"A Resolution Urging Forbearance" has been approved by the boards of the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC)--which initiated the resolution--and the General Board and On Earth Peace. ABC asked for support for the resolution from the General Board and On Earth Peace at meetings last fall.
The ABC board shared the paper as "a great concern" and hoped to "take a strong statement to the body of Annual Conference," according to comments by the agency’s executive director Kathy Reid at the October meeting of the General Board. She described the resolution as pointing to the importance of forebearance in the church, and calling for recognition of the time it takes for the church to work through difficult issues.
After the resolution met with a mixed reaction from the General Board, the group voted to receive the document for the purpose of collaboration among the three agencies. A joint committee including members from the boards of the three agencies was then formed to continue work on refinement of the wording. Russell Betz and Tim Harvey from the General Board met on a conference call with Eddie Edmonds and John Katonah of the ABC board and Bev Weaver of the On Earth Peace board.
The General Board approved a recommendation from its executive committee to adopt the revised resolution on Jan. 31, acting by an e-mail vote. The On Earth Peace board adopted the resolution by action of the executive committee, working by conference call and e-mail in January. The document will come to the 2008 Annual Conference.
The text of the short resolution begins, "We find ourselves in a world where people are driven apart by deep differences. These divisions seep into the church, pitting us against one another in action and language. Yet God has entrusted us with a ministry of reconciliation."
Citing 2 Corinthians 5:17-19 and Matthew 5:17, and giving a brief review of scriptural references to forbearance--Ephesians 4:2 and 6:9, Colossians 3:13, and 2 Corinthians 12:6–the paper also quotes from Annual Conference statements and offers an overview of Brethren tradition and history with regard to the practice of forbearance in the church.
"In the ministry of reconciliation we are called to love and care for each other before we are called to correct one another. Before we are conservative, liberal, evangelical, progressive, or any one of the many labels we put on one another, we are children of God and brothers and sisters in the church," the document continues.
In closing it offers five specific resolutions:
- "That we commit ourselves to forbearance which recognizes and respects differences of opinion and differing degrees of spiritual insight. We will show deference in disputable matters (Romans 14:1) while practicing prayerful study and conversation in core beliefs";
- "That we agree to see our differences, not as discord, but as the blessing which can come when we openly discuss our disagreements, address our conflicts, and share our faith perspectives";
- "That, with our forbearers, we continue to treasure both faithfulness to truth and openness to new light";
- "In all circumstances, we will embrace our commitment to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ as equally important to our other theological beliefs (1 Corinthians 13:1-8; Ephesians 4:32)"; and
- "That we pledge ourselves on matters where we are not of one mind to let the Holy Spirit draw us together to be of one heart"
Source: 02/13/2008 Newsline