I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Mennonite Church USA has the Church of the Brethren listed as a Sister Denomination. I know that there is a Council of Moderators and Secretaries (COMS) comprised of the appointed and elected heads of the Anabaptist churches: Mennonite Church USA, Brethren in Christ Church, Conservative Mennonite Conference, U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and the Church of the Brethren. But as far as I know, this is the extent of Brethren sisterhood with Mennonites, with a few exceptions:
CrossRoads Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center
Mennonite & Brethren Marriage Encounter
As funny as it may sound, the COB has a relationship with the American Baptist Churches and about half a dozen congregations dually aligned. This statement from ABC's website does seem to be in line with how many Brethren see ourselves:
American Baptists are a Christ-centered, biblically grounded, ethnically diverse people called to radical personal discipleship in Christ Jesus. Our commitment to Jesus propels us to nurture authentic relationships with one another; build healthy churches; transform our communities, our nations and our world; engage every member in hands-on ministry; and speak the prophetic word in love.
As a people of prayer, purpose, and passion, we are in the forefront of creating a community of faith where people of every race, nationality and culture gather as one in worship, service and work.
Through the cross of Christ we embrace the world as neighbor. Our vision for mission energies a multitude of servant ministries of evangelism, discipleship, leadership, new church development, social justice, healing peacemaking, economic development and education.
I have heard the opinion that Baptists are Anabaptists, which I personally think is a stretch. Still, I think it is good to be in close contact with likeminded Christians.
This makes me wonder why we don't have any closer relationship with the denominations that have come directly from Anabaptism. If we can be so close to Baptists, then why not Mennonites, who we have even more in common with? It would seem to be beneficial for Brethren to be more linked to the Mennonite world. There is an entire World Mennonite Council, but the COB is strangely not a part of this international Anabaptist body.
I this time of downsizing and merging and cost-cutting, it might make sense for us to cooperate more. I realize that we don't always have the same spirit or the same goals (Mennonites might be more evangelical in their relief missions, for example), but we can still give it a try (unless it already has been attempted, which I don't know much about). Diversification, which says that multiple ways of performing tasks are beneficial, is also a current trend, but that shouldn't mean we should be separate when we do our tasks.
The Brethren like to say nowadays that we are "Continuing the Work of Christ: Peacefully, Simply, Together." But we're not always "together" even among our own denomination. Perhaps by coming together with Mennonites, we can learn to be separate together.
Maybe if we Brethren and Mennonites would start cooperating and talking to each other more, then our leaders might follow us.