This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Brethren gather ‘on the line’

After the Church of the Brethren’s Annual Conference was canceled, a series of online denominational events July 1-2 brought thousands of people together with a concert and worship services in Spanish and English.

“Though they were not intended to replace Annual Conference, they added great value to the church, nevertheless, during the week many anticipated gathering together in Grand Rapids,” said moderator Paul Mundey.

“We are grateful for the inspiration, depth and encouragement these events provided during a vulnerable and challenging season for our denomination.”

The worship services began with a half hour for children, followed by speakers and musicians from across the Church of the Brethren, video stories from congregations and international mission, and a first-ever virtual denominational choir with dozens of participants singing “I See a New World Coming,” written 50 years ago by Breth­ren composer Steve Engle.

Mundey’s message highlighted God who accompanies people even in exile and quagmire, promising a new Creation, based the image of God in Isaiah 43:1-5.

Singing a new song

The concert featured doz­ens of Church of the Brethren musicians from various national backgrounds with a mix of musical styles. The event began with the first performance of a new song by Ken Medema, written for the occasion.

Ken Medema performs a new song he wrote for the Church of the Brethren on July 2. — Church of the Brethren
Ken Medema performs a new song he wrote for the Church of the Brethren on July 2. — Church of the Brethren

Medema has performed at many Church of the Breth­ren conferences. The song was based a hymn that is beloved in the denomination, “Breth­ren We Have Met to Worship.”

Brethren we have met to worship
and adore the Lord our God.
Text and screen and sound and image
now we join to preach the Word.

In these days we know the Spirit
of the Holy One comes down.
We’ll become the Holy Manna
richly scattered all around.

We are Brethren on the line,
you in the place that you call home and I in mine.
Separated but together,
we are singing to each other.
We are Brethren on the line.

We’ll take all the tools
and love what’s in our hands.
With God’s children, bruised
and broken, we will stand.
Sure, we long for the day we can sit together
in the meeting house again,
but for now we are Brethren on the line.

Recordings of all three events including the worship experiences in Spanish are available at

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