224th Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — July 2, 2010
Above: Annual Conference moderator Shawn Flory Replogle (center at top)presided over meetings of the Standing Committee.
Standing Committee meetings aren’t all business. Below, members enjoy getting to know each on the first day of meetings, when the agenda included time for sharing, trust building games, and an evening meal together. Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford
Delegates from the Church of the Brethren districts are holding their Standing Committee meetings in Pittsburgh, Pa., from June 29-July 3. As part of its work this year, the committee received training to lead Special Response hearings in their own districts.
Special Response Process
Standing Committee spent a full day in training to lead hearings on the Special Response process. The training was led by Leslie Frye, program coordinator for the Ministry of Reconciliation, and Bob Gross, executive director of On Earth Peace.
This new process was set in motion by last year’s Annual Conference as an intentional denomination-wide discussion to last at least two years. It is intended to help the church address two particular items of business: “A Statement of Confession and Commitment” from the 2008 Standing Committee, and the “Query: Language on Same-Sex Covenantal Relationships” from Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Northern Indiana District.
The 2009 Annual Conference voted to accept both papers as “special response” items to be dealt with using a newly revised process for strongly controversial issues.
“This is precedent setting. We have not done this process before,” Replogle commented in his introduction to the training. He explained that the Annual Conference officers are “trying to make sure we do the process right,” with the goal of ensuring that problems with process do not undermine the endeavor. Replogle expressed hope that if a good process is in place, success will depend on the quality of conversation and the movement of the Holy Spirit among the Brethren.
“We are putting a premium on participation in the district hearings,” Replogle said. “We believe that participating–both hearing and speaking–is important to the process.”
However he added, “What we say at the end of this isn’t nearly as important as how we treat each other while we get there.”
The district delegates received training to facilitate hearings and collect feedback from members of their districts. They will fill out forms to share that feedback with the Standing Committee. The forms will be collected and summarized by a small committee of Standing Committee–the “Form Reception Committee” including Jeff Carter from Mid-Atlantic District, who has been a liaison to the Special Response Resource Committee; Ken Frantz from Western Plains District; and Shirley Wampler from Virlina District. The summary will be prepared in time for next year’s meetings of Standing Committee, when the group is scheduled to recommend action on the two pending items of business.
Standing Commitee members also are facilitating two Special Response hearings during this Annual Conference: The first on the evening of Saturday, July 3, will model use of the Bible study resource prepared by the Special Response Resource Committee (find it at www.cobannualconference.org/pdfs/special_response_resource.pdf). The second on the evening of Tuesday, July 6, will offer a model for a district hearing.
In addition, a report on the Special Response process will be given to the delegate body during the business session on Monday morning, July 5; and an insight session will be offered by the Special Response Resource Committee on Monday evening.
Standing Committee meetings conclude tomorrow morning, July 3, with an opportunity for counsel with the moderator prior to the start of business sessions with the full delegate body which begin Sunday afternoon, July 4.
–Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford is director of News Services for the Church of the Brethren.
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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