Newsline for July 16, 2008

“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008”

“…Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).


1) Brethren meet in Virginia for historic 300th Anniversary Conference.
1a) Miembros de la Iglesia de los Hermanos se reunen en Virginia en la Conferencia histórica del 300avo aniversario
2) The 222nd recorded Annual Conference at a glance.
3) Plan of merger for agencies is approved, forbearance paper adopted.
3a) Se aprobo un plan para unir dos agencias, se adopto un documento de tolerancia.
4) Conference elects Shawn Flory Replogle as moderator-elect.
5) Boards reorganize in light of plan of merger.
6) Standing Committee adopts statement of confession, commitment.
7) General Board affirms transition plans, sets 2009 budget parameters.
8) International Brethren attend Annual Conference.
9) Brethren bits: Job openings, youth peace team, district news, more.


10) Elizabeth Keller named director of admissions at Bethany Seminary.

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1) Brethren meet in Virginia for historic 300th Anniversary Conference.

It has been 125 years since the Brethren worshiped together like this at Annual Meeting. The last time this took place was at a field in Indiana in the late 1800s, after which the Church of the Brethren and the Brethren Church experienced a split.

On July 13, these two Brethren denominations held Sunday morning worship together at the 300th Anniversary Conference in Richmond, Va. The Conference sang on this historic morning, “Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord, our God!”

The Church of the Brethren and the Brethren Church both stem from the Brethren movement that began in 1708 in the village of Schwarzenau, Germany, where the eight founders of the movement were baptized in the Eder River. At the Anniversary Conference, water was poured into a fountain worship center from the Eder River, from Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia where the first Brethren baptisms in America took place, and from the districts of the Church of the Brethren and the Brethren Church.

The whole of Sunday was given to anniversary events. After worship, the John Kline Riders greeted worshipers on the plaza outside the coliseum–the group remembers the life of Civil War-era Brethren leader and peacemaker John Kline.

That afternoon, participants had their choice of workshops under the theme “An Experience of Brethren Faith Journeys.” An evening celebration of mission featured music and stories from the international mission work of the Church of the Brethren and the Brethren Church.

In addition, a Service Blitz and a food drive marked 300 years of Brethren faithfulness by sharing a witness of service and caring with the Richmond community.

Anniversary committees from the two denominations worked jointly on the celebration. The Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary Committee has been planning for this Conference for eight years.

The 300th Anniversary Committee included Jeff Bach (chair), Dean Garrett, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Leslie Lake, Lorele Yager, and Annual Conference executive director Lerry Fogle. The late Donald Durnbaugh also was a member of the committee.


Hace 125 años que los Hermanos se reunieron durante servicios de adoración como en esta reunión de la Conferencia Anual. La última vez que esto pasó fue en un campo en Indiana a finales de los años 1800, después del cual la Iglesia de los Hermanos y la Iglesia Hermandad (Brethren Church) se separaron.

Durante la Conferencia del 300avo aniversario, el 13 de julio, estas dos iglesias hermanas se reunieron en Richmond, Virginia y tuvieron un servicio de adoración. En esta mañana histórica, los miembros de la Conferencia cantaron, “¡Hermanos, nos hemos reunido para adorar al Señor, nuestro Dios!”

Tanto la Iglesia de los Hermanos como la Iglesia Hermandad provienen del movimiento que empezó en 1708 en la villa de Schwarzenau, Alemania, donde los ocho fundadores de este movimiento fueron bautizados en el Río Eder. Durante la Conferencia de Aniversario, en el centro de adoración con fuente se echó agua del Río Eder, del arrollo Wissahickon en Filadelfia donde los primeros bautismos de los Hermanos tomaron lugar, y de los distritos de la Iglesia de los Hermanos y de la Iglesia Hermandad.

Los eventos del aniversario duraron todo el domingo. Después de un culto de adoración, los miembros de los John Kline Riders dieron la bienvenida a los participantes en la plaza fuera del coliseo, un grupo que recuerda cómo era la vida del líder John Kline durante la Guerra Civil.

Esa tarde, los participantes asistieron a talleres con el tema “Una experiencia del viaje de fe de los Hermanos.” La celebración de la noche ofreció la música e historias del trabajo de la misión internacional de la Iglesia de los Hermanos y la Iglesia Hermandad.

