GA-1910

GA-1910

 DIVISION OF OVERSEAS MINISTRIES/GLOBAL MINISTRIES

Julia Brown Karimu
President of DOM and Co-Executive of Global Ministries
1099 North Meridian Street, P. O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206-1986
Telephone (317) 713-2577
Fax (317) 635-4323
E-mail: jkarimu@dom.disciples.org

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The Division of Overseas Ministries has participated in a joint witness in mission with Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ for twenty-two years. This ministry is under the auspices of Global Ministries, which has 291 partners located in 91 countries.  The mission of Global Ministries is “to share and receive the good news of Christ by joining with global and local partners to work for justice, reconciliation and peace”.  In addition, Global Ministries continues to appoint mission co-workers in response to specific requests from overseas partner churches and organizations.  These appointments are made through the lens of Critical Presence, “that is meeting God’s people and creation at the point of deepest needs; spiritually, physically, emotionally, and economically”.  One hundred and five individuals served as mission co-workers in 2018.  The number included twenty-seven fully supported mission co-workers, thirty global service workers (long-term volunteers), ten global mission interns, and thirty-eight global associates.  The Global Service Worker is the fastest growing category of mission co-worker appointments. Twenty-five individuals also served as short-term volunteers.

This past year found partners in the Middle East and Latin America responding to the needs of the mass movement of people.  Partners in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in East Asia and the Pacific responded to the impact of climate change, which has resulted in droughts and floods.  Partners in Southern Asia are working to prevent human trafficking. Peace efforts continue in Colombia, the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East.  Interfaith relations have become more critical as we are called to address interfaith tensions within the United States and around the world.  Many of the critical issues in mission are cross-regional, and area executives are exploring new ways of collaboration to address them. The area reports will give a glimpse into the daily challenges of our brothers and sisters and the ways in which the church is engaged in working to address them.

The Caribbean Initiative was completed December 31, 2018. It included the following countries: Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.  The purposes of the initiative were to enable members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ to understand the religious, social and political realities of partners in the region and to provide mutual exchanges.  (A more detailed report is found in the Latin America and Caribbean Report.)

The next initiative will be related to Southern Asia and will be launched at the 2019 General Assembly.  It will include the following countries: Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, East Timor, and Indonesia.

The Division of Overseas Ministries sponsored a People-to-People Pilgrimage for new regional ministers to Ghana and South Africa.  This is a discrete program of the Division of Overseas Ministries.  It is designed for regional ministers to have the opportunity to visit overseas partner churches and organizations in order to better understand Global Ministries.  The following regional ministers participated in this pilgrimage: Nadine Burton, Regional Minister of the Great River Region; LaTaunya Bynum, Regional Minister of Northern California and Nevada; Penny Ross-Corona, Regional Minister Team Leader for the Christian Church of Mid-America; William Rose-Heim, Regional Minister of Greater Kansas City; Jen Garbin, Regional Minister for Canada; and Dale Braxton, Associate Regional Minister of Alabama and Northwest Florida.

College of Mission Interns
Abimael Betancourt, a student at Claremont School of Theology, and Fiyori Kidane, a student at Texas Christian University, served as College of Mission Interns in the Indianapolis office from June to August in 2018.  Abimael worked on the Caribbean Initiative and Fiyori worked with the Mission Personnel Office.

Collaborative Efforts
Disciples Home Missions and Disciples Women continue to collaborate with Global Ministries in a variety of programmatic areas.  Under the leadership of Sotello Long, the new president of Disciples Home Missions, a new leadership team composed of staff from different ministries has been established to respond to specific requests for resources from congregations and regions.  Cathy Nichols, Vice President of the Division of Overseas Ministries, represents the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries on this team.  The team is organized to accompany a congregation or region in addressing a specific need.

Disciples Home Missions and the Disciples Women continue to participate in the Global Ministries’ regional initiatives.  Global Ministries facilitated a Woman-to-Woman Pilgrimage to Cuba in 2018.  The Disciples Women are planning a Woman-to-Woman Pilgrimage to southern Asia as part of the next regional initiative and continue to collaborate with Global Ministries related to human trafficking.

The leadership of the National Benevolent Association (NBA) met with the Area Executives and Co-Executives of Global Ministries to explore possible exchanges related to the NBA’s Incubate Initiative.  This is a new program of the NBA that provides expertise and grants to local non-for-profits and for-profit organizations related to health, social development, and micro-enterprise projects.  Representatives from NBA will visit micro-enterprise projects of partners in Southern Asia and Latin America in order to learn about their processes and procedures to determine possibilities for an exchange with similar organizations in the United States and Canada.

The Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries collaborated with the Disciples Peace Fellowship in sponsoring Ricardo (Ricky) Rivera from the United Evangelical Church of Puerto Rico to serve as a Peace Intern during the summer of 2018.  He spoke in a number of Disciples regional youth camps on topics related to the issues facing the church in Puerto Rico and peace.

Staff Changes
Tom Morse resigned from his position of Executive for Mission Engagement, effective April 23, 2018.

Francesca Klein, Program Associate in the Finance Office, resigned, effective August 24, 2018.

Rune Nielsen began as a temporary worker in the Office of Resource Development April 2, 2018, and became a regular DOM employee on June 4, 2018.  She serves as the Database Manager and Administrative Assistant.

Beth Guy, former Program Associate in the Resource Development Office and a former Global Mission Intern became the Director of Communications on August 20, 2018.  Bethany has a B.A. degree from Park University in Parkville, MO and an MTS degree from Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas.

David Barickman began as a Program Associate in the office of Resource Development on October 29, 2018. David has a degree from Christian Theological Seminary.

Yashira Flores began her work as Administrative Assistant in the Mission Personnel Office September 18, 2018.

FINANCE

Lonna Owens, Executive

The Division of Overseas Ministries (DOM) revenue for 2018 is estimated to be nearly $6.5 million.  It is too early to know the actual revenue for the year.

Of the total revenue, some is designated giving for special programs, projects, endowment contributions, capital, and new church funding.  Approximately 25% is from Wider Church Ministries of the United Church of Christ as part of the funding of our joint work together as Global Ministries.  The balance of the revenue comes from Disciples Mission Fund (DMF), investments of DOM, United Christian Missionary Society (UCMS) endowment distributions, Christian Church Foundation (CCF) permanent fund distributions, operating fund gifts and miscellaneous income.

The DOM Endowment assets are invested with the CCF in the Beasley Growth Fund and the Campbell Multi-Strategy Fund.  Annually DOM takes a draw, which is 4.5% of the average prior 20-quarter rolling market value of the total investment.  This draw is used to support operations and designated spending based on the restriction of the endowment.  In 2018, this draw was $569,812 (compared to $656.020 in 2017).

An independent audit is performed annually of the financial records and accounting systems of DOM.  Upon completion of the audit, a complete audit will be provided for the Yearbook and report delivered to the audit committee of the board.  The audit committee will address any material internal control weaknesses found during the audit and suggest improvements to internal controls in a management letter to the board.

RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT

Jane Sullivan-Davis, Executive
Kelsey Cameron, Program Associate
David Barickman, Program Associate

Global Ministries Special Giving and Ministry with Donors – Introduction

In 2018, the Global Ministries Resource Development Office continued to engage members, various expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the United Church of Christ, and other individuals and entities with like-minded commitments to God’s global mission, to provide direct and planned gifts for the work of Global Ministries.  The priorities for all types of special gifts are the following:

1st Priority:    Unrestricted Gifts, used where needed most in the work of Global Ministries

2nd Priority:   Gifts for Mission Co-Worker Support, including intensive efforts on the current experiences in personalized fundraising for mission personnel support

3rd Priority:    Restricted Gifts for donor-specified partner churches/programs or theme-based designations

Strategic Plan Update

The Global Ministries Resource Development Office participated in several of the Global Ministries Strategic Directions during 2018, including Nurturing Community and Sharing the Story. However, the main focus of the work is on Strategic Direction #4:

Developing Resources — To recognize God’s abundance, and growing opportunities for collaboration and generosity by strengthening existing and exploring new funding mechanisms and sources for God’s mission.

In 2018, the Global Ministries Spring Appeal letter was signed by the two Co-Executives and mailed on April 11, 2018, to approximately 29,000 households with a connection to Global Ministries.  The 2018 Indianapolis Year-End Appeal, signed by the President of the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, was mailed October 8, 2018, to approximately 15,000 households of Disciple constituents, individual constituents from denominations other than the UCC, and constituents for whom no denominational affiliation is known.

The Global Ministries staff team worked on four personalized fundraising campaigns for Global Ministries mission co-workers. Larry and Deborah Colvin began their service with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana. Continuing cases included those of Monica and Thomas Liddle, serving with the Protestant Church of East Timor, and Paul Turner, serving with the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo. Anne Gregory concluded her service as a fully-appointed Global Ministries mission co-worker in mid-2018 and has returned as a long-term volunteer serving with the Church of Christ in Thailand. All of the personalized fundraising cases are on track to meet their goal (Colvin) or have surpassed their fundraising goals (Liddles, Turner).

Special Giving promotion continued in 2018 for the Global Ministries Caribbean Initiative: Embrace the Spirit! The special giving component for the Caribbean Initiative consists of special gifts given for ministries in the seven countries involved in the initiative: Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. As a part of the Caribbean Initiative, special gifts for AMANESER 2025 in Puerto Rico and the House of Hope in Haiti were featured in the 2018 Global Ministries Alternative Christmas campaign. Special giving promotion for the Caribbean Initiative and Alternative Christmas concludes as of Epiphany/Three Kings Day in 2019. Preparations are underway for special giving opportunities related to the new Global Ministries Southern Asia Initiative.

