With a focus on lifelong learning and equipping for ministry, Equip07, the annual conference of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, was held July 29 to August 3 in Winona Lake, Ind. on the campus of Grace College and Seminary.
A variety of practical courses were offered to conference participants, who also attended plenary sessions in the school’s new Orthopaedic Capital Center on Wooster Road.
On Monday evening, Brad Powell, pastor of NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Mich., challenged the conference with the forceful message that to be truly biblical, the church must deal continually with change, yet remain true to its mission to make disciples.
Incoming FGBC Moderator Jim Brown, pastor of Grace Community Church, a Grace Brethren church in Goshen, Ind., encouraged the conference to return to a focus on evangelism. He encourage those present to “go fishing” for Jesus.
“If you’re not fishing, you’re not following Jesus,” he said.
The week was marked with corporation meetings of various Grace Brethren organizations, time for fellowship with Grace Brethren people from around the world, and recognition of how God is working in the various ministries of the FGBC.
At the Sunday evening opening session of the conference, FGBC moderator Tim Boal, pastor of Penn Valley Church, a Grace Brethren church in Telford, Pa., guided delegates through a lengthy agenda which included voting seven new churches into the Fellowship, approving Asia’s Hope as a cooperating ministry, adopting a number of resolutions from the Social Concerns Committee, conducting elections of Fellowship Council members, and much more.
The seven churches included:
Elk Creek Church, West Grove Pa.,
Sunbury Grace Brethren Church, Sunbury, Ohio
Living Hope Grace Brethren Church, Saxton, Pa.
Grace Christian Union Church, Tamarac, Fla.
Oasis Chapel, Boynton Beach, Fla.
Philadelphia Church, Boca Raton, Fla.
Providence of Grace, Boynton Beach, Fla.
Elected to serve on the Fellowship Council for 2007-2011 were Phil Helfer from the Western Region, Brian “Skip” White from the Central Region, and Doug Black from the Eastern Region.
Helfer is pastor of the Los Altos Grace Brethren Church in Long Beach, Calif. White is senior pastor at the Basore Road Grace Brethren Church in Dayton, Ohio. Black is pastor of the Liberty Grace Brethren Church in Johnstown, Pa.
The Fellowship Council manages the business affairs of the corporation throughout the year. Membership is comprised of 12 members who represent each of the three geographic regions of the United States, plus the moderator, first moderator-elect, second moderator-elect, and retiring moderator.
One of the agenda items was the first reading of a recommendation from the Council that would increase its membership from 12 to 15, five from each region. It would also increase the term of each member from four to five years and decrease the required years between terms from four years to two years. In addition, the term of the individual who serves as moderator would increase from one year to three. A vice-moderator would be elected on the same ballot as the moderator for the same three year term.
Delegates will vote on the proposal at the 2008 conference, which will be held July 26-31 at Innisbrook Golf Resort near Tampa, Fla.