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Brethren in Christ Study Conferences

2020 Sider Banner

Brethren in Christ Study Conference 2020

The 2020 Brethren in Christ study conference will be held virtually on November 12-13, 2020.

It will be focused on the theme "Re-focusing Our Faith: Re-Examining Brethren in Christ Core Values After Twenty Years."

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About This Year's Conference

In May 1999, the Brethren in Christ Church in North America convened a consultation at Roxbury Holiness Camp to examine and articulate the core values of the denomination. The consultation resulted in a statement of ten values that were adopted by the church at the 2000 General Conference. Twenty years later, the core values remain a vital resource for understanding and living out the Christian faith in the context of the Brethren in Christ Church, both in the United States and around the world. As the BIC Articles of Faith and Doctrine state, the 10 core values “convey the core convictions of our faith community—the values that touch our hearts, inspire our minds, and move us to action.”

This study conference seeks to reflect on and look forward to the ongoing value of these core values for the church in our time. It will address such questions as:

  • What are the theological foundations for our BIC core values?  
  • How do our core values hinder adaptation to our present contexts and/or empower us for relevant ministry?
  • How can we use our core values in worship, preaching/teaching, education, assimilation, and more, within the local congregation?
  • What’s the future of BIC core values?

Note: Due to ongoing uncertainties around COVID-19 and specifically around the viability of gatherings of more than 50 people, and out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of our community, the Sider Institute will host its annual study conference virtually, via Zoom Webinars.

Major Conference Sessions and Speakers

Session #1: The Value of BIC Core Values, Two Decades Later

Thursday, November 12 at 2:00 p.m. EST

In this session, speakers will reflect on the enduring value of the BIC Core Values statement twenty years after its first formulation in 2000. Each speaker would be asked to speak to the enduring value of the core values statement based on their particular location within the BIC U.S.: Leadership Council, General Conference Board, and individual BIC congregation.  


  • Alan Robinson, BIC U.S. National Director
  • Rachel Diaz, member-at-large, BIC U.S. General Conference Board
  • Heather Brickner, senior pastor, Branch and Vine (Lancaster, PA)

Session #2: The Theological Foundations for Brethren in Christ Core Values

Thursday, November 12 at 4:00 p.m. EST

In this session, speakers will engage one of the texts read and discussed by participants in the original core values consultation in 1999: Luke Keefer Jr.’s essay “The Theological Foundations for Brethren in Christ Core Values.” (This text would also be made available as “recommended reading” for all webinar participants.) Speakers would analyze the Keefer thesis by assessing the validity of his argument, pointing out additions or changes they might make, and suggesting areas for further conversation, investigation, and/or consideration.


  • Zach Spidel, senior pastor, The Shepherd’s Table (Dayton, OH); member, BIC U.S. Commission on Ministry and Doctrine; PhD student in theology, University of Dayton
  • Jose Rodriguez, senior pastor, Esmirna BIC (Miami, FL); member, BIC U.S. Commission on Ministry and Doctrine
  • Christina Embree, Minister of Generational Discipleship, Great Lakes Conference (BIC U.S.)
  • Peter Guinther, BIC U.S. World Missions

Pre-Session Reading:

Session #3: Core Values “For Such a Time As This”

Friday, November 13 at 11:00 a.m. EST

In this session, speakers will address how the ten core values equip pastors to lead their congregations in an ever-changing cultural context. Focusing on three major challenges facing congregations in the present moment—the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, and political partisanship—this session invites sustained reflection on the ways in which core values hinder adaptation to the present context and/or poise us to embrace it and capitalize on its opportunities.


  • Hank Johnson, senior pastor, Harrisburg (PA) BIC
  • Luke Embree, senior pastor, Plowshares BIC (Lexington, KY)
  • Julie Hoke, pastor, Circle of Hope (Philadelphia, PA)

Session #4: Using Core Values in the Local Congregation

Friday, November 13 at 1:00 p.m. EST

In this session, speakers will describe some of the ways that their congregation has used the core values in worship, preaching/teaching, Christian education, assimilation, and other areas of ministry. The idea would be for speakers to share what they have done so that participants will hear what others have done and be inspired to use the core values in new ways in the future.


  • Perry Engle, bishop of the Pacific Regional Conference, BIC U.S.; teaching pastor, Upland (CA) BIC
  • Lynda Gephart, pastor of congregational life, Harrisburg (PA) BIC
  • Geoff Isley, lay leader, Grantham (PA) BIC

Pre-Session Reading:

Session #5: Where Do We Go From Here?

Friday, November 13 at 3:00 p.m. EST

In this session, speakers will project and make suggestions for the next twenty years of Brethren in Christ core values. How do they inspire mission (or distract from it)? How might they be engaged/translated for our changing contemporary contexts and needs? How do we need to articulate the core values afresh? What else should we be doing to engage our core values in ministry?


  • Layne Lebo, senior pastor, Mechanicsburg (PA) BIC
  • Jeff Piepho, senior pastor, Revolution BIC (Salina, KS)
  • Tracie Hunter, senior pastor, Western Hills BIC (Cincinnati, OH)
  • Ryan Showalter, associate pastor, Solid Ground BIC (Rancho Cucamonga, CA); director of emerging leaders, Pacific Regional Conference of the BIC U.S.