Además, para marcar 300 años de fidelidad, se compartió con la comunidad de Richmond evidencia de asistencia social con un servicio de adoración extravaganza y una colección de comida.

Los comités de las dos iglesias encargados del Aniversario trabajaron juntos en la celebración. El Comité de la Celebración del 300avo aniversario de la Iglesia de los Hermanos planeo esta conferencia por los últimos ocho años.

El Comité del 300avo Aniversario incluyó a Jeff Bach (presidente), Dean Garrett, Rhonda Pittman Gingrich, Leslie Lake, Lorele Yager, y Lerry Fogle, director ejecutivo de la Conferencia Anual. El difunto Donald Durnbaugh también formó parte del comité.

2) The 222nd recorded Annual Conference at a glance.

Location: Richmond, Va., at the Richmond Coliseum and the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

Leadership: Moderator James Beckwith, assisted by moderator-elect David Shumate and Annual Conference secretary Fred Swartz.

Attendance: A total of 6,184 people registered, including 864 delegates.

Blood Drive: Collected 247 units, from 275 presenters. In a special note, 38 of the 44 presenters on the first day were first-time blood donors.

Food Drive: Sponsored by the 300th Anniversary Committee, the drive received donations of 3,655 pounds of food and $613. Donations go to the Central Virginia Food Bank.

Service Blitz: Brethren gave 925 hours of service to the community of Richmond. Volunteers worked at the Food Bank, assisted with the Blood Drive, processed school and hygiene kits for disaster relief, and assisted with clean-up projects in three neighborhoods.

Quilt Auction: Sponsored by the Association for the Arts in the Church of the Brethren, the auction raised $19,200 for hunger.

Brethren Benefit Trust 5K Fitness Challenge: Ben Bear took first place overall for a male runner, with a time of 19:10. Melani Hom came in first place overall for a female runner, with a time of 20:29. Don Shankster was the winning walker, with a time of 31:24. Bev Anspaugh took first place overall for a female walker, with a time of 34:08.

3) Plan of merger for agencies is approved, forbearance paper adopted.

Annual Conference moderator James Beckwith led the business sessions. The delegate body dealt with several major items.

Resolutions approving plan of merger of church agencies:

Annual Conference unanimously adopted resolutions approving the plan and agreement of merger of the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) and the General Board into a single corporation. The new organization will include the functions of the Annual Conference Council. The action changes the name of the new organization to Church of the Brethren, Inc.

The resolutions were presented by the Implementation Committee elected in 2007 to create a plan for the merger, after Conference adopted the recommendation of the Review and Evaluation Committee to unite the agencies into a new incorporated legal entity. The resolutions also have been approved by the ABC board, the Fellowship of Brethren Homes (the legal members of ABC), and by the General Board.

In adopting the resolutions, the Conference also approved articles of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws. In a separate action the body approved the report of the Implementation Committee. Delegates were invited to take concerns and suggestions for improvements of the bylaws to the Annual Conference officers or to the general secretary, as bylaws will be reviewed again as the plan is put into place.

Moderator James Beckwith explained that the action that was called for was “a legal process to complete what we started last year when we said we wanted these bodies to merge.” The action combines the two boards into one new board called the Mission and Ministry Board. It creates a new Leadership Team for the denomination, which will include the Annual Conference Officers and the general secretary. All ministries of the two boards will continue in the new organization.

The action does not affect the organization of Annual Conference or Standing Committee. Annual Conference continues to be the highest and final legislative authority of the denomination.

Resolution Urging Forbearance:

The Resolution Urging Forbearance brought by ABC, the General Board, and On Earth Peace, was adopted with one amendment. It reviews Brethren tradition and related scripture, and resolves to commit to practices of forbearance amid differences.

The text of the short resolution begins, “We find ourselves in a world where people are driven apart by deep differences. These divisions seep into the church, pitting us against one another in action and language. Yet God has entrusted us with a ministry of reconciliation.”

Citing 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 and Matthew 5:17, and giving a brief review of scriptural references to forbearance–Ephesians 4:2 and 6:9, Colossians 3:13, and 2 Corinthians 12:6–the paper also quotes from Annual Conference statements.

