Church ofthe Brethren Annual Conference and beyond

Trip Start Jun 14, 2009
Trip End Jul 31, 2009

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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We left Mexico on Friday morning and made our way North to San Diego. Church of the Brethren Annual Conference was Friday June 26 to Tuesday June 30.  Annual Conference is the COB’s family reunion, a chance to renew friendships and acquaintances and a chance for the two of us to reconnect with our denominational background. This is especially important now that one of us (ahem, Steph) has officially joined the Mennonite denomination. Some of the consistent highlights of conference for us are seeing old friends, especially from our various BVS years, observing the intricacies of Roberts Rules of Order disputes on the floor of the delegate assembly, and eating ice cream during any of the 4 ice cream socials. Yes, we may be the only denomination whose annual meeting makes sure the hotel has an ice cream buffet line every single night of the conference.

And of course there is only one thing that Brethren like more than ice cream – free ice cream. The line for the free ice cream night was about as numbered as there were conference participants, but this year, as far as we could tell, the convention center did not run out of ice cream even on that night. Who knows if this is due to the fact that conference numbers were lower since it was held on the West Coast (not quite as many from the Brethren-heavy PA, VA, IN areas could make it) or that conference staff is just learning to tell the convention folks we eat an exorbitant amount of ice cream. Either way, we are not complaining!

This year the conference was held in a beautiful resort and convention center. We attended worship services, business sessions (where delegates from COB congregations set church polity and often discuss the church’s most controversial issues), small insight sessions, and luncheons and breakfasts for different agencies of the church. Steph attended the annual Etown alumni luncheon again this year and shockingly was not the youngest person in the room as normally happens, though she did sit next to a woman who graduated in 1940! Between the two of us, we went to insight sessions on Disaster Relief efforts, inter-generational church life, Brethren current ecclesiology, the denomination’s socially responsible investing techniques, and discussion on Jesus as Prince of Peace, our non-violent commander-in-chief. We also got a chance to visit and eat dinner in Old Town with Steph’s Aunt Mary Ann who was working at the conference for SERRV, a fair trade retailer and organization.

On Tuesday, we spent half of the day exploring the beautiful architecture and landscaping of Balboa Park, a San Diego park which houses about 15 museums and the famous zoo. The grounds and buildings themselves were amazing enough to be exhibits in their own right, but we did explore the botanical building and the museum of Photographic Art where we enjoyed a very good Ansel Adams exhibit. Later in the evening, we hit up another of our Jane & Michael Stern Road Food picks, the Hob Nob Hill, which offered traditional American diner fare in an understated elegant setting. We both felt it reminded us of some of the places back in our respective “home,” where the crowd is usually families and folks over retirement age. We made it in time for the Early Bird dinner special choices, from which Jim had the ground steak with baked potato, green beans, vegetable soup, and fresh bread. Steph had a tuna salad sandwich with green salad and potato salad.

Tomorrow we look forward to exploring some more of the gorgeous San Diego sites!

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