Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Agency executive committees and members of Implementation Committee hold discussion.

A previously scheduled meeting of the executive committees of three program agencies of the Church of the Brethren at the New Windsor (Md.) Conference Center, Aug. 6-7, took on new significance when members of the Annual Conference-elected Implementation Committee were invited to attend.

The Implementation Committee was elected by the Conference in early July as part of its adoption of recommendations from the Review and Evaluation Study Committee that assessed the program work of the denomination. Following adoption of the Review and Evaluation Study Committee's report, the delegate body elected a seven-member committee to address ways the recommendations could best be implemented.

Members of the Implementation Committee are the executives of three agencies and the Annual Conference Office--general secretary Stan Noffsinger for the General Board, executive director Kathy Reid for the Association of Brethren Caregivers, executive director Bob Gross for On Earth Peace, and executive director Lerry Fogle for Annual Conference--and elected members Gary Crim, John Neff, and David Sollenberger. The committee's task is to implement a transformation of the organizational structure of program agencies of the Church of the Brethren, specifically the General Board and the Association of Brethren Caregivers. On Earth Peace is involved in the process as well.

The meeting at New Windsor was originally scheduled to address ways the agencies could better collaborate on programs of the wider church. It quickly became a consultation between the three program agencies and the Implementation Committee. Although this gathering was not an official meeting of the Implementation Committee, it proved to be a valuable time of discernment for the agencies and the committee. Members of the Implementation Committee who were present said that the information gleaned will greatly inform their work.

The group worked through a process to identify core ministries of each agency and how the values and programs of each agency could be enhanced by greater collaboration with one or both of the other agencies. It was agreed that the mission and vision documents of each agency will serve to guide the collaborative work of the denomination during this period of transition in organizational structure.

A congenial spirit permeated the two-day meeting that was led by Glenn Mitchell, a spiritual director and former chair of the General Board. Stan Noffsinger, general secretary of the General Board, commented, "How wonderful it is that we have all shared openly and honestly today, and everyone is still present!" The two days also included an evening gathering for a time of fellowship and fun, during which participants sang songs popular in the church and society through the years.

A follow-up meeting with the agency executives, board chairs, and representation from the Implementation Committee has been scheduled to take place at the Church of the Brethren General Offices in Elgin, Ill., on Sept. 26-27. The Implementation Committee will meet officially for the first time in late October, and will bring an update of its work to the 2008 Annual Conference in Richmond, Va.

Expenses for the New Windsor meeting as well as the follow-up meeting will be supported by each of the program agencies, with some of the participants donating all or part of their individual expenses. The General Board, Association of Brethren Caregivers, and On Earth Peace all indicated the importance of continued prayerful and financial support during this time of transformation.

--Eddie Edmonds is chair-elect of the Association of Brethren Caregivers and appointed scribe for the consultation meeting. He is pastor of Moler Avenue Church of the Brethren in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Source: 8/15/2007 Newsline

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