Welcome to ModCob Issue 5

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 :

Church Shift

Have you stopped to consider how our world has changed in just a few short years?


Many, many more changes could be listed. Is it any wonder, then, that we as the Church of the Brethren must also undergo changes in our organizational structures to meet the needs of our congregations and our ministries?! I personally believe we will be changing our components more quickly than ever in the coming years. In fact, if we are really to carry out the work of Jesus, we must be willing to undergo continuous change and improvement.

My observation is that church structures are the slowest to change We are most reluctant to make the necessary changes. I think one of the reasons is that we confuse faithfulness to Jesus Christ with faithfulness to the church. Or we confuse the everlasting, unchanging foundation of Jesus Christ with the changes we need to make in the church itself. Let?s remember that as we make organizational improvements and changes, the message of Christ remains as the one foundation upon which all other is built. We can change our structures and our particular ministry foci without reducing our passion and zeal to follow Christ. Indeed, we need to see change as a way to make our ministry even more effective and long-lasting.

It is in our best interests to make what I?m calling this churchshift. In order to carry out God?s call each of us needs to help transform and improve our ministry. The General Board?s design changes are one step toward the Brethren churchshift. But that is only one component of our denomination. I also challenge our districts and congregations to recognize their own need for effective improvement and redesign needs.

The Annual Conference, as the umbrella over all the denominational components, is also examining how to be more effective in this era of great change. Again this spring, the Program and Arrangements Committee will be having a retreat at Abilene, KS (a great place for a retreat, incidentally!) to continue the work we began last year. As many of you will recall from its report last year, P&AC is working at a new model for time and length of conference beginning in the year 2000 at Kansas City.

I believe part of our responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ is to help our denomination at all levels adapt, innovate, learn and transform itself to fit the world?s constantly changing conditions. That is not to say we change our theology or the teachings of Christ. My reference here is to our structures and organizational life. The wonderful message of Christ is that it is an unchanging message. No matter how the world changes around us, the teachings and forgiveness of Christ remain intact. No greater promise exists!!

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever!" Hebrews 13:8

Annual Conference Meal Events And Insight Sessions

Program and Arrangements Committee took two actions this year to help delegates and attendees at Long Beach understand the church?s primary focus and ministries.

First, the committee asked the insights planning committee to only include insight sessions officially sponsored by one of the agencies directly reportable to Annual Conference, the General Board, Brethren Benefit Trust and Bethany Seminary. The committee felt that it was important to help the church focus this year on those ministries. We recognize that there are many other fine Brethren programs and ministries performed by other groups within the church. This was not an attempt to pass judgment on any of those groups but only to limit the number and focus this year.

The other decision was to organize meal events into two categories - those sponsored by one of the agencies directly reportable to Annual Conference and all others. The first category would be those meal events sponsored again by such groups as General Board, Brethren Benefit Trust, and Bethany Seminary. The second category would include other groups not directly reportable to Annual Conference such as the colleges, Brethren Revival Fellowship, Womaen?s Caucus, etc. The committee again was not placing any judgment on the validity of any group?s ministry. It made the decision to help conferencegoer?s understand which meal events are officially sponsored by an agency of Annual Conference.

Both of these decisions were made after having reviewed Annual Conference evaluations the past several years and noting the confusion that exists in these areas. We will want to hear from you following Conference your reactions to these changes. Your feedback is very important.

1997 Annual Conference Moderator David Wine