2006 Annual Conference Preview


“For we are God’s servants, working together….” — 1 Corinthians 3:9


NEWS

1) Annual Conference to address a full business agenda.
2) La Conferencia Anual tendrá una agenda llena.
3) Historic photo opportunity for attendees of the church’s 250th anniversary.

FEATURE

4) Will there be a Church of the Brethren in Sudan?


For more Church of the Brethren news, go to www.brethren.org, click on “News” to find a news feature, more “Brethren bits,” links to Brethren in the news, and links to the General Board’s photo albums and the Newsline archive. From July 1-5, daily news and photographs will be posted from the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in Des Moines, Iowa; go to www.brethren.org/ac.


1) Annual Conference to address a full business agenda.

The 220th recorded Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren will be held July 1-5 in Des Moines, Iowa. Delegates will be kept busy by a full business agenda. Moderator Ronald D. Beachley, executive minister for Western Pennsylvania District, will preside over the business sessions.

The Conference theme, “Together: Exercise Daily in God,” from 1 Timothy 4:6-8, will be complemented by half-hour sessions during business on July 3 and 4 to engage in the denomination-wide study emphasis, “Together: Conversations on Being the Church.”

Other major items of business are:

“Call to Stewardship Education,” from Mid-Atlantic District, requesting “additional guidance, resources, and instruction for deepening our understanding of the stewardship of time, talent, and financial resources.”

Revisions to the Articles of Organization of Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT).

“Resolution: Divestment from Companies Selling Products Used as Weapons in Israel and Palestine,” from Fremont (Calif.) Fellowship in Christ and Pacific Southwest District, asking BBT to “divest itself from ownership of Caterpillar Corporation and any other company that sells products that are used routinely as weapons of destruction or death in Israel and Palestine.” The query cites scripture and Brethren tradition in asking for exploration of reinvesting funds in companies “doing business that enhances the quality of life for both Israelis and Palestinians,” and consideration of divestment because, “Caterpillar Corporation…sells to Israel bulldozers that are used to destroy Palestinian homes, farms, ancient olive groves, roads, and water and sewer pipes and that have killed several persons…. These Caterpillar D9 bulldozers are made according to military specifications and are sold to Israel under the US Foreign Military Sales Program.”

“A Call to Reduce Global Poverty and Hunger,” from the Church of the Brethren General Board, calling the denomination to help reduce global poverty and hunger by recommitting to the teachings of Jesus, revisiting the 2000 Annual Conference statement on “Caring for the Poor,” and pursuing the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations.

“Commitment of Accessibility and Inclusion Resolution,” from the Association of Brethren Caregivers (ABC) and its Disabilities Ministries, urging “each congregation, agency, institution, facility, and gathering of the Church of the Brethren to make a new commitment to enable all people to participate fully in all ministries….” The query asks the church to examine barriers that prevent people with disabilities from full participation and to commit that “all existing and future denominational office sites be modified or designed to follow the guidelines” of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Doing Church Business,” a report of a study committee elected in 2004, including numerous recommendations focused on preparation and training for Conference leaders and delegates and format of the Conference. “There is a clear need for significant change in order to enhance and model a discerning Christian community and the reign of God,” it says. Specific recommendations include training for delegates and moderators; congregational discernment about Conference business; “process counselors” and a Process Committee; small-group discernment during Conference; consideration of summaries of major dissenting opinions; holding Love Feast at Conference; and expanding the length of Conference. Committee members are Dave Shetler, Joe Detrick, Matt Guynn, Verdena Lee, and Dale Posthumus.

Also on the agenda: interim reports from the Brethren Medical Plan Study Committee, Intercultural Study Committee, 300th Anniversary Committee, and Review and Evaluation Study Committee; elections; and reports from denominational agencies and committees. (For full business documents go to www.brethren.org/ac/desmoines/2006business.html.)

At its pre-Conference meeting on July 1, the General Board has a full agenda as well, including a first report from a Brethren Service Center Ministry Options Exploration Committee regarding the center in New Windsor, Md.; a “Contingency Plan for a Military Draft”; revisions to its vision, mission, and core values statements; long-range planning; and finances.

