1099 N. Meridian St., Suite 700
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Donald K. Gillett, President
Timothy M. James, Administrative Secretary

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I offer this report with joy and gladness as I look back over the year of activity associated with the National Convocation. God is truly to be praised for a blessed and Spirit-filled 25th Biennial Session of the National Convocation in Birmingham, AL. Much appreciation is extended to Edward Williams and the Local Arrangements Committee, John Mobley and the Alabama/Northwest Florida Region who worked so wonderfully with our Board of Trustees and Merger Staff.  The presence and participation of our College of Regional Ministers, the presence of First Moderator, Beau Underwood and Moderator-Elect, Belva Brown Jordan, made a powerful statement to our faith community.  We are the Disciples of Christ and our Biennial Session is open to everyone.  We endeavor, “To be a faithful growing church, that demonstrates true community, deep Christian spirituality and a passion for justice.” (Mission Imperative of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)).

We are grateful to report the registrations for this Biennial Session was at 526 and 85% – 90% of our registrations were on line. We may attribute our on-line access and presence to the work and diligence of our Ministry Associate, Brenda Rossy.  SELAH is now published on our web page which is set up through Constant Contact, and our meetings and transportation are arranged through Concur. So, we are showing more progress technologically.

Our endeavors have produced a broader understanding of the 1969 Merger Agreement between the National Christian Missionary Convention and the International Convention of the Christian Churches.  This has been accomplished with the reprint and distribution of THE JOURNEY TOWARD WHOLENESS, sponsoring a historical summit for our Board of Trustees at the Centennial Christian Church is St. Louis, MO, workshops offered at the Black Ministers Retreat, The 25th Biennial Session and the Eastern District Assembly of the Christian Church in Michigan. In the 2017 General Assembly we recognized the 100th Anniversary of the National Christian Missionary convention.  The 2019 General Assembly will have special recognition for the 50th Anniversary of the Design along with the 50th Anniversary of the Merger Agreement.

Concerning Leadership Development, the National Convocation continues to cooperate with the Black Disciples Endowment Fund, The Black Ministers Retreat, and the Biennial Session to offer education and learning opportunities to our constituents.  It is hoped that at these points of engagement we could offer the Preston Taylor Institute regularly along with Pro-Reconciling/Anti-Racism Workshops, Boundary Training, and continuing education in the areas to meet competency requirements for commissioned ministers and ministers on the Alternative Track for ordination.  Our relationship with the General Youth Council has improved.  We were able to find a young woman to serve with GYC.  She is Brittani Bullock, a member of Light of the World Christian Church in Indianapolis.  We are pursuing our next goal, to get a youth member for the Board of Trustees.  The Young Adult Council also needs a member from the National Convocation.  We will seek a member for the YAC’s next selection period.  We look forward to working with our General Minister and President, Terri Hord Owens.  She is most appreciative of data and information technology.  Therefore, we need our pastors to send in the Year Book reports of the congregation in to the Regional Office.  That would be a good start.  Then show up and participate in district and regional meetings of Disciples of Christ taking place near you.

The 2019 General Assembly, July 20-24 in Des Moines, Iowa, has opportunities for the National Convocation to be directly involved.  The Assembly theme is “ABIDE IN ME” based on John 15: 1-5.  Our evening meal function will be Sunday, July 21, 2019.  Please, mark your calendars and set your dates for the Combined Convocation of North American Pacific Asian Disciples (NAPAD), the Biennial Hispanic Fellowship Assembly (Obra Hispana) and the National Convocation taking place July 22-25, 2020.  The location is under research and as soon as we have determined a site you will be the first to know.  Please, pray with us as we seek the Lord’s guidance to build a worshipful event on our foundation theme text, Revelation 7: 9-10.  There is a blessing here for us all.  Finally, we acknowledge the forward thinking of the Ministers Wives and Husbands Fellowship Executive Committee, for establishing an endowment fund with Christian Church Foundation in their name and for future resources.

Members of the Board of Trustees:  Donald K. Gillett (President), Irie Session (Vice President), Pamela Dubose (Secretary), James Vertreese (Treasurer), Milton Bowens, Ken Brooker Langston, Delesslyn Kennebrew, Joanne Walker Flowers, William Smith, Cicely Staton-Holt, Juanita Greene, Beverly Goines, Antonio Redd, Walter Parker, Pernella Shortie, Sue Gray, Edward Williams; Merger Staff – R. Wayne Calhoun, Sheila Spencer, Chesla Nickelson; Ex-Officio members – Terri Hord Owens, GMP, Sotello Long, President of DHM, and Timothy James.




