The 236th Annual Conference (July 4 - July 8) of the Church of the Brethren was held in the Duke Energy Convention Center, located at 525 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.
A spacious Elm Street Entrance leads to a 48,500 square-foot lobby complimented by a Mural Wall.
The conference center features three levels to suit the most complex requirements of an event planner. First Floor accommodations include Exhibit Hall A (92,350 sq ft), Exhibit Hall B (60,190 sq ft), and Exhibit Hall C (42,780 sq ft), with a combined space of 195,320 sq ft and 19 foot ceilings. Second Floor offerings include 30 meeting rooms plus skywalks to adjacent hotels. Third Floor ballrooms will accommodate the superior meal events, providing an enterprise kitchen with multiple service corridors, pre-function lobbies, and even a press room.
Serving as the anchor hotel this year and towering high above the Convention Center was the 4-star
Hyatt Regency comprising 491 guestrooms with complimentary wireless Internet, meeting rooms, business services, restaurants, fitness center and pool. Gone is the former Millennium Hotel which served the 2018 Annual Conference.
Convention Banners and
welcomed Brethren to the city. The July 4th Holiday was celebrated by this
Located on downtown sidewalks and street corners for rent were
Bird Scooters to help navigate the city at safe
POINTS OF INTEREST:
Biblical enthusiasts enjoyed the Ark Encounter, a Christian theme park operated by Answers in Genesis just 39 miles south of Cincinnati at Exit 154 off Interstate 75. Centerpiece of interest is a full size replica of Noah’s Ark, with a length of 510 feet, width of 85 feet, and 51 feet high. Be prepared for the time it may require to see everything. There are hundreds of stalls, booths, videos, cages, theaters, models, and food courts. Even if you know your Bible and the Flood story, you could still spend days trying to enjoy the full experience. If you don't pause very long at any one place, you can enjoy most of it in about 4 - 6 hours.
Cincinnati is home to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center at 50 East Freedom Way. Tensions were heightened during the Civil War period. Slavery was not allowed in the state of Ohio, but just across the Ohio River to the south was the border state of Kentucky which permitted slavery. Many Cincinnati businesses had ties to slaveholders across the river. There were frequent confrontations between abolitionists and slaveholders, especially since many free blacks settled in the city after fleeing from southern states. Visitors will encounter many interpretative displays and presentations of all aspects of slavery. Freedom Center joins other United States “museums of conscience” such as the Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington D.C.), the National Civil Rights Museum (Memphis), and the Museum of Tolerance (Los Angeles).
Annual Conference has now been held in the State of Ohio twenty-two times and now five times in Cincinnati: 2023, 2018, 1996, 1987, and 1972. In 1790, the city (then more of a settlement) was named after
Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus,
the retired Roman consul who was entreated from his farm to save the Republic by Senators who promised him unchecked authority. He saved the city of Rome from plunder by the Sabines from one direction and the Aequi from another. He humiliated both foes with incredible wisdom and iron-fisted resolve. Rome welcomed their hero with a gigantic celebration, but after enjoying the unquestioned power of a dictator for only sixteen days, he relinquished that power and returned to his farm and family. Cincinnatus is regarded as the virtuous politician who truly serves the people by completing his term and then leaving office to go back home, instead of the modern career-minded politicians who feathers their nests with exemptions, privileges, favors, pensions, and most of all - tenure.
Foreign Guests were introduced as well as
New Congregations. Madtown Church of the Brethren from the Madison region, a new project of the Illinois and Wisconsin District, East Dayton Fellowship of the Southern Ohio and Kentucky District, and Gordonsville Chapel, a new congregation in the Shenandoah District.
Brethren Volunteer Service celebrates 75 years of service this year. BVS began at the 1948 Annual Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado when 4-foot-10, Manchester College sophomore Ted Chambers leaped upon an orange crate, strategically situated before a microphone, to introduce a new business item not on the regular agenda.
Becky Baile writes in the December 1983 of Messenger. “Brethren youth developed the plan Chambers proposed from concern for youth in the event of conscription. It called for immediate action by the Church of the Brethren General Board to launch a volunteer service program with financial support from the entire denomination. Conference unanimously accepted the statement, which instituted Brethren Volunteer Service.”
During their annual conference report, Eder Financial remembered those Pensioners who have passed into eternity during the previous year. Each photograph and name were displayed and paused separately and then finally grouped in a Pensioner Compilation. Unlike previous years, each name was audibly spoken for those persons visually challenged.
On Earth Peace staged a walk to city hall to call for an end to gun violence. The event was covered by local news and television stations. Wear Orange is a national campaign to honor survivors and remember victims of gun shootings. As a memorial to Hadiya Pendleton who was shot and killed in 2013, her friends began wearing orange because it was the same color required by the state for game hunters. A hallway display was assembled for End Gun Violence as well as in the main Exhibit Hall.
