by Frances Townsend and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
The document “Patient Hope in Matters of Conscience” was brought by On Earth Peace for consideration by Annual Conference. The delegates adopted a recommendation from the Standing Committee of district delegates to not delay other items of business, as called for in the document, but to receive the insights of the document and ask the Mission and Ministry Board in consultation with On Earth Peace and other experts to provide resources to better implement the 2008 Annual Conference resolution “Urging Forbearance” in the life of the church.
“Patient Hope in Matters of Conscience” addressed how the Church of the Brethren handles divisive issues, and called for more guidance regarding how to live together faithfully despite differences in deeply held convictions. Inconsistency in the willingness to grant forbearance to those who dissent from various Annual Conference positions was noted. The document called for guidelines to ensure consistency throughout the church in the practice of patiently living with differences in matters of conscience. On Earth Peace also recommended that the Conference place a hold on other business items related to the agency until such guidelines are developed--a recommendation that was turned down by the delegate body.
Because this was an item of new business, the Standing Committee brought a recommendation about how to handle it. Standing Committee’s recommendation contained two parts, one recommending no delay to other items of business, and the other recommending “the insights of New Business item 2 ‘Patient Hope in Matters of Conscience’ to the entire church for serious, prayerful consideration. As a continuation of the work already done on the ‘Living Together as Christ Calls’ query, we further ask the Mission and Ministry Board, in consultation with On Earth Peace and others with expertise in this area, to provide resources and insight as to how to implement more consistently and fully the 2008 Annual Conference resolution ‘Urging Forbearance’ into the life of the church.”
Two paragraphs of commentary preceded the Standing Committee recommendations, encouraging the church to receive the On Earth Peace recommendation “as another thoughtful reminder of our calling to, and history of, practicing forbearance with one another in the church when in faithful conscience we disagree.”
A paragraph of confession read: “We confess that in our current struggle, in which we are deeply divided on same gender issues, we, from all perspectives on the issues, have often not practiced forbearance well. We also confess that our inconsistent ‘practice of patiently living with differences in matters of conscience’ has led to injustice.”
For more onsite coverage of Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac/2017/coverage .
The news coverage of Annual Conference 2017 is made possible through the work of the volunteer news team: Frank Ramirez, Conference Journal editor; photographers Glenn Riegel, Regina Holmes, Keith Hollenberg, Donna Parcell, Laura Brown, Allie Dulabaum; writers Frances Townsend, Karen Garrett; with web staff Jan Fischer Bachman and Russ Otto, and Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of News Services. Wendy McFadden, publisher. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.