Inspired by the words of Paul, we believe the Church of the Brethren is “the body of Christ” with “many parts,” and that each one of us “is a part of it.” While you continue the work of Jesus in your communities and districts, we are deeply grateful for how you and your congregation contribute of your time volunteering and attending events, and through your prayers for those who serve and whom we serve. We hope this narrative provides you with insight concerning the impact of all that you share as we work together to extend a “cup of cold water” to those in the US and around the world with our international partners. The following information reflects a general overview of Church of the Brethren ministry endeavors. We are so grateful for you as we, together, meet Jesus in our neighborhoods.
Thank you for your partnership!
EXTENDING GENEROSITY AND WITNESS
Cultivates community, continues the work of Jesus, and spreads God’s love.
Administration and Human Resources
Coordinating the ministries of the Church of the Brethren based on guidelines from Annual Conference and oversight from the Mission and Ministry Board. This work is done for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good.
Growing faith through Bible studies, congregational resources, books, and other resources that help congregations and individuals deepen their faith.
Telling the story of the Church of the Brethren through word and image using a range of media. All communications strive to present and honor the breadth of the church and are intentional about sharing unique perspectives from different racial, ethnic, generational, gender, geographical, spiritual, and theological backgrounds.
Bringing members into thoughtful conversation so that all may deepen their commitment as disciples of Jesus Christ.
Educating and interpreting the missions and ministries of the Church of the Brethren. Nurturing relationships with individuals and congregations, encouraging partnerships in giving and other engagement opportunities. Raising support for all Church of the Brethren ministries.
Equipping district leaders and set-apart ministers for the challenges of ministry and encouraging a culture of calling.
Supporting ministers and their families during times of hardship. Approved and created at the 1998 Annual Conference, this fund is an outreach ministry that provides grants to ordained ministers for short-term needs.
Building relationships across lines of faith and politics, bearing witness to the peace of Christ, and contributing to innovative endeavors that support peacemaking around the world. The Death Row Support project connects individuals on death row with pen pals to reveal the grace of God and peace of Christ in a difficult situation.
GROWING AS COURAGEOUS DISCIPLES
Strives to equip the people of God, new and renewed, to embody and articulate their faith through relationships, resources, and events.
Offering valuable resources and events for Brethren to both listen and share in meaningful conversations with the larger, diverse body of Christ.
New and Renew (Church planting and revitalization)
Creating a space for church leaders to grow to their knowledge of church planting and congregational renewal. Gatherings allow for pastors and leaders of new church plants and established churches to worship, learn, and fellowship together.
Older Adult Ministries (National Older Adult Conference)
Recognizing the gifts of older adults, encouraging a positive vision of again within the church, and providing a support network for ministry with older adults. National Older Adult Conference occurs every other year to allow the opportunity for community laughter and learning.
Organizational Leadership, Spiritual Formation, and Congregational Care
Curating resources for leaders and laity. Coaching, workshops, and retreats are a few examples of how staff interact with constituents. These programs may include strategic planning, leadership training, spiritual gifts, deacon training, conflict resolution, and congregational ethics.
Providing opportunities for the next generation to nurture their faith, provide leadership development, and embody the peace of Christ through relationships in their neighborhoods and in the world.
Seeks to strengthen faith and relationships with partners around the world and develop a structure to encourage interdependent relationships and partnership in mission.
Supporting the development of a Global Church of the Brethren is critical for future relationships and understanding of global Brethren values. New mission partnerships of assistance and/or affiliation with the Church of the Brethren continue to be explored.
The Church of the Brethren is growing around the world. The US church relates to partner churches through the Brethren Global Communion, which includes churches in Brazil, (unofficially) Burundi, the Dominican Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, India, Nigeria, Rwanda, Spain, Uganda and Venezuela.
Churches in Brazil offer an alternative vision of the church in a country which is largely Catholic and Pentecostal.
The Burundi church has grown to more than 50 congregations since its founding in 2016 and has planted churches in Kenya and Tanzania.
Neighborhood churches hold worship and Bible study throughout the week and serve the members of their community.
Churches in the eastern part of the country share the gospel and provide relief in the face of volcanoes and ongoing conflict.
