Reflections on the 2010 Annual Conference

1. Annual Conference was held in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania one time before—in 1980.  At that time the attendance high was around 10,000. This year’s attendance was only about 1/3 that many—that is, something over 3,300.

2. The theme, Taking Jesus Seriously, was the choice of moderator, Shawn Flory Replogle.  He also brought a youthful appearance to the position of moderator because of his younger age, than is usually associated with that position.

3. The items of business this year were light. With the low attendance, one new item of business is designed to consider the future of Annual Conference and how it may be revitalized.  In recent years the Conference has developed a negative financial balance.

4. Last year the Conference began a two-year reconsideration of homosexuality.  So, nothing was decided at this year’s Annual Conference about it except to implement a study process that is scheduled to culminate at the 2011 Annual Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

5. While nothing was decided officially, it still was the under-tow of the Conference.  It was “the buzz” on many people’s minds, as they wondered about what may be decided next year, and what will happen then.

6. Homosexuality was clearly the agenda of some speakers, who disregarded the cautions that were to be respected as a part of this year’s Annual Conference. Several speakers went ahead anyway and made a major push for the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

7. Numerous study resources were made available for study and consideration in preparation for the decision process throughout the coming year.  BRF believes the Bible is the best resource and all the pertinent Scriptures should be used.

8. Part of this activity will include District Hearings where members throughout the denomination can register their preferences for the church’s position on homosexuality.  It will be important for Standing Committee members to hear this expression from the grass-roots before they go back and formulate an answer next year.  An accurate tabulation has been assured.

9. Currently, the official position of the Church of the Brethren is that the practice of homosexuality (even in committed relationships) is not acceptable.  That position is contained in the document, Human Sexuality from a Christian Perspective, which was passed in 1983.  The Standing Committee unanimously affirmed this position again in 2008.  But now, again, it is being challenged.

10. BRF believes the Bible clearly condemns the practice of homosexuality.  We believe the 1983 paper supports the biblical position.  We will continue to promote support for the 1983 paper.  The District Hearings will provide all members of the Church of the Brethren who participate, an opportunity to express their convictions.

11. The recent BRF publication, God Speaks about the Homosexual Issue, is having an impact.  Feel free to send for more copies (BRF, P. O. Box 543, Ephrata, PA 17522), and keep looking for more upcoming articles in the BRF Witness on this subject.

12. BRF has had a table in the Exhibit Hall at Annual Conference.  This was our busiest year ever—as people came by for information, or to get tickets for meal events, or just to talk about their concerns.  The BRF Dinner Event with Tom Zuercher bringing a powerful, biblical message, was the largest meal event during the entire Conference.

13. We feel sorry for the people who only want to accept the love and welcome part of God’s Word, and disregard His holiness and His call for repentance.  The problem is that we can’t have Him our way; we can only have Him His way.

14. BRF is committed to continue to stand for clear biblical truth.  But we need your help, perhaps more than ever, to show up at the District Hearings later this year and take a stand for God.  Many people are saying a decision to officially accept the practice of homosexuality would pretty much result in the breakup of the Church of the Brethren as we know it.  Now is the time!

–James F. Myer

September/October 2010