Continuing the work of Jesus : Peacefully ~ Simply ~ Together

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Our denomination loves to fellowship, exchanging opinions and points of view in the vast arena of ideas. The technologies of cyberspace afford the Church of the Brethren an opportunity for large scale discussion as never before. Instead of being localized to private discussions on the front steps of a church or convention hall, we can receive messages from an entire group anywhere in the world. Truly, we are living in historic times. Brethren are taking advantage of several methods of communication through this emerging technology: chat rooms (immediate response), listservers (restricted to subscribers), newsgroups (open to anyone), and online services (restricted to members). Read the following introduction to these each of these technologies and then get to know some Brethren.

History of LISTSERV

LISTSERV is the name of the first electronic mailing list software that permitted the automatic redistribution of a single message to every member of a list. The original concept was developed by Eric Thomas in 1986 while a student in Paris. Previously, a group required the efforts of a list manager to manually distribute each message, supervise enrollment of list members, and provide archival storage. As discussion lists grew in popularity, this method became a slower process as lists continued to grow in number and volume. Thomas's creation permitted the automatic receiving and sending of messages, processing of list commands by members, creation of mailing templates, enrollment of list members, direct interaction by a list moderator, as well as routine system maintenance. He later founded L-Soft as a commercial product in 1994 to market a hybrid of the original application. Other list management tools eventually appeared: ListManager (1997), Sympa (1997), Mailman (1998), Yahoo Groups (formerly eGroups, 2000), Google Groups (2001), and the more expansive Google Business Groups.


In November of 1995, Mike Willoughby inaugurated the first Church of the Brethren listserv discussion group on the computer system of the Marshall-Qualtec corporation. While living in Florida, and without significant interaction with other Brethren, he decided to take advantage of listserv technology in order to better communicate with others of his faith, and also create a forum where other members of the Church of the Brethren may get to know each other. COB-L was for general discussion and COB-YYA for Youth & Young Adults. The COB-YYA group eventually whithered on the vine as denominational offices provided their own forums for Brethren youth. In the summer of 1996, Willoughby decided to move his family to Minnesota, and predictably also needed to move the listserv software to another computer network. Arrangements were made with Bridgewater College and the switch between networks took place at the beginning of December 1997. As time passed, technology improved and Google (public in 2004) offered Google Groups, a discussion forum with more extensive features than the Bridgewater software. Willoughby moved the list again at the beginning of 2009. However, the Bridgewater listserv was not terminated. Thus for a time, there were two COB-L group's: Google and Bridgewater. Due to policy considerations of non-college related interests, Bridgewater discontinued their COB-L group in July 2012.



This list is administered by several moderators for the discussion of history and genealogical research. Created on May 9, 1996, messages are also received by several BBSs (computer bulletin boards) located in various states. The term Brethren as used here alludes to all persons and places that now, or in the past, have any type of connection to the church groups known as: Church of the Brethren; German Baptist; Tunkers; Dunkers; Grace Brethren; and other church groups that descend from the movement started by Alexander Mack in 1708 at Schwarzenau, Germany. This conference is for the discussion of Brethren History and Genealogy, and reasonable care should be taken not to complicate discussions with such things as computer software or personal interest stories. The list is owned and operated by the Fellowship, who in turn are sponsored by the Historical Committee of the Church of the Brethren.


...acquired the very popular eGroups in August, 2000. This a nice place to start your own discussion group without the necessity of purchasing list server software and then enduring the trouble of finding a host server that will give you the traffic to operate your list. Yahoo Groups takes care of all the hassles. Just follow the necessary procedures to register your group and you can have a list server discussion group all of your own. A nice thing about Yahoo Groups is that all threads are posted on web pages so that both members and visitors can read the discussions. However, only members can login and post to your list. Before joining a Yahoo Group, please take the time to read the Terms of Service.

Moderator: Phil Reynolds
Founded: October, 2000;
Mission Statement: “Church of the Brethren Evangelical Network exists to provide a forum among evangelical Church of the Brethren leaders and laypersons for mutual support, encouragement, and the exchange of ideas in a positive manner within the context of our love and concern for the Church. This group exists to provide the forum for exchange of ideas, encouragement and mutual support among evangelical leaders. It is a forum to provide nurture, support and networking among the Brethren who are able to endorse our core values.”

