What a wonderful, rich week it’s been in Kingsport, Tennessee, as the Fellowship of Grace Brethren family gathered from all over the globe to fellowship, to learn, to share information, and to worship and pray together.
Conference concluded shortly after noon today, and most of the attendees took off for the drive/flight home (except for BMH board members, who met today and will meet again tomorrow to conduct Brethren Missionary Herald business).
BMH Corporate dinner and meeting last night (Wednesday) were great fun–about 70 attended, and after a great meal at Wright’s Country Cuisine Cafeteria in Kingsport, those attending heard board chair Dan Thornton give updates, heard an operations report from Executive Director Terry White, and had a question-and-answer time with BMH board and staff members. All attending were given a free mug with BMH’s new logo on it, along with a free copy of a Homer Kent book on the Gospel of Mark and a coupon for the revised copy when it appears in the fall.
In this morning’s meeting of the Association of Grace Brethren Ministers, Dr. John Davis was the speaker (former president of Grace College and Seminary) and he was then honored with the “outstanding achievement” award from the AGBM.
In the delegates’ brunch and business meeting that followed, moderator John Teevan closed out his tenure as moderator by conducting elections and moderating a business meeting that saw four new churches welcomed into the Fellowship, extended welcoming greetings to an association of about 70 Grace Brethren churches in Cameroon, Africa, and adopted a number of social concern resolutions.
Dr. Tim Boal, pastor of the Penn Valley Grace Brethren Church in Telford, Pennsylvania, was elected second moderator-elect, which means he now joins the leadership team and will be conference moderator in three years. Next year’s moderator, Dan Allan, will be followed by Keith Shearer in the 2006 conference.
The week included many highlights, but one today was learning that the Operation Enduring Friendship, which utilized a part of the hotel lobby to pack goody bags for the wives of soldiers in Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, where Grace Brethren Chaplain James Shaefer ministers, reached and exceeded their goal of 2,000 bags.
And the story gets even better! FedEx agreed to ship all 31 cartons of bags to Hawaii FREE as part of their charitable program. The bags went out of Kingsport about 2 p.m. today, and they soon will be in the hands of soldiers’ wives in Hawaii, who will enjoy the toiletries, personal notes, candies, and other expressions of appreciation. Beth Bryant of Canada and her husband, Phil, created and directed the project which saw many, many people from the conference donating supplies and stuffing the bags.
In addition, the conference childcare unit helped children create several quilts during the week, which will be returned to the Kingsport area to be given to homes for the elderly (see accompanying photo).
Other activities of today included electing representatives to the Fellowship Council and Nominating Committee, and the honoring of seven Grace Brethren pastors or missionaries who have gone on to be with the Lord during this past year.
Conference next year–entitled Equip05–will be in Winona Lake, Indiana, and will have more of an educational or in-service training feel. There will be classes, workshops and courses for those of all interests. More information is available from the FGBC office.
Your intrepid blogger now takes a little rest to finish BMH board meetings, drive back to Winona, and spend a few days fishing with his grandsons who will be visiting from Minnesota.
Next issue of FGBC World will contain a more complete report of conference and photos.