Welcome to ModCob Issue 6

by David Wine, 1997 Annual Conference Moderator

That's short for Moderator-Church of the Brethren. This newsletter has been designed for you, the church leader. Each month I will address questions that may have been posed to me during my travels as Moderator. You will be given my phone number, E-Mail, Fax & mailing address. Please feel free to contact me. I welcome your input and suggestions. I hope you will enjoy your future issues of the ModCob.

Issue 1 : Issue 2 : Issue 3 : Issue 4 : Issue 5 : Issue 6 : Issue 7 : Issue 8 :

The Big Picture

All year we have been talking about change and its effect on the life of our denomination. In a few short weeks we will be working at several issues related to change at Annual Conference as listed later in this issue of ModCob. One of the greatest challenges we have in changing times is to keep what I call the "big picture" in focus. It is very easy to become fixated on details and particulars and forget purpose and function.

The picture of all pictures is about faithfulness and obedience to Christ Jesus. We should continually ask ourselves at all levels of the church, "Is what we are about to undertake being faithful to God?s call and obedience to the scriptures?" Beyond that the question is, "What are the end results we hope to accomplish?" Then, "What are the steps, processes, and systems that need to be implemented and put into effect in order to get there?" "What partnerships need developed?" "Who needs to be brought into the conversations?"

As we do our business in Long Beach, I challenge us to not lose our focus in all the details and verbiage. Let?s constantly ask ourselves what it is that we are trying to accomplish through the actions we take. Keep in mind the structure of our denomination and how the various agencies work together through the Annual Conference. Refer again to the earlier special edition of ModCob that reviewed our organizational structures. I urge you to become familiar with our denomination?s structure - to understand again the centrality of Annual Conference as the arena through which decisions are made and work directed to the other agencies of the church.

Lets keep the call of discipleship and obedience before us at all times. Most of all let?s remember Whose we are and to Whom our work belongs. Let?s remember the big picture!

General Board New Design

All of us are interested in the General Board?s new design and the actions that will be presented for Annual Conference approval. We remind you that there are several ways for you to obtain more information about the design:

We urge you to become familiar with the contexts and specific polity changes delegates will be making decisions upon before Annual Conference begins in Long Beach.

                MODERATOR'S TRAVEL:

         May 9-10     Michigan District
         May 31       Mid-Atlantic District
         June 1       Western Pennsylvania District
         June 2       West Marva District
         June 6-9     Virlina District

From Our Annual Conference Secretary, Anne Myers:

The Annual Conference business agenda is composed to three categories: Agency Reports, Unfinished Business, and New Business. Each category has its own unique processing characteristics. The following article attempts to explain each category of business in brief and outline the options available to the delegate body.


Each agency that reports to the Annual Conference is provided an opportunity to share with the delegate body how the agency has carried out its ministry during the past year. The written reports in the booklet are an historical account of activity. The reports do not contain any items of business and are not amendable. Time is available to ask questions of the agencies. The delegate body has the option of accepting or rejecting agency reports.


The 1997 Annual Conference business agenda has eight items of Unfinished Business. Four items are position statements being presented for final disposition. The are the Human Genetic Engineering and Fetal Tissue Use Statements, Deacon Ministry in the Church of the Brethren Statement, the Denominational Polity Statement on the Property and Stewardship Issues, and the Statement on Child Exploitation. All four of these items of business are amendable.

"The responsibility of the Review and Evaluation Committee is to study and reflect upon the performance of the General Board in terms of its purposes and functions as established by the actions of ...Annual Conferences. (1985-1989 MINUTES, p. 877) The report of the committee as it appears in the 1997 Conference Booklet is a result of the committee?s review of the General Board and its program over the past ten years. The Review and Evaluation Committee Report will be received by the delegate body as a report, and will be processed in a manner similar to the agency reports. The Committee has included several recommendations to the General Board in their report. However, they are not considered "items of business" for this Conference. Rather, the General Board will receive the recommendations as suggestions and any of them that the General Board implements will be items of new business at future Conferences.

The committee reviewing World Mission Philosophy and Global Church Mission Structure will present a progress report and it will not be amendable. The final disposition of this item will be at the 1998 Annual Conference.

The preparation of a response to the query, The New Testament as our Rule of Faith and Practice was assigned to the Standing Committee. An initial draft will be presented to the 1997 Standing Committee for their action. Once a statement is finalized by Standing Committee it will be an item of business for the Annual Conference for the following year. An answer could come as early as 1998.

Finally, one item of business, Query: Congregation Structure, has been deferred to the 1998 Annual Conference. It will appear in the 1997 Conference Booklet because it remains an item before the Conference.


New Business items are first heard by Standing Committee who formulate an answer for each item. Standing Committee has no authority to change any item of business -- it?s sole responsibility is to recommend an answer to the Annual Conference delegate body. New Business in 1997 includes three queries and one item from the General Board related to its redesign proposals. In terms of the queries, some of Standing Committee?s more commonly used answers are: to recommend that the query by adopted; or, to recommend that the concern of the query be approved but recommend a different way of dealing with it; or to recommend that the query be returned. Other answers have been used less frequently.

When the queries are before the Annual Conference delegate body as an item of business, the delegates may make one of these three choices; adopt the recommendation of Standing Committee; or, modify the answer of Standing Committee by amendment; or reject the recommended answer of Standing Committee and formulate a new answer. NOTE: the delegate body can amend the Standing Committee?s response to a query but may not change the wording of a query.

The New Business item related to redesign from the General Board will also come to the delegate body with a recommended response. Delegates will have the same three options outlined above with the Standing Committee?s recommended answer. The delegate body also has an additional option. Because this is not a query, but an item of business from one of the agencies of the Annual Conference, the paper itself is open to amendment.


All of these business items will be printed in the 1997 Conference Booklet, which will be mailed in late May. All who want to participate in the business process are encouraged to read the business items, noting any questions you might have. Delegate briefings are a good opportunity to learn more about the business before the Conference. Attend if you are able. If you have any questions that Anne might be able to answer, do not hesitate to contact her.

1997 Annual Conference Moderator David Wine