Newsline: Church of the Brethren News Service -- March 18, 2008 Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, News Director 800-323-8039 ext. 260 -- firstname.lastname@example.org
CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN GENERAL BOARD APPROVES
ETHICS DOCUMENT, CELEBRATES 50th ANNIVERSARY OF WOMEN'S ORDINATION
(March 18, 2008) Elgin, IL -- The Church of the Brethren General Board held its Spring meetings in Elgin, Ill., on March 8-10. Major items of business included a revision of the denomination's Ethics in Ministry document, a resolution celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women to ministry, and a joint meeting with the board of the Association of Brethren Caregivers and the denomination's Annual Conference Council to receive a presentation for a merger of the three groups. After the two boards separately approve or affirm the plan, it will come to the 2008 Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren for approval.
A revision of the denomination's Ethics in Ministry paper was approved, using a consensus model of decision making. The document will go to the 2008 Annual Conference as an item of business. The revision has been in process for some time, led by the staff of the board's Ministry Office. The paper also has been reviewed by the Council of District Executives and by legal counsel, as it includes sections on processes for dealing with complaints of ministerial misconduct. Issues and wording that received most attention and discussion came in a Code of Ethics for Ministerial Leaders, in sections outlining how ministers will relate to other clergy colleagues, how pastors will relate to former parishes, and appropriate congregational involvement of ministerial leaders other than pastors.
A "Resolution on 50 Years of Women's Ordination in the Church of the Brethren" was issued. The resolution marks 2008 as the 50th anniversary of the 1958 Annual Conference decision "that women be granted full and unrestricted rights to ordination." The resolution notes that, "Women have a long history of serving the denomination in ministry, and conversations about official recognition of their gifts extend back to the beginnings of the church." The resolution gives thanks "for the nearly 400 women who have served the church as ordained ministers over the last 50 years" and "for the openness of the church to the Holy Spirit, for the processes of discernment and discussion, for the slow and deliberate practices of listening to one another that lead, in time, to transformation." (Find the full resolution at www.brethren.org/genbd/GBResolutions/2008WomensOrdination.pdf.)
Also approved was a capital expenditure for a thermal ice storage air conditioning system at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., with the board directing staff to "boldly seek energy source solutions that reduce our dependence on commercial electricity and fossil fuels. Solar, geo-thermal, and similar energy sources should be given high priority in the General Board property master planning." The capital proposal from staff offered options for replacing the whole heating, air conditioning, and ventilation system of the building with more energy efficient and "green" technologies.
In other business, numerous reports were received including financial reports, a report from the annual assembly of the church in the Dominican Republic, a report on the upcoming National Peace Conference of the Historic Peace Churches to take place in Philadelphia next January, and an update on sales of the Gather 'Round curriculum jointly produced by Brethren Press and the Mennonite Publishing Network.
The General Board closed the year 2007 with a net income in its Core Ministries Fund, in pre-audit figures. The pre-audit financial report also revealed an increase in total giving to denominational ministries by individuals and congregations, but a continuing decline in congregational giving to the board's core ministries.
The board also has self-funded ministries including the Brethren Disaster Ministries (funded through the Emergency Disaster Fund), the Material Resources program that warehouses and ships relief materials on behalf of the church and ecumenical partners, the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center, the Global Food Crisis ministry (funded through the Global Food Crisis Fund), Brethren Press, and "Messenger" magazine.
Total giving to the board increased by 9.5 percent over 2006, adding in all individual and congregational gifts to all the funds of the board, and including bequests and donor restricted gifts. Total giving from congregations remained constant, when giving to all the funds of the board, donor restricted gifts, and district disaster fundraising was included in the figure. However, giving from congregations to the Core Ministries Fund fell two percent, a decline that continues a 10- to 15- year trend.
The Church of the Brethren is a Christian denomination committed to continuing the work of Jesus peacefully and simply, and to living out its faith in community. The denomination is based in the Anabaptist and Pietist faith traditions and is one of the three Historic Peace Churches. It celebrates its 300th anniversary in 2008. It counts almost 130,000 members across the United States and Puerto Rico, and has missions and sister churches in Nigeria, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and India.
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For more information contact:
Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford Director of News Services Church of the Brethren General Board 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120 800-323-8039 ext. 260 email@example.com
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