Vibrant churches stand as a witness to the faithfulness of Christ in a land hard hit with natural disasters and violence.
With more than 700,000 members, Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria is larger than the rest of the global body of Brethren combined. The church is celebrating its centennial in 2023, and continues to grow because of their steadfast witness to the Prince of Peace in a land torn by violence.
The church is growing strong roots with the training of pastors, continuing of church buildings, and outreach to the indigenous Batwa people.
This communion is engaged in evangelism, prison ministry, agricultural work, and trauma healing and reconciliation ministry.
Distinct from most evangelical churches, official registration has meant that the church can hold public revival meetings. The church has been expanding across the country, and the primarily immigrant church is starting to gain Spanish converts and leaders.
One of the newest Brethren bodies, the Uganda Church of the Brethren is experiencing strong growth and learning how to better serve Jesus. The church also runs an orphanage.
Despite the difficult political and economic situation, the Venezuelan Brethren are enjoying growth and have a special passion for outreach for the indigenous people of their country.
Global Mission engages in agriculture and health projects in many countries around the world. Often these endeavors lead to church plants. Currently we have working partnerships in: China, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, India, and Vietnam.
Cultivating our call as followers of Christ to life the burden of the oppressed. Working with partners in the US and around the world the relationships build are long lasting and life sustaining. Providing education and provision of resources help establish food security. Contributions also support advocacy endeavors to address hunger issues. The program within Global Food Initiative are possible because of donations to the Global Food Initiative Fund.
This program, in partnership with Haitian Church of the Brethren, provides medical clinics and words to improve quality of health in several Haitian communities.
STEWARDING GOD’S BLESSINGS
Provides sustainability for the organization and is crucial to the good stewardship of our resources.
Curating records and documenting the ministry of the church as its official repository. It is the organizational “memory” for the Church of the Brethren and serves as an important historical source for the Brethren movement as a whole.
Caring for the essential financial systems and processes that help the church achieve its mission. Along with Mission Advancement, the Finance Team provides gift-management support for all donors contributing to all missions and ministries.
Providing the accessibility all our staff require to stay connected to each other and communicate outward.
SERVING ONE ANOTHER
Organizes opportunities for Christ-like service and equips volunteers for relationship-based community engagement.
Preparing people of all ages to be the hands and feet of Jesus for short-term and long-term service placements. Participants have the opportunity to serve in a variety of ministry and non-profit settings as they live and worship in community.
Walking with communities in the long recovery process. Revealing God’s love through caring for the vulnerable impacted by emergency, violence, or disasters both nationally and globally. The programs within Brethren Disaster Ministries are possible by donations to the Emergency Disaster Fund.
Training and commissioning volunteers to establish safe and comforting spaces for children in a time of crisis.
Providing humanitarian relief to the most vulnerable disaster responders around the world by supporting coordinated disaster relief efforts with sister churches, global mission sites, and like-minded organizations in specific locations.
Creating community as volunteers enter neighborhoods to rebuild homes and bring healing to survivors.
SUSTAINING OUR MISSIONS AND MINISTRIES
All the work that is noted within this narrative budget is financed by many funds. Some of those include Core Ministries, Self-funding Ministries, and Special Purpose funds. Some ministry expenses are offset by registrations, sales, subscriptions, other income, or restricted contributions. All of these funds support programs and services that empower us to extend generosity and witness, grow as courageous disciples, live together, steward God’s blessings, and serve one another.
Core Ministries are so named because they represent programs that are central to the nature of the church or are part of the administration and organizational resources needed to carry out these ministries. Ministries such as Brethren Historical Library and Archives, Brethren Volunteer Service, Discipleship Ministries, Global Mission, Office of Ministry, and Office of Peacebuilding and Policy are all financed by the Core Ministries Fund.
Special Purpose funds provide funding for the work of Brethren Disaster Ministries, Children’s Disaster Services, Global Food Initiative, and domestic and global church planting initiatives. There are also programs that would not be available if we did not receive restricted contributions from generous donors. These programs include the Haiti Medical Project, the Ministry Assistance Fund, and Nigeria Church Rebuilding, among others.^
When used throughout this document, the “^” (caret) denotes when the Ministry Enablement Contribution (MEC) of 9 percent is applied to certain restricted (or designated) donations. The Mission and Ministry Board approved this designation in October 2016 to support the work of Core Ministries staff who ensure the donor’s intended purpose of a gift is carried out.