OFFICERS & LEADERSHIP:
2023 Conference Officers were Moderator Tim McElwee, who has served on the Eder Financial board, the SERRV board, board of directors for New Community Project, and his home church Manchester Church of the Brethren. Moderator-elect Madalyn Metzger is vice president of marketing for Everence Financial and has also served on the Intercultural Ministries advisory committee plus various other denominational positions. Secretary David Shumate has served as the executive minister of Virlina District for over 30 years and as 2009 Annual Conference Moderator in San Diego, California.
At the conclusion of the Friday business session, Moderator Tim McElwee Passed the Gavel to Moderator-elect Madalyn Metzger, who will preside as 2024 Moderator in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Newly installed Moderator Madalyn Metzger announced “All of our spiritual gifts are needed if we are to function together as a healthy Body of Christ. This is the basis of the theme for the 2024 Annual Conference: Welcome and Worthy, based on Paul’s letter to the Church in Rome, in which he introduces Phoebe and tells the Roman Christians to ‘Welcome her in the Lord in a way that is worthy of God’s people.’ Paul viewed Phoebe as a valued sibling in Christ… and he commended her as an integral part of the Body, encouraging the Church in Rome to welcome her and to build an authentic relationship with her as a child of God.”
Four hundred and forty one delegates assembled to discuss, pray, and vote on Standing Committee Recommendations for processing a full Business Agenda during Table Talk. This assemblage represents the second lowest representation of delates in recent decades.
- UB 1 STANDING WITH PEOPLE OF COLOR
Standing Committee of 2022 “...expressed their desire that the following amendment to the query be accepted: ‘We recognize the struggles faced by many of our sisters and brothers of color and believe the church should be agents of change. We encourage congregations, districts, agencies, and other denominational entities to continue to follow the teachings of Jesus by living out the great commandment of loving our neighbor as ourselves.’The delegate body adopted the recommendation that a two-year study/action process be charged with developing such materials for wide denominational use. The results of this process will then be reported to Annual Conference both in 2023 and 2024.”
2023 Conference Delegates adopted the Standing Committee recommendation to extend the term of the study committee to one additional year.
- UB 2 BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS INCREASING ACCESS TO DENOMINATIONAL EVENTS
Standing Committee of 2022 recommended this query was that the delegate body select a study committee to determine practical methods that would address possible ways of implementing Breaking Barriers suggestions in the form of a feasibility study to Annual Conference 2024.”
- NB 1 REQUEST FOR AN ANNUAL CONFERENCE STUDY ON CALLING DENOMINATIONAL LEADERSHIP
“Action of the 2022 Standing Committee: On July 10, 2022, the 2022 Standing Committee adopted a motion to present this item of business to the 2023 Annual Conference requesting a study committee on calling denominational leadership.”
The delegate body adopted the recommendation of Standing Committee and approved the election of three persons to form the study committee.
- NB 3 2023 GUIDELINES FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION
The delegate body adopted the recommendation of Standing Committee which proposed 2023 Guidelines for Continuing Education which also required a two-thirds vote.
- Report of Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee was accepted that recommended a cost of living adjustment of 5.3%.
- Total registered attendance was 1,939, comprised of 441 Delegates, and 952 Non-Delegates. See Attendance Chart below.
- Total offerings received were tentatively announced as $29,330.17.
- Church of the Brethren Association for the Arts raised $3,740.80 for the Nigeria Crisis Fund outreach through their annual exhibit hall
- The two day Blood Drive collected 120 units with the help of 122 donors.
- First time for Annual Conference was a Silent Auction which raised $12,895 to be split between Brethren Disaster Ministries and the Annual Conference itself.
- Grand Rapids, Michigan will be the host city of AC2024 in the DeVos Place.
- Review a complete graphical listing of all Past and Future Locations announced by the numerous Annual Conference Program & Arrangements Committees.
- Tuesday Evening, JULY 4 : Tim McElwee - LIVING GOD’S LOVE
- Wednesday Evening, JULY 5 : Sheila Wise Rowe - THE VINE, THE BRANCHES AND THE FRUIT
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
- Thursday Evening, JULY 6 : Deanna Brown - COMPELLING COMPASSION FOR THE RISK-AVERSE
Clarks Hill, Indiana
- Friday Evening, JULY 7 : Jody Romero - ANOINTED BY A SINNER
Los Angeles, California
- Saturday Morning, JULY 8 : Audri Svay - BRIDGING THE DIVIDE
North Manchester, Indiana
They determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain other of them,
should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders (about this question).