From the Worldwide Faith News archives

1955 Church of the Bretheren Annual Conference

From George Conklin <>
Date 27 May 1996 14:52:38

Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, June 27-July 2, 1995
Department of Communiation
contact: Nevin Dulabaum (847) 742-5100

General Board approves vision for 21st century 

A denomination centered on Jesus Christ, rooted in congregations and based on
relationships. That is the General Board's vision for the next century, which
it approved Tuesday. A process and timeline for the transition while
simultaneously downsizing also were approved.    
   But it wont take long for these changes to occur. The General Board will
redesign its programming, decide on the most appropriate location for its
headquarters, and then make all recommended changes - by January 1998.    
   The call for a change first was announced in February, in light of a
$341,000 budget deficit in 1994 and the trend showing the deficit could
increase by $200,000 per year. At its March meeting, Board members decided
that while finances had brought this issue to the table, a new vision
statement would lead them away from it. The board nominated five of its
members to serve as a Vision Discernment Team, which received over 400
responses from Brethren nationwide.    
   "What became clear to us as we started our meetings together was a very
discernible call for change," said Chris Bowman, convener.    
   Team members wrote a statement that they acknowledge won't satisfy
   "For the General Board to minister anywhere, we need strong congregations,
financially and spiritually, to support us," said Tracy Sadd, team member.
   While some questioned whether Brethren world outreach would be
compromised, Phyllis Crain, team member, added that there might not be an
overseas mission to administer if congregations aren't taken care of; thus, a
way must be found to further connect congregations to the work of the General
   The process of transforming the General Board will be overseen by a
Redesign Committee, consisting of Bowman, Sadd, and three non-Board members.
The committee in turn will appoint task teams to address individual issues of
the redesign process, and will work in cooperation with an outside

David Wine was called to serve as moderator-elect in 1996 and as moderator at
the 1997 Annual Conference in Long Beach, Calif.         Wine, a member of
Buckeye Church of the Brethren, Abilene, Kan., is president of Mutual Aid
Association, an insurance agency.

Five-year emphasis approved by delegates

Annual Conference delegates declared a five-year denominational focus on
ministerial leadership, as recommended by Standing Committee and the Annual
Conference committee called to write the Ministerial Leadership paper.
   "This focus will serve the entire church," said Robert Faus, staff
representative of the committee. "The five-year emphasis will make an
announcement now that ministry and leadership are important."
   The committee was to bring the finished paper to this year's Conference,
but asked for a one-year extension. 
   In a related matter, the Pacific Southwest District query "Set Apart
Ministry" was assigned to the committee and will be included in the
committee's final report.
   Annual Conference commissioned the committee in 1990 after a joint project
of the General Board and Bethany Theological Seminary focused on "Calling and
Forming Quality Leadership." Committee members were named by the sponsoring
agencies - Annual Conference, General Board, and Bethany.
   In other unfinished business, the committee for Congregational Ethics gave
an interim report to the delegates. The committee will give its final report
in 1996. 
   The Simple Life study committee reported it is soliciting stories of
simple life that can be put together as resources for congregations. The
committee will report back to Conference in 1996.

"It's a time of urgency that we have guidance on this issue," said Galen
Young, a physician from the Drexel Hill (Pa.) congregation, regarding the
assisted suicide query. "At a time when the sanctity of life is not lifted
up, we must take a stand."
   The query originated with the Liberty Mills (Ind.) congregation. Seeking a
statement on the issue, Annual Conference adopted the recommendations to have
the concerns of the query included in a statement on end-of-life issues,
which the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) already has begun.
   ABC plans to have a preliminary statement ready at its September board
meeting, and a final report ready for Annual Conference in 1996.
   Annual Conference delegates accepted a query on fetal tissue use and
elected a committee to update the 1987 "Genetic Engineering Statement."
Elected to serve on the committee were Karl Flora of Manassas, Va.; Clyde
Shallenberger of Baltimore, Md.; and Dennis Overman of Morgantown, W. Va.
   The committee will prepare a preliminary report for the 1996 Annual
Conference, and a final report for the 1997 Annual Conference.
   Delegates also voted to update the 1983 Office of Deacon statement; define
what nonviolence means within a "new world order" by approving a study of a
paper on "Nonviolence and Humanitarian Intervention"; and returned a query on
Ecumenical Involvement to Southeastern District.  

A proposed query originated by participants of this year's Christian
Citizenship Seminar titled "Living Our Faith in the Global Community" was
heard by the General Board's Executive Committee.
   The query dealt with workers rights, environmental pollution,
international trade, and ethical behavior of multinational corporations.
   Committee members questioned whether Annual Conference action was
warranted at this stage of the process and approved a motion to invite five
of the CCS attendees to the October General Board meeting to explore the

Two related queries originating out of Pacific Southwest District were
affirmed by Annual Conference delegates, but did not receive further action.
By following Standing Committee's recommendation with the
"Ordination/Lordship of Christ" and "Christ the Only Savior" queries,
delegates affirmed the 1991 Annual Conference paper "Religious Pluralism and
the Headship of Christ," saying it addresses the issues raised by the two
   However, delegates amended both Standing Committee recommendations. With
"Ordination/Lordship of Christ," delegates added, "It is our understanding
that not only all members of the church, but especially all those called to
set-apart ministry, should clearly affirm the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as
the only divine Lord and Savior."
   Delegates also voted to affirm the "Christ the only Savior" query, then
added, "We affirm the answer given by Annual Conference in 1995 to the query
entitled `Ordination/Lordship of Christ.'"

