On Monday evening, June 27, 2016 at 7:00 pm (EST) the 2016 Standing Committee of the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, gathered in Greensboro, NC, heared the appeal of the Bridgewater Church of the Brethren and its pastors. At question was the legitimacy of the actions of the Shenandoah District Leadership Team on December 10, 2015 to terminate the ordination of Chris Zepp and to place a letter of exoneration and censure in the ministerial file of Jeff Carr as a response to our congregational position on LGBTQ marriage equality in May 2015.
Claire Martindale, Chair of the BWCOB Board of Administration, and Fred Swartz, BWCOB Moderator, pastors Chris Zepp and Jeff Carr represented the congregation. They presented the grievance to Standing Committee based upon the following three points of appeal.
The process for the evening following the Standing Committee Appeal Process which can be found here (http://www.brethren.org/ac/ppg/appeal-process.html). At the conclusion of the time for questions, both parties were dismissed and Standing Committee began their discernment. The committee worked for a while and then decided they needed to take a break for the night.
The committee later reconvened in closed session on Tuesday June 28, 2016. The results of their discernment follows.
The members of the appeal committee of standing committee representatives verbally reported the disposition of the appeal. In short-the standing committee upheld the action of the district. A brief written response from the Standing Committee will be made available to the parties prior to the official opening of the 2016 Annual Conference.
While the outcome is disappointing, the action comes as no big surprise. We continue to offer our prayers and thoughts for denominational, district, and congregational leadership and the ongoing work of the church, along with appreciation for the time and work of Standing Committee as we seek to discern the mind of Christ and faithfully live into the calling to which we have been called.