The resolution received a lot of discussion in the business sessions. Concerns came particularly from districts recently involved in conflict, with questions about whether the paper changes polity and would bypass district decisions. Others said it could be abused, and might keep Brethren from holding one another accountable.

ABC executive director Kathy Reid responded, “It does not change polity. This is a call to remember our heritage as brothers and sisters in Christ and hold each other in love.”

The amendment that passed was brought by a delegate from her congregation’s peace education committee. First it added the words, “We respect those who do not agree and continue in fellowship with them.” Then it added another clause to an existing sentence: “We preach and teach peace without separating ourselves from those who choose military service or otherwise question the official position of the denomination.”

The resolution was adopted on a show of hands, although with significant opposition.

Update to Ethics in Ministerial Relations:

An update to the Ethics in Ministerial Relations paper was adopted with several amendments. Mary Jo Flory-Steury, executive director of Ministry, explained that the update comes out of 12 years of experience of using the 1996 paper in the denomination.

Main amendments concerned pastors ministering to former congregations, and required congregations to study the denomination’s paper on congregational ethics while working on the hiring of pastoral leadership and during extended pastorates. Other amendments strengthened the paper’s call for ministerial leaders to live by high standards, and added a reference to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Several speakers pointed out places where they thought the wording did not go far enough in naming specific types of misbehavior and abuse. Those concerns did not result in any amendments to the paper.

An amendment was proposed because of concern that pastors could be abused by malicious anonymous complaints. The paper allows persons to anonymously complain and initiate a grievance process. However, Flory-Steury pointed out that if the complaint is taken through the full process outlined in the paper, the name of the accuser would become known to investigators, although kept confidential. The amendment was voted down.

Another proposed amendment that did not pass concerned use of pornography. Flory-Steury suggested that the issue was covered under general statements regarding integrity of the ministerial life, exercising a lifestyle consistent with the teachings of Jesus. The amendment was voted down, but the moderator quickly stated that this was not to imply approval of pornography.

Resolution on Slavery in 21st Century:

A Resolution on Slavery in the 21st Century was adopted, including an amendment made by Standing Committee that added a phrase “to change our personal lifestyle habits that support it (slavery).” A Study and Action Guide on Modern-Day Slavery that provides resources to accompany the resolution is available at

Resolution on Ministers’ Medical Insurance Crisis:

A Resolution on Ministers’ Medical Insurance Crisis was adopted. It reaffirms the value of congregations providing health insurance for pastors and their families, calls on the General Board to work at the issue in several ways, and encourages Brethren Benefit Trust to extend aid through assistance funds. It follows up on action of the 2007 Annual Conference to end the Brethren Medical Plan for pastors. Director of Ministry Mary Jo Flory-Steury spoke of hearing of churches that erroneously interpreted last year’s decision to mean that they no longer had responsibility for providing medical insurance for their pastors.

In other business, the concern of the Query: Conference Witness to Host City was adopted and referred to the Program and Arrangements Committee to coordinate with the host district; a revision to the Annual Conference paper on Unfunded Mandates also passed; a 4.2 percent annual adjustment to the cash salary table for pastors for 2009 was approved; ABC gave an interim report on its response to the 2007 query on child abuse prevention; and numerous reports were received.

In the report from the Program and Arrangements Committee, Annual Conference executive director Lerry Fogle reported that the financial situation of Annual Conference is much better than a year ago, and that the sum of $40,000 is being returned to the Conference by the 300th Anniversary Committee, which did not need the full funding it had received. “We expect to end the year 2008 well into a surplus,” Fogle said.

Five new fellowships and two new congregations were welcomed: Church in Drive Fellowship in Saginaw, Mich.; Faith in Action Fellowship in Delta, Ohio; Lakeside Fellowship in Smith Mountain Lake, Va.; Una Nueva Vida en Cristo Fellowship in Virlina District; Flowing Faith Fellowship in Stokesdale, N.C.; Puerta Del Cielo Church of the Brethren in Atlantic Northeast District; and His Way Church of the Brethren/Iglesia de los Hermanos El Cristo Camino in Southeastern District.

