Thursday, September 24, 2009

Leadership Team welcomes invitation from German church.

The Leadership Team of the Church of the Brethren dealt with a varied agenda in its Aug. 19 meeting at the Brethren Service Center in New Windsor, Md. The agenda included response to a communication from a church in Germany, follow-up to the 2009 Annual Conference, a progress check on the creation of a Moderators Manual, and issues related to updating polity and by-laws of the denomination.

The group provided counsel to general secretary Stan Noffsinger regarding an invitation for dialogue and relationship with the Evangelische Kirche von Westfalen (the Protestant Church of Westphalia) in Germany. A leader of the German church, Ingo Stucke, addressed the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Brethren movement that was held in Schwarzenau, Germany, last August.

In his message, Stucke invited the Church of the Brethren to continue dialogue with the German church on "our differing understandings of baptism and our differing practices of child and adult baptism." Additionally, he expressed hope that conversations may lead to "a reconciliation among us in our diversity ... as a testimony to the world .. of Christian unity."

The Leadership Team gave counsel to welcome this opportunity for further dialogue and relationship, and informally identified members of the Church of the Brethren who might take part in a delegation to the German Church. The Committee on Interchurch Relations and the Mission and Ministry Board will be asked to ratify and follow up on the interchange.

The decisions of the 2009 Annual Conference were reviewed and responses were sent to the districts that presented queries. The Conference officers are to follow up with Standing Committee regarding the two-year denomination-wide study of two business items identified as controversial. The Leadership Team learned that the committee appointed to develop related study materials already has begun its task.

A Moderators Manual called for by the 2007 Annual Conference paper on "Doing Church Business" is being developed by the Leadership Team. Writers for chapters have been recruited and nine former Conference moderators have contributed reflections and suggestions from their experiences. The Leadership Team hopes to have the manual completed by the end of 2009.

A first draft of a revision of the by-laws of the Church of the Brethren was introduced to the 2009 Annual Conference in late June. Since then, the Leadership Team has received several suggestions for refinements. The Leadership Team plans to review all suggestions and present a revised draft to the Mission and Ministry Board in October. A final draft will be brought to the 2010 Annual Conference for approval.

Members of the 2009-10 Leadership Team are general secretary Stan Noffsinger, Annual Conference moderator Shawn Flory Replogle and moderator-elect Robert Alley, and secretary Fred Swartz, who provided this report.

Source: 9/24/2009 Newsline

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