Partnerships in the Gospel in Northern Ohio District

Church of the Brethren Newsline
December 11, 2007

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things: of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–of cabbages and kings.” So says the poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” from Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.”

This past year, leaders in Northern Ohio District decided that the time has come to talk of re-evaluating the way we do some of our work, in order to better serve the congregations and enhance our ministry partnerships. We recognize God is blessing us, and that things are going well, but we could do better.

They identified four directions for change: District Board configuration, method of calling district leaders, district budget construction process, and core services/resources the district provides. They also decided that the time has come to critically evaluate Camp Inspiration Hills’ funding and operations. In addition they decided to raise awareness of the many services and resources the district provides and invite each congregation’s participation and support.

To help raise awareness the District Board asked Church of the Brethren videographer David Sollenberger to prepare a video about the district. That video project, “Partnerships in the Gospel,” premiered at the July 2007 District Conference. Copies of the DVD were included in each congregation’s District Conference Self-Allocation Packet. Additional copies of the DVD are available from the District Office, and the video can be viewed by visiting, click on the “gallery” link, then “videos,” and then “Partners in the Gospel.”

In the opening moments of the video, narrator Sollenberger states that “Brethren have learned that as congregations, you can’t go it alone. You need the help of the Holy Spirit and your brothers and sisters in Christ, believers who share a similar faith understanding. The Apostle Paul commended the Philippians for their partnership in the Gospel (Philippians 1:4-5), and in the Northern Ohio District, partnerships are everywhere.” He then goes on to describe the district partnerships that support pastors and congregations.

The time has come to for us talk as individuals and congregations about the effectiveness of our ministry partnerships. “The Northern Ohio District is a great place to do ministry,” the video concludes, “Why not join them in the good work the Lord is doing among them and through them?”

Sollenberger is right: we really can’t go it alone. How are we doing in our ministry partnerships? The time has come for us to find out.

–John Ballinger is district executive minister for Northern Ohio District. His article originally was published in the district newsletter.

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The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to Submit news to the editor at For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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