Because of time constraints, the moderator announced that the report from the delegates to the National Council of Churches will be distributed in another way, and that the Living Peace Church stories may be made available via the website.


El líder de las sesiones de negocios fue James Beckwith, moderador de la Conferencia Anual. El cuerpo de delegados trató varios asuntos importantes.

Resoluciones aprobando el plan de unir agencias de la iglesia:

La Conferencia Anual adoptó unánimemente las resoluciones aprobando el plan de unir en una sola corporación la Asociación de Hermanos Proveedores de Cuidado (ABC), y la Junta Directiva. La nueva organización incluirá las funciones del Concilio de la Conferencia Anual. Esta acción cambia el nombre de la nueva organización a Iglesia de los Hermanos, Inc.

Después de que la Conferencia adoptó la recomendación del Comité de Revisión y Evaluación para unir las dos agencias en una entidad legal incorporada, las resoluciones fueron presentadas por el Comité de Implementación, el cual fue elegido en 2007 para planear esta unión. Las resoluciones también fueron aprobadas por la Junta Directiva de ABC, la Hermandad de Casas de Ancianos de los Hermanos (los miembros legales de ABC), y por la Junta Directiva.

Al adoptar estas resoluciones la Conferencia también aprobó los artículos de incorporación y amendó y reformuló los reglamentos. También se aprobó por separado el reporte del Comité de Implementación. Se invitó a los delegados a que enviaran sus preocupaciones y sugerencias de los reglamentos a los oficiales de la Conferencia Anual o al secretario general, ya que estos serán revisados nuevamente conforme el plan se concretice.

El Moderador James Beckwith explicó que esta acción fue un “proceso legal para completar lo que se había empezado el año pasado cuando se decidió que se unieran estas dos agencias.” Esta acción combina las dos juntas directivas en una sola llamada Junta de Misión y Ministerio y crea un nuevo Equipo de Liderazgo para la Iglesia, el cual incluye los oficiales de la Conferencia Anual y el secretario general. Todos los ministerios de las dos Juntas Directivas continuarán bajo la nueva organización.

Esta acción no afecta la organización de la Conferencia Anual o el Comité General. La Conferencia Anual continúa siendo la autoridad legislativa más alta de la iglesia.

Resolución urgiendo tolerancia:

La Resolución urgiendo tolerancia, traído por la ABC, la Junta Directiva, y En la Tierra Paz, fue adoptada con un cambio. Reconsidera la tradición de los Hermanos y las escrituras relacionadas, y resuelve hacer un cometido a las prácticas de tolerancia entre las diferencias.

El texto de esta corta resolución comienza diciendo, “Nos encontramos en un mundo donde la gente está dividida por diferencias profundas. Estas divisiones se han filtrado a la iglesia y nos han puesto unos contra otros tanto en acción como en lengua. Sin embargo, Dios nos ha encomendado el ministerio de reconciliación.”

Este documento también hace referencia a la Conferencia Anual al citar a Corintios 2, 5:17-19 y Mateo 5:17, y hace una revisión breve de las referencias en las escrituras que hablan de tolerancia— la Carta a los Efesios 4:2 y 6:9, la Carta a los Colosenses 3:13, y 2 de Corintios 12:6.

Hubo mucha discusión acerca de esta resolución durante las sesiones de negocios. Las mayores preocupaciones fueron de distritos recientemente envueltos en conflictos, quienes cuestionan si este documento cambia la estructura de gobierno y si circunvalara las decisiones de los distritos. Otros dijeron que podría ser abusada, y podría prevenir el rendir cuentas.

Kathy Reid, directora ejecutiva de la ABC respondió, “No cambia la estructura de gobierno. Este es un llamado para recordar nuestro patrimonio como hermanos y hermanas en Cristo y para amarnos los unos a los otros.”

La enmienda que pasó fue presentada por un delegado del comité de educación de paz de su congregación. Primeramente agrega las palabras, “Respetamos aquellos que no están de acuerdo y continuamos la camaradería con ellos.” Luego agrega otra clausura a una frase: “Nosotros predicamos y enseñamos la paz sin separarnos de aquellos que escogen servir en el servicio militar o cuestionan la posición oficial de la Iglesia.”

