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“A Time of Transition” in the Brethren in Christ Church

This photo collage from IN PART magazine shows the dramatic changes in religious practice within the Brethren in Christ Church over the past century -- changes that began in the early 1950s, as Charlie B. Byers describes in his article.

In Part, the quarterly magazine published by the Brethren in Christ Church, is running in its Fall 2011 issue an article by the late Charlie B. Byers, a long-time Brethren in Christ minister and evangelist. According to its subtitle, the article describes “how 60 years ago, God transformed the BIC Church into a more welcoming and loving community.”

The article includes Byers’ reflection on the 1950 gathering of Brethren in Christ leaders at a National Association of Evangelicals convention — a gathering that would have dramatic implications for the church in subsequent years, as the following excerpt explains:

Out of that meeting eventually came a study committee appointed by General Conference. And as a result of the committee’s work, the brotherhood made some sweeping changes in Church life.

Initially, these included a move away from small districts to large regional conferences, and soon to a salaried pastoral system. More radical changes followed: the use of musical instruments in church services; the acceptance of church choirs; dress codes as guidelines, not requirements. In addition, the Church developed new ecumenical associations and greater mission outreach overseas and in cities.

As a result, the Brethren in Christ Church has doubled its membership since the late 1940s. Instead of being a spectator watching the parade of the world go by, it has become a participant in the battle for souls.

This time of transition has not always been easy; transition causes certain pain and tension. Yet the brotherhood is still the same in seeking to know, understand, and apply the word of the Lord. I believe that God raised up the Brethren in Christ Church 200 years ago for a purpose and, amid all this transition, He has been preparing the Church to more faithfully go out into the streets and lanes of our cities and towns to “bring in hither the poor, the maimed, the halt, and the blind”— to see His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!

Read the whole article here.