The 20th annual assamblea of Iglesia de los Hermanos (Church of the Brethren in the Dominican Republic) opened at Camp Bethel near San Juan, D.R., on Feb. 17 and concluded Feb. 20. Pastor Onelis Rivas presided as moderator. About 150 persons including 70 delegates from 28 congregations met together in business sessions and in Bible study and worship.
Earl K. Ziegler of Lancaster, Pa., was the main speaker for the conference theme on “Receiving the Promise” based on Luke 24:49. Jay Wittmeyer, executive director of the Church of the Brethren Global Mission Partnerships, was the official representative from the US church. Marcos Inhauser, a leader the Church of the Brethren in Brazil, also participated in the assembly.
Each session began with spirited singing supported by loud music involving drums, guitars, and vocalists. The singing was a way of gathering the people who came from all areas of the camp to attend the assembly, in an open air structure with a tin roof. Evening services continued to 10:30 p.m., with one night’s service ending at 11 p.m.
The three basic concerns of the conference were the need for a stronger youth program, lack of finances, and leadership issues. Called to serve as the 2012 moderator-elect is pastor Isaias Santo Teña of the San Luis Church, with pastor Mardouche Catalice of the Boca Chica church serving as moderator for the next year.
Attendance was less this year due to the geographical location of the conference and the threat of deportation for undocumented Haitian Brethren who have come to the DR to work in sugar cane fields and farm fields and in construction. The Haitians are invited to come to the DR and work but are not given any permanent status. The tension around this issue is greater since the Haitian earthquake in 2010. About one-third of the congregations of Iglesia de los Hermanos are Haitian.
The Holy Spirit was alive and well in the assembly and the singing was a foretaste of heavenly music. Pray for Iglesia de los Hermanos en la Republica Dominicana.
— Earl K. Ziegler provided this report.
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