31 Dec The United Brethren Decade in Review
Everyone’s publishing “decade in review” lists–best movies, best sports plays, most significant news stories, ground-breaking new products, top scandals, etc.
How would we recap the decade for the United Brethren church? Here are ten UB highlights of the decade, in roughly chronological order.
2001 General Conference. This was a historic conference. We adopted a true international structure, with 7 autonomous national conferences joined together by the Confession of Faith and an international constitution. Huntington, Ind., stopped being the United Brethren “world” headquarters, and became just the US headquarters. No longer does United Brethrenism revolve around the United States. Colonialism: RIP.
Open Theism. A whole lot of turbulence arose around Dr. John Sanders, a professor at Huntington University who was a leading proponent of what is called Open Theism. United Brethren theology clashed, hard, with academic freedom. Both church and college came under criticism from the broader evangelical community. In the end, an exit strategy was worked out for Dr. Sanders, and both church and college began mending the wounds.
Joining the Missionary Church. In early 2003, the UB Executive Leadership Team voted to pursue merging our denomination into the Missionary Church, a like-minded, larger denomination based in Fort Wayne, Ind. As leadership pushed this initiative, a group called UB Hope arose to rally people against it. Ultimately, UB members voted it down in a referendum, 56%-44%. This set the stage for lots of soul-searching about why we exist and the adoption of a whole new structure.