224th Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — July 4, 2010
Four new churches were welcomed Sunday afternoon–one as a congregation, three as fellowships. They were officially welcomed at the beginning of the business session so that their delegates could be seated in the delegate body.
Iglesia de los Hermanos Christo Nuestro Paz, in Yahuecas, PR, was welcomed as a congregation. Common Spirit Fellowship in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul) area of Minnesota; Cornerstone Church of the Brethren in Preble County, Ohio; and Way of Hope Ministry in Western Pennsylvania District were welcomed as new fellowships.
After the business session, a reception with cheese and crackers was held to provide an informal setting for meeting and greeting representatives from these new churches.
Also during the business session on Sunday afternoon the New Church Development Committee and Jonathan Shively, executive director of Congregational Life Ministries, reported on the vision of 250 new churches being planted across the denomination by 2015. The New Church Development committee includes Don Mitchell, Lynda Devore, David Shumate, Ruben Deoleo, and Steve Gregory.
On hearing this goal, some voices have been supportive and others have been skeptical, saying a struggling denomination should not be starting churches–or dismissively saying, “We have tried this before and it hasn’t worked yet.”
These attitudes do not change the vision of the New Church Development Committee. They arrived at the goal of 250 new churches during a prayerful retreat in 2008, in which they allowed themselves to dream and hope about both new church planting and the revitalization of established churches.
The committee challenged the delegate body with the question, What if we released our imaginations to join God with what God is doing in the world? This is a faith based on Paul’s words 1Cor 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”
Shumate reminded the Conference that it is the responsibility of districts and local congregations to plant churches. The denomination’s role is to support the districts and congregations, and the churches they plant.
The New Church Development Committee continues to provide support by providing training–such as the recent Church Planting Conference–assessment, coaching, and encouragement. As the districts work toward planting 250 churches, a number that would represent each district planting two churches a year over the next five years, everyone can offer support through gifts of time, money, and encouragement.
–Karen Garrett is managing editor of “Brethren Life and Thought.”
The News Team for the 2010 Annual Conference includes writers Karen Garrett, Frank Ramirez, Frances Townsend; photographers Kay Guyer, Justin Hollenberg, Keith Hollenberg, Glenn Riegel; website staff Amy Heckert and Jan Fischer Bachman; and news director and editor Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
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