I'm a relatively new subscriber to Messenger. As someone not born and raised in a Brethren household, I have few ties to this denomination. So receiving this monthly publication has been enlightening--when I read it. I read with interest the article in the February issue by Walt Wiltschek who is editor of Messenger and interviewed Brethren sociologist Carl Bowman about the results of a recent Church Member Profile he conducted and presented to the COB General Board. He really hit all the "hot button" topics in his survey.
I particularly liked his comment as it has echoed my thoughts over the past 3 + years trying to contemplate what it means to me to now identify myself as a member of the Church of the Brethren denomination.
In the interview Bowman was asked a question about what the results of the study say for the identity of the denomination. Bowman's response was: "Interestingly, Brethren still really value their identity as Brethren. The question is, what does that mean?...Our identity today is so diffuse."
Personally I too have found this to be true. The little research I have done to explore and learn about polity and process within the COB denomination leads me to believe that this trend will continue. While this is not unique to the COB denomination, it seems that other denominations are more "polity and process oriented" on how the differences get resolved.
Perhaps for the denomination to grow, it must first shrink during the process of redefining it's identity for the 21st century?