Why Annual Conference Matters

This went out in the last newsletter from Peace Witness – Called to Witness – but I thought I would post it here, too. It feels to me like a good reminder of why Annual Conference is such an important time for us as Brethren. Who are we, when we gather together? What message do we have for each other, and for the world?

You are getting this newsletter a mere 3 days before Annual Conference 2011 kicks off. Its a time of community, fellowship, worship, and action with one another as a whole communion of Brethren. If you can’t make it, there are so many ways to follow along. Keep track of things on Twitter, with the hashtag #CoBAC2011. Track Newsline updates. Or check out the Brethren blog, where I will be posting an update or 2. There will be workshops from this office on climate change, what is happening in DC, and selective conscientious objection– not to mention many, many more from Global Mission Partnerships. Come visit us at a workshop, or at the booth.

But what, might you ask, does Annual Conference really have to do with the content of this newsletter, and the advocacy work we do to witness for peace in Washington and around the world? Only everything!

Hopefully you have noticed by now that every action alert you get from this email list has at the bottom Church of the Brethren policy that applies to that particular call to action. Friends, the actions we take together – whether they be directed at Congress, the White House, local and state governments, or society has a whole – are based on what we say together at Annual Conference. This is where priorities are set for what we can work together on as Christians in the Brethren tradition.

So, what does this really mean? It means if you want to see an action alert about something that you haven’t seen yet, you have the power to make that happen! Just work on a resolution to send to Annual Conference. Of course, it is a bit more complicated than that (you need the support of your church,
district, ect.), but it is also just that simple. The issues you hear about from Peace Witness Ministries are the ones we have said together that we want to hear about and work on. It is part of our Christian witness and mission with one another as Brethren.

So, what is going to happen next week? It is hard to say. New business includes a query on global climate change from the Pacific Southwest District, from
which could grow calls to action personally, congregationally, as well as opportunities to speak to those in government. From the Ministry and Mission Board could come a resolution on the war in Afghanistan – from which there will certainly be opportunities for action. But the point really is, from these weeks we spend together each year comes the foundation of all the work that we do for the rest of the year. Annual Conference matters. And I hope to see you, or at least hear from you, while I am in Grand Rapids!

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