The annual Conference of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches began Friday, July 16, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Sharonville (Cincinnati), Ohio. The Conference held its first celebration-style meeting on Friday evening. Saturday was dedicated to the service project “We Care Miami Valley,” with various scheduled activities in Dayton and Xenia, Ohio. Later that evening there was a combined
Momentum/Conference meeting at Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio. Momentum is the annual Grace Brethren youth conference that annually attracts about 2,000 middle and high school students. This is the first time the two conferences held a joint Celebration meeting. Sunday saw two more Conference meetings featuring the current Fellowship Moderator Tom Hocking of Bellflower Grace Brethren Church, Bellflower, California, and the future Moderator Jeff Bogue, senior pastor of Grace Church of Greater Akron, Ohio.
Bogue’s Sunday evening message was especially noteworthy. Using nails, concrete blocks, and a sledgehammer to illustrate his points, Bogue delivered a strong challenge to the delegates and especially the pastors. He described a powerless American church that is concerned mostly with its “survival” and little else. Bogue used Judges 6 to compare the powerless Gideon and the ineffective American church, of which the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches is a part. Of course, there are some effective churches in the United States, Bogue added. But he also stated that the vast majority of American churches are ineffective, stagnant, or declining. He aimed his sharpest points directly at Grace Brethren pastors, of whom he is one of the most prominent. The Grace Brethren pastors received Bogue’s message with great enthusiasm.
Hocking and Bogue will hold a “town hall meeting” on Tuesday morning, July 19th to further discuss strategies for church growth and renewal. This reporter will file one more dispatch with the Shaper Iron either late Monday or early Tuesday.