Throughout 2018, the Resource Development team had a special emphasis on planned giving through specific promotions. Promotions included: a monthly emphasis on planned giving, electronic and social media communications about different ways to give planned gifts, one thank you mailing in February 2018 sent to approximately 200 individuals whom Global Ministries has record of being in their estate plans, and a second mailing in March 2018 to 1,400 donors inviting them to consider including Global Ministries in their estate plans. Responses arrived via a response card, phone inquiries, and through the normal donor visit system carried out by staff. The three mechanisms of planned giving were: bequests/estate plans, establishment of endowment/permanent funds, and charitable gift annuities.

Resource Development coordinated with the Mission Personnel, Child and Elder Sponsorship, and area offices in planning and facilitating visits from Global Ministries partner entities in which fundraising for the partner ministry is a component. In April 2018, Resource Development staff helped with the itineration of Ms. Anita Paul of the Family Village Farm in India as she visited individual donors and UCC churches with existing strong connections with the Family Village Farm; and continued with the support of two representatives of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico at the regional assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Virginia. Additional international partner visits with a fundraising component are planned for 2019.

AFRICA OFFICE

Marco Cable, Area Executive

Introduction

On July 18, 2018, Nelson Mandela would have turned 100.  Africans across the continent organized celebrations to remember this Ambassador of Peace and African Nationalist.  These tributes, events, and memorials commemorating the Centenary of Nelson Mandela have been a call for reflecting, accessing and recommitting to the causes in which Mr. Mandela committed his life.  Partner churches and organizations are engaging in the political future of their countries.  Responding to the changing political and religious landscape, they are planning for a stronger and more united Africa. It is out of the church’s clear call from the Gospel to engage leaders in all spheres of life that has motivated this involvement in shaping their democracies.  In fact, the African Church offers a more honest way for churches to engage political leadership without becoming partisan in their engagement.  Christianity is rapidly growing on the African continent and this growth is attributed to the church’s holistic approach to ministry. The church is providing spiritual and social engagement guidance to its membership and surrounding communities.  The continent is filled with optimism with changing national governments, more inclusive churches, and young people, born after colonial rule, moving into leadership roles.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

On May 8, 2018, the Democratic Republic of Congo reported an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Equator Province in the district of Bikoro. Bikoro sits on the shores of Lake Tumba, about 74 miles from Mbandaka, a city of over one million people and headquarters of the Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo (CDCC). The first two confirmed cases of Ebola were from Bikoro. The CDCC has 25 churches, 20 schools and 11 health care facilities in the Bikoro District. The CDCC Health Department engaged communities in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) workshops, provided handwashing kits to each church in Mbandaka, along with new protocols for baptism and communion. It is estimated that more than 500,000 were reached through CDCC media campaign. One week after being declared Ebola-free on July 24, 2018, four new cases of the Ebola virus emerged in northeastern Congo.  This is the first time that the northeastern area of the country, which is already suffering from unprecedented violence, has been impacted by Ebola.  The unrest in the area has made it very difficult for international health workers to contain the virus. According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola outbreak in Congo is the second deadliest in history following the West Africa outbreak that claimed thousands of lives in 2014.

On January 16th, Dr. Francisco Ekofo, a Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo pastor and Dean of Theology at the Protestant University gave a sermon at the Protestant Cathedral for the commemoration of the assassination of Laurent Kabila, father of the current president, Joseph Kabila. In that sermon, he gave what some have described as a mild critique of the current government along with a prophetic message.   In his homily, Dr. Ekofo dreamt with the congregation about a nation he would like to leave for his children – a Congo with economic justice, sovereign over its natural resources, where no person was above the law and with a strong infrastructure.  After the service, he and his family received threats from the government including a visit to their home by soldiers.  The UN assisted the Dr. Ekofo and his family to evacuate the Congo.

Zimbabwe
General Elections in Zimbabwe to determine Mr. Robert Mugabe’s successor were held on July 30, 2018. The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission declared incumbent Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) candidate, Emmerson Mnangagwe, the president with 50.8% of votes over the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance (MDC) candidate, Nelson Chamisa, 44.3%.  ZANU-PF also received the majority in the House of Assembly.  Within days of the announcement, there were demonstrations across the country organized by the MDC.  The army attacked and open fire on protesters and bystanders, killing six people.

Rev. Dr. Kenneth Mtata, on behalf of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, wrote a Pastoral Letter to Zimbabwe and the international community.  The letter had a number of requests to the ZANU-PF and MDC leadership.  Dr. Mtata requested that ZANU PF, “create avenues for inclusive dialogue and engagement as well as to heed to the complaints raised by the MDC Alliance. The nation needs you to commit to a nation-building dialogue process aimed at uniting the nation and creating an inclusive way forward…. To consider and prioritize a formal constitutional recognition for the leader of the main opposition consistent with practices in other developed democracies.”  And to the MDC, Dr. Mtata wrote, “we also plead with the MDC Alliance leadership to bear in mind the pressing need to maintain peace and not take actions that may easily deteriorate to chaos.  Volatile situations tend to deteriorate and attain a life of their own beyond anyone’s control.  National peace is a mutually responsible endeavor that requires you to play your part towards its full attainment.”  The Council continues to engage with the newly elected administration in areas of justice, equality and stability for Zimbabwe.

South Africa
On February 27, South Africa’s Parliament voted to change Section 25 of the constitution, which deals with property, to allow for land expropriation without compensation.  The issues related to land are some of the key unresolved issues since apartheid was defeated.  It has been a campaign platform for South Africa’s ruling party, African National Congress (ANC), yet little has been done to ensure a peaceful transfer of land to the black majority who are among the poorest in the country.  Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, announced in his inaugural State of the Nations Address that the government would accelerate land redistribution. In August, United States President, Donald Trump, tweeted that he was directing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to investigate South Africa land reform, farm seizures and the killing of white farmers. South Africa’s government immediately responded to Trump’s misguided tweet and accused Trump of inflaming an already high-octane debate over land in South Africa.  President Ramaphosa in response and in subsequent interviews, speeches, and statements, has ensured South Africans and the world that land reform will be conducted without an impact on economic growth or food security.  The South Africa Council of Churches has been pushing for such land reform since the end of apartheid.  In response to the question of the role of the church when it comes to the issue of land reform, Professor Mandi Kukuni and Mr. Kojo Parris answered: “either as an institution with a prophetic mandate, major landowner or fulcrum of the lives of many in our communities, the church cannot escape involvement in the ongoing debates around land reform.  Further, since the imposition of apartheid, formal institutions of governance in South Africa has been undergoing a deepening crisis of confidence. Unabated even after 1994, the Church is perhaps the largest and most widely spread structure that retains sufficient authority to provide guidance to the broad masses.  Thus, the Church not only has an obligation to address this deeply emotional issue, but it has the access and means – it cannot escape without comment.”  The South Africa Council of Churches has pledged to continue to put pressure on the South African government until a just resolution is found.

Mission Personnel

In 2018, Global Ministries had 11 mission co-workers serving in 7 African nations (Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Ghana). They accompany partners in areas of girls’ empowerment, agricultural and community development, education, social justice, theological formation, and hunger programs.

 

EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC OFFICE

Derek Duncan, Executive

2018 was a period of new leadership of the East Asia and Pacific office, with extensive partner visits throughout the region, and numerous opportunities to extend solidarity and accompaniment on behalf of Disciples. The following are highlights in the areas of nurturing partnership and working for peace with justice in the region.

South Korea

One of the most notable developments in the region is the progress toward peace on the Korean Peninsula. The year began with the U.S. and Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK) escalating threats to the point of potential nuclear war. Global Ministries joined ecumenical efforts to urge the two countries to engage in a process of dialogue instead of brinksmanship.

In March 2018, Korean Churches produced the statement, “Cultivating Peace, Proclaiming Hope,” which reaffirmed the five principles proclaimed in the ‘88 Declaration, still necessary for resolution of division today: Independence, Peace, Grand National Unity, Humanitarianism and People’s Participation. It called on the international ecumenical community to work with “renewed urgency to prevent another war in the Korean Peninsula, to reduce tensions and promote dialogue, and that establishment of a peace treaty for the Korean Peninsula is a critical and immediate necessity for denuclearization and peaceful coexistence on the Peninsula.”

A breakthrough occurred in early 2018 during the South Korean Olympics, followed up by a summit in April between North and South Korea focused on improving “inter-Korean relations” by increasing high-level dialogues, humanitarian exchanges, and cooperative ventures between the two Koreas, gradually transforming the military/security environment between them into a “peace zone,” and to work with international partners to establish a “permanent and solid peace regime” to replace the Korean War armistice agreement.

US President Donald Trump and DPRK leader Kim Jong-un held a follow-up summit in June 2018 in Singapore, pledging mutual steps toward peace, normalization of relations, and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. While analysts remain wary of the details between the US and North Korea, the commitment to dialogue between North and South Korea seems genuine. Leaders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ issued a statement following the Singapore Summit called “Peace is a Process”:

The statement says peace “must be pursued” by taking “steps…in good faith toward normalization of relations and, most importantly, steps that can lead to forgiveness, reconciliation, and trust which are necessary for peace to be achieved and sustained.” The denominational leaders continue, “we declare our shared hope that the Singapore Summit may one day achieve its aspirational goal of reconciliation and a just peace in Korea, and affirm together our commitment to making such aspirations for peace a reality.

In the fall, the 103rd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea (PROK), was held on the island of Jeju, south of the Republic of Korea. The gathering was an important opportunity to reflect through narrative testimonies and story-telling the issues that many small nations in the Asia-Pacific area face in order to process the pain and grievances of the past, with an aim to collaborate better in advocacy and efforts toward peace and reunification in the Korean Peninsula.

Pacific

In May 2018, the biennial meeting of the Micronesian Council of the United Church of Christ (MCUCC) brought together the churches of Kosrae, Chuuk, and Pohnpei of the FSM and the JRD (Jarin Rarik Dron) in the Marshall Islands. Following the meeting, the Area Executive visited the church in Pohnpei to deliver baccalaureate and commencement addresses to the Ohwa Theological College undergraduate class.

