What marks reveal you as who you are? Your stature or hair color, your work or activities, your voice or your passions or your way of relating to people? Our congregation identifies as Church of the Brethren, but emphasis on the qualities that define the Church of the Brethren is varied!
A search committee has begun working here at University Park to find pastoral leadership after Kim retires. Part of their task is to describe the congregation. It’s both for candidates who may want a picture of the church and for the benefit of our own congregation as we reflect on identity and future mission. Over the coming months there will be chances for many to help in responding to questions they’re exploring. What are the marks that reveal who we are?
The wider church is also thinking about this, both nationally and beyond. There are eleven denominations across the world who have identified themselves as Church of the Brethren groups. Though each official structure is independent of the others, they are all part of the Global Church of the Brethren Communion, an association meant to offer chances for dialogue and collaboration.
As these groups reflect together, they’ve been invited to respond to a list of marks that may be associated with the Church of the Brethren. (This list is not a formal description but a grouping that reflects historical emphases.) They’re being asked to consider whether each of the characteristics is essential, important, or irrelevant. Responses will aid in future conversations among the groups.
Below is the list. How many reflect understandings you have about the wider COB? About University Park? About yourself?
–identifying with the Radical Reformation
— being a non-creedal New Testament church
— practicing the universal priesthood of all believers
— practicing community interpretation of the Bible
— teaching and exercising freedom of thought
— practicing voluntary association as an exercise of individual freedom
— teaching and living the separation of church and state
— being a pacifist church
— teaching and exercising conscientious objection
— being an agape church that observes the love feast
— practicing baptism by trine immersion
— anointing for healing
— being non-sacramental
— promoting a simple lifestyle
— practicing loving service to neighbors and the needy
— being a church in which fellowship supersedes the institution
— being an inclusive church and “welcoming the different”
— being an ecumenical church
— working for the preservation of Creation