Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Leaders are announced for TOGETHER launch event.

Leaders have been announced for the launch event of TOGETHER: Conversations on Being the Church. TOGETHER is an outgrowth of the ecclesiology conversation begun by the district executives. A program to extend the conversation to the whole church is being carried out by a committee of staff of denominational agencies and districts. "This consultation is a first step toward a new and common understanding within the church concerning who, whose, and what we are," planners said.

Lisa M. Hess and Brian D. Maguire will lead the TOGETHER launch event in New Windsor, Md., on Feb. 24-26, 2006. They also will help lead conversations at Annual Conference 2006. Hess teaches practical theology--ecclesiology, ministry formation, Christian education, and leadership development--at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. She is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Maguire is pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Xenia, Ohio. Prior to entering the ministry he worked as an attorney and human relations consultant helping Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofit organizations, higher education institutions, and state and local governments through periods of change.

Maguire and Hess will facilitate a training process for district leaders at the launch event. Each district will select, elect, or discern one facilitator and two general representatives to send to the meeting. One Standing Committee member per district, as well as the district executives, also will be invited to participate. Annual Conference officers and leaders from the Conference agencies will attend as well.

The launch is envisioned as "a dynamic encounter with people from across the denomination, discussing `What does it mean to be the church?'" planners said. The hope is for district leaders to be prepared to model and lead different styles of conversation on that question in their own areas. Participants also will become familiar with the study guide for the TOGETHER conversations, which will be available for use in districts and congregations and at the 2006 Annual Conference. The training will focus on awareness of relationships within the Church of the Brethren structure, the broad scope of church history including Brethren history and Pietism and Anabaptism, recent patterns of church growth and development, the decline in mainline denominations, and generational differences in society.

Following the launch, the TOGETHER committee will develop dates and places for area and district meetings in conjunction with district executives, the Congregational Life Ministries staff of the General Board, and Ron and Harriet Finney, the volunteer coordinators for the regional events.

Plans for Annual Conference 2006 include an exhibit explaining the conversation process, a report to the Conference, insight sessions, special guest speakers, and experiences of the conversation process in small groups. Conversations also will take place at National Youth Conference and National Older Adult Conference in 2006. Information and insights from all of the conversations will be compiled. A culminating TOGETHER event is planned for Annual Conference 2007. For more information contact Mark Flory Steury, chair of the TOGETHER committee, at For information about the launch event contact Julie Hostetter at

Source: 8/3/2005 Newsline

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