Rev. Tafue Lusama, former General Secretary of the Ekalesia Kelisiano Tuvalu (EKT), or the Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu, was an international guest at the 2017 Disciples General Assembly.  Reciprocating that invitation, in August 2018, Global Ministries leadership attended the General Assembly of the EKT in Funafuti, Tuvalu hosted by Global Service Worker Nikotemo Sopepa. Rev. Lusama, also a Global Ministries International Board member, traveled to Washington, DC after the April board meeting to speak and present on the subject of Climate Migration at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days annual conference.

The Pacific Theological College (PTC) and the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC), are running programs addressing the impacts of climate change in the region. The East Asia and Pacific office will continue to look for ways to support the Pacific Conference of Churches and its member churches, especially in their environmental programs throughout the region.

Japan

This year was the 20th anniversary celebration of the Bazaar Café in Kyoto. The Bazaar Café is a café ministry that operates in the Clapboard Inn, a historic property that is being transferred to the Kyoto Conference of the United Church of Christ in Japan. The occasion was also an opportunity to honor the founder of the Bazaar Café, the Rev. Teruko Enomoto, who passed away April 25, 2018. Under the vision and leadership of Rev. Enomoto, the Bazaar Café has developed several ministries of counseling, bible study, and practices of inclusive hospitality to refugees, the LGBT community, and others marginalized or suffering from trauma and in need of community and healing. In addition to her mission appointment teaching at Doshisha University, Global Ministries co-worker Martha Mensendiek supports and volunteers at the Bazaar Café and was close to Rev. Enomoto.

The Fukushima disaster response continues seven years later and emergency relief was provided this year for natural disasters this summer, including record heat waves, intense flooding, and significant storm damage from multiple typhoons. Much of this impact was felt in the southern side of Shikoku and Honshu Islands, from Hiroshima to Kobe and the Kyoto/Osaka areas. The United Church of Christ in Japan has been responding to emergency needs throughout these disasters, with support from One Great Hour of Sharing and Week of Compassion.

Philippines

Bishop Melzar Labuntog was elected new General Secretary of the UCCP at the Assembly, which was held in Cagayan de Oro on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao. The Assembly was held on the first anniversary of the May 2017 attack and burning of Dansalan College in Marawi City, a school of the UCCP that traces its beginning to the early literacy work of Dr. Frank Laubach (1884-1970), a Congregational missionary who developed an interest working with the Moro people of Mindanao and on relations between Muslims and Christians.

The new campus of the Dansalan College Foundation in Iligan City, approximately an hour north of Marawi and west of Cagayan de Oro still employs many of the faculty of the original campus, some of whom were kidnapped during the Marawi attack. It teaches many of the children whose families fled the attack on Marawi and remains committed to teaching its “peace” curriculum which is based on interfaith understanding and community relations. The school, its Principal Fedelinda Tawagan, and its new facility are all impressive and have ambitious goals to serve the UCCP and the region in the area of interfaith community-building. Global Ministries will continue to support Dansalan College and the UCCP as it discerns the future of this vital institution.

The Philippines was severely impacted in mid-September by Typhoon Ompong, which was the strongest storm to hit the northeast Asia-Pacific region in twenty-five years.  Strong winds, followed by flooding and mudslides killed more than 100 and injured and displaced thousands, particularly in the North Luzon Jurisdiction – Cagayan Valley, Ilocos and Cordillera regions. The UCCP has been responding to the numerous emergency needs, with support from One Great Hour of Sharing and Week of Compassion.

Hong Kong

In August Global Ministries staff traveled to Hong Kong to visit partners, including the Hong Kong Christian Council, the Hong Kong Council of the Christian Church in China, the Chung Chi College Divinity School, Hong Kong Christian Service, and the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY). The visit also included the opportunity to worship with and learn about the Kowloon Union Church and the cooperative outreach efforts of the Asia Pacific Migrant Ministry with the numerous refugees and migrant and domestic workers in Hong Kong.

Of special note, long-term mission co-worker Bruce Van Voorhis retired in 2018 after 27 years of service to Global Ministries. Bruce’s last appointment was organizing and conducting human rights workshops for Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF), a joint program of the Asia and Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY) in Hong Kong and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and editing ICF’s monthly e-newsletter faith and peace. Previously he worked with the Asian Human Rights Commission and the Christian Conference of Asia. Global Ministries celebrates and gives thanks for the gifts and service Bruce has dedicated in ministry with our partners to the work of God’s mission in the world.

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN OFFICE

Angel L. Rivera-Agosto, Area Executive

Introduction: With Faith and Living Hope

At the last Assembly of the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela (UEPV), this Global Ministries’ partner affirmed its identity within “original Pentecostalism.”  “Original Pentecostalism” is the deep expression of a spirituality which anchors its roots in the national ecclesial expressions of Latin American and Caribbean countries and its connection to the processes of affirmation of human rights, social justice, and spirituality of solidarity. In songs and liturgies, and the sharing of daily reflections, the UEPV affirmed its connection with the Venezuelan culture, as well as its particular Pentecostal identity.

As we end this year of witnessing God´s presence in Latin America and the Caribbean, we cannot avoid feeling in our spirit, mind, and will the spiritual strength of solidarity.  Our partners continued embracing the Spirit through receiving pilgrimages, sponsoring workshops and projects, sharing resources, and confronting the powers that deny the fullness of life. The Caribbean Initiative came to a close with resources and experiences that will endure not only in the work of the region, but also globally.  The accompaniment of our partners through civil unrest, migration, and emergencies awakened a divine presence, offering an opportunity to hear and share the Good News.

Puerto Rico
Both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S.A. and Canada and the United Church of Christ have accompanied Global Ministries’ partners through the humanitarian crisis lived on the island after the passing of Hurricane María in 2017.  On November 25, 2017, a delegation of the DOC General Ministries, led by the Reverend Teresa “Terri” Hord-Owens, DOC´s General Minister and President, was invited by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico to participate in their Administrative Board Meeting held that month.  In that meeting, the Administrative Board expressed gratitude for the solidarity and the accompaniment of its sister churches in the U.S. and Canada. Reverend Julia Brown Karimu, President of the Division of Overseas Ministries and Global Ministries’ Co-Executive and the Global Ministries Area Executive for Latin America and the Caribbean were part of that delegation. In the afternoon of the 25th, both Reverends Brown Karimu and Rivera-Agosto participated in the Joint Commission Meeting of both U.S. and Canada and Puerto Rico churches.  There, both leaders presented reports about the work of Global Ministries throughout the world, specifically in Latin America and the Caribbean. Later in that week, a delegation composed by representatives of the Latin America and the Caribbean Office of Global Ministries, Week of Compassion and UCC Disaster Ministries visited projects and partners on the island.   They had the opportunity to visit the Ryder Hospital in Humacao, the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico as well as two communities in Bayamón and Naranjito related to the work of Amaneser 2025.

Jamaica
The Reverend Julia Brown Karimu, President of the Overseas Ministries Division and Co-Executive of the Global Ministries with the Global Ministries Executive for Latin America and the Caribbean, visited partners in Jamaica from February 7-12, 2018. During their visit, both leaders of Global Ministries had the opportunity to dialogue with the United Church of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, the United Theological College for the Western Isles and the International University of the Caribbean.  The context of unemployment, violence and crime has placed the church in the call to strengthen the ministries of local, economic development with emphasis on education and capacity building, as well as attention to the protection and shelter of children and strengthening the family. Reverends Brown Karimu and Rivera Agosto participated in a celebration worship for the 25 years of ministry of the United Church in Hellshire, a congregation located in the capital, and witnessed the appreciation for the ministry of William and Veronica Kyle, former mission co-workers of Global Ministries, who served and contributed to the construction of their house of worship.

Dominican Republic

As part of the Caribbean Initiative, ten members of the Common Global Ministries Board traveled to the Dominican Republic the first week of April 2018. There, they met and visited projects of partners to celebrate relationships and to receive and share the Good News of Jesus Christ.  The group had the opportunity to visit Social Services of the Dominican Churches (SSID), Proyecto Educativo Caminante, the Christian Center of Family Counseling (CECAF), ALFALIT Dominicano and the Evangelical Dominican Church.  Particularly with the EDC, the delegation lived the experience of worshipping God in a Caribbean context and knowing what does it mean to be a church in the Dominican Republic.  Issues like the rights of stateless people, human trafficking, the right to water and sustainable development were deep in the agenda of the pilgrimage. They had the chance to visit a Dominican-Haitian marginalized community in the outskirts of Santo Domingo, talked and shared with the families in that community.  As one of the participants shared in a written report “I felt honored and privileged to have been able to be in the Dominican Republic and take these gifts back home with me. It will be my job as a Global Ministries board member to explain critical presence and mutuality to my congregation and friends.  This amazing trip has given me a renewed purpose of taking the strategic direction of Global Ministries to heart and spread this message within my community.”

El Salvador:

Both Emmanuel Baptist Church (EBC) and the Salvadorian Lutheran Synod (SLS) are engaged in exciting work toward a culture of peace. Their projects address the root causes of violence, injustice, and migration. SLS focuses on trauma healing, ecumenical and inter-religious networking, communications, health and wellness, elementary and middle school projects, and the work with “maras” or youth gangs. EBC prioritizes youth cultural projects, Christian Education, local grants for students, youth efforts in peace mediation and sustainable development. There are also prophetic issues that our friends are working on in El Salvador. The right to clean water is addressed by the Salvadorian Ecumenical Movement (composed by mainline Protestant churches along with the Roman Catholic Church and religious institutions such as the Central American University), to address the Salvadorian Legislative Assembly’s proposed bill that would privatize access to clean water.

