Conference Officers Review How Special Response Decisions Will Be Made

Business sessions at the 2011 Annual Conference will include the new process for Special Response items related to issues of human sexuality. Photo from the 2010 Conference by Glenn Riegel

The following report from the three Annual Conference officers–moderator Robert E. Alley, moderator-elect Tim Harvey, and secretary Fred Swartz–reviews plans for how Special Response business items will be addressed during the Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich., on July 2-6:

During the past two years, through personal and congregational study, through Standing Committee-led hearings, through prayer, and in other ways, we have sought to consider how to respond to these two business items. They are part of the unfinished business for the 2011 Annual Conference.

When Annual Conference delegates meet this year in Grand Rapids, any Standing Committee recommendation to these two items will be processed using the five-step procedure described in the framework document. This framework document may be read as part of the Special Response resources at www.brethren.org/ac  or go directly to http://cobannualconference.org/ac_statements/controversial_issues-final.pdf .

Officers have scheduled the first two steps in this process on Sunday evening, July 3. These include presentations by Standing Committee regarding the background on the two business items, what Standing Committee has learned from hearings, etc., and what Standing Committee recommends to answer the query and statement. These steps are for information only.

On Monday afternoon, July 4, we will return for Step 3 which will follow a “sandwich” approach with persons first offering affirmations of Standing Committee’s recommendation, then persons presenting concerns or questions about the recommendation, and finally additional affirmations. During this step, persons may speak for only one minute.

On Tuesday morning, July 5, Step 4 will put the recommendation before the delegates for any amendments or other motions. Each amendment or motion will be tested with the delegates, who will be asked whether they wish to entertain that proposal. If so, then the proposal will be processed by normal parliamentary procedure. If not, then the proposal will not be considered further. At the end of this step, the delegate body will vote on the recommendation. After the decision, Step 5 will be a time of closure with the process and decisions.

When Standing Committee meets prior to the Annual Conference, it will engage in a similar process, first receiving the report from the Forms Reception Committee from the district hearings and other communications, then engaging in conversation around the report and the two items of business, and then formulating any recommendation to the delegate body.

This special response process has been deeply undergirded with prayer by individuals and groups within our denomination. As we come to Annual Conference, we continue in prayer for discernment, for understanding, for clarity, for unity, for forbearance, and for faithfulness to Christ. All who have engaged in this process love Christ and the church, especially the Church of the Brethren. May that love fill us with hope and promise as we gather in Grand Rapids.

— Annual Conference moderator Robert E. Alley, moderator-elect Tim Harvey, and secretary Fred Swartz.