A pesar de que hubo bastante oposición la resolución fue adoptada con una votación.

Actualización del documento Éticas para relaciones ministeriales:

Se adoptó con varias enmiendas una actualización al documento Éticas para relaciones ministeriales. La directora ejecutiva de Ministerio, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, explicó que la actualización es el resultado de 12 años de experiencia de usar este documento en la iglesia, el cual data desde 1996.

Las principales actualizaciones tienen que ver con los ministros sirviendo en congregaciones previas, y requieren que las congregaciones estudien este documento al mismo tiempo que traten de contratar nuevos ministros y durante el servicio por un largo periodo por el ministro. Otras actualizaciones reenforzan el llamado de este documento, el cual pide que los lideres sigan estándares altos de vida, y agrega una referencia a la resurrección de Jesucristo.

Varios oradores mencionaron otros lugares donde consideran que la redacción no habla detalladamente de los tipos de mala conducta y abuso. Estas preocupaciones no fueron suficientes para otra enmienda en el documento.

Se propuso otra enmienda por preocupaciones de que los ministros fueran abusados por quejas anónimas. El documento permite quejas anónimas las cuales inician un procedimiento para resolución de conflictos. Sin embargo, Flory-Steury dijo que si el proceso continua, el nombre del acusador saldría a la luz, aun cuando sea confidencial. Esta enmienda fue rechazada.

Otra enmienda que también fue rechazada se refería al uso de pornografía. Flory-Steury sugirió que ese asunto ya está cubierto en los comunicados generales que hablan de la integridad de la vida ministerial, la cual pide un estilo de vida consistente con las enseñanzas de Jesús. Esta enmienda fue rechazada, pero el moderador dijo que esto no significa que se aprueba la pornografía.

Resolución de la esclavitud en el siglo 21.

La resolución de esclavitud en el siglo 21 fue adoptada con una enmienda del Comité General que agregó la frase “Al cambiar los hábitos de nuestros estilos de vida que apoyan la esclavitud.” En se encuentra una Guía de Estudio y Acción que habla de la esclavitud de nuestros tiempos y provee recursos que acompañan la resolución.

Resolución de la crisis de aseguranza médica para ministros:

Se adoptó una resolución de la crisis de aseguranza médica para ministros, la cual reafirma el valor de que las congregaciones provean aseguranza de salud para los ministros y sus familias, pide que la Junta Directiva trate este asunto de diferentes maneras, y anima al Grupo Fideicomiso de Beneficios de los Hermanos a que aporte ayuda financiera. Esta resolución da seguimiento a una acción de la Conferencia Anual de 2007 para terminar la aseguranza médica para ministros. La Directora de Ministerios, Mary Jo Flory-Steury, habló de algunas iglesias que erróneamente interpretaron la decisión del año pasado como que ya no son responsables por proveer aseguranza médica a sus ministros.

Otros Asuntos:

La preocupación de la Consulta: Testimonio de la Conferencia a la ciudad anfitriona fue adoptada y referida al Comité de Programas y Arreglos para su coordinación con el distrito anfitrión; una revisión al documento de la Conferencia Anual referente a mandatos no financiados también fue aprobada; se aprobó un 4.2 por ciento de ajuste anual a la tabla de salarios para ministros; ABC dio un reporte interino de su respuesta a la consulta de 2007 referente a la prevención de abuso de niños; se recibieron otros reportes múltiples.

En el reporte del Comité del Programa y Arreglos, el director ejecutivo de la Conferencia Anual, Lerry Fogle reportó que la situación financiera de la Conferencia Anual está mucho mejor que el año pasado, por lo que el Comité del 300avo Aniversario está regresando la suma de $40,000 a la Conferencia ya que no usó todo el dinero que recibió. Fogle dijo que “Esperamos que para finales de 2008 tendremos fondos de sobra.”

Cinco hermandades y dos congregaciones nuevas recibieron la bienvenida: La Hermandad Church in Drive en Saginaw, Mich.; La Hermandad Faith in Action en Delta, Ohio; La Hermandad Lakeside en Smith Mountain Lake, Va.; la Hermandad Una Nueva Vida en Cristo en el Distrito de Virlina; La Hermandad Flowing Faith en Stokesdale, N.C.; La Iglesia de los Hermanos Puerta del Cielo en el Distrito Atlántico del Noreste; y la Iglesia de los Hermanos El Cristo Camino en el Distrito del Sureste.