The church's new identity lines were launched at the Charlotte Annual
Conference through the KidsWall exhibit, the General Board live report and
printed report, a packet of resources for congregational use, and an insight
   Drawings from more than 100 congregations illustrated what the tagline
"Continuing the work of Jesus. Peacefully. Simply. Together" means to 750
children ages 7-13. Some 300 feet of display panels revealed the vibrant and
rhythmic ways children envision these words.
   In the General Board live report, narrative from the new "Another Way of
Living" packet and an original theme song by Lee Krahenbuhl formed the
framework for local and global stories of Brethren witness presented by a
cast of 40.
   More than 120 people attended the insight session in which the media
outreach materials were debuted.

Newly elected to the General Board are Krista Carter, Westminster, Md., and
Stafford C. Frederick, Olathe, Kan., as at-large representatives; William R.
Eberly, North Manchester, Ind., South/Central Indiana District; Edith Mae
Merkey Kiester, Thomas, Okla., Southern Plains District; and Gilbert Romero,
Montebello, Calif., Pacific Southwest District.
   At the General Board reorganization meeting, Kathy Hess was named
chairwoman and J. Rogers Fike was named vice chairman.
   Also elected to denominational positions were Kimberly McDowell,
Hyattsville, Md., to Annual Conference Program and Arrangements Committee;
Jonathan Steiner, Union Bridge, Md., and Donald Booz, McPherson, Kan., to
Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee; James Beckwith,
Dayton, Va., to Committee on Interchurch Relations; Raymond M. Donadio Jr.,
Greenville, Ohio, to Brethren Benefit Trust; Jim Bowman, Manassas, Va., and
Edward Poling, Carlisle, Pa., to Bethany Theological Seminary.
   The Review and Evaluation Committee members are: Joan Daggett, Tryon,
N.C.; LaVon W. Rupel, Stockton, Calif.; Curtis Dubble, Lancaster, Pa.; Andy
Murray, Huntingdon, Pa.; and Steve Reid, Austin, Texas.

Delegates at Annual Conference 1994 approved a five-year moratorium on
requests for policy statements concerning human sexuality. The sub-committee
of Standing Committee chosen to encourage dialog across the denomination
consists of John Kreps, G. Lawrence Landis, and Myrna Wheeler.
   The committee reported they are trying to encourage dialog through
education, resourcing, and support systems. 

This year's registration totaled 4,609 including 911 delegates, exceeding
last years attendance of 4,060. Offerings from the six worship services
totaled $54,506.85. 

Seven new fellowships were welcomed into the Church of the Brethren this
year: Salisbury (Md.) Fellowship; Waterford Community Fellowship, Goshen,
Ind.; Lake Charles (La.) Fellowship; Open Circle Fellowship, Burnsville,
Minn.; Living Gospel Fellowship, Elgin, Ill.; Hiwassee (Va.) Fellowship; San
Luis Fellowship, San Diego, Dominican Republic. 

Leaders from the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea in North Korea and
Reformation Presbyterian Church in South Korea joined hands on the stage
Saturday morning as both groups visited Annual Conference. The Church of the
Brethren is in a covenantal relationship with over 30 churches from the
Reformation Presbyterian Church. 

The Association of the Arts quilt auction raised $24,450, doubling its goal
of $12,000. Three quilts and four wall-hangings were sold. The "Williamsburg"
quilt was sold a total of four times, being donated back to the auction after
the first three sales. 

Skyridge Church of the Brethren, Kalamazoo, Mich., was awarded the Ecumenical
Award by the Committee on Interchurch Relations.  The Skyridge congregation
has played a significant role in providing shelter for the homeless in

Residents of the Charlotte metropolitan area have had the opportunity to
learn a little this week about the Church of the Brethren. On Tuesday "The
Charlotte Observer" printed an article that previewed the Conference,
mentioning that Charlotte would be host to more than 5,000 Brethren for the
week. The article also went into detail about other religious conferences
that are scheduled to be held at the newly-opened Charlotte Convention

Wednesday the Charlotte CBS affiliate aired a four-minute clip showing sights
and sounds of the Conference, featuring an interview of Judy Mills Reimer.
The clip ran on the 6 p.m. news. 

The Tree of Life appeared at Conference for the third year, with over 1,000
new members' names added on leaves as of Friday evening. The Andrew Center
encouraged Conference attendees to take a leaf home with them to pray for the
new member. 

Faith the Cow, a heifer brought to the Convention Center for several hours
Thursday, proved to be a hit with children and adults alike. While people
gathered around to look at Faith - brought in honor of the Brethren Press
book of the same name, a biographical account of the first heifer sent
overseas as part of Heifer Project International - many waited to get the
book signed by its author and illustrator. The 300 books brought to Charlotte
by Brethren Press quickly sold out and the second shipment of 200 books,
which were delivered on Saturday, sold in an hour.

Brethren Press also sold out of three other books: "Moving Toward the
Mainstream," by Don Fitzkee; "Brethren Society," by Carl Bowman; and "Little
Stories for Little Children," by Donna McKee Rhodes. 

Outdoor Ministries Association hosted its annual Run/Walk on Thursday morning
with 50 participants. Doug Miller and Frances Bourne finished first in the
run; Jerry Crouse and Mari Cunningham finished second; and Chris Eberly and
Karla Boyers finished third. More than $900 was raised to benefit Outdoor
Ministries and Habitat for Humanity. 

SERRV reported over $33,000 in sales the week - $5,000 more than at Annual
Conference in Wichita. 

Annual Conference will be wrapped-up on video, and so will the character
portrayals that began the business sessions. To order either video, call
(800) 441-3712.


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