For more go to www.brethren.org/ac. Daily news reports and photographs will be posted from the Conference in Des Moines from July 1-5, on the news pages at www.brethren.org/ac.

 

2) La Conferencia Anual tendrá una agenda llena.

La 220th Conferencia Anual de la Iglesia de los Hermanos tendrá lugar del 1 al 5 de Julio en Des Moines, Iowa. Los delegados estarán ocupados con una agenda de negocios bastante llena. El Moderador, Ronald D. Beachley, ministro executivo del Distrito del Oeste de Pennsylvania, presidirá las sesiones de negocios.

El 3 y 4 de Julio, el tema de la Conferencia, “Juntos: Ejercitándonos Diariamente con Dios.” de Timoteo 4:6-8, será complementado por sesiones de media hora durante las sesiones de negocios para envolver a toda la denominación en el énfasis de estudio titulado “Juntos, Conversaciones de como ser la Iglesia.”

Otros temas importantes de negocios:

“Llamados a hacer Buen Uso de la Educación” del Distrito de Medio-Atlántico, pidiendo “Guía adicional, recursos e instrucciones para mejor entender el buen uso de tiempo, talento, y recursos financieros.”

Revisión de los Articulos de Organización del Grupo Fideicomiso de Beneficios de los Hermanos (GFBH).

“Resolución: Sacar Inversiones Existentes en Compañias que Vendan Productos que Sean Usados como Armas en Israel y Palestina,” de los Fremont (Calif) Hermandad en Cristo, y Distrito Suroeste del Pacífico, quienes han pedido al GFBH que saque todas sus inversions en la Corporación Caterpillar, y cualquier otra compañia que venda productos usados rutinariamente como armas de destrucción y muerte en Israel y Palestina.” Esta resolución cita las escrituras y la tradición de los Hermanos al pedir se explore reinvertír esas inversions en compañias “que hagan negocios que ayuden a mejorar la calidad de vida tanto de los Israelitas como los Palestinos,” y que consideren sacar su inversión de la “Corporación Caterpillar” ya que ésta vende “bulldozers” a Israel, los cuales son usados para destruír casas, granjas, plantíos antiguos de olivos, carreteras, y pipas que acarrean agua y drenaje Palestinos, y que han matado a varias personas. Estas maquinas “Caterpillars D9 bulldozers” están hechas de acuerdo a especificaciones militares y son vendidas a Israel bajo el Programa Militar de Venta Foranea de los Estados Unidos.

“Un llamado a Reducir la Pobreza y el Hambre Global,” de la Junta General de la Iglesia de los Hermanos, está llamando a la denominación a que ayude a reducir la pobreza y el hambre global, haciendo un nuevo cometido a las enseñanzas de Jesús, al considerar nuevamente la declaración de la Conferencia Anual de 2000 que habla de “Cuidar de los Pobres”, e insistir en las metas de Desarrollo del Milenio de las Naciones Unidas.

“Resolución al Cometido de Accesibilidad e Inclusión,” de los Hermanos Proveedores de Cuidado, y sus Ministerios de Desabilidades, urge a “cada congregación, agencia, institución, oficina, y grupos de reunión de la Iglesia de los Hermanos a hacer un nuevo compromiso para ayudar que toda la gente participe plenamente en todos los ministerios. Esta resolución pide a la iglesia que examine las barreras que previene que la gente con desabilidades participe plenamente, y que se comprometan a que “todas oficinas y sitios de la denominación, existentes y del futuro, sean modificadas o designadas a seguir las pautas del Acto sobre Americanos con Desabilidades.”

“Tratando los Negocios de la Iglesia,” es el reporte de un estudio del comité elegido en 2004 el cual incluyó muchas recomendaciones enfocadas en la preparación y entrenamiento de líderes y delegados de la Conferencia, y en el formato de la Conferencia. Este reporte dice que “hay una necesidad clara de un cambio significante para poder mejorar y modelar una comunidad cristiana con discernimiento y el reino de Dios.” Las recomendaciones específicas incluyen entrenamiento de delegados y moderadores; discernimiento congregacional de los asuntos de la Conferencia; “Consejeros procesadores” y un Comité Procesador; un grupo pequeño de discernimiento durante la Conferencia; consideración de sumarios de opinions desidentes importantes; tener Fiestas de Partición del Pan durante la Conferencia; y alargar la Conferencia. Los miembros del comité son Dave Shetler, Joe Detrick, Matt Guynn, Verdena Lee, y Dale Posthumus.

