THE DUNKARDS AND
THE ANNUAL MEETINGS…
Long, long ago the Dunkards shared ideas with each other and had lively discussions on how they should deal with world issues, treat their fellow neighbors, and deal with church procedures. At one time these meetings were held just in each church. When the first Dunkards came to America they would have to write letters back to the congregations in Europe and wait for a reply about certain issues. This took a great deal of time and did not always work for the new colonial Dunkards. Around 1742 the Dunkards in America began to send delegates to meetings. These meetings were positive and usually in-volved the most knowledgeable and wisest elder members of a congregation. Their goal was to have a plan in place for all procedures, program, polity, and discipline the early members would be facing in their daily lives. At first they only met once a year because of the distance between the early churches. Sometimes several years might go by be-fore they would come together for a meeting. In the middle of the 1800s there were lots of new congregations forming and moving further west. The early leaders decided that it was time for a better organization among the congregations. Districts were formed within certain areas of the early colonies. Now it was easier for these smaller groups to get together for discussions. The early Dunkards still felt the need to all be together at times to hear what everyone had to say, especially since there was much happening among its members and the world. Over time the Dunkards became organized into its present day form. Today our congregations across the U.S. are divided into districts who have
a board of representatives from its congregations. These boards meet and discuss programs and issues facing the local church as well as other world issues. If a local congregation sees an issue that they think needs more discussion from all the congregations in the U.S., they will put together a query and send it to the District Board who may then send it on to the District Conference. Each year our congregation sends delegates to the District Conference. This is just the first step in getting ready for the big annual meeting. Today we have a group of representatives called Standing Committee. This group is made up of delegates sent from each district. Their job is to bring issues from the dis-tricts for discussion about policy, programs, and world problems. They also prepare a ballot of officers for the Annual Conference delegates to vote on during its meeting. After many meetings and discussions, they will decide on what needs to come before the delegates from each congregation at the big annual meeting or Annual Conference as we know it today. As you can see, this is a many step process and takes many hours and weeks of hard work. Today our delegates will receive books on what will be dis-cussed and also have a chance to meet with the other delegates in our area to learn what will be happening at Annual Conference. Long ago this annual meeting would last several days and would include worship, love feast, and communion as part of the “Big Meeting.” Many of the same things happen today. The meeting still lasts several days and has lots of opportunities for worship and fellowship. We hope our delegates will have an enjoyable time, a rewarding experience, and safe travels.