A fresh wind is blowing in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC). That was the consensus as pastors and congregational leaders in the FGBC headed home from their meeting place in Indian Wells, Calif. this week. The conference was held at the Renaissance Esmerelda from July 28 to August 1.
Final speaker for the week was Larry Osborne, senior pastor of North Coast Church in northern San Diego, Calif. He challenged the conference to not be churches that were “preservation societies.” He capped a week which included a variety of Grace Brethren leaders and pastors as keynote speakers, including: Jim Brown, Grace Community Church, Goshen, Ind.; Keith Minier, Grace Church, Pickerington, Ohio; Dave Guiles, Encompass World Ministries, Atlanta, Ga.; Tim Boal, Go2 Church Planting Ministries, Telford, Pa.; and John Teevan, Grace College, Winona Lake, Ind. Each focused on an area of the Commitment to Common Mission, a document that encourages the Grace Brethren to pursue church planting, leadership development, and integrated ministries.
A number of other pastors led practical workshops each afternoon on topics related to the same themes.
Encompass World Partners (formerly Grace Brethren International Missions) commissioned a number of individuals for service abroad and among international communities in the U.S.
During the final business meeting on Wednesday afternoon, eleven new churches were accepted into the Fellowship. They include: Grasslands Church, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada (Oliver Edwards, pastor); Village Community Church, Milton, Ontario, Canada (Rob Stanley, pastor); White Stone of Johnstown, Ohio (Tony Webb, pastor); Grace Brethren Church, Jacksontown, Ohio (Tony Webb, pastor); Eastgate Church, Mansfield, Ohio (Andy Shank, pastor); Eastgate Bible Church, Ashland, Ohio (Nathan Wells, pastor); Iglesia Cristiana La Coshecha, Durham, N.C. (Oscar Chavez, pastor); Neighborhood Church, Tracy, Calif. (Matt Cripe, pastor); El-Elyon Haitian Evangelical Ministry,Miramar, Fla. (Henock Joseph, pastor); Menominee Grace Brethren Church, Menominee, Mich.; and Family Christian Community Center, Deerfield, Fla. (Dumon Cardichon, pastor).
Bartley Sawatsky, lead pastor and co-founder of Grace Community Church, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, was named to serve as executive director of the FGBC for a three-year term beginning in 2013. Part of the original executive staff of GBCanada, he has a vision to see churches multiplied in the Toronto area.
Also elected to terms on the Fellowship Council, the guiding body of the FGBC, were: Randy Weekley, St. Petersburg, Fla. (East); Greg Serafino, Osceola, Ind. (Central); and Matt Householder, Ripon, Calif. (West). The positions of treasurer and secretary to be filled by Dan Jackson, Myerstown, Pa., and Tom Avey, Winona Lake, Ind., respectively, were ratified.
Elected to serve on the nominating committee were Joel Richards, Modesto, Calif.; Doug Black, Johnstown, Pa.; Galen Wiley, Lancaster, Pa.; Jason Holt, Philadelphia, Pa.; Jesus Munoz, Atlanta, Ga.; and Jonathan Carey, Akron, Ohio.
In addition, the conference approved 21 amendments to the FGBC Constitution and Manual of Procedure. The amendments, part of an effort to be biblical, not creedal, were reviewed at the first business meeting on Saturday afternoon. Several forums were held throughout the conference, to allow people to discuss the proposals and to ask questions. In addition, an online forum had garnered visits from more than 170 people, many who had commented on the changes.
The changes focused on policies about the Statement of Faith, membership requirements of churches and the Fellowship Council, and national ministries, cooperating ministries, and cooperating districts; changes related to the title and role of the Moderator; and document organization and miscellaneous changes, correcting redundancies, correcting inaccurate information, and other “housekeeping” tasks.
Photos from the week are posted at facebook.com/FGBCWorld.