The Standing Committee of district delegates to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference is holding a series of meetings via Zoom in order to handle additional tasks assigned last year. (See the Newsline report from the July 2022 meetings of Standing Committee at www.brethren.org/news/2022/standing-committee-makes-recommendations.)
A Zoom meeting on Feb. 28 was taken up with discussion of how to follow up on this recommendation, adopted by Standing Committee last July: “Theological differences around human sexuality have too often been manifested in bullying, violence, and a general sense of dismissal toward one another and specifically toward our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. We must redouble our efforts to live out these differences, as individuals and through our systems of governance, in ways that preserve the humanity, dignity, and deeply held spiritual convictions of all. Harsh, dismissive, unloving, and unforgiving behaviors toward one another cannot have a home among us. We recommend that a first step toward healing be taken through Standing Committee leading a significant intentional time of confession and repentance as part of Annual Conference 2023 around this specific point of failure in our relationships with one another. As is so well stated in James 5:16: ‘Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.’”
Please pray… For the work of the Standing Committee.
On Feb. 28, a subcommittee charged with planning the “time of confession and repentance” reported back, sharing responses received from other Standing Committee members about the planned service.
The ensuing discussion revealed sharp differences among the district delegates. Conversation ranged from what should be done with the proposed time at the 2023 Conference and how and when it should be carried out in the Conference schedule, to deeper questions about what the nature of the “confession and repentance” should be and whether the plan met the mandate of the original recommendation.
Two votes were taken: first to identify three possible ways to move forward, and second to postpone a decision on those three possibilities until March 7, when Standing Committee holds its next Zoom meeting.
The three ways to move forward, as recorded by Conference director Rhonda Pittman Gingrich:
- “Proceed with the service developed by the subcommittee.” A note about the intent of the first option: To proceed with the service of confession and repentance planned by the subcommittee, a service intentionally designed to allow an opportunity for personal confession around our failure in our relationships with one another.
- “Admit that we are not ready for a service of confession and repentance in relation to the exclusion experienced by our LGBTQIA brothers and sisters and failure in our relationships with one another.”
- “Simply read the recommendation adopted by the 2022 Standing Committee and provide for a time of silence for reflection and confession.”
Present at the Feb. 28 meeting were 29 of 33 voting members of Standing Committee. Annual Conference moderator Tim McElwee presided, assisted by moderator-elect Madalyn Metzger and secretary David Shumate. The gallery ranged from 18 to 20 people throughout the meeting.
The next Standing Committee meeting takes place on March 7 at 8 p.m. (Eastern time) and is open to the public. Click the link below to join the webinar:
Webinar ID: 894 1329 2934
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International numbers available: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcSAaWR2B
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