Por falta de tiempo, el moderador anunció que el reporte de los delegados al Concilio Nacional de Iglesias sería distribuido de otra manera, y que las historias de la iglesia de paz viva estarían disponibles a través del sitio de Internet.

4) Conference elects Shawn Flory Replogle as moderator-elect.

Delegates to the 222nd Annual Conference called Shawn Flory Replogle of Western Plains District to moderate the 2010 Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., July 3-7. Replogle is pastor of McPherson (Kan.) Church of the Brethren.

Serving as moderator next year in San Diego, Calif., will be David Shumate, executive minister of Virlina District.

Other election results:

  • Program and Arrangements Committee: Diane (Newcomer) Mason
  • Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee: Linda Sanders
  • Process Committee: Ronald Beachley, Phyllis Davis, and Don Fitzkee
  • Committee on Interchurch Relations: Paul W. Roth
  • Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) Board: Tammy Kiser and Chris Whitacre
  • Bethany Theological Seminary Trustees: Nathan D. Polzin and Raymond M. Donadio Jr.
  • Brethren Benefit Trust Board: Jack H. Grim
  • On Earth Peace Board: Jordan Blevins

Appointments confirmed:

  • Brethren Benefit Trust Board: Carol A. Davis, Craig Smith, and Ann Quay Davis
  • ABC Board: John Wenger, John C. Grindler Katonah, and Daniel J. McRoberts
  • Bethany Theological Seminary Trustees: Frances S. Beam and Phillip C. Stone Jr.
  • General Board at large: Ben Barlow
  • General Board district nominees: Willie Hisey Pierson, Illinois and Wisconsin District; Andrew Hamilton, Northern Ohio District; Wallace Glenn Cole, Southeastern District
  • On Earth Peace: Benjamin Leiter and Joel Gibble

5) Boards reorganize in light of plan of merger.

The General Board met on July 14 to reorganize following adoption of the merger documents transforming the General Board and the Association of Brethren Caregivers into the Church of the Brethren, Inc. The new entity takes effect on Sept. 1.

Until that date the following executive committees remain in effect:

  • The General Board executive committee through Aug. 31 will include chair Dale Minnich, vice-chair Ken Wenger, Mike Benner, Susan Fitze, Ramona Pence, and Kate Spire.
  • The ABC executive committee through Aug. 31 will include chair Eddie Edmonds, chair-elect Vernne Greiner, Dan McRoberts, John Katonah, and Chris Whitacre.

Beginning Sept. 1, the executive committee of the new Mission and Ministry Board, incorporating both the General Board and the ABC board, will be made up of chair Eddie Edmonds, chair-elect Dale Minnich, Vernne Greiner, and Ken Wenger.

6) Standing Committee adopts statement of confession, commitment.

Standing Committee adopted “A Statement of Confession and Commitment” with the recommendation that it be adopted as a statement of the 2009 Annual Conference. Standing Committee is made up of the district delegates to Annual Conference holding meetings prior to the Conference, and adds sessions during the Conference as needed.

The action was taken at an early morning session of Standing Committee on Monday, July 14. The statement will come to the 2009 Annual Conference for consideration.

The statement was presented by a committee chosen by Standing Committee to formulate an appropriate response, after receiving a request for counsel from the Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee. The request for counsel came because the Conference exhibit hall has become a “battleground” between those who are for and against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, according to Program and Arrangements.

The request prompted a discussion in Standing Committee of whether the denomination should revisit the 1983 Annual Conference statement “Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective,” and the committee also held a couple of closed sessions on the matter.

The one-page statement opens with the sentences, “The issue of homosexuality continues to bring tension and division within our Body. We are not of one mind on this matter. We believe it is time to name that brokenness.” The statement goes on, in part, to confess brokenness, affirm the 1983 Annual Conference statement on Human Sexuality as containing “an honest tension,” and state that the tension “provides a healthy, if uncomfortable, growing edge that turns us toward one another and toward Christ rather than away from each other.” It also states that “the 1983 paper remains our official position,” commits to continue to wrestle with tensions in that document, calls for the avoidance of unkindness toward those who differ, and commits “to continue to seek the mind of Christ together.”

