It was an unusual mid-summer vacation as my parents, my brother, and I pulled onto U.S. 30 in Ohio to head west for the biennial Cutler reunion in southeastern Minnesota. By the time we would reach our destination, we’d have put more than 600 miles behind us. It was unusual because my dairy-farmer father rarely took time off in the middle of summer, but the opportunity to gather with his siblings and cousins was too much to resist.
As we drove, I recall my mother commenting that our pastor, Kenneth B. Ashman, was going to give an address at “conference.” Since our travel route took us very near where it was to occur, perhaps we could attend. Ultimately, the timing didn’t allow us to include a stop at conference on that trip, but it was probably the ?rst time I was aware of an annual national church gathering.
In the intervening years, I’ve attended the biennial family reunion when I can. And I’ve participated in my fair share of conferences in my career as a Grace Brethren communicator.
I’ve come to realize the signi?cance of a family gathering. We are like a cord, wound together: a group who shares biological genes, basic values, and maybe even a few physical traits. It has kept me grounded in a fast-paced world.
Sweeter yet is a reunion with the individuals with whom I have broken bread or washed feet. Te strands of that cord not only include a common history in the Grace Brethren movement, we share the hope that springs within us, a personal knowledge of the redeeming power of Jesus Christ.
For me, the annual conference of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches has become a family reunion of sorts as I rub shoulders with brothers and sisters in the faith. Conference is a time to celebrate what we do together as a network of congregations, to rejoice in seeing God’s work move ahead, and to pray together for the harvest before us.
So it is not surprising that I’m looking forward to this year’s conference and the moment when another pastor from Wooster, Ohio, Robert Fetterhoff, takes the platform to present the moderator’s address.
I believe this is a pivotal year for our network of congregations. In a world that is increasingly individualistic, there is a call to work together for the harvest that is spread before us. At a time when Satan wants to divide and scatter the work that has been done in God’s name, it’s vital that we gather and encourage each other in our ministries.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12 NIV).
It’s a new day!
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