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Friends, at the end of March a new committee within the Church of the Brethren gathered – the Vision Committee. 8 folks, 4 representing denominational agencies and 4 nominated by Standing Committee, gathered to start considering what the 10 year vision for the Church of the Brethren was, with the goal of having it ready to go by Annual Conference 2011. I am blessed to be a member of that committee, along with Bekah Houff, another CoB young adult.

Instead of going through the usual process of having influential members of the denomination fill out another survey, and quietly craft a vision to be brought forth in 2011, we thought it would be a bit more effective to just write a vision statement – and then see what the denomination thought!  So, that is what we have done. This statement is in NO WAY final.  It is a statement to be edited, for you to have input in,  and to hopefully look almost nothing like what it does now when it comes before Annual Conference for adoption. This statement will be making the rounds of CoB folks – it has already been at Young Adult Conference, for instance, where the conversation and input was phenomenal – and will be at NYC, and Annual Conference, and, well, all over the place. As many places as we can think of and possibly be.

And, it is also here. Below is the first draft of the vision statement. Let us know what you think – what doesn’t fit? What is missing? Does this jive with who you think you are as a member of the Church of the Brethren? Try to avoid word-smithing (the time for that will come later!) – but give us the big picture. This is about your vision, after all, and we want to hear from you. Use the comments section, or shoot a longer comment to the email address vision@brethren.org. One final note – this is a pretty short statement, and that is on purpose. Resources will be developed so that this can be used and integrated into congregations, districts, ect. Ok, thanks!  And I, for one, am interested to know what you think!

Inspired, challenged and shaped by the New Testament, we have decided to follow Jesus.

We will live as courageous disciples, nurtured in dynamic and missional congregations.

We are led by the Holy Spirit, called to model God’s reconciliation to all creation with words and deeds.

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For today’s young adults (and probably the generation of young adults before this one), metaphors of faith live and breathe in images of motion: journey, quest, voyage, exotic adventure. Think about it for a minute: how many Safari Adventure vacation bible schools did we attend during childhood summers? How many times have we sung the song Guide My Feet (…while I run this race)? How many youth group discussions did we participate in about how to bring the mountaintop experience of NYC or workcamp (places we traveled long and far to get to) back home?

I think we were taught – and now firmly believe – that faith flourishes only when we take it for a test drive, far away from where we learned it. There’s something to expanding our perspectives and encountering the world, I’m sure, and Lord knows I’ve certainly racked up my share of frequent flier miles working for the church. But I’m starting to question whether “journey” is the best way to think about faith and about life. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, in his latest book, The Wisdom of Stability, asks these questions from his front porch at Rutba House (an intentional Christian community in Durham, North Carolina) reflecting on the Christian monastic traditions:

“For people who think little of flying across a continent, the assumption of Benedictine spirituality is striking: if we want our very being to rise up into God’s being, nothing is more important than rooting ourselves in a place where God can happen. Yes, we’re on a journey. But not all movement is progress toward the Promised Land.”

Yes, we’re on a journey, he reminds us, but not all movement is progress. What if we stood still for a while? What if, instead of falling into the caravan of wandering Israelites, we planted ourselves with the Psalmist’s tree by streams of water and let God teach us how to bear fruit in one place? What would happen – to us individually and to us as the Church of the Brethren?

What do you think? Is faith about roots or wings? African safaris or neighborhood block parties?

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