Nicaragua

Nicaragua is living difficult times. The Nicaraguan Evangelical Council (CEPAD, acronym in Spanish) and the Interchurch Center for Theological and Social Studies (CIEETS, acronym in Spanish), reported incidents of violence caused by protests against several structural reforms and policies that the government of Nicaragua has tried to put into effect in recent times – the most remarkable being the one regarding the Social Security Law. This generated a great number of protests across the country, especially from the university students. These protests led to people being killed—students, one policeman, one journalist, innocent bystanders, and other protesters. Global Ministries approved support to our partners through One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC) and Week of Compassion (Disciples) providing funds for medical needs, food, and other supplies to people affected by the present situation in Nicaragua.  Global Ministries has provided accompaniment with the presence of mission co-worker, Jeanette Salley, and global service worker, Ignacio Salinas.

Guatemala
On Sunday, June 3, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. local time in Guatemala, Volcán del Fuego erupted, the most violent eruption of the last 40 years. It impacted the central and southern regions of the country: Sacatepéquez, Escuintla, Chimaltenango, and Guatemala City. The volcano exploded and launched pyroclastic flows (a mixture of sand, rocks, and gases of high temperatures +600 degrees) that directly hit the communities surrounding the volcano. In the most remote areas, the effects included rain, sand, and ash, which interrupted air traffic in the afternoon and evening of Sunday, damaging roofs as well as crops.  The Ecumenical Christian Council of Guatemala (ECCG), one of Global Ministries’ partners in Guatemala along with CONAVIGUA, have been actively assisting communities near the volcano, particularly in the province of Esquintla where the Catholic Diocese of that town is also working. ECCG is working through the post-emergence stage of the crisis by collaborating in the rehabilitation of communities, ensuring food, security and psychosocial assistance to the victims, specifically the ones that still live in shelters provided by the Diocese. Global Ministries has provided an effective accompaniment through the presence of our partners, our mission co-worker Ricardo Mayol, and funds for projects provided by UCC’s Disaster Ministries and Disciples’ Week of Compassion.

U.S. Mexico Border
The recent Central America Caravan posed a challenge to the people on both sides of the border and raised the issues of the rights of immigrants and the root causes of migration, not only in Central America but also in other parts of the world.  People are fleeing from countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala because of internal violence, poverty, and climate changeFaith communities continue to show the religious significance of unity and love in the face of increased barriers for asylum seekers and unaccompanied children, which impede our moral and legal obligations to offer protection to vulnerable populations.  Both DOC and UCC churches have been active, participating in the accompaniment of the caravan, leading workshops and visits to the border and signing advocacy documents affirming the rights and the humanity of migrants. Global Ministries visited the Brownsville/Matamoros Border from October 9-11, 2018.  Reverend David Vargas, Global Ministries´ President Emeritus and the Latin America and Caribbean Area Executive led a delegation of DOC General Ministries staff, including the Reverend Teresa “Terri” Hord-Owens, General Minister and President, to express solidarity with Global Ministries partner Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries (SWGSM).  Feliberto Pereira, SWGSM´s Executive Director and Founder, gave us a full report of the conditions and challenges of refugees and asylum seekers on that part of the border. He also took us to the places where the migrants arrived, seeking asylum as well as to shelters where they receive food and medical assistance.

Colombia

Reverends John C. Dorhauer and Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, General Ministers and Presidents of the United Church of Christ in the U.S. and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada, and the two Global Ministries´ Co-Executives, Reverends Julia Brown Karimu and James Moos, signed a letter sent to the Peace Discussion Table, composed by the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army-ELN, to resume peace talks as they have been taking place in Quito, Ecuador. They expressed their grave concern for the challenges facing the peace talks at events such as the attack on the police station in Barranquilla (Soledad – Atlántico), the bombing of an indigenous reservation in Chocó province and the recent wave of assassinations of social leaders could erode trust in the possibility of a sustainable and lasting peace accord among both parties and the people of Colombia. In light of President Juan Manuel Santos’ decision to suspend the fifth round of negotiations at that moment, the church leaders encouraged both sides to return to the negotiations and continue with the agreed upon agenda, to declare a bilateral ceasefire agreement, that could be verified and bring peace to the Colombian people and to show political will from each side to facilitate the continuation of the negotiations. Similarly, they invited the guarantor and accompanier nations to maintain their support for the peace talks as a means to achieving peace in Colombia.

Global Ministries participated in a sign-on campaign for churches and faith-based organizations in response to a death threat against the Christian Centre for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action (JUSTAPAZ).  JUSTAPAZ learned of a communiqué in which an illegal armed group, self-identified as “Águilas Negras” (Black Eagles), threatened to kill a group of social leaders, human rights defenders, organizers, and journalists. JUSTAPAZ was included in the list. Responding to these threats and as part of the international community, the two Global Ministries´ Co-Executives and the Area Executive for Latin America and the Caribbean expressed their solidarity, support, and accompaniment of JUSTAPAZ in the face of this threat. They and the rest of the signatories of the document rejected all forms of violence that could affect the staff of JUSTAPAZ and the communities that they accompany in different regions of Colombia. They also demanded that the government of Colombia act with celerity and efficacy in investigating and judging those responsible for the death threats against JUSTAPAZ. Additionally, they demanded the provision of appropriate protective measures for the staff of JUSTAPAZ and the communities they accompany, with the goal of guaranteeing the continuity of the human rights and peacebuilding efforts they accompany, as a faith-based organization in Colombia.

Cuba
On March 9, 2018, Reverends John C. Dorhauer and Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, General Ministers and Presidents of the United Church of Christ in the U.S. and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada, accompanied other heads of communion signing a letter addressed to the U.S. Congress regarding the reestablishment of the U.S. Embassy in Cuba and to continue strengthening relations between both countries.  The heads of communion expressed their great concern about recent U.S. decisions regarding our Embassy in Havana, the suspension of visas and the State Department travel advisory. As a consequence of mysterious and unexplained health issues reported by some U.S. personnel serving at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba, the U.S. Department of State ordered the departure of all nonessential U.S. diplomats from the embassy in Havana, Cuba.  This has resulted in a suspension of virtually all consular services at the embassy. Cuban citizens wanting to visit family in the United States for emergencies, connect with church partners, or to attend faith-based meetings or assemblies are unable to do so. As a matter of fact, the suspension of visa processing within Cuba requires any Cuban citizen wishing to apply for a visa to do so at a U.S. Embassy outside of Cuba. The increasing costs and complications of the application process—which requires rescheduling interviews, obtaining visas for third countries, international travel, and paying to stay there for at least two weeks—have caused much anguish among our Cuban partners on the island and their families abroad. That decision has affected new economic possibilities in Cuba, where Cubans have opened privately owned bed-and-breakfasts and restaurants, as well as other small businesses. With the downturn in U.S. travel, these private businesses have suffered a severe loss of customers and income. Many of them have been forced to close. The leaders urged the U.S. Congress to press the administration for the re-staffing of the embassy in Havana, the reinstitution of consular services at the embassy, and the removal of the travel advisory for U.S. citizens to travel to the island.

The Caribbean Initiative (CI)
During this past year and a half, Global Ministries has been engaged in the promotion and execution of the Caribbean Initiative (CI).  Through the initiative, we invited the whole church to witness together with the Caribbean region through education, advocacy, and support of our partner churches and organizations in Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Colombia.  Church leaders, congregations, regions, and conferences experienced the incredible gifts and the strong testimonios (testimonies) from our partners as they receive and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. A variety of resources have been shared including Bible studies, music, liturgical materials, unique giving opportunities, People-to-People Pilgrimages, videos, children´s resources, and more. In addition, discussions related to the universal challenges contained in this initiative, like the quest for peace and sustainable development in the face of climate change has been addressed through the materials and the pilgrimages across the Caribbean.

More than 30 different written, audio, and video materials as well as recorded webinars were published on our website and are still there for future reference, study, and use.  That includes Bibles studies, background documents for witness and advocacy, thematic presentations by partners, liturgical materials for special occasions and worship.  You can access the materials through our website.  One of the most important materials in the initiative has to do with the children.  By inviting children to “Embrace the Fruits of the Spirit,” the initiative developed a Vacation Bible School curriculum designed to help children discover the fruits of the spirit and how to apply them in their daily lives while exploring the Caribbean.

To grasp the experience of the Caribbean Initiative, it has been crucial to fully recognize the inspiring work of our partners in the region.  One of the examples we can quote regarding the witness of a partner is through the challenges of the ongoing peace process in Colombia.  Through meeting our partners, leaders from our churches have reflected upon the contrasts between what they read in the news and the testimonies from the people who put their own commitment and bodies on the line for the cause of peace and justice.  The same can be reported from the church delegations that traveled to countries like the Dominican Republic and Cuba to be present in the lives of the brothers and sisters with whom we collaborate in a spirit of international solidarity. However, a most profound journey that we can describe from the experiences of those pilgrimages during this past year is that of inner transformation to embrace mission from a different perspective.

Another way in which the Caribbean Initiative connected people in mission was through giving opportunities.  By this key element in mission, churches, conferences, and congregations connected with our partners in the Caribbean.  Partners like House of Hope in Haiti and AMANESER 2025 in Puerto Rico could develop their ministries regarding the defense of children’s human rights and solar-powered communities, respectively, thanks to donations from DOC and UCC congregations.  Leaders from the Evangelical Dominican Church and JUSTAPAZ in Colombia could participate in mission-in-residence experiences in the U.S., sharing their experiences with local congregations and networks.

