Unfortunately, my original vision of providing day-to-day coverage of General Conference 2010 went unfulfilled. The rush of conference preparation and work made such a goal untenable. (For recaps on business, quizzing, and evening worship services, check out the blog maintained by the Conference staff.)
Nevertheless, the important history- and heritage-related aspects of conference — the presentations from and recognitions of E. Morris Sider and R. Donald Shafer, the Brethren in Christ Historical Society’s biennial luncheon, and the Celebrating Brethren in Christ Authors event — deserve some attention, if retrospectively. Here’s a brief recap (with pictures!) of those conference proceedings.
1. Presentations from and to E. Morris Sider and R. Donald Shafer
On Saturday morning, two familiar (and revered) faces within the Brethren in Christ Church — E. Morris Sider and R. Donald Shafer — gave presentations on church history and practice. Their reflections served to provide an historical (if somewhat hagiographic) backdrop for church leaders’ unveiling of the denomination’s latest vision plan.
E. Morris Sider, a prolific Brethren in Christ writer-historian, described a 1950 prayer meeting organized by Brethren in Christ leaders during a National Association of Evangelicals conference. As Sider described, the prayer meeting served as a time for the leaders to reflect upon the church’s heritage and think critically about its future. Certainly future historians of the church will continue to mine this significant gathering for insights about the Brethren in Christ Church in the religious milieu of post-WWII.
Following his presentation, Sider was honored with a plaque and a lengthy citation recognizing him as a “distinguished historian and churchman.”
R. Donald Shafer, long-time bishop and general secretary of the Brethren in Christ Church, then delivered a speech on the results of that 1950 prayer meeting: the radical change and unprecedented growth within the denomination during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. For this historian, Shafer’s message pointed to some of the important (yet unstudied) aspects of Brethren in Christ life and thought during these decades: an increased emphasis on evangelism; the incorporation of methodology from the Church Growth Movement; and continued alignment with the larger American Evangelical movement.
Shafer was also honored with a plaque, a citation, and the honorary title of “general secretary emeritus.”
Some photos from the morning session:
2. Brethren in Christ Historical Society luncheon
Following typical form, the Brethren in Christ Historical Society invited members of the delegate body to a luncheon on Saturday. The “program,” presided over by Society president Emerson Lesher and Society executive director Glen Pierce, included an update on Society work, an opportunity to share ideas about future Society initiatives, and a chance for attendees to share a few words about E. Morris Sider, who had just received a citation from the denomination. I even had a chance to share about the search for piety and obedience!
A few photos from the gathering:
3. “Celebrating Brethren in Christ Authors” book signing and reception
It’s been said that Brethren in Christ authors are an unheralded group. Saturday afternoon’s “Celebrating Brethren in Christ Authors” event was an attempt by conference organizers to highlight these important contributors to the life and thought of the denomination.
Numerous authors participated in the event, which gave writers the opportunity to fellowship with readers and sign copies of their books.
A few photos:
(Thanks to Katie Manzullo-Thomas and Nate Bridi for the photos.)
Readers: What were your favorite history-and-heritage aspects of General Conference 2010? Leave a comment!