Whereas: In 1979 Annual Conference approved guidelines (in a paper called "Annual Conference Elections") to encourage a more equal representation of men and women in denominational leadership; and
Whereas: these guidelines were widely successful in helping the church call forth gifted women into leadership; and,
Whereas: this paper also encouraged the inclusion of ethnic minorities among the called leadership of the church; and,
Whereas: in 1991, the Brethren Black Americans paper approved by Annual Conference confessed that "although Annual Conference has adopted a number of statements that address the devastating effects of racial discrimination within the church and society, generally we have failed to implement those statements..." and,
Whereas: there is biblical precedent for deliberately calling ethnic leaders (the first deacons) to assure that the needs of everyone in the church were met and with the result that "the word of God continued to spread; the number of disciples increased greatly" (Acts 6:7-8 NRSV); and,
Whereas: many in the Church of the Brethren are concerned that the gifts and voice of ethnic minorities are not adequately utilized in the leadership of the denomination (e.g. General Board, Program and Arrangements, etc.) creating a situation not unlike that described in Acts 6:1-7; and,
Whereas: there are now more ethnic congregations and fellowships in the Church of the Brethren than there are other local churches in some of our smaller districts and yet there is no guaranteed way they can be represented on Standing Committee; and,
Whereas: with the change in denominational structure, there are now new agencies (e.g. On Peace Assembly, Association of Brethren Caregivers, etc.) and committees, and,
Whereas: the General Board has affirmed that "the inclusion of racial/ethnic persons in the constituency of the Board has brought perspectives which have enriched the work the Board";
Therefore, for the benefit of the whole church, we the Castañer Church of the Brethren, petition Annual Conference through the Puerto Rico Board and the Atlantic Southeast District Board to update the guidelines of the 1979 paper focusing this time on how to best assure fair representation for minority groups in the church by calling forth and utilizing gifted leadership from among our ethnic brothers and sisters.
Jaime Diaz, Pastor Castañer
Nila Rivera, Board Chair Castañer
Angel Coupon, P.R. Board Treasurer
Carol Yeazell, A.S.E. District Executive
Approved by action of the District Board May 13, 2000 to be passed on to the 2000 District conference and subject to District Conference approval, to the 2001 Annual Conference.
Action of the 2001 Annual Conference: Beth Middleton, a Standing Committee member from Virlina district, presented the Standing Committee recommendation that the concern of the query be affirmed. Standing Committee commends the Cross Cultural, Ministries Team and other groups across the denomination for their efforts to identify and nominate ethnic/minority leadership and furthermore, we encourage our agencies, districts, and congregations to redouble their efforts to identify and call forth ethnic/minority leadership in our denomination. Further, we ask our agencies to include in their yearly reports to Annual Conference, information regarding their progress on the number of ethnic/minority persons nominated and called to leadership. Beyond the concern of this query, Standing Committee recognizes that the need for ethnic/minority involvement, regardless of culture, at all levels of the church goes beyond issues of fairness and equal representation but is a necessary movement for the life and vitality of the church in this day and the future.
The delegate body adopted the recommendation of Standing Committee with one amendment that has be incorporated in the above text.