When we embrace peace, when we embrace justice, when we embrace hope, we do what our partners in the Caribbean have been doing throughout the history of all of their ministries: putting their own bodies, their own circumstances and realities into their commitment for the Gospel and the sharing of the Good News.  How can we put our own bodies at stake, if we are about to talk about commitment, ministry, mission, the sake of justice, peace, hope and the fullness of life?  May this initiative, as the ones that came before this one: the Congo and the Middle East Initiatives and the upcoming Southern Asia Initiative, continue inviting the church to go deeper into our vision that all people and creation share in God’s abundant life.

 

MIDDLE EAST AND EUROPE OFFICE

Peter Makari, Area Executive

The theme for the 2019 General Assembly, “Abide in Me,” comes from Jesus’ reminder that, as Christians, we cannot live full lives without faith.  Jesus said, “Abide in me as I abide in you.  Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.  Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5).  The relationship Jesus describes is one of ultimate mutuality: each depends on the other to bear fruit.  In mission, and specifically in the Middle East and Europe, the many relationships we nurture are based on a similar mutuality, which Global Ministries describes as “walking in hope with others in God’s mission.”  In 2018, throughout the Middle East and Europe, Global Ministries walks with, our partners to nurture a deeper community, to pursue peace with justice, and to further God’s mission in the world.

In 2018 in the Middle East and Europe, Global Ministries sought to nurture community—to accompany partners in witnessing to God’s abundant grace through the proclamation of the Gospel, and exchanges of people, gifts and talents—in a variety of ways.  With an intensification of unhelpful US policies toward the Middle East, it was perhaps especially necessary to ensure that we engage our partners in ways that were mutually edifying.

Through regular communication and engagement with partners throughout the Middle East and Europe during the year, and in visits to the region to visit particular partners in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Greece, and Morocco, the realities of the continuing displacement of people on a massive scale, the impact of US policy decisions related to Israel/Palestine, and socio-political and economic realities in each context inform and affect the abilities and priorities of our partners, and our participation with them in their ministries and witness—yet our long-term accompaniment which remains steady and steadfast.

Syria
In many countries, the eight-year Syria war continues to impact daily life—for those who have been displaced and those to whom they have fled.  Several partners in Syria, the Middle East, and Europe are actively engaged in addressing the urgent humanitarian needs of the half of the Syrian population who have been forcibly uprooted. Global Ministries, with the generous contributions of Disciples and UCC members, contributes to that response, which is personal, humane, and continuous.  Even as the fighting has ebbed and the world’s attention seems to have moved on, the fact that so many millions remain as refugees and internally displaced requires the persistent care and response from the global community.

Egypt
Eight years after the beginning of the so-called “Arab Spring” and the Egyptian revolution that captured the imagination of people everywhere, the country has passed through significant political change, and the economy is struggling.  The population has reached 100 million, all living on a narrow strip of land along the Nile River.  Our partners there, the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS) and the Coptic Orthodox Bishopric for Public, Ecumenical, and Social Services (BLESS) are deeply engaged in local community development to address the needs of the poorest of the poor.  Additionally, CEOSS has initiated interreligious and intercultural dialogue to improve relations in the country and between the people of Egypt and others.  From June 24-29, 2018, CEOSS brought a seven-person delegation from Egypt to encounter interested institutions and partners in the United States as part of an Egyptian-US Dialogue Initiative, with the support of Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ.  In an intense week of meetings, public fora, and advocacy in Chicago and Washington, DC, the delegation strove to provide a more complete and human perspective on the realities of life in Egypt today, and to explore ways that the relationships between Egypt and the US could be strengthened—governmentally as well as through public diplomacy, civil society, and religious institutions.  The dialogue initiative is part of an ongoing emphasis that began in October 2014, and will be followed by a reciprocal visit in Egypt in February 2019, and a further encounter in 2020.

Israel-Palestine
In 2018, US policy directions toward Israel/Palestine resulted in an exaggeration of support for Israel at the expense of rights and justice for Palestinians, including the less than 2% of the population that is Christian.  These shifts included the fallout of the decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, defunding the UN Relief and Works Agency which is responsible for large-scale programs for Palestinian refugees, and efforts to curtail speech that supports Palestinian rights.  Global Ministries walked in solidarity with Palestinian partners through visits and through advocacy.in 2018, participating in a conference of the YWCA of Palestine called “Youth Participate and Youth Decide: Towards Freedom and Justice” in October, supporting United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 which urges “UN organizations and civil society to consider ways to increase meaningful and inclusive participation of youth in building a sustainable future that promotes justice, respect, and security. The prolonged military occupation of Palestine and the consistent violations of rights, targeted mostly against young women and men, have created a desperate and hopeless state for youth.”  We also participated in the annual olive harvest, a program of solidarity organized by the Joint Advocacy Initiative of the YWCA and YMCAs in Palestine. Further, Global Ministries was represented at the 9th annual conference of Kairos Palestine, a seminal document-turned-movement offering an authentic and important voice of Palestinian Christians. Further, Global Ministries signed two major ecumenical statements and letters, on the occasion of 70 years since the founding of the State of Israel and the Palestinian Nakba (“catastrophe”), and on the dangerous shifts in US policy toward Israel/Palestine named above, by supporting peace, justice, and equality. This, in addition to continuous advocacy efforts throughout the year to urge peace and resolution to conflict in the region, including Syria and Yemen, with a more just US policy.

Europe
Global Ministries continues to pay close attention to the ways that our partners provide bold and humane voices and responses to the refugee presence, often dubbed a crisis.  In Italy with the Waldensian Church’s Mediterranean Hope, in Greece through the Evangelical Church’s Perichoresis, and with the Reformed Church in Hungary, our partners are offering a vision and actions that boldly reject the anti-immigrant sentiment—and even policies—of their societies and governments. By appointing mission co-workers to serve with these church partners, and by supporting their witness, Global Ministries and our partners live out God’s radical love by confronting powers that deny the fullness of life and the integrity of creation.  In addition, Global Ministries affirmed a formal relationship with the Church of Scotland, a communion with which we have worked positively over the years. Such an affirmation reflects our core value to build interdependence and unity among all of God’s children.

Through partner relations, advocacy for peace with justice, the appointment of mission co-workers, financial support for programs, participation in interfaith relations, and by sharing the stories of our partners and the people they serve, Global Ministries’ engagement in the Middle East and Europe reflects a commitment to Christ’s love and God’s mission, and a belief that, in order to share with partners to work for God’s justice, peace and reconciliation. Neither we nor our partners can do it alone.  We are intertwined with our partners as vines and branches, bearing a fruit that is not always easy to recognize, but fruit indeed—the fruit of shared participation in God’s mission.

 

SOUTHERN ASIA OFFICE

Deenabandhu Manchala, Area Executive

Populist politics fueled by religious supremacist versions of nationhood in India, a fragile democratic formation in an atmosphere of terrorism in Pakistan, subversion of constitutional norms and democratic institutions in Sri Lanka, unprecedented floods in Kerala, India and the earthquake in Palu in Indonesia that saw thousands dead, and the continued displacement and dehumanization of many marginalized sections for economic growth and unrestrained industrialization, are the backdrop of the context in which Global Ministries partners in southern Asia region find themselves as they strive for justice, peace and dignity for all.

East Timor
As a follow up to a survey and evaluation of IPTL-GM partnership in Lisadila, a vocational training school in horticulture has started from November 2018. It will become fully operational in about six months and will benefit many families, especially as it addresses the employment needs of those who have no access to higher education in this remote part of the country. Capacity building of IPTL Pastors continues as Rev. Tom Liddle, a GM mission co-worker facilitates training in partnership with the leadership of the IPTL.

Indonesia
Global Ministries provides agricultural training farm for farmers and pastors in organic farming and herbicides, and staff development of the Theological School in Lewa (STT, Lewa) in Sumba, Indonesia. Global Ministries also supports GMIT’s (Protestant Church in West Timor) the House of Hope, Kupang, Indonesia which has recently been opened to be a shelter for women rescued from traffickers in the Nusa Tengara region of Indonesia. Additionally, there is an active collaboration with other partner organizations agencies such as the UnitingWorld of the Uniting Church in Australia and civil society organizations working on issues of human trafficking and religious freedom.

Sri Lanka
The Church of American Ceylon Mission continues to receive special attention. It has had its biennial assembly at which a new constitution, covenanting themselves to be a congregational church, was adopted. Global Ministries continues to help resolve divisions within, and the consistent accompaniment seems to be resulting in positive developments.  Global Ministries’ facilitated events in 2017 and 2018 have resulted in some concrete planning for mission engagement in the Wanni region of Sri Lanka and for its life and ministries during the next four years (2018-2022).

Partnerships for God’s Justice in solidarity with the victims of human trafficking: Asia, especially Southern Asia, is perhaps the largest cluster of countries where the socially and economically disempowered people are constantly deprived of their livelihoods, displaced, forced to migrate and thus fall prey to traffickers.  This reality has presented itself as an opportunity for Global Ministries in its ongoing exploration for new meanings and expressions of partnership. Through a call to be in solidarity with victims of human trafficking, Global Ministries in collaboration with the Protestant Church in West Timor, Indonesia (GMIT) convened a gathering of church workers, activists, and theologians to reflect on the meaning of partnership for God’s justice. About 53 people from 11 countries met for five days in Kupang, Indonesia. The gathering provided an opportunity for those present to learn from one another’s expertise and experience, develop new partnerships, and to resolve on mutual accompaniment. It affirmed the need for partnerships for justice in contexts where forces of evil and death seem to collaborate to abuse and dehumanize the vulnerable people. The conference participants attempted to reimagine partnership beyond resource sharing and bilateralism, particularly when faced with common challenges, such as human trafficking and forced migration beyond other things. They asserted that partnership in mission is inclusive of all who are committed to the values of justice, peace, and human dignity, and hence is and has to be multi-directional.  The conference participants resolved to work together vigorously through the new partnerships that were facilitated during their time together in Kupang. A full-length report is available on the Global Ministries website.

