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Off to a Good Start in Kingsport

Jul 24, 2004

 The 2004 Celebration Conference of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches officially convened this morning (Saturday, July 24) at 10 a.m. with a session directed by conference moderator John Teevan, who is also pastor of the Winona Lake (IN) Grace Brethren Church.

Meeting in the cavernous assembly hall of the Marriott MeadowView Resort in this picturesque town which is nestled in the top right corner of Tennessee, right next to Virginia, the pastors, wives, lay leaders, and national organization representatives heard the first of three sessions today by singer/songwriter/author John Fischer.

Fischer, who was once known for his music during the Jesus People movement, has emerged in recent years as a thoughtful writer on the interface between culture and Christianity. That was the theme of his talk at 10 this morning, for a two-hour question-and-answer session this afternoon, and again for the 7 p.m. evening session. Tonight he interspersed a lot of 60s, 70s and 80s folk music and classic songs with his speaking, many of them having Messianic themes or references to spiritual lessons.

The Grace Brethren national organizations all have display tables ringing the perimeter of the meeting area, each having the typical display of giveaways, literature, photos of activity, etc. One of the more interesting is bracelets, cards and other crafts for sale by Filipino Brethren who manufacture and sell the items as a microenterprise. Many Filipino families must live on about $5 per day, and so Grace Brethren innovators are helping set up small businesses to improve the economic status of believers in that country.

At noon today Grace College and Seminary held its corporate meeting at a luncheon attended by about 130. President Ron Manahan conducted the business meeting, and then reports were given by a number of administrators and faculty members, who reported on a new joint nursing program with Bethel College, recent accreditation of the teacher education program, efforts to achieve accreditation for the seminary, the building of a proposed events center, a program to increase Latino and Hispanic students in the college, and much more.

Tomorrow (Sunday) begins with a Chaplain’s Appreciation Breakfast at 6:30, and then the morning worship service will be a half hour away in the Freedom Civic Center at Johnson City, where the Fountain of Life (Biker) church will be hosting the conference with their pastor, Dr. Vic Young, speaking.

 In all, some 900 are expected to attend the conference, which will conclude Thursday morning with a delegates’ brunch and business meeting. Brethren Missionary Herald Co. personnel are producing and distributing a daily conference newspaper entitled FGBC Conference World.