“Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement.
To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.”
Four years ago, denominational leadership recognized that we had reached a critical moment in our life together. While individuals and congregations were engaged in faithful ministry, as a denomination, it could be said we were wandering without a sense of unified purpose. Further, we were mired in soul-sapping conflict. Something needed to change.
As a body, we were called into a time of intentional discernment. Like Noah in the ark, Moses before the burning bush, the Israelites in the desert, Ruth following Naomi to Judah, Elijah on Mount Horeb, Mary during her visit with Elizabeth, Jesus entering the desert following his baptism, and Paul after he had been struck blind, for almost two years, we dwelled in a challenging, disorienting, and uncomfortable, yet creative, exciting, and hopeful season of waiting and watching for God’s presence and direction. Throughout, as a community, we were centered in Jesus Christ, guided by Scripture, and led by the Holy Spirit, resulting in the emergence of a new, unifying, and compelling vision for the Church of the Brethren.
“Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.”
There is much in this rich vision to unpack as we look to scripture and theology to further interpret each significant phrase. We encourage everyone to read the full interpretive statement available here.
In preparation for engagement in the process that will continue to unfold at Annual Conference, we encourage people across the church to read the full document, study the scripture passages that undergird the document, engage in the Compelling Vision Bible Study, and reflect on the following questions:
- How does the compelling vision reflect the soul of your congregation? How does it reflect the soul of the Church of the Brethren?
- How do you see this vision being lived out in your own neighborhood?
- What might you need to let go of?
- What are the issues facing your community which could be healed/addressed by the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ?
- How might we work at calling and equipping innovative, adaptable, and fearless disciples to live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ?
- What are the creative ways your congregation, your district, or the denomination as a whole, might embody this vision?
We also hope everyone will continue to bathe the process in prayer.
Compelling Vision Bible Study
The Compelling Vision Team has developed a 13-session Bible study series around the Compelling Vision. Designed for use by youth and adults, the series will be available at no cost on the Compelling Vision webpage in February 2021. Sample sessions are now available.
Recognizing the importance of discerning the mind of Christ through communal study of scripture, it is our hope that this Bible study series will serve a two-fold purpose:
- to help congregations engage more deeply with the Jesus in the Neighborhood vision and
- to help congregations and their delegates prepare for the conversations to take place at Annual Conference as we move toward affirmation of the vision.
Each of the thirteen sessions has as its focus a question that invites participants to explore a different word or phrase in the vision and has been written by a different person, creating a series that is rich in both breadth and depth. Plans are also underway to translate this resource into both Spanish and Haitian Kreyol.
Compelling Vision Team
Michaela Alphonse of Miami, Fla.
Kevin Daggett of Bridgewater, Va.
Rhonda Pittman Gingrich of Minneapolis, Minn., Chair
Brian Messler of Lititz, Pa.
Alan Stucky of Wichita, Kan.
Kay Weaver of Strasburg, Pa.
Samuel Sarpiya, 2018 Annual Conference Moderator
Donita Keister, 2019 Annual Conference Moderator
Paul Mundey, 2021 Annual Conference Moderator
Chris Douglas, Annual Conference Director
David Steele, General Secretary
John Jantzi, District Executive, Shenandoah District
Colleen Michael, District Executive, Pacific Northwest District