|Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford|
|Annual Conference officers preside over Standing Committee. Moderator Bob Krouse (at center) led the pre-Conference meetings of the district delegates, assisted by moderator-elect Nancy S. Heishman (left) and Conference secretary James Beckwith (at right).|
Recommendations on several items of business were made by the Standing Committee of district delegates during pre-Annual Conference meetings June 26-29 in Charlotte, N.C. The Standing Committee is tasked with making recommendations to the Annual Conference about how to deal with items of new business.
Standing Committee also elected new members to the Nominating Committee and Appeals Committee, held a conversation with leaders of the four Annual Conference agencies and the Council of District Executives, and received reports from the Leadership Team, the Program and Arrangements Committee and director of the Conference Office Chris Douglas, among others. A special session was held about the On Earth Peace Statement of Inclusion (see report at www.brethren.org/news/2013/ac2013news/standing-committee-special-session-with-oep.html ).
Revision to Ministerial Leadership Polity
The district delegates recommended that the revision to the Ministerial Leadership Polity “be received with appreciation and be returned to the Mission and Ministry Board for revision in accordance with Standing Committee concerns, to be brought back to the 2014 Annual Conference.”
Standing Committee spent much time discussing the revision, with several statements of support for the paper in general as well as several concerns being raised. In an extra evening session the district delegates listed their concerns about the paper and brainstormed suggestions for ways the concerns may be handled in a further revision. Concerns centered in four general areas, which will be presented to the delegates: plural non-salaried ministry not mentioned in the paper, the mandatory makeup of the cohort for each minister, transition of commissioned minister to ordained minister, what happens if there is a change of call for a commissioned minister.
|Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford|
|A wooden cross lies atop an Annual Conference booklet at a Standing Committee table. Moderator Bob Krouse gave these hand made crosses to the district delegates as a gift from his congregation at Little Swatara Church of the Brethren.|
The revision of the document has been in the works for years, led by staff of the Office of Ministry along with other groups including the Mission and Ministry Board and the Council of District Executives. The paper presents the concept of Circles of Ministry (Calling Circle, Ministry Circle, and Covenant Circle), revised steps for the calling process for ministers, and the new commissioned minister alongside the established licensed minister and ordained minister. It details the credentialing process, gives history on ministerial leadership in the church, theological perspective, and guidance for related issues such as accountability of ministers, reinstatement of ordination, and receiving ministers from other denominations.
Resolution Against Drone Warfare
Standing Committee recommended adoption of the resolution, which comes from the Mission and Ministry Board and the Office of Public Witness. The resolution addresses the use of drones in warfare in the context of a reaffirmation of the church’s longstanding assertion that “war is sin.” Citing scripture and Conference statements, it states in part, “We are troubled by the quickly expanding use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. These drones are being used for surveillance and remote killing of people. In our opposition to all types of war, the Church of the Brethren has spoken out specifically against covert warfare…. Drone warfare embodies the fundamental problems that covert warfare entails.” The resolution includes calls for action directed to the church and its members, and to the President and Congress.
Recognition of the Church of the Brethren in Spain
Standing Committee recommended that recognition of the Church of the Brethren in Spain “be approved with enthusiasm.” The proposal to recognize the new Brethren body in Spain comes from the Mission and Ministry Board, after that body received it from the Mission and Ministries Planning Council. Nuevo Amanecer Church of the Brethren and Atlantic Northeast District made the initial proposal, following the establishment of churches in Spain by Brethren immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Nuevo Amanecer pastor Fausto Carrasco has been a key leader in the development.
Query: Biblical Authority
The district delegates recommended “that the 1979 Annual Conference statement on Biblical Inspiration and Authority is still relevant and represents the position of the denomination today. We encourage its ongoing study in personal and corporate settings.” The query was made by Hopewell Church of the Brethren and Virlina District, asking if the 1979 Annual Conference statement is still relevant to the denomination, given what “appears to be a great diversity in approach to the primacy of scripture in general and the New Testament in particular within the Church of the Brethren.”
Membership on the Executive Committee of the Mission and Ministry Board
Standing Committee recommended approval of a Mission and Ministry Board request for an amendment to bylaws to increase the number of members on its executive committee.
New members were named to the Nominating Committee including Ken Frantz of Western Plains District, who was named to an unexpired term; Joel Kline of Illinois and Wisconsin District; John Shelly of Southern Pennsylvania District; Roy McVey of Virlina District; and John Moyers of West Marva District.
|Photo by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford|
|Standing Committee met at round tables, as will the Annual Conference delegate body this year. The table groupings facilitate conversation and allow good feedback to the leadership of the church, offering a chance for delegates to engage in face to face conversation on a variety of business items.|
Named to the Appeals Committee were Dennis Garrison of Atlantic Northeast District, Marlin Heckman of Pacific Southwest District, and Gordon Chipukites of Southern Plains District. J. Hebron Quesenberry of Virlina District was named first alternate and Frank Polzin of Michigan District was named second alternate.
Jim Benedict of Mid-Atlantic District was named to the Program Feasibility Committee.
In other business
Revisions to the Special Response Process for strongly controversial issues were adopted by Standing Committee and will be brought to the 2014 Annual Conference. The revisions came out of the experience of using the Special Response Process for the recent denominational conversation about human sexuality.
For daily coverage of the 2013 Annual Conference go to www.brethren.org/ac2013 . Find the full text of business documents and a video briefing for delegates at www.brethren.org/ac/2013-conference-business-1.html .