Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Michigan District Conference opens with Love Feast.

The Michigan District Conference was held Aug. 15-17 at the Winding Creek Campground in Hastings, Mich. Anita Smith Buckwalter led an opening Love Feast on that Friday afternoon, for at least 52 participants.

Debbie Eisenbise, pastor of Skyridge Church of the Brethren in Kalamazoo, Mich., served as moderator and used the theme "The Church Alive-Past, Present, Future" for this annual meeting. Frank Ramirez, pastor of Everett (Pa.) Church of the Brethren, preached for three worship services during the conference. The senior high youth group presented a drama about the young Julia Gilbert, written by Ramirez. Throughout the weekend, numerous ‘"guests" from Brethren history spoke to the conferencegoers.

Attendance was larger than in recent years, but offerings were not adequate to cover costs. Many youth and children were among the 225 registered on Saturday, the day with the largest attendance.

The district expressed thanks to its new Conference director Beth DuBois, sound technician Lester Gandy, day camp coordinator Erica Wave Fitzpatrick, and the Beaverton congregation for doing the cooking.

An "All Conference Activity" on Saturday night presented a "hysterical historical talent show" with Brethren composers and musicians from Michigan singing and leading in original compositions. Pieces included a harp solo and a six-piece "heavy metal band" composed of four tubas and two baritones.

District executive minister Marie Willoughby announced her retirement effective Feb. 14, 2009. She received seven large red roses at the close of the business sessions in honor of her seven years of ministry to the district. Following dismissal of the District Conference on Sunday at noon, her family hosted a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for Don and Marie Willoughby at Hope Church of the Brethren.

During the business sessions, a proposal for Visioning and Restructuring was adopted, and a newly elected committee of five will work with an interim district executive on the project during 2009-2010. The District Conference also adopted the Resolution Urging Forbearance that had been passed by the 2008 Annual Conference, and recommended that local congregations study it. The District Conference also advanced the Church in Drive, a new church start in Saginaw, Mich., from being a project of the New Life Christian Fellowship to full status as a fellowship.

In naming of new leadership, Bill Sumner of Midland, Mich., was named moderator for 2009, with R.J. (Joe) Wave of Marilla, Mich., named moderator-elect. Four people were elected to the District Board.

Source: 10/29/2008 Newsline Extra

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