For more than 100 years, the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC) has been on a deliberate journey to start churches and develop leaders in regions all around the world. At the “Margins” Conference last summer in Toronto, our network of churches took and important next step in that journey. During the annual business meeting of the FGBC, delegates unanimously voted to embrace and endorse the Charis Commitment to Common Identity and to join the Charis Alliance. This followed the historic 2015 gathering in Bangkok where representatives from many countries around the world met to unanimously approve this unifying statement of shared identity. I had the joy and privilege of being present that day, and it was incredible to see the unity and what God is doing in our midst!
With such strong support for the Charis Commitment to Common Identity being expressed by our delegates, national ministries, and our churches and pastors, the Fellowship Council (the leadership board for the FGBC) has felt led to prepare a new recommendation for delegates to consider this summer at Access2017, the national conference of the FGBC. (Access2017 will be held July 25-27 in Fremont, Ohio.)
Simply stated, this recommendation is to amend the FGBC Constitution to say: “The Charis Commitment to Common Identity (first adopted 2015) as approved by the national conference is the current expression of our ongoing quest to apply the unchanging truth of God’s Word to the constantly changing realities and needs of our world.”
The amendment will also require that member churches “agree to cooperate harmoniously within the parameters outlined by the Charis Commitment to Common Identity and the Position Statements of the FGBC.”
The “Position Statements” will be concise and carefully worded statements that seek to address or clarify specific issues of culture, theology, or practice within the ministry context of North America. In order to be adopted, each statement will require a 2/3rd vote of approval by delegates from member churches. The Fellowship Council plans to have some initial Position Statements ready for consideration prior to the meeting this July.
Do you have questions about these amendments? Go to fgbc.org/questions. Use this form to send us your questions and we will publish a Q&A page online before June 1.
However, new statements about identity and positions are not the end of the story! There is also a team working tirelessly on developing better ways to communicate who we are to the world around us, including a new “Doing Business As” (DBA) name for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. We encourage you to stay tuned for some exciting announcements about these developments in the coming months.
After conference this summer, we will be shifting the focus of our attention back to our goals as stated in the Commitment to Common Mission. This document, written in 2008, calls for our global movement to focus on Church Planting, Leadership Training, and Integrated Ministry. So in the next round of Focus Retreats will having an important discussion about how we can do an even better job of starting new churches, training and deploying new leaders, and how to do good as we share the good news. – by Clancy Cruise
Editor’s Note: Clancy Cruise is pastor of Grace Brethren Church, Marysville, Ohio, where he resides with his wife, Sandy. They have four grown children and one grandchild. Clancy is in the second year of a three-year term as executive director of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches.
This first appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of GraceConnect magazine, the publication for the people of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. A downloadable pdf version of this issue is available by clicking here. It also may be read online at issuu.com. If you would like to receive the magazine delivered to you at no charge via U.S. Mail, click here to subscribe.