The 217th Annual Conference (July 5-9, 2003) of the Church of the Brethren was held on the 175 acre main campus of Boise State University in their 13,000 seat, 17,472 square foot sports complex called The Pavilion (later renamed Taco Bell Arena). The university has an enrollment over 19,000 students pursuing 190 fields of interest with degrees of undergraduate, graduate, technical programs within the scope of seven colleges. Their football stadium, home to the Broncos, is the only such stadium with a Blue Field playing surface. Earl Boen and a few other Boise State alumni have become famous motion picture stars.
Idaho produces more potatoes than any other state in the nation. Approximately 400,000 acres are planted every year and accounts for about 34% of the nation's consumption. More than thirty varieties are grown in regions from high elevations to the low flat lands. What makes this area of the country so unique is that Idaho enjoys the warmest mean temperatures in the Northwest. Every year farmers can expect about 90-100 growing days within a 180 frost-free day window. Potato Souvenirs are to be found in most Boise Gift Shops.
Nicknamed the City of Trees, Boise has a population slightly over 403,000 and rests at an elevation of 2,842 feet. Straddling the Boise River, it has become a haven for water sports and recreational pursuits such as Rafting. There are many city parks and Court Fountains that offer relief from the hot dry climate. This shift to a campus environment is in keeping with increasing requests to lower the cost of Annual Conference by utilizing the facilities of universities or second-tier cities.
Ice-Blocking is a fun sport in the Boise foothills. Visitors to this area usually ask: What's Ice-Blocking? It's sort of like sled-riding, except without snow or a sled. You sit on a block of ice and glide down a hill of grass. You won't have trouble finding a hill of grass. Just look towards the foothills and it will be the only Green Hill visible. Potato magnate J.R. Simplot lived in the mansion on that green hill, but donated the entire hill to the State of Idaho to be used as the governor's mansion. Children in the area soon discovered that they were welcomed to play on its slopes and that's when Ice-Blocking was invented (in this area anyway). Local residents were about the friendliest of any recent Annual Conference venue. Many Brethren were surprised to discover being waved at from across the street. Boise shows its religion on its arm-sleeve. Rescue Missions and charity minded associations were noticeable everywhere. Transportation around the city often had a Western Flair.
There is a new Annual Conference Executive Director this year. Lerry Fogle of Frederick, Maryland, assumes the helm from Duane Steiner who resigned at AC 2002. Traditional buffet meals were served in the Student Union cafeteria, and the western bar-b-que style under outside tenting. Groups had no difficulty locating a place for their Annual Dining get-together. Judging by the photographs in the COB-NET photo album, the Message Boards contained more notes than any other Annual Conference, before or after. In Jesus' Name was the theme and logo of the Conference but Prayer was the emphasis. Youth from each District made drawings of what prayer meant to them and was displayed on Prayer Walls. Each one expressed their deepest Heart Feelings of what they such prayer would accomplish. Tuesday evening provides worshippers with another opportunity to enjoy the Children's Choir.
Exhibits were housed in both the college Pavilion (main Conference arena) or the adjacent Kinesiology Center. The regular agencies, SERRV & Outdoor Ministries were well represented with a few new ones Proclaiming Christ and listing every living Church of the Brethren Licensed and Ordained minister.
2003 Conference Officers were Moderator Harriet Finney, Co-District Executive of Indiana South-Central District; Moderator-elect Christopher Bowman, pastor of Memorial COB, Martinsburg, Pennsylvania; and new Secretary Fred Swartz beginning his first term, as Cathy Huffman finished her service at AC 2002.
They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them,
should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders (about this question).