|2004||Charleston, West Virginia||218th|
The 218th Annual Conference (July 3-7, 2004) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Charleston Civic Center 200 Civic Center Drive, Charleston, West Virginia 25301. The CCC is a megaplex of four venues: the the Municipal Auditorium, the Little Theater, Convention Center, and the Coliseum with a seating capacity for up to 13,500. Additionally, there are numerous conference rooms, parlor rooms, a large Banquet Hall, and a Convention Hall that offers over 50,000 square feet of exhibition space, plus on site paid parking that can accommodate up to 2,000 vehicles, with adjacent paid parking for more than 4,000 vehicles within a three-block area. The original 1959 facility completed at a cost of $3 million offered 6,000 seats. In February, 1966 Wilt Chamberlain broke the NBAs all time scoring record at the Civic Center. National Hotels were nearby with Spacious Room with nice Dining Facilities that offered comfortable features as well as great food. A huge Shopping Mall enabled Brethren to pickup traveling necessities and souvenirs. Near the middle was a Water Fall that became a favorite meeting spot for Brethren groups.
The issue of slavery is the reason for the existence of the State of West Virginia. Following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 who was a strong advocate of freedom, Southerners became enraged that the previous 32 years of Jacksonian-Democratic control might come to a halt in the US Congress, and that would jeopardize their heritage and industry built on slavery. Eleven states quickly seceded from the Union and the State of Virginia, voted to join them on April 17, 1861. However, 26 northwestern counties refused to go along with them, for the rugged terrain of this area made slavery unprofitable, and social development year by year only increased the differences between these two parts of Virginia. At the Wheeling Conventions they repealed the Ordinance of Secession passed by Virginia, and became known as the Restored Government of Virginia, and later, West Virginia.
The Coliseum gave Worshippers plenty of room. The uppermost blue section was originally roped off but the volume of attendees eventually forced convention officials to open it, and it remained open throughout the week. Talented Musicians enhanced the spiritual atmosphere of each service. A Brass Ensemble performed for the Saturday evening worship service, and also for passersby in the convention lobby, a wide area that depicted many Historical Items of Charlestown. On Sunday morning, worshippers were blessed to hear the Palmyra Canticle Bell Choir. Tuesday evening worship is the treasured moment to hear the Children's Choir, this year one song involved Coordinated Movement. New for this year was a special fragrance free section located at the front-right of the convention hall to accommodate persons suffering from allergies or similar health related issues. Live Updating of business on the projection screens, allowing delegates to more clearly visualize how proposed amendments from the floor would affect the reading of the original draft. This is a welcome improvement
2004 Conference Officers were Moderator Christopher Bowman, pastor of Memorial COB, Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, and former General Board Chairperson; Moderator-Elect Jim Hardenbrook, Idaho District Executive; and Secretary Fred Swartz.
Standing Committee recommends to Annual Conference that the concerns of the queries be approved and that we direct their implementation to the district leadership, through the district executives, in consultation with the Annual Conference agencies, Standing Committee, congregations, and individuals, so that an increased priority to do cross-cultural ministry might be pursued. We further recommend that Congregational Life Teams provide training for district leaders and pastors in understanding the dynamics of cross-cultural ministry. We further recommend that a written and oral report on progress in this area be made each year to Annual Conference for the next five years, and that Annual Conference in 2010 reassess the future direction of cross-cultural ministries in the denomination.A couple of speakers expressed feelings that pockets of racism in the denomination have frustrated past efforts to attain greater ethnic harmony. Delegates finally accepted an amendment that would create a seven member culturally diverse study committee with the stipulation that one be an ex officio member of the American Baptist Church. (This denomination has achieved notable gains in cultural matters). When the names of the study committee were announced it was embarrassingly noticed that no African-Americans had been elected, the very type of subtle discrimination which previous business discussion had identified and sought to reverse. Business was reopened and delegates passed a motion that required the study committee to add an eighth member from the original African-American nominees.
They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them,
should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders (about this question).