The “Statement of Confession and Commitment” was adopted by Standing Committee without opposition or abstention. Discussion focused on how to present the statement to the 2009 Conference and how to distribute it.

7) General Board affirms transition plans, sets 2009 budget parameters.

The General Board in its pre-Conference meeting in Richmond, Va., on July 12 affirmed plans for transition to a new organization pending the action of Annual Conference on the resolutions of merger with the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC). The board also approved budget parameters for 2009, among other business.

The General Board spent time reviewing the plans for the new organizational structure with ABC and incorporating the functions of the Annual Conference Council, and took action to affirm the transition plans. General secretary Stan Noffsinger announced that the board and ABC were both doing contingency planning in case the resolutions putting the new organization in place were not approved by the delegate body.

The board set budget parameters for its Core Ministries in 2009: projected income of $5,747,000, projected expense of $5,887,000, and a net expense of $140,000. Finance staff emphasized that these parameters represent the spending of accumulated net assets and one-time use of designated funds in order to avoid a much larger net expense for the year.

The financial planning team faced a difficult situation, said treasurer Judy Keyser, having to choose between the option of reducing program and staff, or the use of Core Ministries net assets and designated funds to reduce the deficit. If such measures were not used in 2009, the deficit would come to $381,000, Keyser reported.

Board chair Tim Harvey commented that the General Board is facing difficulties brought on by the economic situation in the country, including rising food and fuel costs, unmanageable travel budgets, health insurance costs, and the declining value of the dollar.

“Is ministry still worth paying for?” asked board member Terrell Lewis, in a statement of encouragement to the church to value its ministries. “I am frightened by this economy. It is scary news. But we have been called to do God’s work.”

In other business, the board received several reports including the recent work of Brethren Disaster Ministries, the upcoming National Young Adult Conference, and mission reports from the Dominican Republic, Nigeria, and the Sudan Initiative.

The board also welcomed international guests, recognized the service of staff, and board members who are finishing their terms with this meeting: chair Tim Harvey, Russ Betz, Jay Carter, Vicky Samland, and ex officio member Stephen Breck Reid, who has served as Bethany Seminary dean.

8) International Brethren attend Annual Conference.

A number of Brethren from other countries attended the 300th Anniversary Conference in Richmond.

Official guests of the Church of the Brethren General Board from sister denominations included Cristian Aquino Encarnacion, a pastor from the Dominican Republic; Filibus Gwama, president of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN– the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria), and Jinatu Wamdeo, EYN general secretary; and Ludovic St. Fleur, coordinator of the mission in Haiti, and pastor of Eglise des Freres Haitiens in Miami and the Orlando (Fla.) Haitian Fellowship.

Several mission coordinators and mission staff of the Church of the Brethren attended as well: David Whitten, mission coordinator for Nigeria, and his wife, Judith Whitten; Irvin and Nancy Heishman, mission coordinators for the Dominican Republic; Marcos and Suely Inhauser, mission coordinators for Brazil, and their children and grandfather.

Also at the Conference was a group of EYN members representing the Brethren Evangelism Support Trust (BEST), an organization of Nigerian business leaders who work to impact communities for Christ through their local churches. The group’s visit to the United States and the Conference is sponsored by Atlantic Northeast District, and Virlina District churches also will help host them during their time in Virginia. Paul Steiner, Monroe Good, and Earl Ziegler are helping coordinate the group during their time in the US.

The BEST group included 32 Nigerians. They were guests of the Brethren World Missions breakfast on July 15, where the speaker was David Garnuwa, BEST president.

9) Brethren bits: Job openings, youth peace team, district news, more.

