Church of the Brethren conference returns to Grand Rapids


Church of the Brethren, based in Elgin, Ill., was founded in 1708. Photo via

Experience Grand Rapids has secured the annual Church of the Brethren conference for 2017 and 2020.

The conference draws an estimated 3,000 attendees and will use 4,776 hotel rooms. According to Experience Grand Rapids, this will be the largest religious conference that has signed a multi-year contract with Grand Rapids to date. It is expected that it will have an estimated direct spending impact of $1.9 million in 2017 and $2.7 million in 2020.

Church of the Brethren first came to Grand Rapids for its annual conference in 2011 and has since changed its bylaws to allow for repeat visits to cities where it has previously held its annual conference.

“We are very excited to be hosting Church of the Brethren again in Grand Rapids,” said Experience Grand Rapids President Doug Small. “To have this group return to our community for two more years is a testament that Grand Rapids can deliver a successful product. This, however, would not have been possible without collaboration from our partners. It was truly a team effort with area hotels, facilities and a community dedicated to a visitor centric environment.”

Experience Grand Rapids credits attracting the Church of the Brethren conference as a direct result of the successful 2009 Religious Conference Management Association, which is considered the premier religious convention industry show.

Since the RCMA convention in 2009, Grand Rapids has been able to secure 68 religious groups including International Council of Community Churches, Adventist-Laymen’s Services & Industries International, American Baptist Association, National Council of Catholic Women and Church of United Brethren in Christ.

“Our Grand Rapids conference in 2011 exceeded our expectations,” said Chris Douglas, Church of the Brethren’s director of conferences. “Experience Grand Rapids, the hotels, restaurants and other community partners made our conference-goers feel warmly welcomed and well-cared for. We are excited about bringing our conference back to Grand Rapids in 2017 and 2020.”

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