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 WHEREAS, the Bible instructs, “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34 NRSV); and

WHEREAS, Jesus commands us to welcome the stranger, for “just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40 NRSV); and

WHEREAS,  the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) recognizes that it was founded partly by immigrant ministers, such as Thomas and Alexander Campbell; and

WHEREAS, immigrants are pastors, congregation members, and leaders in our church and denomination; and

WHEREAS, in these uncertain times of unprecedented negative rhetoric against immigrant groups and with changes in immigration policies, our congregations and pastors have heard the cries of affected communities many of whom are fearful of detention, deportation, and the ultimate separation of families and who are concerned about their families and family members who are already residing in detention centers; and

WHEREAS, the United States immigrant population stood at more than 42.4 million, or 13.3 percent of the total U.S. population, in 2014[1] and immigrants in the United States and their U.S.-born children now number approximately 81 million people, or 26 percent of the overall population of the United States[2]; and

WHEREAS, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration, an estimated 11.4 million undocumented immigrants resided in the United States as of January 2012. Between 2009 and 2013, it is estimated that 4 million unauthorized immigrants (39 percent of the overall unauthorized population aged 15 and older) resided with children under the age of 18. Of this group, about 3.3 million (84 percent) resided with at least one U.S. citizen child under the age of 18, and 16 percent resided with non-U.S.-citizen children[3]; and

WHEREAS, it is estimated that in the 2009-13 period, 5.1 million children under the age of 18 lived with an undocumented immigrant parent, representing 7 percent of the U.S. child population. About 79 percent (4.1 million) of these children were U.S. citizens, and another 19 percent (959,000) were permanent residents and those with temporary visas[4]; and[5]

WHEREAS, there were between 35,000 and 120,000 undocumented immigrants in Canada as of May 2013[6]; and

WHEREAS, it was estimated that somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000 undocumented migrants resided in Greater Toronto area alone, and that the number was expected to surge in 2015 when four-year work permits for thousands of temporary foreign workers who had moved to Canada began to expire under a 2011 law, potentially moving thousands more “underground” [7]; and

WHEREAS, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada has historically fought for social justice and has advocated in favor of the poor, dispossessed, and marginalized; and

WHEREAS, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is committed to serving all of God’s people; and recognizes all persons are created by and valuable in the eyes of God;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that in this prophetic and historic moment, the 2017 General Assembly, meeting July 8-12, 2017, in Indianapolis, Indiana, encourages the church to deepen its commitment to building unity and integration among all our Disciples congregations by issuing a call to congregations to become “immigrant welcoming congregations;” and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and their respective Disciples ministries consider:

  1. engaging in congregational prayer, listening conferences, and action around immigration policies;
  2. offering mental health training and resources to immigrants and immigrant families, and to those from communities providing support and solidarity to these immigrants and immigrant families, such as clergy and other leaders;
  3. supporting immigrant families when facing and experiencing separation; and
  4. promoting ministries of healing for trauma resulting from immigration travel and trafficking[8]; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that all members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and their respective Disciples ministries consider:

  1. establishing preventive measures that help immigrant families and individuals avoid fraud and obtain credible legal resources and guidance;
  2. offering planning and resource materials for individuals and families in the face of detention and deportation risks; and
  3. offering support for those immigrants and families living in border communities and beyond; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that churches of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada seek to:

  1. build solidarity between immigrant and non-immigrant congregations;
  2. consider becoming or assisting congregations offering sanctuary protections to immigrants;
  3. develop community protection and response models for families facing separation due to detention or deportation;
  4. educate themselves and others about those immigration policies that support the rights of immigrant families;
  5. offer support for current Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, border communities, and victims of hate crimes, fraudulent activity, and sex trafficking; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that congregations, ministries, organizations, and institutions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will continue to strive to respect and affirm the dignity of every child of God and to advocate for the fair and just treatment of immigrants and immigrant families in the United States and Canada.

Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries (Obra Hispana)
Refugee and Immigration Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel
Iglesia Alas de Salvación, Chandler, AZ
Iglesia Cristiana Emmanuel, San Benito, TX
The National Benevolent Association (NBA)
National Convocation
North American Pacific/Asian Disciples (NAPAD)
Disciples Women

Background Information

References / resource links for drafting assistance:


The General Board recommends that the General Assembly APPROVE GA-1723. (Discussion time: 24 minutes)

[1] In 2014, around 47 percent of immigrants (20 million) were naturalized U.S. citizens. The remaining 53 percent (22.4 million) included lawful permanent residents, undocumented immigrants, and legal residents on temporary visas (such as students and temporary workers)


[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] The U.S. Supreme Court’s 4-4 split decision on June 23, 2016, effectively blocked President Obama’s executive actions on immigration that sought to expand Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and created Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), thereby resulting in adverse effect upon thousands of families residing in the United States. United States v. Texas, No. 15-674.

[6] As reported by the Toronto Sun,

[7] As reported by the Toronto Star newspaper reported August 20, 2013,

[8] According to the Pew Research Center, “The Obama administration deported 414,481 unauthorized immigrants in fiscal year 2014…”