From 29 August to 2 September, all the Servants of the Word from across the world gathered in Brooklyn, Michigan in order to celebrate our 50th anniversary. A couple of years ago, when the date was drawing near, some brothers suggested that we mark the occasion by bringing all the brotherhood together, something we had never done before. Due to COVID-19, the event had to be postponed, but this summer it finally became possible.
The event was called a “Solemn Assembly” to mark the 50 years in a way analogous to Biblical Jubilees. On Saturday 27 August we had a Lord’s Day together, and two days later the time began in earnest with a first day focusing on thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness over so many years. It was also an occasion to recognize and give thanks to God for Steve Clark, our founder and remember our brother Bruce Yocum, who passed away earlier this year.
The second day was dedicated to taking stock, looking back over the years, and recalling the prophetic words which have been significant for us on our journey. It was also an occasion to acknowledge the times we fell short of his call and to express repentance.
Wednesday morning we considered our place in the mission of the Sword of the Spirit, which included reports from our various mission efforts across all the regions. The evening marked the highpoint of our celebration, with a formal Jubilee ceremony: during that time, all the lifelong brothers renewed their commitment to the Lord and to one another, with four younger brothers also making temporary commitments. This was also the opportunity for David Mijares, our Presiding Elder-elect, to address all the brothers and to exhort them to faithfulness to their calling. The time ended with a festive banquet and some entertainment.
Thursday morning was reserved for “Vision Casting”, allowing the brothers to express their hopes and dreams for the coming 10, 20, yes even 50 years.
That evening one of our oldest brothers called on our younger brothers to take their place in the work, followed by one of the youngest brothers who encouraged those of us who have been around for a long time.
The week ended with a look forward as John Keating spoke about our “Call to Holiness” and Tadhg Lynch about “Our Call to Mission.”
Of course, not all the week was serious and prayerful: plenty of time was reserved for brothers to reconnect with each other, over fun activities and informal fellowship.
One other encouragement was that three brothers from the Brotherhood of Hope joined us for the time. We also met in small groups to share our lives with brothers from other regions. In many ways, the anniversary is not over: all of the coming year will be dedicated to celebrating the Jubilee, looking to the Lord for inspiration, correction and exhortation.
On 3 September we gathered with friends and family for a public celebration in Ann Arbor, Michigan which saw around 600 people coming from far and near to express their friendship and support. We thank God for his great faithfulness and for all those who have enriched our lives in this great adventure.
A written report does not do justice to the refreshment and re-envisioning this time provided for all the brothers. We thank our friends for their prayers and assure them of ours as well.