Page 1 - Congregational Withdrawal
P. 1

                                     FROM THE CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN
                                    SOUTHERN PENNSYLVANIA DISTRICT

            It is the desire of the Southern Pennsylvania District that any congregation experiencing
            conflict or uncertainty about remaining in the Church of the Brethren will be open and receptive
            to dialogue and discernment about those issues.  The District further desires that those issues
            can be resolved in such a way that congregations may remain in full fellowship with the District
            and the denomination.

            In the event that an agreeable resolution is not achieved, it is the desire of the District that the
            withdrawing congregation and the Church of the Brethren may separate in an orderly manner
            and with grace and prayers for the well-being of one another.

            Denominational polity, which cannot be changed by Districts apart from utilizing the Annual
            Conference query process, emphasizes the unity of congregations, Districts, and the
            denomination as a whole.  It does not give a specific process or guidelines on exactly how a
            congregation may conduct a vote to withdraw or what the involvement of the District should be
            in that process.  However, there is general guidance which can be gleaned from a study of the
            2016 Manual of Organization and Polity that can assist the District in developing an orderly
            process for congregations to withdraw.  As a foundation for the Guidelines for Congregational
            Withdrawal which concludes this document, the pertinent sections of the 2016 Manual of
            Organization and Polity are quoted and referenced below.


               Annual Conference 2004 approved the report of a study committee assigned to examine a
               query asking how congregations can disagree with Annual Conference decisions yet
               remain, as much as possible, in unbroken fellowship with their sister congregations,
               including how district boards should respond in these situations. The paper needs to be
               read in its entirety to get the full background and impact of the report. The following is the
               section giving suggestions for process and guidance to the district for its response to
               disagreeing congregations.

                   Because congregations may disagree with Annual Conference decisions, it is
                   appropriate to consider a process when disagreement is evident. Since disagreement is
                   heavily impacted by individual and unique circumstances and often must be considered
                   on a case-by-case basis, the following is not intended as polity to be applied unilaterally

            1   2016 Manual of Organization and Polity, Chapter 3, The District, IV, A-B, pg. 19-20.  This outlines
               the process by which congregations that disagree with an Annual Conference decision or policy can
               express their disagreement and work with their District leadership to arrive at an agreeable means
               of maintaining unity.  It does not specifically address the departure of congregations from the

                                                            - 1 -
   1   2   3   4   5   6