Welcome and worthy

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A theme statement by moderator Madalyn Metzger for the 2024 Annual Conference

In today’s society, we spend a lot of time wondering if we’re worthy. And, whether we admit it or not, we spend a lot of time assessing others based on our own standards. We do this, because we’ve set up so many “rules” for ourselves since before we can remember—rules that have been influenced by our families, neighbors, teachers, and experiences. These rules are how we make sense of the world. They help us interpret and navigate our complex social constructs.

But, when taken to the extreme, they also can limit our understanding of the infinite worth of every human being. They can painfully and disruptively fracture our relationships. And they can run contrary to God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Since the early 18th century beginnings of the Brethren movement, we’ve been a faith family that has chosen another way of living: the way of Christ. We are people called to live and experience our faith together in service to (and with) God and each other. And, every person in our faith community shares in the spiritual direction of the church. All of our spiritual gifts are needed if we are to function together as a healthy Body of Christ. Each of us is called to extend and receive Christ’s love.

In his letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul introduces Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchreae, and tells the Roman Christians to “Welcome her in the Lord in a way that is worthy of God’s people.” As the one and only mention of Phoebe in the Bible, we don’t know much about her. We don’t know if she was a prominent church leader and ordained deacon, or if she was Paul’s informal helper and supporter. We don’t know what she looked like, if she was married, how she earned a living, or what her political views were.

But we do know that Paul viewed Phoebe as a valued sibling in Christ and an integral part of the Body, and he encouraged the Christians in Rome to welcome and build an authentic relationship with her as a child of God.

Like Phoebe, each of us brings our own unique abilities, experiences, and perspectives to this community. And it is through our willingness to share our faith journeys with one another—and to receive one another in the fullness of each person’s being—that we can experience and see God’s vision for us more fully and, therefore, be transformed together by God’s Spirit.

Let’s explore our call to live together in community, abide in Christ and one another, and re-envision how we extend Christ’s love to each other and ourselves in ways that are worthy of God’s people.

The opportunity to register online to participate in the 2024 Annual Conference in-person ends on Monday, June 10. (In-person participants who miss this deadline can register onsite at a higher cost.) Non-delegates who wish to participate virtually can continue to register online after June 10, but at a higher cost. Learn more about Annual Conference or register today at www.brethren.org/ac2024.

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)