26 Aug Letter from Pat Jones
The following was sent out to the UB email list by Pat Jones, the new Director of Healthy Church Ministries. He provides some information regarding what lies ahead as the United Brethren church embarks on radical transformation in how we operate, and as we begin implementing a new structure based on cluster group.
“An age of change has come for the United Brethren church. After a time of challenge, we have come together to look toward the future by copying a chapter from our past. Otterbein and Boehm were men who came from different backgrounds, but agreed on their purpose: reaching people with the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Bishop Ron Ramsey is preparing his first communique to be sent out after he finishes moving to Huntington. In it he will share his vision for the future and set the tone for the strategic steps we must take in the immediate days ahead. Until then, I wanted to send out a message to encourage us as we prepare to move ahead and also to answer some questions about the next steps.
“During the meeting of the US National Conference in June, we agreed to take drastic steps to bring transformation in the life of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, and to bring renewal in our efforts to reach people and establish new churches. Already, several conferences have taken the initial steps to begin the process. Central, Michigan, Sandusky and other conferences are moving ahead with plans to dissolve their conferences in 2006, preparing the way for a single US National Conference in 2007. We applaud their actions and thank the leadership for their direction.
“Through the years, as I have typed our name, I have inadvertently called us the “Untied” Brethren rather than “United” Brethren. This may be a reflection of what took place over the past two years. During the discussion and votes on the possible joining with the Missionary Church, we sometimes observed actions and attitudes that were not glorifying to our Lord. This took a toll on us. Many experienced personal hurts, disillusionment, questions, and pain.
“Now is a time for forgiveness, healing, and the restoration of relationships behind a common, single goal. God has placed us all in a position, for the time in which we live, to reach toward each other in the bonds of Christ. We must, again, become partners to effectively impact our world for Jesus Christ. Repentance, confession, forgiveness and restoration, all things that we value and preach, must rise up as personal and vital tools as we move into the future. Where there is need, we encourage each of us to get our hearts prepared and renewed.
“Pastors, we want to encourage you to watch your email and regular mail over the next two weeks. You will receive a packet that will include instructions and paperwork you will need to start forming your clusters. As you may know, an application for each cluster formed must be submitted to the Executive Leadership Team for final approval. This should be done for each church by the end of the year.
“Our goal is to have every church connected to others in clusters by the beginning of 2006. At this crucial time, I want to reiterate how vital it is that we work together for the common good and not just for what will benefit “me” or “my church.” This is as much a question of how, for the sake of the Kingdom, we can invest in others as it is a question of how I and my church will benefit. Now, more that ever, we need to live up to our name, UNITED Brethren.
“I personally hope to be in nearly every conference in some way during September and October to share ideas and offer any organizational assistance to get the process moving ahead. I desperately need your help. You are vital to its success. Watch your mail for further details soon.”