Committee Studying Ecumenism Seeks Responses to Survey

By Nancy Miner

The Annual Conference study committee on a Vision of Ecumenism for the 21st Century is conducting a survey of the delegates of Annual Conference 2013, Young Adult Conference participants, those involved in district ministry, and Mission and Ministry Board members as it prepares to write a Church of the Brethren vision paper on ecumenism.

The long-standing Committee on Interchurch Relations (CIR) was discontinued by Annual Conference action in 2012, and the Mission and Ministry Board and denominational Leadership Team were directed to appoint a study committee to write the vision paper. The committee, made up of Tim Speicher (chair), Liz Bidgood Enders, Wanda Haynes, Jennifer Hosler, David Shumate, Larry Ulrich, and general secretary Stan Noffsinger, began its work in June 2013.

Larry Ulrich served on the committee until the time of his death in Dec. 2013. “Larry brought to our committee a lifetime of participation in not only the ecumenical movement of the Church of the Brethren, but also the interfaith engagement of the church in the city of Chicago,” said general secretary Stan Noffsinger. “He had developed an acute expertise in the importance of interfaith communication and relationships, which the committee will sorely miss.”

The online survey, distributed via e-mail on May 15, invites survey participants to consider the topic of Christian and interfaith relationships from an individual perspective, from a congregation’s perspective, and from the perspective of the church at large. Insight garnered from the survey will inform the committee’s work in writing the paper, which it plans to present at the 2015 Annual Conference.

In addition to the survey, two insight sessions will be held during this year’s Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio, to provide the opportunity for open conversation about the blessings and challenges of ecumenical connections. Members of the study committee will lead the sessions, which will take place at 9 p.m. on Friday, July 4, and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 5.

See www.brethren.org/ac/2014/documents/business-items/2104-ub4-a-vision-of-ecumenism.pdf for the committee’s report to the 2014 Annual Conference.

— Nancy Miner is office manager for the Office of the General Secretary of the Church of the Brethren.