Forum for Freedom of Religion or Belief:
Many religious minority communities in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are facing new and complex threats on account of the increasing nexus between political powers and religious fundamentalist forces. This forum will give visibility and strengthen advocacy efforts of the civil society organizations and faith communities in their respective countries as well as in the region. It was formally launched in Bangkok, Thailand in December 2018. Global Ministries has played a key role in the formation of this forum for rights and justice to the marginalized communities in South Asia.

Celebrating Diversity: Global Ministries’ Southern Asia Area Focus, 2019-20

Global Ministries invites its constituencies to focus their efforts on learning and solidarity with communities and churches in a specific region for a two-year long process. In 2013-14, the Democratic Republic of Congo was the focus, 2015-16 the Middle East, and 2017-18 the Caribbean. 2019-20 will be an occasion for learning, being challenged and enriched by different expressions of Christian witness in certain distinct and diverse contexts of Southern Asia. It will be an opportunity for learning and interaction in order to be challenged and enriched by different expressions of Christian witness in select contexts of Southern Asia. It will explore and attempt new expressions of partnerships, with an emphasis on facilitating and nurturing partnerships for justice to the marginalized people. The four foci will be: 1. Struggles for an affirmation of human dignity in response to human trafficking, slavery, and forced migration. 2. Freedom of religion as a human right in the emerging context of aggressive assertions of majoritarian religio-political ideologies. 3. Churches as open, just and inclusive communities amidst cultures of discrimination and exclusion. 4. Agriculture as counter-culture to industrial and consumer cultures that destroy earth’s resources and commodify people and relationships.

 

MISSION PERSONNEL

Catherine Nichols, Executive
Lorna Hernandez, Coordinator, People-to-People Program

Mission Personnel
As a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world, the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries participates in ministries which attempt to break the divide among God’s people by partnering with churches and church-related organizations in the sending and receiving of missionaries.  The exchange of people and their gifts unites people across geographical, racial, gender, and economic barriers.  A critical component of this ministry includes the presence of missionaries in congregations, allowing congregations to share the vital ministries of the partner churches and our people to people pilgrimages, which offer individuals and congregations opportunities to cross boundaries and share the love of God as they receive the love of God from those they encounter.

Through the Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, mission co-workers are participating in ministries of critical presence around the world.  They are engaged in a variety of ministries including theological education, leadership development, community and development work, human rights, health ministries, children’s ministries, and pastoral ministries.

A total of 105 mission co-workers served in 43 countries in 2018, serving in the following categories:  27 fully-supported mission co-workers; 30 global service workers (long-term volunteers); 10 global mission interns; and 38 global associates.  The distribution of fully-supported mission co-workers by area:  Africa, 7; East Asia and the Pacific, 4; Middle East and Europe, 5; Latin America and the Caribbean, 6; and Southern Asia, 5. In addition, 20 individuals served as short-term volunteers.

Seventeen persons were appointed to church and/or church-related institutions around the world, including ten re-appointees.  Terms varied from fully-supported to Global Service Workers.  This distribution by area of total appointments was Africa 6; East Asia and the Pacific 1; Europe 2; Latin America and the Caribbean 3; Middle East 3; Southern Asia 1.

Eight new fully-supported Mission Co-workers were appointed or re-appointed in 2018:  Kahala Cannon, Swaziland; Larry and Debbie Colvin, Ghana; Fritz-Gerald Joseph and Emmanuela Loccident, Morocco; Fiona Kendall, Italy; Jeffrey Mensendiek, Japan; Michelle McKay, Haiti; and, Mark Knowles and Danielle Murry-Knowles, Lesotho.

One new global mission intern was appointed through Week of Compassion funds in 2018:  Danielle Lee, Korea.  Six new Global Service Workers (one year or longer) were appointed during 2018:  Maria Breckenridge, Zambia; Ros Gnatt, Germany; Benjamin Drolet, Lebanon; Anne Gregory, Thailand; A. Violeta Rocha, El Salvador; and, Ignacio Salinas, Nicaragua.

There were 20 short-term volunteers (two weeks to eleven months) appointed in 2018 who served in or will serve in 2019.  List of names and term dates are available upon request.

The overseas associate category is a recognition normally given to members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ who are serving outside of the United States and Canada with a church, ecumenical institution or project that involves a ministry that is in accordance with the mission principles of the Common Global Ministries Board. There was one new associate appointment in 2018:  Ainsley Anderson, Japan.

Seven individuals completed their service with Global Ministries in the category of fully-supported appointees:  Mark Behle, Lesotho, retiring after 34 years of service; Amelia Casillas, Paraguay; Anil and Teresa Henry, India; Loren McGrail, Israel-Palestine; Susan Valiquette, South Africa, after 20 years of service; and, Bruce Van Voorhis, Hong Kong, retiring after 28 years of service.

Five Global Mission Interns completed their service in 2018:  Joanines Adorno-Diaz, India; Mary Kathryn Ball, Ecuador; Stewart Barker, Swaziland; Joshua Busick, Dominican Republican; and, Toni Reynolds, Dominican Republic.

Twelve individuals completed their service as Global Service Worker in 2018:  Pedro Carlo-Muñiz, Paraguay; Scott Couper, South Africa, after 20 years of service; Eleazar Fernandez, Philippines; Jerri Handy, Mexico; Nancy Lott-Henry, India; Linda James, Democratic Republic of Congo; Susan “Andy” Jepson and Lindley Kinerk, Sri Lanka;  Lauren Robinson, Philippines; Magyolene Rodriguez, Nicaragua; Bethany Waggoner, Lebanon; and, Allison Trezona, United Kingdom.

Missionary Relationships
From January 1 – December 31, 2018, 24 missionaries were involved in a ministry of critical presence through missionary visits and relationship building:

Amelia Casillas (1 month) Paraguay; Anne Gregory (3 months) Thailand; Bruce Van Voorhis, (4 months) Hong Kong; Jeffrey Mensendiek (1 Month) Japan; Scott Couper (1 month) South Africa;  Susan Valiquette-Couper (4 Months) South Africa; Kearstin Bailey (1 months) Hungary/ Greece; Lindley Kinerk and Susan Jepson (2 months); Jerri Handy, Mexico (2 months), Mark Behle (4 months) Lesotho; Loren McGrail, Israel/Palestine (4 months); Mary Kathryn Ball (1 month) Ecuador; Joshua Busick (1 month) Dominican Republic; Stewart Barker (1 month) Swaziland; Lauren Robinson (1 month) Philippines; Allison Trezona (1 month) United Kingdom; Magdolyne Rodriguez (1 month) Nicaragua; Joye and Bob Ray (2 days); Toni Reynolds (1 month) Dominican Republic; Mary and Gary Olney-Lord (2 days); Joani Adorno, India (2 months); Tom Liddle, Timor, (2 months),  Monica Liddle, Timor, (2 months); Larry and Debbie Colvin, Ghana, (2 months).

People-to-People Pilgrimages
The People-to-People Pilgrimage Program continues to assist Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ congregations, regions, conferences, and other related organizations with mission pilgrimages to meet our international partners face-to-face. In 2018, the People-to-People office assisted with inquiries, provided educational materials and supported delegations, resulting in 67 mission pilgrimages. The numbers of pilgrimages per area were 3 to Africa, 4 to the Middle East and Europe, 3 to Southern Asia, 2 to East Asia and the Pacific, and 55 to Latin America and the Caribbean. The countries visited were Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Israel/Palestine, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Philippines, South Africa, and South Korea. The Guides for Leaders, Participants, and Advocacy are still available to delegations in an effort to prepare them before, during, and after their international pilgrimage. The Caribbean Initiative offered and experienced an increase of pilgrimages to this region, which was a focus this year on the webpage, designed to offer information on costs, itineraries, and partner information.

 

GLOBAL ADVOCACY AND EDUCATION

Rebekah Choate, Program Associate

The Global Advocacy and Education program provides leadership in implementing the Global Ministries strategic direction “Working for Peace with Justice.” The advocacy program coordinates with the area offices in relation to regional justice issues that are of concern to our global partners and the communities they serve, and responses are guided by the actions and position of our partners. Opportunities to take action in response to regional or global advocacy concerns include awareness-raising in Global Ministries updates, on the website, and using social media; through supportive letters, statements and solidarity actions by denominational leaders; engaging Disciples members in ecumenical advocacy campaigns and initiatives; and by resourcing board and General Assembly actions.

A cornerstone advocacy event Global Ministries sponsors is the annual conference Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice. The 2018 Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference, held April 20-23, was titled “A World Uprooted: Responding to Migrants, Refugees, and Displaced People”. The 2019 Ecumenical Advocacy Days, entitled “Troubling the Waters for the Healing of the World,” will be held April 5-8, 2019. As the Main Representative accredited to the United Nations, the associate participated in a WCC symposium on the role of religion and faith-based organizations in international affairs with a theme of, “Perspectives on Migration: Displacement and Marginalization, Inclusion and Justice. Global Ministries was also represented in the first Disciples Public Presence meeting of grassroots activists in September 2018 in order to network and resource local church leaders and activists with global advocacy tools.

With the Africa office, Global Ministries works with partners to support peaceful and democratic elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Elections were supposed to be held in November 2016, they then were postponed to December 2017, and have now been scheduled for December 2018. US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has been calling for elections to take place and for a peaceful transfer of power, which is a good thing. Global Ministries will continue to work with partners to support democracy, peace, and human rights in the Congo and in the surrounding region.

With the East Asia and the Pacific office, Global Ministries provides support for implementing the 2015 Disciples resolution “A Call for Peace, Justice, and Reunification in the Korean Peninsula.” In 2018, attention focused on the steps towards calming tensions, particularly the summit between President Trump and Kim Jong-un. The associate was also a delegate to the NCCK’s 2018 Peace Treaty Campaign in Japan and South Korea. Peace and human rights in the Philippines is a priority for Global Ministries’ advocacy and has been focused on indigenous peoples’ rights and the extra-judicial killings under the Duterte government’s war on drugs.

