I was recently posed this question: What does the Church of the Brethren do best? And it honestly made me stop and pause. For me, I can answer that question in a couple of ways. I often joke that people in the ecumenical world understand what being Brethren is all about than a lot of Brethren I have met – and in that light my mind immediately jumps to our peace witness. This is historically what we are known for, and what the  ecumenical world turns to us for advice on.

However, I also realized this went a lot deeper than that. And the more I thought about the question, I realized my problem with it was in the phrasing. What we do best as a church is about what we do best as a people. The question shouldn’t be, what does the Church of the Brethren do best, but what do Brethren do best? I say that for a couple of reasons, that I might get into in a future post (tomorrow :)). But my answer to the second question was no less complicated. I think Brethren are at their best when they are living as reconciled people of God – peacefully, simply, and together. I have seen this lived out in a variety of ways relatively recently. Externally, I have seen it in the gatherings of the Historic Peace Churches held throughout the world during the Decade to Overcome Violence, and the different witnesses that have spoke of living this way in their contexts. Closer to home, I saw it at Heeding God’s Call in Philadelphia last year – and the way that ministry has continued and taken on a life of its own.

I have also seen it internally – I saw it at the young adult ministry forum in Phoenix a year and a half ago – where we all clearly disagreed an awful lot, but committed to working together to live out what being a reconciled people should be. And I have seen it in how the conversations on sexuality have been set up, and the intentional commitment to seeking input from all corners of the church.

So, that is the beginning of my answer. What say you? What do Brethren do best?

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