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Shenandoah District
Church of the Brethren
P.O. Box 67
1453 Westview School Road
Weyers Cave, VA 24486
Phone: (540) 234-8555
Toll-free: (888) 308-8555
Fax: (540) 234-8333
2019 District Conference Wrap-up

2019 District Conference Bore Jesus' Fruit in Many Ways

The 2019 Shenandoah District Conference concluded Sat. afternoon at Antioch after the delegate body, comprised of 261 representatives, elected the leadership slate and accepted the proposed budget. The Congregational Withdrawal Paper passed 240 to 19, and the Calling the Called resolution was affirmed with no dissenting votes heard.


The business sessions were preceded by times of worship. Conference preachers were George Bowers, Galen Combs and Jan Orndorff. Worship leaders were Linda Waggy and Mark Bowyer. Leah Hileman led members of the Luray congregation, Leaksville UCC, Bethlehem Lutheran, St. John's Baptist, Bethel Baptist and the Bethel-Mayland congregation in a special choral presentation featuring Steve Green's Find Us Faithful.


Fri. night worship services were led by George Bowers, who introduced this year’s conference theme: “Bearing Jesus’ Fruit.” George and Dale Bowers illustrated the theme through a skit about cutting down the trees in the orchard that were not bearing fruit. Dale, with chainsaw in hand, was persuaded to wait until the conclusion of the service to make a decision about chopping down the trees. In the meantime, worshippers contemplated the parable of the fruitless fig tree found in the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke. George reminded the listeners that, "We can't bear Jesus' fruit if we're not rooted in Jesus."


As time elapsed and "fruit" was placed on the trees, Dale Bowers' chainsaw was not needed. The "fruit" hanging on the trees at the end of the evening were the programs, events and activities in District churches. Click here to read the poem George wrote about this story from Luke, and click here to listen to a recording of this sermon.


On Saturday, Galen Combs' meditation focused on allowing God to change us through spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, reading and meditation. These practices bear fruit. He illustrated this concept by telling the story of wanting to pull the leaves off of the trees in his aunt and uncle's apple orchard in Ky. when he was young. He soon learned that stripping the trees would mean fewer apples in the fall. He also learned that trees have to be planted at the right time and pollination is essential. As the fruit develops, it must remain connected to the vine because, "You can't staple apples to the tree," he said.


In a lighter moment, Combs asked the audience to list their favorite things involving apples. Fritters, sauce, pie, butter and, of course, dumplings topped the list. One lone voice cried iPhone, to the amusement of the crowd.


Jan Orndorff's meditation picked up on the themes introduced by Combs. Orndorff related a personal story about being led by the Holy Spirit to give a panhandler a twenty dollar bill, even though she had a lot of excuses for not doing so. The man was so hungry, he ran as fast as he could across six lanes of traffic to purchase food. That left quite an impression on Orndorff about being in constant communication with God and being willing to respond.


Being tuned into God's plan through reading scripture, prayer and asking yourself how this applies to your life leads to spiritual growth. Orndorff reminded those who were gathered that Jesus was humble and loving enough to wash even Judas' feet--the one who would betray Him. She encouraged everyone struggling with this degree of love and humility to, "Come back to God and let Him show you how to love." Orndorff believes, "Heaven is the fulfillment of what happens now."


At the end of the business session, the gavel was passed from 2019 District Conference Moderator George Bowers to 2020 District Conference Moderator Marty Barlow. District Executive Minister John Jantzi conducted the consecration ceremony for the District Leadership slate. Barlow announced the 2020 District Conference will be Nov. 6-7.


After the conference, the worship center, which featured donations of produce and other items, was gathered up to be delivered to Columbia Furnace's Love Center. This food will be distributed to Shenandoah County families who are food insecure.


Seventy-three congregations were represented at this year's District Conference and 41 people attended as non-delegates.


More District Conference stories will appear in the Dec./Jan. Shenandoah Journal, due out Nov. 30.

Last Published: November 7, 2019 12:24 PM
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