Together let us be Jesus in the neighborhood

By David A. Steele, general secretary of the Church of the Brethren

Together, we concluded a four-year process of discernment earlier this year as the Annual Conference delegates virtually affirmed the compelling vision. Our Jesus in the neighborhood vision statement is now our Church of the Brethren vision.

Together, we met in various settings across the country these last years to discuss and discern questions about scripture, our faith, and Church of the Brethren values. The intent was not only to create a new vision that would call us to a new life together, a vision where Jesus is central, but to change the focus and tone of our internal discourse, attending to God’s Spirit moving among us, intentionally seeking to identify that which unites us and to discern that which God is calling us to be and do as the body of Christ in these times.

Together, it is important to acknowledge that some continue to have concerns that the vision did not address what they thought needed to be addressed; however, may it be our deepest hope that by God’s grace, every congregation, every member can find something in the vision affirmed at Annual Conference in 2021 to inspire them as we seek to step boldly into the future.

Graphic designed by Donita Keister and Nicole Keister-Hornig

With the conclusion of the process, the Compelling Vision Team laments that:

— There was not more enthusiastic support for the vision.

— There was so much misunderstanding of and distrust around the process for affirming the vision.

— Follow-up communication has not faithfully and fully conveyed the range of support expressed by the four options.

However, the Compelling Vision Team is also grateful for and rejoices in:

— The prayerful support they felt throughout the process.

— The faithful and broad engagement of so many across the denomination throughout the process.

— God’s Spirit moving among us as we turned our attention to God’s presence, activity, and guidance in our life together.

Together, let us express our deep gratitude to the members of the Compelling Vision Team for their investment of time, talents, and their deep love for Christ and his church: Michaela Alphonse, Kevin Daggett, Brian Messler, Alan Stucky, Kay Weaver, John Jantzi, Colleen Michael, Donita Keister, Samuel Sarpiya, Paul Mundey, Chris Douglas, and Rhonda Pittman Gingrich.

Together, may we commit ourselves to attend to the tough issues and differences we may have with our sisters and brothers in Christ through graceful hospitality, prayer, and Matthew 18 engagement.

Together, may we as congregations, districts, and the denomination move forward and live into the vision with faithfulness, passion, and ingenuity–for the glory of God and our neighbor’s good.

Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.

Together, as we seek to live into the vision, denominational leadership wants to know how they can best support and resource congregations. We invite your continued input and engagement around implementation as we seek to unite around a common mission.

Together, as we step into 2022, let us with conviction and intentionality, be Jesus in our neighborhoods!

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