With the Latin America and the Caribbean office, the focus of advocacy for the Caribbean initiative is on relations with Cuba, the peace accords in Colombia, the status of Puerto Rico, the economic situation in Venezuela, climate change and the hurricanes that ravaged the Caribbean in 2017, and the situation of migrants and refugees. In particular, advocacy backgrounders were produced on issues talked about during the webinars.

With the Middle East and Europe office, advocacy focuses on peace, human rights, and demilitarization throughout the region. Many of the action alerts come as part of the implementation of the resolution passed at the 2017 General Assembly, “A Call for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to Advocate for the Rights of Children Living Under Israeli Military Occupation.”

With the Southern Asia office, human trafficking continues to be a large focus of partners in the region along with advocating for the rights of marginalized groups and more resources will be produced for the Southern Asia Initiative launching in 2019.

 

MISSION ENGAGEMENT

Marcy Gansler, Executive
Beth Guy, Director of Communications
Brande Midgett-Crosby, Communications Associate

Caribbean Initiative

The Caribbean Initiative continued in 2018 after being launched at the 2017 General Assembly in Indianapolis, IN. In 2018, five webinars were held with Caribbean partners on subjects such as migration/ human-trafficking, peace, economic justice, and sustainable development. There were approximately 150 live views of webinars and several more who later watched the webinar recordings. Videos sharing Caribbean partners’ perspectives on mission were also created as a way to hear and learn directly from Caribbean partners. A new children’s curriculum, Embrace the Fruits of the Spirit, was promoted as a free VBS and/or Sunday School curriculum. The curriculum was downloaded approximately 270 times and reviews from churches who used the curriculum have been overwhelmingly positive. A seven-day devotional/Bible study written by the Reverend Dr. Oral Thomas, Acting President of the United Theological College of the West Indies, was added as a resource as well.

World Communion Sunday

Global Ministries was pleased to add six new communion stories to the list of World Communion Sunday resources this year. These resources come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Indonesia, Mexico, and Cuba. In 2018 alone, the World Communion Sunday page on the Global Ministries website received over 9,000 unique page views. Resources for World Communion Sunday continue to be in high demand and developing new materials is a priority for Global Ministries.

Social Media

The Office of Mission Engagement has started the process of strengthening the social media presence of Global Ministries, beginning with the launch of the Global Ministries Instagram page. Through Instagram, Global Ministries is sharing information about programs and projects. There are also “humans of Global Ministries” posts sharing personal stories from leaders of partner organizations, and “where in the world” posts highlighting beautiful images from locations around the world. While still in the early stages of gaining an Instagram audience, Global Ministries already has approximately 170 followers and has about 11 interactions per post on average.

Also, in strengthening the social media strategy, the Mission Engagement Office has started utilizing the social media scheduling software, Hootsuite. This has helped to streamline social media posting and has provided statistical data to ensure that Global Ministries can communicate with the constituency via social media most effectively.

Global Mission Church

The Office of Mission Engagement worked on streamlining the process to become a Global Mission Church. This new process asks congregations to meet five criteria each year to keep or gain the Global Mission Church designation. Through the new process, churches are asked to Pray, Receive, Give, Learn, and Advocate – with specific activities listed for each action. Global Ministries will begin heavily promoting this new, simplified version of the Global Mission Church process in 2019. It is the hope that more churches will begin the Global Mission Church process as it will be easier to implement.

CHILD AND ELDER SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM

Linda Lawrence, Program Manager

The Global Ministries Child and Elder Sponsorship program works collaboratively with fifteen of Global Ministries’ partners. Individuals, local Disciples and UCC churches and organizations commit to providing financial aid to children and elders from Global Ministries partners participating in the program.  Partner sites vary in the number of children and elders they serve and the services that are provided.

In 2019 the program will include its third elder care program. In many countries, individuals do not have social security or retirement benefits.  The program will be partnering with the Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture’s Ajyal “Generations” Senior Care Program in Bethlehem, Palestine.  A site visit was made in 2018 by the Middle East area executive and the sponsorship program manager.  The word “Ajyal” means generations and is the first program in Bethlehem to provide support to residents over age 60. The program includes spiritual and cultural programs, basic health services, computer classes, a book club, drama group, and choir.  Currently, the Ajyal program is providing services to approximately 100 seniors.

In 2018, we invited the sponsorship coordinator of the Family Village Farm to visit the United States. Mrs. Anita Grace Paul spent a month visiting congregations that have supported children at the Family Village Farm as well as students attending King’s Matriculation School.  Currently, all eligible residents for the sponsorship program are sponsored and more than 100 students of King’s Matriculation School have been able to pay tuition and receive daily hot meals during the school year through sponsorship.

Mrs. Paul’s visit proved to be very helpful. She was positively received by all the local churches she visited.  In 2019, Ms. Betty Murillo, Director of Dumaguete Kalauman Center for Development (Kalauman) in the Philippines will also participate in the Mission Co-worker in Residence Program.   She will visit and share stories with local Disciples and UCC churches that support Kalauman children. Depending on the schedule of her visit she may be present at the General Assembly and General Synod.

Kalauman provides holistic services and programs for children, adults, and the Dumaguete community.  The program was operated on the campus of Silliman University for more than 30 years but was displaced by a university expansion plan. Beginning in 2017 to the present, Global Ministries sponsorship donors and others have contributed to a new building costing approximately $130,000.00.

The Child and Elder Sponsorship Program continues to have a Critical Presence in many areas of the world because of ongoing needs and the support of sponsors. Through this program, children are allowed to be children and elders are provided assistance to live out their lives in dignity and love in their own tradition, faith, and community.

 

RAMBO COMMITTEE
Landa Simmons, President
Rambo Committee, Inc,
1648 River Ridge
Williamsburg, VA 23185-7546

The Rambo Committee’s main priority is assisting in building the capacity of the Christian Hospital in Mungeli to respond to the critical medical needs of the community. During the last 15 years, the hospital has achieved tremendous expansion and growth in terms of infrastructures, equipment and resources. The hospital has experienced challenges in the recent past in terms of leadership, but is now under the capable leadership of Dr. Raj Singh.

 

DISCIPLES AMATEUR RADIO FELLOWSHIP, INC.
John Park Winkler, Jr, President
7201 Astoria Ct., Watuaga, Texas 76148
660.464.2471
Website: www.darfucan.org
Email: johnparkw@gmail.com

The Disciples Amateur Radio Fellowship (DARF) has provided Radio and communications equipment for overseas mission work since Jim Sugioka convened the organizational meeting at the International Convention in St. Louis in 1958.

In 2015, the installation of a fourth generation of HF communications equipment was completed in The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), consisting of 26 solar powered HF Stations. The DARF is reviewing a request from the Disciples community for an additional ten stations.

Over the years, DARF has provided equipment for mission work in Paraguay, the Philippines, Lesotho, DRC, and Guatemala.

DARF continues regular daily and weekly communications among its membership using networks on the 20 and 75-meter amateur radio bands and using Skype. It also occasionally publishes “The Mission-Aire,” reporting on its work and activities.

John Park Winkler, Jr, (W5JPW) President
7201 Astoria Ct, Watauga, TX 76148
(660)464-2471

Dan Owen (W5AHC), Vice President
9004 Bancroft Trail
Austin, TX 78729
(512) 263-7788

John Dale (N0FYE), Treasurer
6110 Leighton Ave
Lincoln, NE 68507
(402) 467-1085

Fred H Erickson, (WD9IXA), Editor, The Mission-aire
3750 Miller Dr. Apt 1414
Columbia, MO 65201
(573) 489-3176

GA-1901

GA-1901

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)

Including the Office of General Minister and President

Teresa Hord Owens, General Minister and President

Download PDF

 

Office of General Minister and President

Administration

I am pleased that the Rev. Lee Hull Moses will join the OGMP staff in February 2019 as Chief of Staff.  Rev. Moses most recently pastored a congregation in Greensboro, NC, and brings expertise in non-profit management and fundraising to her ministry with the OGMP.

Regional and Congregational Ministry Engagement

During 2018, I attended and preached at the majority of Regional Assemblies across the church, including Canada.  I was honored to preside at the installations of new regional ministers: the Rev. Dr. Andy Mangum, (Southwest); Bishop Valerie Melvin, (North Carolina); the Rev. Dr. Betsy Goehrig, (Florida) and the Rev. Chris Morton, (Nebraska).  When possible, I have preached at a local congregation at the conclusion of Regional Assemblies.   I have also preached at several congregational milestone anniversary celebrations.  It has been important to engage as widely as possible across the whole church in order to hear and learn, and to bear witness to local ministries, local challenges, and connect with Disciples where they are.  As I stated in my Advent message, despite the challenges we face, the spirit of hope permeates our church.

I continue to work closely with the College of Regional Ministers in support of regional minister search processes, and as part of the CRM itself in its regular meetings.  The focus of Several regions are in search for a new Regional Minister, including Pacific Southwest and Arizona, with Virginia having just completed a search.  The Ohio region has collaborated with the four contiguous regions for congregational, clergy and Commission on Ministry support. A new Regional Transitional Team leads the work of visioning the future for Ohio.  I, along with general ministry leaders, have been engaged as Ohio charts a new course.

I am working with the College of Regional Ministers (CRM) on a church-wide education plan to revive and renew spiritual practice across the church, particularly Biblical literacy.  The goal is a collection of resources across various media that can be utilized by congregations to promote spiritual formation and practice, and theological reflection.  A small group of Regional Ministers will work with me to identity resources and prepare to launch the program.

