The Church of the Brethren Annual Conference affirmed board-elected and constituency-elected directors and trustees for the denomination’s Mission and Ministry Board and the Conference agencies Bethany Theological Seminary, On Earth Peace, and Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT). Also affirmed were district executive representatives to the denomination’s Leadership Team and the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee.
“We are in the third year of a five-year review,” said Cage, chair of the group. “We appreciate the work of our pastors. Seventy-seven percent of our pastors are serving less than fulltime. We needed to reimagine the compensation and working arrangements between pastors and congregations.”
The Outdoor Ministries Association (OMA) of the Church of the Brethren hosted a networking session during Annual Conference on July 2. Attendees were updated on the work of OMA’s board and member camps. Awards were presented to camp staff and volunteers for many years of faithful service.
Life, death, awe in the face of creation, alarm at the sins of humanity, anger, despair, lament, complaint, faith, hope, and love standing side by side–these are not only the qualities of the Psalms, but they are also found in the profound poetry of 86-year-old novelist, environmentalist, farmer, and poet Wendell Berry. Last fall, Joelle Hathaway, the new assistant professor of Theological Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary, taught a course about Berry’s Sabbath poetry, which plumbs the heights and depths of human experience.
“God Talk” can result in many different outcomes: conflict, terror, transformation, human flourishing, or human cruelty. So, he wondered, “Can theopoetics lead to more artful discourse? Can our hearts grow roomier and our lives become more radiant?”
The Standing Committee of district delegates to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference met June 27-30, in advance of the Conference. The meeting was held online with delegates logging in from the denomination’s 24 districts across the US and Puerto Rico. Annual Conference moderator Paul Mundey presided, assisted by moderator-elect David Sollenberger and secretary James Beckwith.
Here is a view from a participant in one of the online “tables” or small break-out groups that participated in the process of affirming the compelling vision statement.
Towards the end of his presentation on “Doing Church in Uncharted Territory,” during the Annual Conference business session, Tod Bolsinger challenged everyone attending to tell a story from their church’s history. The story could be about a hero, about “a cherished moment that is retold over and over again. One that says, ‘This is what we are really all about.’ One that says, ‘This was the moment when I was most proud of us.’ One that says, ‘This was when I knew I found my church home.’”
The delegate body of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference today voted to elect new leadership. The delegates voted on two ballots, one to fill open positions carried over from 2020–when the Conference was canceled because of the pandemic, and one to fill positions open in 2021.
Among other business, the board spent a significant amount of time continuing its work to align denominational ministries with its new Strategic Plan. Other top agenda items included a 2022 budget parameter for Core Ministries, recommendations from a team “re-imagining” Brethren Press, and the calling of a new Executive Committee.