West Marva District Conference has adopted a query titled “On Earth Peace Reportability / Accountability to Annual Conference.” This query, initiated by Bear Creek Church of the Brethren, asks “if it is the will of Annual Conference for On Earth Peace to remain an agency of the Church of the Brethren with reportability and accountability to Annual Conference.”
In Southeastern District, a second query focused on On Earth Peace is in process and may be considered at a specially called district conference later this fall (see the Newsline report at www.brethren.org/news/2015/southeastern-district-begins-query-process.html ).
On Earth Peace is an Annual Conference agency. Beginning in 2011, On Earth Peace has received criticism for issuing a “Statement of Inclusion” that reads: “We are troubled by attitudes and actions in the church, which exclude persons on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or any other aspect of human identity. We believe God calls the church to welcome all persons into full participation in the life of the faith community.”
The Standing Committee of district delegates to Annual Conference expressed concern about the “Statement of Inclusion” in July 2012, when it released its own statement in response (see www.brethren.org/news/2012/ac2012-onsite-news/a-way-forward.html ).
Since then, the Standing Committee has held a series of meetings and discussions with the board and executive staff of On Earth Peace, including sending two delegations to meet with the full board of On Earth Peace.
In 2014, the Standing Committee issued another statement after holding a conversation with On Earth Peace executive director Bill Scheurer and board chair Jordan Bles. The brief statement said: “Standing Committee does not support the 2011 Statement of Inclusion of On Earth Peace as an agency of the church, but we will continue to commit ourselves to walk in love together in the face of differing interpretations of scripture and Annual Conference statements and decisions.”