Church of the Brethren Annual Conference
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Annual Conference 2017 is almost upon us! I trust that you all are keeping well and turning your thoughts, study and prayers to the worship and work before us in June. Grand Rapids, with its natural beauty, history, art and culture is an exciting and enriching place for us to gather, and our worship plans, programming and business agenda promise a meaningful experience as we come together as the Body of Christ.
Our theme for this year’s conference is Risk Hope. It emerges as a recurring chorus from the story of Israel’s progressive descent into and return from exile, even as it speaks Christ’s call to us in our world today. In the words of the writer of Hebrews, Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who has promised is faithful. We hope that this theme, and its related monthly Bible studies, provide wisdom and guidance for us as we prepare for our gathering, and that it will permeate our time together in Grand Rapids.
Worship this year draws inspiration from our theme, as each preacher will identify a particular lesson learned by God’s people in exile and illuminate its instruction and encouragement for us today. The Worship Team has done a fabulous job of crafting ways for us to engage in praise and meaningful reflection as we enter into God’s presence together. Annual Conference worship is often a highlight for conference attendees, and this year promises another series of rich, uplifting expressions of reverence and adoration.
The Program and Arrangements Committee has been hard at work all year long preparing activities and opportunities for fellowship, spiritual growth, and relevant learning. After last year’s smashing success, the Friday Jubilee Afternoon is back, with its focused time for special programs and music, service projects, community engagement, and equipping workshops. The exhibit hall will have some exciting new exhibitors interspersed among some returning favorites.
This year’s business agenda is robust, and calls on delegates to enter prayerfully and thoughtfully into the hard work of being the Body of Christ. We ask all of our brothers and sisters to be in prayer that we engage one another and the matters before us in humility, discernment, and love. Our business time represents more than the task of completing the agenda — it offers us one more opportunity to join together in worship.
May God’s blessing be upon you and with us in the weeks ahead as we prepare for our time together in Grand Rapids. Indeed, made bold by the eternal presence and steadfast love of Jesus Christ, let us Risk Hope without wavering, confident that He who has promised is faithful.
Carol Scheppard, 2017 Annual Conference Moderator
The Moderator’s May Bible Study is posted at: www.brethren.org/ac/2017/bible-study