Self-funding Ministries are considered self-sustaining as they are supported by income other than donations and include Material Resources and Annual Conference. Brethren Press had previously been considered self-funding but was moved under Core Ministries in 2022 based on an October 2021 Mission and Ministry Board decision.
Annual Conference exists to unite, strengthen, and equip the Church of the Brethren to follow Jesus. It is the highest and final legislative authority in the Church of the Brethren, including all matters of procedure, program, polity, and discipline. The authority of Conference has its source in the delegates who come together as a deliberative body under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Held annually in different geographical locations, conference brings Brethren together to not only conduct business but to worship, learn, and to build and renew relationships. As we embrace our vision to be Jesus in the neighborhood there is also an intentional effort to “witness to the host city.”
At the Brethren Service Center, Material Resources staff inventories, packs, and ships goods routinely, as well as during times of crisis, partnering with organizations to deploy relief supplies, material aid, and medical supplies. The team has developed extraordinary expertise in preparing goods for emergency shipment, ensuring that material aid reaches its destination in good condition and on time.
Individuals and congregations may contribute online by credit or debit card or by mail through writing a check to missions and ministries for which they have passion. Recurring automatic gifts (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) can also be set up with ease (at www.brethren.org/recurring-gift).
Monthly direct mail appeals, twice monthly emails for “eBrethren: Testimonies of the Church of the Brethren and its ministries,” and other special appeal communications create specific opportunities to give. Each communication highlights stores of impact.
Individuals and congregations may choose to give to any of the four annual special offerings (One Great Hour of Sharing, Pentecost, Mission, and Advent) that highlight different ministry areas and primarily support Core Ministries. Some congregations receive full standing orders or make use of online materials (for printing and electronic use). Since 2020, some individuals also receive materials at their home as a regular direct mailing or as a postcard.
One Great Hour of Sharing reaches those near and far, sometimes changing the life of someone in distress in your own community, while at other times impacting the lives of those we may never meet, but who need our compassion.
The Pentecost Offering of the Church of the Brethren highlights our passion for calling and equipping fearless disciples and leaders, renewing and planting churches, and transforming communities. Gifts are directed to Core Ministries, and the offering especially highlights the work of Discipleship Ministries and the Office of Ministry.
The Mission Offering highlights our passion in the Church of the Brethren for international missions and praising the Lord everywhere with our sisters and brothers around the world. Gifts are directed to Core Ministries, and the offering especially highlights Global Mission.
The Advent Offering highlights our passion in the Church of the Brethren to live out the holistic peace of Jesus. Gifts are directed to Core Ministries, and the offering especially highlights the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy and Brethren Volunteer Service.
Since each congregation is associated with the Church of the Brethren, they have a covenantal agreement to support the work of denominational ministries as they are able – through setting aside a percentage of their annual budget or discerning a particular amount.
Some individuals may choose to donate their Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) from certain retirement plans as a qualified charitable distribution (QCD). Once you reach a specific age, at 73 in 2023, you must withdraw a specific amount or risk a tax penalty. The law concerning RMD’s took effect in 2023, so it is recommended to talk with financial advisors concerning each particular situation. If a person does not depend on income received from an RMD, a QCD is a beneficial option to consider.
Some individuals may discern to support the missions and ministries of the Church of the Brethren by including one or more ministries in long-term giving plan through a will, trust, gift annuity, life insurance policy, or another form of a deferred gift – those who enroll become members of the Faith Forward Donor Circle program (learn more at www.brethren.org/ffdc). This type of gift is an investment in the future, allowing the lifelong work of individuals to continue the work of Jesus. At the same time, members inspire others to join the circle, casting their faith forward beyond their lifetime.
Another future-proofing way of giving could include the creation of an endowment with a minimum of $100,000. An endowment is a gift fund from which the investment earnings are used for its mission and ministry, allowing us to ensure a future for the generations that follow.
Contact Mission Advancement for more information.
All photos were taken by denominational staff, partners, and volunteers unless otherwise noted.