By David Steele, general secretary
Greetings in the name of our Savior born for us—the Messiah, our Lord!
On behalf of our worldwide staff, volunteers, and the Mission and Ministry Board, I want to express our gratitude for the many ways you faithfully strive to live out the gospel—to simply try to do what Jesus did. The vital ministries of Church of the Brethren members and congregations, small and large, are at the heart of our denomination. Your witness is essential in our partnership as we together herald the Good News of the birth of Jesus Christ.
As we close the year, we celebrate that our Brethren witness is meaningfully extended into new places and in new ways. The Church of the Brethren is seeking to become a Global Church of the Brethren. Our growth around the world and our commitment to deeper and more meaningful relationships are helping this vision become a reality as we enter 2019.
In August, Josiah and Christine Ludwick and their children began a year of service in Rwanda to preach, teach, and demonstrate a Brethren way of living. Their appointment is vital to the efforts of establishing a peace testimony in the Great Lakes region of Africa as they host theological education and training, assist in the construction of church buildings, and deepen relationships.
In Venezuela, the Brethren witness is growing but economic turmoil has prevented the placement of mission staff at this time. Global Mission and Service staff and volunteers travel there when possible and work with Venezuelan leadership to broaden the understanding of our church’s theology and practice.
Brethren in Spain continue to add new congregations and expand their membership. Many are immigrants, but Spanish citizens are beginning to take notice and come to services.
Haitian Brethren have proved themselves faithful again this year by reaching out to the suffering when an earthquake struck in the north of the country.
In Nigeria, Global Mission executive Jay Wittmeyer was present at the commissioning of a new EYN congregation at the Gurku Interfaith Camp for displaced people. The Nigerian Brethren also commissioned their newest church district in Lagos, with EYN now numbering 55 districts. The Nigeria Crisis Response continues to bring healing and hope to thousands of families displaced by violence.
Embracing Jesus’ call to go and make disciples has been at the heart of our ministries throughout this year.
Youth and advisors gathered at National Youth Conference to be challenged in their walk of faith.
Church planters and others gathered at the New and Renew Conference for professional development and encouragement for the work of nurturing new disciples.
The Discipleship Ministries team provided resource leadership at congregational and district events, web-based learning opportunities, and collaboration with Bethany Seminary for an Urban Ministry intensive in Atlanta.
For Brethren Disaster Ministries, loss of Paradise Church of the Brethren and most of the congregation’s homes ended an intense year of responding to disasters—including a rebuilding project in North Carolina that closed during Hurricane Florence but quickly reopened to help people affected by Hurricane Matthew. In Puerto Rico, our disaster response expanded into the mountains around Castañer, where a long-term home rebuilding project will continue through next year.
Children’s Disaster Services supported families affected by floods, hurricanes, volcanoes, shootings, and the Camp Fire that burned Paradise.
Together, we have shared hope and God’s love. God has enabled us to extend Christ’s mission, serving those in need both near and far, growing disciples, calling and developing leaders, and transforming communities. Thank you for your partnership, your generous support, and your prayers. May we together continue the work of Jesus.
Learn more about the ministries of the Church of the Brethren at www.brethren.org or support them today at www.brethren.org/give.