  • The Church of the Brethren General Board seeks an executive director for the Global Mission Partnerships program. The executive director provides servant leadership to the Global Mission Partnerships ministries of the Church of the Brethren, including casting a vision for mission as well as development, implementation and coordination of global ministries. Preferred qualifications for this position include: significant understanding of mission theology and practice, with knowledge of relief, development, and church planting operations in an international context; mission or humanitarian service-related management experience; knowledge of cross-cultural adjustment, dependency issues, ecumenical cooperation, and interfaith challenges gained from working internationally; multi-year living experience outside the United States; multiple language proficiencies preferred (notably Hausa, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Creole, or French); demonstrated experience in conflict and crisis management; overall management experience with significant supervisory skills and budget development and oversight; demonstrated project management experience; expertise in group dynamics, processes, and networking with diverse groups of people; strong administrative and management skills to direct multiple program locations; seminary degree and/or master’s degree in a relevant international field; well-grounded in the Church of the Brethren heritage, theology, and polity; able to articulate and support the core values of the Church of the Brethren and to operate out of the vision of the General Board; able to articulate a personal, Christian faith. The General Board is an equal-opportunity employer and welcomes applications from persons who can enhance the diversity of the community. Review of applications will begin July 21. The board will seek to make an appointment on or before Sept. 1. Interested persons should request an application packet from: Office of Human Resources, Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120-1694. Electronic submissions of materials are preferred at
  • The Board of Directors for Career and Personal Counseling Service, a Charlotte, N.C., based MDC accredited ministry center, is seeking an interim director. The board is seeking the services of someone with the credentials and experience needed to complete vocational assessments with candidates for ministry and other clergy and to oversee staff. MDC accreditation standards require a minimum of a Master’s degree in some field of counseling, MSW, MFT, pastoral counseling with AAPC Fellow or Diplomate standing, psychology. Per MDC accreditation standards, “The Director shall have some practical experience in the church adequate to understand the theological and ecclesiastical concerns of center clients.” Training and credentialing needed to interpret the MMPI-2 is preferable but not mandatory. This will be a 9-12 month assignment. Inquiries should be made to
  • Brethren Volunteer Service announces the start of summer orientation July 27-Aug. 15 in Wenatchee, Wash. This unit will be the 280th for BVS and will consist of 19 volunteers. They will spend three weeks exploring project possibilities and topics of community building, peace and social justice, faith sharing, diversity training, and more. They will also have the opportunity for several work days in the local community and in Seattle. There will be a BVS Potluck dinner on Aug. 2 in Wenatchee at 6 p.m. for all those interested in fellowshiping with the volunteers. For more information contact the BVS office at 800-323-8939.
  • — The 2008 Youth Peace Travel Team completed orientation at the General Offices of the Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill., on June 6. The members of the team are Samantha Carwile, Gabe Dodd, Melisa Gaddison, and John-Michael Pickens. The group will spend the entire summer (through Aug. 15) sharing the message of peace and justice to camps and congregations from California to Florida. They will spend time at eight different camps and participate in Annual Conference, as well as the National Young Adult Conference in Colorado. The team is jointly sponsored by the Youth and Young Adult Office, Brethren Witness/Washington Office, On Earth Peace, and Outdoor Ministries Association.
  • Virlina District has designated Aug. 10 as a special offering Sunday for congregations to defray the costs of rebuilding Erwin (Tenn.) Church of the Brethren. The Erwin church in Southeastern District was destroyed in a fire after lightning hit the steeple on June 9.
  • The Northern Plains District Conference will take place at Hammond Avenue Brethren Church in Waterloo, Iowa, on July 25-26.
  • The Western Plains District Conference will be held in McPherson, Kan., on Aug. 1-3.

10) Elizabeth Keller named director of admissions at Bethany Seminary.

Elizabeth J. Keller of Richmond, Ind. has been named director of admissions for Bethany Theological Seminary beginning July 1. She has served as interim director of admissions since August 2007.

Keller is a 2008 graduate of Bethany and a 1997 graduate of Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind. During her time as a Bethany student, she was chapel coordinator and a member of the presidential search committee, student pastor of Northview Church of the Brethren in Indianapolis, and summer intern with the seminary’s Institutional Advancement office. Previously she was director of recruitment and training for Heritage College in Denver, Colo., admissions counselor at Colorado State University, and senior admissions counselor at Manchester College.

Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board, or 800-323-8039 ext. 260. Frances Townsend and Frank Ramirez contributed to the reporting from Annual Conference. Newsline appears every other Wednesday, with other special issues sent as needed. The next regularly scheduled issue is set for July 30. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. For more Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine, call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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