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Statement of Concern

The Council of District Executives is comprised of those who serve the twenty-three districts of the denomination as professional staff persons. The council's representation provides a broad window of opportunity to observe and analyze trends within the Church of the Brethren from a local, regional and national perspective. Our conversations often focus upon issues related to the nature and function of the church. In recent years we have noted with concern the development of various divisive trends and attitudes. We believe the Church of the Brethren is increasingly becoming fragmented. Among the signs of fragmentation which we observe are:

  1. An increased sense of mistrust, disrespect and suspicion toward the institutions and structures within the Church of the Brethren. From our perspective, there appears to be a sense of competition between agencies and other entities of the church.
  2. The proliferation of special interest groups which have arisen to advocate for various causes and constituencies within the denomination. The statements, activities and actions of these advocacy groups have sometimes been confused with those of denominational agencies accountable to the Annual Conference. From our perspective, these advocacy groups can divert energy, talent and resources from the broader mission of the Church of the Brethren.
  3. A tendency to view the councils of the church, such as Annual Conference, as an arena for advancement of particular agendas. From our perspective, the emotional and spiritual energy appears more often generated around "issues" rather than our common mission.
  4. The lack of a common vision, understanding and purpose which directs the work of the Church of the Brethren in its congregational, district and national mission. From our perspective, there appears to be a lack of theological and organizational clarity and a heightened polarization which must be addressed if we are to faithfully serve and proclaim Jesus Christ as a body together.

These signs of fragmentation reflect a lack of commonly-owned vision and an absense of a sense of a shared identity. We believe this is the call of God to our generation to reaffirm our identity as members of the Church of the Brethren in particular and as Christians in general.

Therefore, we, the Council of District Executives, call upon the agencies and other groupings within the Church of the Brethren to join with us, for the first time in over forty years, to sponsor a broadly represented consultation on ecclesiology. The purpose of the consultation is to involve the Church of the Brethren in an extensive conversation which can help us understand and address the issues related to our current situation. This consultation is a first step toward a new and common understanding within the church concerning who, whose and what we are.

Adopted by the Council of District Executives
Boise, Idaho
July 5, 2003

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