, news, tid-bits, and sermons will go immediately from the News Service to this new web presence, instead of through COB-NET.


1998 Conference Officers were Moderator Elaine Sollenberger from Everett, Pennsylvania; Moderator-elect Lowell Flory, chairman for business and economics at McPherson College; and Secretary Cathy Huffman.






“They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them,
should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders (about this question).”
Acts 15:2