When FGBC moderator John Teevan suggested several years ago that the national conference should adopt alternating emphases–equipping one year, celebrating the next–no one was quite sure what to expect.
With Equip05 now history, it was, by all accounts, a great success. More than 400 people enrolled in the 20+ classes that were offered, some for doctoral credit, and hundreds more came to Winona Lake the last days of July and first days of August to celebrate what God is doing in Grace Brethren churches and people around the world.
Fellowship Coordinator Tom Avey, assisted by Charles Ashman and Sandy Barrett, planned and implemented this year’s conference, which was held in Winona Lake, IN, the dates of July 31-August 5, 2005.
Registration opened Sunday afternoon, and the kickoff celebration meeting featured music by Jeremiah Olson and the worship team from the Goshen, IN, Grace Community Church and addresses by pastors Neil Cole of Long Beach, CA, and Mike Lee of Raleigh, NC. GBNAM missionaries were commissioned Sunday night, as well.
Classes began Monday morning, and at each morning’s breakfast time in Alpha Hall on the Grace College campus there was a “Jump Start” with music and pastors giving a devotional. Speakers included Dan Gregory (Columbia City, IN); Jim Brown (Philadelphia); Ron Manahan (Grace College and Seminary); Robert MacMillan (Tracy, CA); and John McIntosh (Simi Valley, CA).
Monday night’s gala event in the Rodeheaver Auditorium featured a complimentary dinner by Grace Brethren Investment Foundation in honor of its 50th anniversary, followed by business meetings of the FGBC (Dan Allan, moderator) and various national organizations. Five churches were welcomed into the Fellowship, Jim Brown of Goshen was elected as second moderator-elect, and new Fellowship Council members elected included Mike Lee, Andy Wirt, and Tom Hocking.
Tuesday afternoon all national organizations hosted Open Houses. A barbecue at Grace Village Retirement Center was followed by the choice of open recreation or a BMH-sponsored hymnsing in the Grace Village chapel, featuring Don Ogden, Bill Schaffer, Miriam Uphouse Christiansen, and others.
Wednesday evening’s main session featured incoming moderator Keith Shearer delivering his moderator’s address, along with the commissioning of more than 20 GBIM missionary family units. Thursday evening again included a choice of open recreation or a “Brethren Heritage Tour” sponsored by the Brethren Missionary Herald Co.
Next year’s conference, Celebrate06, will return to the celebration format, and will be held in Indian Wells, California, July 29-August 3, 2006. Watch www.fgbc.org for details.