Welcome to ModCob Issue 4

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.

Issue 1 : Issue 2 : Issue 3 : Issue 4 : Issue 5 : Issue 6 : Issue 7 : Issue 8 :

Promoting Unity

The Church of the Brethren has many organizational components - Annual Conference, Districts, Congregations, General Board, Brethren Benefit Trust, and Bethany Seminary to name just a few. These groups serve us well providing effective ways to live out our lives together and serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

At times, however, the way we use or operate within these boundaries doesn't lead to the most helpful understandings of the Church as the body of Christ. One way this happens is when any of us suggest "It's not us. It's them!" Often times this manifests itself most in our protection of "turf" or keeping boundaries set and firm. This leads to separation and mistrust. I think this is one reason the redesign committee of the General Board discovered Brethren had developed a lack of trust towards the organizational components that are supposed to hold us together.

As Moderator I want to challenge all of us - pastors, district and congregational leaders, national staff - to act out of a wholistic approach to our denomination that helps promote unity, not division. We need to move away from blaming and instead accept responsibility that together we are all the Church of the Brethren and together we must work to build the church of the future. We are all on the same team!

Even when a church program or decision goes a different direction than where we wanted it to go, I want to challenge us to seek ways that we can continue to support one another and work together. As Brethren we affirm that the Holy Spirit speaks through the body but the challenge is in living as if we really believe that! Jesus always challenged those who entrenched themselves in fixed boundaries and ignored the common good.

Your Annual Conference officers have promised this year that we will do everything we can to promote and uphold the concept that all of us are one team, called forth to be the body of Christ. If Brethren question the decisions or directions of any Brethren ministry, we covenant to help support and clarify the rationale and context of that ministry using language and actions that build up the body, all of us as one team, rather than doing or saying things that might lead to more mistrust or division.

Likewise, each of us, in whatever capacity we serve, should serve out of a vision of helping the Church of the Brethren live out its faithful response to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unity in that goal will lead us to understand ourselves as the body of Christ with multiple organizational components to fulfill that ministry.

Let us remember the words of St. Paul: "Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body."

Together, we are the Church of the Brethren, the body of Christ. Let's live together like we mean it!

Covenant To Pray:

Brethren have asked me regularly, "Are you able to maintain your covenant for prayer an hour a day and a day a month?" Yes, I have although I have had to be creative in order to make that commitment. Airplane seats, rented autos, many motel rooms,host's bedrooms, even city transit systems have been my altars of prayer. I do best with solitude. But prayer throughout the day in any situation is really the kind of prayer Jesus wants us to have, isn't it? Because prayer is really maintaining deep personal friendship with God. Any time, any place ought to be our motto for prayer. But don't neglect focused time in quiet places. Your life will be different and so will the Church's!

1997 Annual Conference Moderator David Wine