Inasmuch as the Friends once invited the Church of the Brethren to participate with them in maintaining an office in Washington, D.C., to seek for Christian legislation and to keep churches informed for action,
We, the Waterford Church of the Brethren, assembled in regular quarterly council, July 23, 1959, petition Annual Conference, through district conference of Northern California, to take steps to establish such an office in conjunction with the Friends or separately as seems advisable.
John H. Price, Elder
Helen Rinehart, Clerk
Answer of district conference: Passed to Annual Conference.
Dwight Enberg, Moderator
Irene Armey, Writing Clerk
Answer of 1960 Annual Conference: We look with favor upon the establishment of a Washington office and refer this query to the Brotherhood Board for report to Conference next year.
Approach To The Study
The General Brotherhood Board has studied the question of the establishment of a Washington office through correspondence with selected Brethren and denominational executives related to church representation in Washington and through consultations with Brethren in the Washington area and with representatives of the Washington Office of the National Council of Churches, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Presbyterian Washington Office, and the National Service Board for Religious Objectors.
In all its investigations and interviews the committee found no clear-cut consensus regarding a Brethren representation in Washington. The Brethren who were asked to share their thinking, even those in the Washington area, held different viewpoints on the purpose and the value of establishing a Brethren office. While some favored a distinctly Brethren office, others favored Brethren participation in a cooperative agency. Still others felt it more important to build more churches in the Washington area.
The Brethren now have a continuing witness and service in Washington: sharing of information on issues and happenings of particular interest to Brethren; serving on Brethren Seminars and other delegations to Washington; servicing on passports and other technical clearances for Brethren work; representation of Brethren, personally or arranging for others, at meetings and conferences, governmental and otherwise; alerting the Brotherhood, normally through the Brotherhood offices, on Washington developments of interest to Brethren; arranging for testimony before Congressional and administrative committees. Testimony to be most effective should be given by a person other than a Washington representative or a person residing in Washington.
The establishing of a lobbying function in Washington does not seem feasible because of our tax-exempt status and the high cost for a minimal staff of three to five well-trained persons which would be required for reasonable competence in enough areas to do a good job.
While the ideal in clarity and effectiveness might seem to some to call for a Brethren office in Washington with a representative on a full-time basis, three determinative considerations cause the Board to recommend otherwise: (1) there would be difficulty in providing adequate funds within the Brotherhood budget for this additional program, in light of present commitments for other new or expanded programs; (2) the need for distinctive Brethren function in Washington would seem to require less than a full-time person, at least for the immediate future; (3) our increasing involvement in cooperative Christianity, especially through the National Council of Churches, would suggest rather strongly that we integrate as fully as possible our Washington witness with that of other denominations in Washington, while recognizing the probable need to provide for some additional Brethren witness on distinctive concerns. As we look ahead, it seems clear that denominations can best make their witness through a strong united Protestant approach.
The Brethren should be pact of a responsible Christian presence and witness in Washington.
The Brotherhood should continue and strengthen its witness and services to Washington as enumerated above.
For the reasons given above, we do not recommend the establishment of a distinctly Brethren office in Washington. We do recommend, however, a closer cooperation, coordination, and liaison with cooperative agencies in a united witness in Washington, while recognizing the need to continue to provide for some additional Brethren witness on distinctive concerns.
The General Brotherhood Board will give continued consideration to the possibility of relating our Brethren interests more fully with an existing cooperative office in Washington, possibly by nominating and/or placing a member of the Church of the Brethren on such a staff.
Answer of 1961 Annual Conference: Report adopted, and Conference encourages the General Brotherhood Board to pursue actively the direction of recommendation four and report new developments next year.
The General Brotherhood Board has pursued the concern of the query on Brethren interests in the nation's capital and has provided for representation in Washington.
Answer of 1962 Annual Conference: Report adopted.