Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Brethren participate in NCC assembly, anniversary celebration.

Eight members of the Church of the Brethren participated in the annual General Assembly of the National Council of Churches (NCC) and Church World Service (CWS) in Denver, Colo., on Nov. 11-13, at which the council celebrated its 100th anniversary. The NCC traces its origins to the founding of the Federal Council of Churches in Dec. 1908.

The assembly was held on the theme, "Jesus said...Whoever is not against you is for you" (Luke 9:50). Participants included delegates and visitors from the 35 member communions of the NCC and CWS. The elected Brethren delegates to the assembly are Elizabeth Bidgood-Enders, J.D. Glick, and Illana Naylor. Additional delegates included Ken Rieman and Becky Ullom, who serves on the denominational staff as director of Identity and Relations. Stan Noffsinger, Church of the Brethren general secretary, also attended as a member of the NCC executive board. Bekah Houff, a Brethren Volunteer Service worker in the church's Youth and Young Adult Office, was one of the young adult stewards. Jordan Blevins is a Brethren member on the staff of the NCC.

"This assembly had some of the best attendance of member communions in recent years," commented Noffsinger. "The spirit was encouraging and signaled a desire by participants to fully engage in the intentional community of communions the assembly represents. It celebrated at every possible point our common connection with God through Jesus Christ."

The General Assembly celebrated the past 100 years of Christian ecumenism and expressed "a renewed hope that the future of this communion of communions is bright," according to a release from the NCC. In business sessions, the delegates passed resolutions on immigration reform, the United Nations Human Rights Covenants, and calling for an end to the persecution of Christians in India. They called on the executive committees of the NCC and CWS to speak out on the current worldwide financial crisis.

The assembly noted the numerous messages of good will that member communions have received from international colleagues on recent events in the US. The delegate body also affirmed the young adult New Fire event that took place just prior to the assembly. The NCC Governing Board was asked to consider the creation of a young adult ministries position on the NCC staff. The board also received a proposal by the Racial Ethnic Caucus to devise a vehicle for working more closely with international ecumenical bodies.

Worship services were held in the Baptist and Orthodox traditions. An opening address was brought by Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York, who spoke about "Remembering 100 years and anticipating the future." Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, gave a sermon on race in America. He succeeded Jeremiah Wright as pastor of the church, and alluded to the controversy over Wright's relationship with President-Elect Barack Obama, according to the NCC release.

"What is unique about this moment is the reaction around the world," Moss said in his sermon. But he was disturbed when "pundits said now all of this racism is over," he said. "Every station we turned to said as a result of a person kissed by nature's sun in the Oval Office, racism is over. We are in a post wilderness moment--but we have yet to move into the promised land.... You have to make sure that those who don't have the same economic or education level are able to cross over into the promised land. Success is not defined individually, it is defined collectively."

The assembly concluded with a celebration of 100 years since the founding of the Federal Council of Churches. "For 100 years, we have gathered--or have been gathered--by God's grace," said general secretary Michael Kinnamon in his report to the delegates, "not to celebrate our achievements but to give thanks for what God has done, is doing, and will do to tear down the dividing walls of hostility that separate even the followers of Christ."

(Sections of this report are taken from National Council of Churches press releases.)

Source: 12/3/2008 Newsline

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