The Southeastern District Conference on July 25 at Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren in Jonesborough, Tenn., approved the withdrawal of 19 congregations from the district and from the Church of the Brethren denomination. The withdrawing churches represent close to half of the 42 congregations that have been part of the district that covers Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, and the western parts of North Carolina and Virginia.
The withdrawal of congregations “was the main focus of the conference,” said district executive Scott Kinnick. “The conference was a half-day event, we followed our governor’s safety guidelines to keep everyone safe. There was no singing, only our moderator’s message, prayer, and a short business session. The moderator, Rev. Steven Abe, led the remaining churches in a blessing to the withdrawing churches, and a blessing from the withdrawing churches to the remaining churches. He then asked everyone to give a blessing to David Steele, general secretary.”
Steele, the general secretary of the Church of the Brethren denomination, attended the district conference in person as did Annual Conference moderator-elect David Sollenberger. Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey attended via Zoom.
The conference action follows on the creation of the Covenant Brethren Church in 2019. Earlier this year its leaders--which include Kinnick--indicated an intention to separate from the Church of the Brethren (see a Feb. 2020 interview with Steele at www.brethren.org/news/2020/our-end-goal-is-unity-interview-david-steele.html ). However, it is not clear how many of the withdrawing congregations will affiliate with the new organization.
Here are the names and locations of the withdrawing congregations:
Beaver Creek Church in Knoxville, Tenn.
Brummetts Creek Church in Green Mountain, N.C.
Community Church in Cleveland, Ala.
Ewing Church in Ewing, Va.
Hawthorne Church in Johnson City, Tenn.
Jackson Park Church in Jonesborough, Tenn.
Johnson City First Church in Johnson City, Tenn.
Knob Creek Church in Johnson City, Tenn.
Limestone Church in Limestone, Tenn.
Little Pine Church in Ennice, N.C.
Melvin Hill Church in Columbus, N.C.
Midway Church in Surgoinsville, Tenn.
Mill Creek Church in Tryon, N.C.
Mount Carmel Church in Scottville, N.C.
New Hope Church in Jonesborough, Tenn.
Pleasant Hill Church in Blountville, Tenn.
Pleasant Valley Church in Jonesborough, Tenn.
Spindale Church in Spindale, N.C.
Trinity Church in Blountville, Tenn.