También en la agenda: reportes interinos del Estudio del Comité del Plan Médico de los Hermanos, del Comité de Estudio Intercultural, del Comité del 300th Aniversario, y del Comité de Revisión y Evaluación de Estudio; elecciones; y reportes de agencies y comités de la denominación. (Para ver los documentos completos de estos asuntos vaya a www.brethren.org/ac/desmoines/2006business.html.)

Durante la Junta de pre-Conferencia de Julio 1, la Junta General también tiene una agenda bastante grande, incluyendo un primer reporte del Comité del Centro de Servicio de los Hermanos en New Windsor que Explora Opciones para el Centro de New Windsor, Md.; un “Plan de Contingencia en caso de un Reclutamiento Militar”; revisions de las declaraciones de su visión, misión y valores centrales; planes a largo plazo; y finanzas.

Para ver más, vaya a www.brethren.org/ac. Reportes de noticias diarias y fotografías de la Conferencia en Des Moines de Julio 1-5 podrán verse en las páginas de www.brethren.org/ac.

 

3) Historic photo opportunity for attendees of the church’s 250th anniversary.

Annual Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, July 1-5 will include an opportunity for a historic group photo.

Participants at this year’s Conference who also were at the Church of the Brethren’s 250th anniversary celebration in Des Moines in 1958 are asked to gather for a photograph. The photo session is planned for Sunday, July 2, at 11:45 a.m. following the Annual Conference worship service.

Please gather at the message boards in the Third Street Lobby of Hy Vee Hall to be part of the photograph.

 

4) Will there be a Church of the Brethren in Sudan?

The following reflection is by Jim Hardenbrook, interim director of the Sudan initiative of the Church of the Brethren General Board. He is speaking at the International Welcome Dinner at Annual Conference in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday, July 1, at 5 p.m.. He also will be available at Conference to schedule times for speaking to congregations or districts; find him at the Global Mission Partnerships booth in the Exhibit Hall.

“During a conversation in Khartoum last June, Sudan’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid, told me of a saying used in his village: `Don’t let this harvest pass.’ He was raised in the Darfur region of Sudan. His village subsisted through farming small plots of land. When it was time to harvest they could not allow disagreement to delay bringing in the crops. The harvest was too important. Lives depended on cooperation and hard work.

“Over the past 25 years the Church of the Brethren has, through thoughtful and ethical ecumenical work, planted `good seed’ in war-ravaged south Sudan. Those seeds took root. Now that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan in the north, and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement in the south, has been signed and is now being implemented there is a harvest ripening.

“The churches of south Sudan and the government are interested in designing a way for the Church of the Brethren to begin a holistic outreach there. The Church of the Brethren General Board voted in Oct. 2005 to move in this direction, calling for what has been named a Sudan initiative. Faltering steps have been taken but they do not match the magnitude of the harvest. Philosophical and personal differences have slowed us down.

“But the initiative continues to generate enthusiastic interest throughout the denomination. It seems as though this truly is a call from God.

“When Jesus saw a crowd of people that could only be described as `harassed and helpless, as sheep without a shepherd,’ he said to his disciples, `The harvest is plentiful…’ (Matthew 9:36-37). The people of south Sudan are harassed but certainly not helpless. They have withstood war and deprivation for years. Now they are willing to partner with us to plant churches, revive educational and medical services, extend commercial opportunities, rebuild systems of law and security, and work together at person-to-person peacemaking.

“The present needs are to design a strategy to meet the opportunities, recruit and equip workers, identify partners from other Christian agencies who will work with us, raise money, and–as Jesus said`Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.’

“Some say we have forgotten what it means to be mission minded but I don’t think so. The evidence shows otherwise. The Church of the Brethren is facing an unparalleled opportunity in south Sudan. An amazing harvest is lying before us. We must respond.

“If you need more information, would like to visit about the Sudan initiative, or would like to schedule a presentation at your church, please contact me at pastor.jim@nampacob.org.

“As my friend in Khartoum said, `Don’t let this harvest pass.’”

 


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