Reconciliation Stories

Church of the Brethren Ministry of Reconciliation Team Report

By Reba Herder

Photo (c) Church of the Brethren by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford

July, 2013.  The Ministry of Reconciliation Team was asked by the conference officers to help create a climate of safety at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference.  We worked collaboratively with denominational leadership to set a tone of respect.  We were a visible presence, available to respond to individual concerns and interpersonal conflict. We were prepared to play a role much like Christian Peacemaker Teams if necessary, standing in the way of violent words and repressive actions.  We worked to hold space for deep disagreements and painful differences so that all could experience the healing, energizing, and inspiring presence of God.  Our prayer was that those who came to Annual Conference would feel safe, respected, and encouraged to be faithful.

We talked with people who were concerned about queries, the voting process, decisions of Annual Conference, table facilitation, decisions of staff, security, decisions of Annual Conference officers, unauthorized placement of materials, difficult questions at booths, and rude comments overheard.  We talked with people having interpersonal conflicts magnified by the pressures of Annual Conference, personal conflicts at home, and congregational conflicts.  We helped people find rooms and lost objects.  We held babies, played with children, and served the youth.

Annual Conference was and will be a unique challenge for peacemakers.   Building healthy relationships at Annual Conference requires managing social change, resolving conflicts, navigating family system dynamics, learning about cultural differences, respecting different understandings of scripture, and offering spiritual direction all at the same time.  These complexities created a powerful opportunity for God to work through us in ways we can’t always see.

I found hope at Annual Conference because we are supporting the work of the Ministry of Reconciliation team while being attentive to signs of violence that still need to be faced…

I found hope at Annual Conference because the La Verne Choir opened my heart to the great crowd of witnesses who have made a difference in the world and will continue to make a difference long after I am gone…

I found hope at Annual Conference because I was able to pray with friends who welcome me as I am with all my needs, strengths, quirks, and vision…

I found hope at Annual Conference because I trained with Nigerian peacemakers who gave me a fresh perspective on the power of God’s presence in the midst of tragedy and violence…

I found hope at Annual Conference because of the progressives who reached out to expand circles of compassion…

I found hope at Annual Conference because of the conservatives who were calling for loving responses…

I found hope at Annual Conference because our paper on Biblical Inspiration and Authority still stands stating that we are not of one mind but will continue to study and share together open to new light…

I found hope at Annual Conference because I was blessed to witness three different moments of transformation.  I can’t describe them because I’ve been asked to respect confidentiality but they each had the potential to positively impact individuals, our denomination, and our world…

On Earth Peace and the La Verne Church of the Brethren provided the expenses I needed to do this inspiring work.  Thank you.

Reba Herder was a co-coordinator/trainer of the Church of the Brethren Ministers of Reconciliation Team. She is ordained to the work of prayer and peacemaking in the Church of the Brethren.  She is founder and director of Everylight, Inc., a ministry of global cooperation through mutual encouragement.  Reba is a certified Enneagram instructor, credentialed public school teacher, author, and mother of two adult daughters. She's been leading and learning about healthy conversations most of her life.