Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Two-year special response process continues at 2010 Conference.

The Annual Conference officers have issued a timeline document to help explain the two-year special response process that follows a decision on two 2009 business items referring to human sexuality.

The two documents, "A Statement of Confession and Commitment" and "Query: Language on Same Sex Covenantal Relationships," triggered the use of a new special response process put in place during last year’s Conference. The new process is laid out in the paper, "Structural Framework for Dealing with Strongly Controversial Issues."

Replogle notes that objectives of the process include to have open and honest discussion, to provide alternative procedures for responding to controversial issues, to use the New Testament as a basis for conversation calling the church to continue in a life of study and conversation leading to spiritual insight, and to offer a way to both address a concern and build community.

The special response process will take two years. The moderator’s timeline notes that the extra effort and expense will be justified if the process helps the church commit to reconciliation, encourages mutual understanding, and helps people feel a part of the body and therefore willing to continue to support the life and work of the church.

At the 2010 Annual Conference, the process will continue with two hearings led by Standing Committee members, and an interim report from Standing Committee during a business session. Prior to the Conference, the Special Response Resource Committee named last year will issue its list of resources, study materials, and discussion guide that will be recommended for use throughout the denomination during the special response process. These resources will be available on the Annual Conference website after April 1.

Following this year’s Conference, Standing Committee members will conduct hearings in their own districts. Standing Committee delegates will have a training session on facilitating the hearings, led by the Ministry of Reconciliation, as a part of their pre-Conference meetings this summer.

The special response items of business are scheduled to come back to the Annual Conference in 2011. The document "Structural Framework for Dealing with Strongly Controversial Issues" includes a description of how this business should be handled by that year’s officers and delegate body.

"There is a strong sense of commitment to seeing that the process begins well," Replogle said. "Denominational leaders have taken this responsibility very seriously.... While it is not a discernment process per se, the process provides more space for us to hear God and one another, and to witness to the power of Christ’s community to engage in a prayerful dialogue that does not emulate the partisan debates of the world."

A link to the complete timeline document will be available soon at www.cobannualconference.org/special_response_resource.html. Questions or requests for more information may be directed to the Annual Conference officers via the Annual Conference Office at 800-323-8039 or annualconference@brethren.org.

Source: 3/2/2010 Newsline Special

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