The national conference of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC) has long been termed a “family reunion.” Opportunities to connect with people from other churches and ministries abound amidst annual corporation meetings, challenging speakers, and opportunities for outreach.
During this year’s FellowShift Vision Conference, held July 17 to 21 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C., that focus will be intentional, according to Bartley Sawatsky, executive director of the FGBC and pastor of Grace Community Church, a Grace Brethren congregation in Mississauga, Ontario.
“This one is relationally focused,” he said, noting that many people comment that conference is a time they “get to see people they haven’t seen for awhile.”
New this year to the schedule is a luncheon when “family” achievements are celebrated. Missionaries will be commissioned, awards will be presented, and it will be a time to enjoy the relationships found in the FGBC.
The 2014 conference targets a more youthful audience, after Sawatsky observed last year that the conference is aging. There will also be more gender and ethnic diversity among speakers and workshop leaders.
The FellowShift theme will address topics related to how the Fellowship needs to change if it is going to be successful in the future, according to Sawatsky. Celebration topics and speakers include:
- FellowShift: How our fellowship must change, Bartley Sawatsky
- PhilosoShift: How our thinking must change, Mark Artrip, Erica Shelton, and Jason and Christy Holt
- FaceShift: How our demographics must change, Sarah Knepper, Gerardo Leiton, and Stephen Joyce
- FutureShift: How our methods must change, Dan O’Deens and Joe Caruso
- UnShifting: How some things must never change, Keith Minier, R. Greene, and Heidi Bogue
- FaithShift: How our outlook must change, Melissa Spoelstra and Jeff Bogue
Speakers have a maximum of 18 minutes to present their ideas in the most innovative and engaging ways they can, which imitates the format of the popular TED Talks. In addition, 18 workshops will address a variety of other topics. There will also be a session Sunday afternoon on the The Identity Initiative, led by Dr. Dave Guiles. This is designed for those who have not had the opportunity to participate in one of the five regional focus retreats that addressed the topic. Other highlights of the conference include a concert with comedian Michael Jr., a Light Up DC! gathering on the Mall on Saturday evening, and meals (along with corporation meetings) of FGBC national organizations.
During the annual business session on July 21, three churches will be considered for membership. They include:
- Grupo Amor Cristiano, Dublin, Ohio, Phil Guerena, pastor
- Living The Word Church, Ashland, Ohio, Nathan Wells, pastor
- Woodside Church, Ashland, Ohio, Nathan Wells, pastor
Five organizations will also be considered as cooperating ministries. A cooperating ministry is an organization that works with Grace Brethren churches but does not have a national representation on its board. (National ministries must have board representation from three regions: east, central, and west.) Prospective cooperating ministries include:
- Design Outreach (DO)
- Grace Commission Bible Institute
- Grace Refuge Outreach Worldwide (G.R.O.W.)
- VisionAlaska Inc.
Click here for more information about the churches. To learn more about the proposed cooperating ministries, click here. For complete information about FellowShift, see the conference website: fellowshift.org.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of GraceConnect. Click here to sign up for your free subscription.