By James M. Beckwith
The Church of the Brethren “Manual of Organization and Polity” has been updated to incorporate polity decisions adopted by Annual Conference since the last edition of the manual, and to review and update endnotes to ensure that the manual reflects as much as possible the exact wording of the Annual Conference decisions which established or updated the polity. Go to www.brethren.org/ac/ppg to find the updated files.
An effort has been made in the endnotes to identify the few statements in the manual that are not polity--i.e., statements that describe organizational patterns or standard practices which have not been defined by Annual Conference polity decisions. Those who use the manual are urged to consult the endnotes.
Each chapter file now has a title page with bookmark hyperlinks to help users move easily to and from that chapter’s sections. The Preface in the Overview file explains further changes. Significant changes have been made to update the Conference Rules in Chapter 1 and to identify in Chapter 2 that each Annual Conference agency has its own history and guidelines for its status as an official Annual Conference agency.
The Leadership Team of the denomination, which includes the general secretary and the Annual Conference officers, is responsible for interpreting denominational polity and has reviewed all of the updating, together with Chris Douglas, director of the Conference Office. The Leadership Team celebrates the completion of this work and acknowledges with gratitude the efforts of all who have worked on the manual over the years. It is good to have the manual up to date as the official guide by which the church seeks to live out its purpose at Annual Conference: to unite, strengthen, and equip the Church of the Brethren to follow Jesus together.
-- James M. Beckwith serves as Annual Conference secretary.