Welcome to ModCob Issue 1
by David Wine, 1997 Annual Conference Moderator
That's short for Moderator-Church of the Brethren. This newsletter has been designed for you, the church leader. Each month I will address questions that may have been posed to me during my travels as Moderator. You will be given my phone number, E-Mail, Fax & mailing address. Please feel free to contact me. I welcome your input and suggestions. I hope you will enjoy your future issues of the ModCob.
Season Of Change
Question: The Church of the Brethren seems to be in a season of change. What's your assessment?
You're right! Our denomination, like our society, is undergoing rapid change. Paradigm shifts, General Board redesign, downsizing, and increased congregational based ministries are changing our denomination's look and feel. In short, we are in the process of figuring out, in new ways, how we're going to live our lives and do mission together as the Church of the Brethren. This is troubling and challenging but it is also exciting as change and its resulting questions help us to focus on new beginnings. New beginnings can give focus and direction to our vision of God's call to the Brethren.
In this period of change, I believe that Annual Conference needs to be the stabilizing "umbrella" that holds together the fabric of our beloved denomination. Your Annual Conference officers are committed to putting extra time and effort into our tasks this year to enable the Church of the Brethren to move forward in September 96 with vigor and vision. We will give vision and facilitate discussion in the wider church to give direction to redesign that is being discussed and enacted at all levels of our denomination, not just the General Board.
In that regard, I am pleased to report on the first meeting between those agencies directly responsible to Annual Conference. Previously announced at Annual Conference in Cincinnati, the administrators and board chairs of Brethren Benefit Trust, Bethany Seminary and the General Board have covenanted to meet regularly with the Annual Conference officers to work at trust and communication in an era of change. At our first meeting we identified a number of issues for our next scheduled discussions which we feel will help move the Church of the Brethren forward in this challenging time. Such an "inter-agency" council has not been called before and it's another way you can be assured of the dedication and commitment of all the leaders you have elected. Future meetings are scheduled for October, December and March.
Overall, I'm filled with hope and excitement for the Church of the Brethren. Times of change promote all of us to reexamine our structures and our faithfulness. May the strong and sure foundation of Jesus Christ be laid in all that we plan, say and do!
Question: Do we understand a theme has been chosen for the 1997 Annual Conference in Long Beach?
Yes, it will be: “Count Well the Cost!”
Luke 14:15-35 is our key scripture. In addition to trust and communication, the church will move forward only with zeal and passion in our faith! We must all give attention to the cultivation of our spiritual lives as a first priority. Then we must reorder our personal and church lives to make seeking and serving Christ Jesus more important than anything else we do. We have to Count Well the Cost of our faith, to take it to a deeper and more passionate level than ever before. That is the future for the Brethren. That is why I've asked you to join me in a covenant of prayer and worship: One hour each day, One day each month, One week this year.
Then the cost of our faith will create in us the necessary zeal and passion to say no to the world's enticements and attractions and yes to the things of the spirit! Counting the cost calls us to greatness in our faith - away from pettiness and shallowness. Let others say of the Brethren. "They are a deep people!"
"In the same way, you must give up everything you have to follow me. If you don't, you cannot be my follower!" Lk. 14:33
Current Church Issues Addressed by Moderator Wine
Question: Are there any special challenges as you think ahead to Long Beach?
Well, for one, the 1997 Annual Conference is at the other end of our country for many of you - Long Beach, California. We know that travel costs for many of you will be higher. Yet in recent years, there has never been a more important Annual Conference in terms of the decisions with long-term implications that will be made by the delegate body. I really urge our congregations to recognize the importance of sending representation to Long Beach. It is part of "counting well the cost" of our faith and seeking out God's will upon our denomination. I hope you will give this your prayerful consideration as we need as many congregations represented at Long Beach as possible to discern together the future of our denomination.
Moderator's Travel Schedule
September 13th - 15th
S. Central Indiana District Conference
September 20th - 22nd
N. Indiana District Conference
October 9th - 13th
Pacific SW District Conference
October 16th - 22nd
General Board Meeting
October 25th - 28th
Idaho District Conference
November 1st - 2nd
Shenandoah District Conference
1997 Annual Conference Moderator David Wine