Monday, June 23, 2008

The Brethren and Destiny

The final Anniversary address at the Des Moines 250th Anniversay conference came on Sunday evening, at "The Church Convocation." Calvert N. Ellis, President of Juniata College, spoke on "The Brethren and Destiny."

I feel very humble to speak about the Brethren and the future. It would be much easier to glorify the past or even to analyze critically what has gne before. However, I am thankful that the mood of the Brotherhood is not to look back but to move forward. This two-hundred-fiftieth anniversary celebration has a Call attached!

I pray that each of you will ... ask yourself the questions I have asked as I thought of the Brethren in the years ahead. What is the mission of the Brethren in this hour? How and where can we make the largest contribution to the church of Christ? We have learned that it is not our church in the sense that we make the rules; it is His church - the church of Jesus Christ. We are His witnesses and His servants. We have discovered the vast riches of grace, the love of God in Christ, which we share with all who are His, whatever their creed or color. ... The gospel is not something to protect or preserve; it is good news to share in life and word!

We Brethren have been thrust out into the world. We may nostalgically look back to the isolation of the nineteenth-century farm home - but we can't go back!

... This then is my faith and my hope - that the destiny of the Brethren will be a ministry of reconciliation. Here is our contribution to the church of Jesus Christ; it is the thread that runs from Schwarzenau to Des Moines and is the Brethren ideal of life regardless of how far short we have fallen in our witness.

... It is my hope that this ministry of reconciliation will be our destiny. May we be known as Brethren with a concern for men and women! Whether we are pastors, teachers, businessmen. mothers, farmers, students, or whatever we are, may we be known as Christians who serve their community in the name of Christ.

Source: The Adventurous Future, chapter 26