(May 14, 2007) — The Committee on Interchurch Relations has announced the 2007 recipients of its annual Ecumenical Citation. The committee carries a mandate from both the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference and the General Board, and met by telephone conference call on April 3.
Anna K. Buckhalter has received the individual citation, for her work over many years showing compassion toward people regardless of faith tradition. Westminister (Md.) Church of the Brethren has received the congregational citation, for its expression of Christian compassion toward a Muslim fellowship.
The citations will be presented at the Ecumenical Luncheon at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, on Tuesday, July 4, in Cleveland, Ohio. At the luncheon the committee will highlight the recipients’ creative, exemplary responses to Christ’s call to show love for all people. The featured talk at the Ecumenical Luncheon is titled, “Living Among People of Other Faiths,” and will be presented by Paul Numrich, a Church of the Brethren minister and educator.
The committee reviewed an excellent set of nominees for the annual citation, said committee member Robert C. Johansen in his report from the meeting. This year the citation was given for individuals and congregations to share their experiences in ecumenical interfaith peacebuilding. “At a time when tensions have risen between different religious traditions around the world, the Committee has been seeking out those who are bridging the gap between different groups, aiming to be the embodiment of Christ amidst hatred and misunderstanding,” Johansen said.
The committee has finalized plans for an insight session at Annual Conference, to be held on Tuesday evening July 3. The session will feature a conversation between a Brethren evangelical Christian, Jim Eikenberry, and a Muslim teaching colleague, Amir Assadi-Rad. Both are instructors at San Joaquin Delta College in California. They will discuss how people of different faiths may relate constructively with one another while deepening their faith.
In other business the committee laid plans (without incurring any budgetary expenditure) for sending greetings and, in most cases, a representative of the Church of the Brethren to these other Brethren denominations: Old Brethren, Old German Baptist Brethren, Dunkard Brethren, Conservative Grace Brethren, Fellowship of Grace Brethren, and the Brethren Church. The group also discussed the decision by the General Board to approve the committee’s recommendation that the Church of the Brethren join Christian Churches Together in the USA, and received a report that the Church of the Brethren who participated in a recent meeting of the new organization found it to be an inspiring discussion of evangelism and best practices among diverse Christians.
In general secretary Stan Noffsinger’s report to the committee, he described extensive activity in peace education and advocacy including the planning for a conference of the historic peace churches, to be held in Asia. The planning group includes Merv Keeney of the General Board staff and Don Miller and Scott Holland of Bethany Theological Seminary. The purpose is to engage church leaders in the region to study and discuss what it means to be a living peace church in today’s world, where religious conflict may lead quickly to intolerance and bloodshed.
Committee members are chair Michael Hostetter, Ilexene Alphonse, Jim Eikenberry, Robert Johansen, Stanley Noffsinger, Robert Rene Quintanilla, Carolyn Schrock, and Jon Kobel (staff).