Moderator: Craig Alan Myers
Founded: May, 2000
Mission Statement: “This list is for people who are members or people who are interested in the Church of the Brethren. Discussion of issues within the church, history, doctrine, or anything related to COB is welcome. Especially, we are interested in things that has set the Church of the Brethren apart for so many years and in promoting conservative, traditional Brethren beliefs. KEYWORDS: anabaptist, COB, Church of the Brethren, brethren, love feast, peace doctrine, headcovering, German Baptist, dunkers, plain dress.”

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Moderator: Gary Arnold
Founded: April, 2001
Mission Statement: “As a service to Church of the Brethren Webmasters around the country, or those thinking about starting a web site for their church, an e-mail discussion group has been started for Church of the Brethren Webmasters and those interested in working on COB web pages. The purpose of the COBWEBNET discussion group is to share ideas and techniques for creating and maintaining web pages for our churches as well as offering an arena for critiquing web sites and offering suggestions for improvement.”

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Moderators: Roger Hartline, Carmelita Skiles
Founded: October, 2004
Mission Statement: “A group dedicated to the values of the German Baptist Brethren Church. Values such as nonresistance, nonconformity, nonswearing, nonlawing, etc. This is NOT a place to champion liberal or revisionist ideas. Anything that would have been forbidden by the Annual Meeting up to and inclusive of the 1881 AM of the GBB is forbidden here.”

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Moderator: Michael C. Martin
Founded: January, 2007
Mission Statement: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” - John 14:6
Welcome! This group is intended to encourage conversations about The Way of Jesus among Brethren striving to live it. It is for people who are interested in, who are attending, or who are members of (laity and leaders) the Church of the Brethren and who are dedicated to “Continuing the Work of Jesus, simply, peacefully, together.” It is hoped that the converstions engaged in here will assist us in more closely discerning and following the will of God in our lives and the life of the church through a rich exchange of insights into The Way of Jesus Christ as revealed through the Bible and the Holy Spirit. In order to work toward unity in the Body of Christ, this forum is specifically intended to bring the entire church of the Brethren together in one location where all voices will be heard.

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Moderators: District Elder Elsie Koehn and Area Ministers Stanley Bittinger, and Loraine Honeywell
Founded: August, 2011
Mission Statement:
Southern Plains District Network is intended for Church of the Brethren New Testament congregation members who covenant and network together to further the Kingdom of God. A forum to bring persons to the table for the purpose of sharing experiences, ideas, resources, encouragement and support. Not for debate but for nurture, support, resources, and networking among members of Southern Plains District in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana. This e-group exists to provide an electronic forum for continuing the dialogue about ministry in the Southern Plains District. We want to invite the sharing and exchanging of ideas, resources, and questions. We also invite sharing encouragement and support.

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NEWSGROUPS / UseNet: Inter-Brethren

alt.religion.christian.anabaptist.brethren is a world-wide distributed e-mail discussion system on UseNet. It was started by Wayne Sutton of Miami First COB. UseNet consists of a set of 'newsgroups' with names that are classified hierarchically by subject. Articles or messages are posted to these newsgroups by people on computers with the appropriate software, and then broadcast to other interconnected computers systems via a wide variety of networks. Some newsgroups are moderated, which means that before articles are posted, they are first evaluated by a moderator before appearing in the group. Because the Inter-Brethren newsgroup is in the 'alt' branch of the Usenet hierarchy, it is unmoderated which means that posts go directly to the newsgroup without being filtered or reviewed by anyone.

The biggest advantage of a Usenet newsgroup over a list server is that the newsgroup is a virtually free resource, and especially true of unmoderated groups. In other words, you're not required to join. You can jump in and out of newsgroups as you please. Also, because Usenet is arranged in a logical hierarchy, a newsgroup has much more visiblity than a list server. Religious seekers who may never have heard of the Brethren or of Anabaptism are able to stumble across the group because it is found under the 'alt.religion' branch of the hierarchy -- a branch that religious seekers are likely to explore.

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“Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”
Colossians 3:23

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