The 234th Annual Conference (July 1 - July 5, 2020) of the Church of the Brethren was CANCELLED due to the pandemic coronavirus, but would have been held in DeVos Place, located at 303 Monroe Avenue, NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503. This year was the first cancellation of Annual Conference in 233 years of recorded meetings, due to the coronavirus officially labeled COVID-19. What began as a local medical issue in a Huanan seafood market in Wuhan China, gradually became a worldwide pandemic, infecting over 16 million people and killing over 650,000 (Johns Hopkins University, July, 2020). As the world began mobilizing to halt the COVID-19 pandemic, over $18 billion in emergency COVID-19 international funds was approved by the U.S. Congress to facilitate global heath and growing humanitarian needs around the world.
No other issue has prevented the yearly assembling of Brethren to worship and fellowship, not World Wars I and II, or the Great Depression, nor even during the Civil War years. Several online virtual events have provided Brethren with the opportunity to continue seeking God's will during these troubled times. Videoconferencing software developed by Zoom Video Communications became a frequent tool for Brethren to meet and conduct business and worship at all levels. Virtual Conferencing naturally became a new experience in the life of Annual Conference. Distressing situations require imaginative innovations and technical staff at the local, district, and national levels emerged to resolve the urgency.
- Pacific Southwest District: Nueva Vision la Hermosa Iglesia de Los Hermanos, Centro Agape en Accion Los Banos, and Conexión Pasadena. Atlantic Northeast District: Light of the Gospel Fellowship.
2020 Conference Officers (would have been) Moderator Paul Mundey, writer, consultant, ordained minister; Moderator-elect David Sollenberger, videographer, and Secretary Jim Beckwith, Pastor of Annville Church of the Brethren in Annville, Pennsylvania. Each was invited to continue their office of leadership at the 2021 Virtual Annual Conference.
- UB 1 COMPELLING VISION
Offical Statement: “Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.” (February, 2020)
- Compelling Vision Team: Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Chair; Paul Mundey, 2020 Annual Conference Moderator; Donita Keister, 2019 Annual Conference Moderator; Samuel Sarpiya, 2018 Annual Conference Moderator; David Steele, General Secretary; Chris Douglas, Annual Conference Director; John Jantzi, District Executive, Shenandoah District; Colleen Michael, District Executive, Pacific Northwest District; Michaela Alphonse from Miami, Florida; Kevin Daggett from Bridgewater, Virginia; Brian Messler from Lititz, Pennsylvania; Alan Stucky from Wichita, Kansas; and, Kay Weaver from Strasburg, Pennsylvania.
- Over the past three decades, the Church of the Brethren has witnessed an escalating social and theological division, largely concerning the issue of homosexuality. This includes licensing and ordination of practicing homosexuals, and pastors who perform or assist same-sex marriages. Numerous congregations have departed from the Church of the Brethren. Legal action has been taken by some districts against a few congregations. Other districts have established guidelines for reconciliation or departure. Following is a brief history of Annual Conference business leading up to the Compelling Vision. Please review a brief history of the Compelling Vision Historical Framework.
- There were no items of new business submitted for this year.
- Tim McElwee of Wolcottville, Indiana, South/Central Indiana District, was elected to serve as moderator-elect in Omaha 2022 and moderator in Cincinnati 2023.
- Total registered attendance was 1,224, comprised of 519 Delegates, and 705 Non-Delegates. See Attendance Chart below.
- Total offereings as of July 4 was $14,130.
- Blood Drive resulted in 42 pints that were virtually pledged.
- Omaha, Nebraska will be the host city of AC2022 in the CHI Health Center.
- Program & Arrangements Committee announced that CINCINNATI, Ohio, will be the location for AC 2023.
- Review all Future Locations announced by the Program & Arrangements Committee.
- Report of Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee was accepted that recommended a cost of living adjustment of 2.0%.
- Wednesday Evening, June 30 : Moderator Paul Mundey - GROUNDED
Pastor, church moderator, General Bord member, former Pastor of FREDERICK, Frederick, Maryland
- Thursday Evening, JULY 1 : Richard Zapata - INFORMED BY SCRIPTURE
Pastoral team at Santa Ana Principe de Paz, Anaheim, CA
- Friday Evening, JULY 2 : Chelsea Goss Skillen and Tyler Goss - WHEN HOPE PETERS OUT
Ministry Team Leaders
- Saturday Evening, JULY 4 : Beth Sollenberger - DEPENDENT ON PRAYER
Pastor and South/Central Indiana District Executive
- Sunday Morning, JULY 4 : Patrick Starkey - SEE! GOD’S FUTURE FILLED WITH PROMISE
Mission and Ministry board member
“They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them,
should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders (about this question).”