At the beginning of December 2013, leaders of a number of Anabaptist denominations gathered for the annual Council of Moderators and Secretaries meeting. Attending from the Church of the Brethren were general secretary Stanley J. Noffsinger and Annual Conference moderator Nancy Sollenberger Heishman. The gathering was hosted by the Conservative Mennonite Conference at its Rosedale International Center in Columbus, Ohio.
The purpose for the annual COMS gathering is two-fold, said Noffsinger. The meeting is designed as a place for leaders of the denominations that share a common Anabaptist heritage to come together for exploration of scripture from their perspective. Also, it serves as a forum for the sharing of joys, accomplishments, and challenges of the church leaders on both personal and denominational levels.
“It has been a powerful and important gathering,” Noffsinger said, noting that it has been at COMS meetings in the past that these church leaders have done common work on the history of Anabaptist peace witness and conscientious objection, for example.
Noffsinger also expressed appreciation for the opportunity for church leaders to mentor each other and give each other support.
“As each leader shared denominational highlights and challenges of the past year, I felt a sense of great joy in the partnership we share within the Anabaptist family as we work toward realizing the vision of God¹s reign in this world,” Heishman commented, sharing from her perspective as moderator of the Church of the Brethren this year.
The COMS meeting for 2014 will take place at the new headquarters of the Mennonite Church USA in Elkhart, Ind. It will be one of the two ecumenical events that the Annual Conference moderator attends during the year, along with the annual meeting of Christian Churches Together in the USA (CCT). The next CCT annual meeting is planned for February.