We don't talk about it much, but WildWood is a part of a larger organizational body, the Church of the
Brethren denomination. With roots back over 300 years in Eighteenth-century Europe during a time of strong governmental control of the church and low tolerance for religious diversity, a small group of religious dissenters found refuge in the town of Schwarzenau, Germany. Influenced by both Pietism and Anabaptism, these early Brethren shared many beliefs with other Protestants, but a number of issues separated them from the state churches. Believing that Jesus calls for a different kind of life—one based on peaceful action, simple and compassionate living, and a mutually shared search for truth and insight, they lived their faith in spite of persecution.
A small group immigrated to North America in 1719, establishing a community in Pennsylvania. Today, the Church of the Brethren has about 100,000 members in about 1,000 congregations in the United States and Puerto Rico. It’s a quirky denomination with an antiquated name. It's not easy to be a part of a theologically diverse denomination spread across the nation, but there are meaningful connections and many have cheered on and supported WildWood from our very beginning.
For the first time in it’s 300+ year history, the denomination will gather for a virtual Annual Conference June 30 – July 4. Debra has volunteered to be our voting delegate to the business sessions and represent our voice in the business and work of the denomination. (Thank you Debra!) If you are interested in what’s happening, you can find out more and join in some sessions: www.brethren.org/ac2021/.
Later in July we will ask Debra to share about her experience and anyone else who participated can share their reflections too. Like I’ve said before, it is hard to be a part of an institutional church organization that feels antiquated, but know that we are doing good work living into our history as religious dissenters.