Every day I receive an e-mail from Google listing the places where the Church of the Brethren is mentioned online. While the Google Alert helps me catch interesting news that I might otherwise miss, most of the articles are pretty routine. They’re items typical for community newspapers— obituaries, worship times, rummage sales, concerts.
Sometimes the search engine vacuums up news about another group with the word “Brethren” in the name—the Brethren Church, Brethren in Christ, Mennonite Brethren, Evangelical United Brethren, Plymouth Brethren, Exclusive Brethren.
We don’t want to be mistaken for that last group, actually. The Exclusive Brethren (recently renamed the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church) regularly make news in Australia and New Zealand for disturbing reasons. A few years back, a television station in Australia snagged the logo from our Church of the Brethren website and used it on a few news stories about the Exclusive Brethren. Some of the ensuing mail from outraged viewers managed to make its way to us here in North America.
Fortunately, that sort of confusion is rare. A better kind of confusion comes from the occasional oddball headline that’s so compelling that I have to click to see what the connection is. That can happen especially when the headline describes the first item in a list of unrelated community events. Hence my vague sense that somewhere there’s a group of Dunkers hosting ballroom dancing.
Well, the ballroom dancers turned out not to be us, but it made me wonder what headlines we wish our local news outlets would write about us. What has your newspaper written about your congregation the past year? What’s your story? If bad news can travel halfway across the globe, can good news? I like to think so.
One of my favorite passages of scripture is the one about publishing:
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’” (Isaiah 52:7 RSV).
Every one of us can be a publisher. When the world searches, let’s be found bringing “good tidings of good.”
Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press and Communications for the Church of the Brethren.