“Proclaim the Power of God” (Psalm 68:34-35) is the theme for the 221st Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, to be held in Cleveland, Ohio, on June 30-July 4, 2007. The theme and accompanying scripture was announced by the Program and Arrangements Committee after its mid-August meeting at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill.
“As we continue our Together: Conversations on Being the Church, I challenge you to join me as we ‘Proclaim the Power of God,’” said 2007 moderator Belita D. Mitchell in her statement on the theme. Mitchell is pastor of First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg, Pa. “I believe now is the time for us to become more ethnically diverse, more spiritually alive and more united to continue the work of Jesus across the United States and around the world. Let us prepare to come together in Cleveland celebrating the Power of God in our midst.”
Daily scriptures and expressions of the theme also have been announced (see below). The logo for the Conference has not been designed yet, and will be released after the committee meets again in November.
The moderator’s full theme statement follows:
“Throughout my years of service to Christ and the church in our beloved denomination, I have been acutely aware of the tremendous blessing God has poured out upon us. We have been endowed with many spiritual gifts. We have been inspired to ministries that have been embraced by the ecumenical community. With an evangelistic zeal, we have established missions around the world, seeing the fruits of our labor in India, China, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and now Haiti and Brazil. Our newly launched initiative in Sudan is still greater evidence of our desire to follow Christ and comply with the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.
“In spite of this entire remarkable mission legacy, we see many congregations in our own country that continue to decline in vitality, flounder in vision, and who face difficulty in becoming ethnically and culturally diverse. I have heard the voices of many who are asking the questions, ‘How do we respond to the stumbling blocks that stunt our spiritual and numerical growth?’ ‘How do we overcome eroding energy and decreasing hope?’ ‘When will we unite with Christ to tear down strongholds and become like the church John saw in Revelation 7:9?’
“These questions and others have guided me through the scriptures and remained a focal part of my meditations on naming a theme for our 221st Annual Conference convening in Cleveland, Ohio, June 30-July 4, 2007. As we continue our Together: Conversations on Being the Church, I challenge you to join me as we ‘Proclaim the Power of God’ (Psalm 68:34-35).
“I envision exploring and living out this theme not only by our deeds but also by our words. Let us be bold in our proclamation of God’s power that enables us to tear down barriers which separate us and build bridges that connect us in stronger ecumenical partnerships. Proclaim God’s power to guide us in effective evangelistic outreach, to equip us for intercultural inclusion, to lead us in developing cross congregational relationships and to instill within us a life of fervent prayer.
“I believe now is the time for us to become more ethnically diverse, more spiritually alive and more united to continue the work of Jesus across the United States and around the world. Let us prepare to come together in Cleveland celebrating the power of God in our midst. Start by praying for a mighty movement of the Holy Spirit to illumine our hearts and minds to the need for changes that will bind us together, strengthen our resolve to work for those changes, and inspire us to be open for God to do a new thing among the Brethren.”
Daily scriptures and expressions of the theme:
June 30: “Ecumenical partnerships and cross congregational relationships are ways that we can ‘Proclaim the Power of God.’ We gain benefit through connecting with brothers and sisters across denominational and congregational lines, demonstrating for the world what the fullness of God looks like” (Ephesians 3:13-16 and 4:3-6; 2 Corinthians 13:11)
July 1: “Prayer is a means to release the power of God and should be the hallmark of every believer, the foundation of every worshiping community, and the force behind every ministry endeavor. The focus would be on the importance of prayer” (Matthew 7:7; John 16:23-24; Acts 16:25-26)
July 2: “Intercultural inclusion is an expression of the power of God as we work together toward racial reconciliation and unity with diversity. We cannot adequately reflect the kingdom of God as exclusive conclaves of homogenous groups” (Acts 2, 8:25, and 15:8; Galatians 3:26-28; Revelation 7:9)
July 3: “Effective evangelistic outreach is an outgrowth of the power of God. Sharing the good news is not optional for disciples of Christ. We are commissioned to speak with boldness the confession of our faith and the availability of salvation for all who will believe” (Matthew 28:15; Acts 10:34-38; John 1:12 and 4:28-29; Romans 10:13-15)
July 4: “We serve an awesome God whose power and strength are available to us for every good work and for every need in kingdom building. Let us ‘Proclaim the Power of God’ in our speech and in our service. Let us return to our ‘first love,’ keeping Christ central to everything we say and do” (Acts 4:33; Psalm 107:1-3 and 8-9; John 4:39-42)
For more about Annual Conference, go to www.brethren.org/ac.