Data Initiative

I have convened a small group of Disciples laypersons with information technology and data backgrounds.  We have identified 2 phases of priority: 1) the Yearbook data gathering and data mining functions, and 2) gathering data to assess clergy well-being and flourishing.  We are preparing a proposal for external funding for this venture.  The Yearbook phase will include database and query design, including standardized reports.  Access must be both easy and useful, and providing congregations with valuable feedback is a key objective.  We are also benchmarking with other mainline denominations to see what currently exists elsewhere.

Communications

We are working with a communications firm to help assess the clarity and consistency of our messaging, and to help improve both our communications across the church, but also our messaging in the public square about the ministry of the Disciples of Christ.  A series of interviews with Disciples, lay and clergy, across expressions of the Church has highlighted that common language such as the identity statement, and other historical “mantras” are widely known and used.  We also understand ourselves to be theologically diverse, welcoming all to the Lord’s table, and striving to live in the tension that that diversity and welcome often bring.  We do , however, struggle with how to share that message beyond these formulated statements.  We will continue to work on the messaging in preparation for a wider roll-out in the coming year.  This consulting engagement is not just to deliver a new “campaign”, but rather to work with us on an ongoing basis to optimize communications re: key issues and events.

On another front, Communications Ministries will be reviewing and revising our web presence in the coming year to improve access and navigation across the site as we strive to make information more readily available across the church.

Racial/Ethnic Ministries

I attended the National Convocation, the Bi-Lingual Hispanic Assembly, and the NAPAD Convocation this summer.  The leaders of these ministries are planning to co-locate their assemblies in 2020, as we all seek to live into our calling to be a church that reflects the family of God.

I was honored to preside at the installation of the first woman to lead La Obra Hispana as the National Hispanic Pastor, the Rev. Lori Tapia. I also presided at the installation of the Rev. Chung Seong Kim as the Executive Pastor of NAPAD.

Cabinet

The HR Task Force, comprised of General Ministry representatives, drafted language to be submitted to the General Board and General Assembly as recommended minimum standards for General Ministry policies on harassment, including sexual harassment.  The Cabinet approved the recommended draft language, and some general ministries have already revised their HR policies accordingly.  This language is presented to the General Board as a resolution for adoption and referral to the General Assembly.

Justice Ministry

The participation of Disciples in the Poor People’s Campaign during 2018, both within state-based campaigns and Disciples’ ministries, has generated organic energy for social justice advocacy and ministry.  Not only were Disciples present in state Poor People’s Campaign actions, but Disciples were collectively present on several occasions with the national Campaign in Washington, DC.  In September, Disciples who have been engaged in local justice work were invited to meet in Iowa at the “Disciples Public Presence” conference.  Having witnessed the power of our collective presence and work, the goal was how to organize so that we can educate about social justice issues, informed by people in their own local contexts, and leverage our work together across the church.  A team of small groups is working now to create a plan for future communication and collective action around social justice issues.

Disciples continue to engage in advocacy around immigration policy, across many expressions of the church.  While there are specific human impacts on US soil, we also seek to educate and advocate about the root causes of global migration.

Recent trips to Good Samaritan Ministries (a ministry of the Southwest Region) in Texas, as well as to Tijuana, Mexico, with Global Ministries Partner, the Daniel F Romero Center for Border Ministries and Strategies (Centro Romero) allowed opportunities to see the challenges ministries face to provide relief and assistance as global violence, war, and poverty force many to seek safety and peace for their families.

Ecumenical Ministry

Along with Paul Tche, President of the Council on Christian Unity, and Jen Garbin, Regional Minister in Canada, I attended the General Council of the United Church of Canada.  They approved our proposal to enter into a full communion relationship.  A resolution is before the General Board and the General Assembly to approve this relationship in 2019.

I will attend the Puerto Rico Disciples Assembly later in February 2019.  I will also attend the United Church of Christ General Synod.

I will be the Sunday Morning preacher for the Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, DC, in April 2019.  I continue to be active as a representative of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada at meetings of the National Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.

General Assembly

The work of the General Assembly Futuring Task Force has been key to the planning of the 2019 General Assembly in Des Moines. In addition to working to keep costs down and raise sponsorships, we have added value via educational offerings. Pastors who need boundary training or anti-racism training to maintain their standing can get those classes at the event. Commissioned ministers can get their Disciples history. Elder training and classes for college students navigating campus life are planned. That is in addition to the many workshops on administration, Global Ministries and even a panel discussion on the first 50 years of The Design.

Other innovations for this assembly include:

  • Opening and closing celebrations
  • Starting on Saturday afternoon and ending Wednesday morning to potentially save one night’s hotel cost
  • An open call for sermon submissions
  • MissionFest! in the exhibit hall where congregations and ministries can share their ministry successes with other congregations and ministries looking for inspiration.

Recommended Action

The General Board receives the report from the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) including the Office of General Minister and President and forwards it to the 2019 General Assembly for consideration and discussion.

 

Center for Faith and Giving
General Board Report
Spring 2019

Our Vision: To create a culture of generosity across the life of the whole church

Our Mission: To provide resources that teach stewardship as a spiritual discipline and a whole life response to the abundance of God.

Standing Committee Members: Eric Farris (LWM Kentucky); Denise Bell (CBF Georgia); Samuel Ramirez (CHM California); Melissa St Clair (CWF Central Rocky Mountain); Daphne Gascot Arias (CHF California). Serving ex officio: Randy Johnson (CWM Indiana); Sotello Long (CBM G-COM); Terri Hord-Owens (CBF G-COM).  Bruce Barkhauer, Director (CWM, G-COM)

The Center celebrates with the church our ninth anniversary and the many ways we have been privileged to serve you.  2019 marked our sixth year of producing annual campaign materials for the church, including two years of partnership with the United Church of Christ (2017 & 2018) and our current partnership with the Ecumenical Stewardship Center.  These popular resources offer complete guidance in the task of developing a successful annual fund in congregational life and encourage strong biblical and theological study through sermon and small group curriculum.  They have also provided a necessary income stream for supporting the Center’s operational budget, only 48% of which is projected to be underwritten by Disciples Mission Fund in 2019.  We are grateful for the many partnerships we enjoy that strengthen our witness and provide the resources to empower this particular mission of the Disciples of Christ.

We are pleased to report that CFG was awarded an Oreon E Scott Grant to work extensively with congregations in the Ohio Region  Following the economic crisis in Ohio, the Center’s leadership felt a keen awareness to join with other parts of the church that have come together to support these congregations and pastors while the Ohio Region reorganizes.  Our efforts will focus on delivering stewardship and fiduciary “best practices” education for clergy and laypersons, including “generosity coaching” in up to two dozen congregations who apply for Generosity Plus.  Participants will receive two intensive study sessions at the regional camp ground (one spring, one fall, two days each session) that include the pastor and at least two lay people from each church.  For those that do not apply for Generosity Plus, a series of six webinars will be available for all of the Ohio Disciples during 2019 and the first half of 2020.  The goal is to improve both clergy and congregational financial wellness and to equip future leadership for regional and general church service on boards with administrative responsibilities. Increased financial health will expand the capacity to practice generosity at the local, regional and wider expressions of the whole church, in keeping with our stated vision.

The Generosity Plus program is being piloted in Ohio and will become available to both regions and individual congregations in 2019. This fee for service coaching platform will allow the CFG to expand its capacity and provide a deeper level of assistance for parts of the church that wish to increase their generosity profile.  We will still continue to provide our high-quality level of resources to the whole church via our website, in addition to this new program.  We have hired (on a contract/part-time basis) the Rev. Janet Long, past Moderator of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) who has just retired from her 33 1/3 years of service to Washington Avenue Christian Church in Elyria, Ohio.  We are excited to have her join our Generosity Plus team.

Our Director continues to impact those studying for the ministry and vocational service to the church through teaching at several of our Disciple seminaries, including Lexington Theological Seminary which requires students to take a stewardship and church finance course in order to graduate in the MDiv program.  In May of this year, Rev. Barkhauer will give the 4th James Reed Seminar on Stewardship, as a part of the Stalcup School of Theology, one of several recognitions that speak to the respect the Center for Faith and Giving has developed across the life of the church and amongst its peers.  He has worked in consultation with the Lake Institute on Faith and Giving at the Indiana University School of Philanthropy, assisting in both the NASCEP (North American Study on Congregational Economic Practice) Study and the redevelopment of their ECRF (Executive Certificate in Religious Fund Raising) Certificate program.  He also has participated as a mentor over the last three years to participants of Indiana Flourish (a clergy and congregational financial wellness program funded by the Lilly Foundation).  Additionally, Rev. Barkhauer was recently elected President of the Board of Directors of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center.  Bruce will complete the necessary requirements to earn his ECRF designation this spring.  He continues to be a sought after speaker and presenter among our ecumenical partners in the field of generosity and stewardship, particularly as it relates to the biblical and theological practice of stewardship as a spiritual discipline.

The Standing Committee bids farewell to the Reverend Erin Wathen who has completed a five-year term and twice served as chair.  We welcome the Reverend Daphne Gascot Aries as she begins her term that will end in 2023.  Our gratitude goes to those willing to serve and lead in this capacity.

 

Christian Church Services
PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN  46206
317.713.2405
Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, president
Rev. Dr. Todd Adams, board chair
John Goebel, financial services
Cherilyn Williams, interim staff

Christian Church Services (CCS) is the umbrella corporation that coordinates the shared services of the Disciples Center such as building lease, phone system, reception and insurance. Since the last report to the General Board in April of 2018, longtime staff Sharon Coleman moved to another position within the Disciples Center in June 2018. Cherilyn Williams and John Goebel have filled the gap until the anticipated arrival of a chief of staff for the Office of General Minister and President, Rev. Lee Hull Moses, in February 2019.

The board met in June and December of 2018 to review operations. The following are highlights:

  • A new phone software system task force, led by Pension Fund’s Rick Mahoney, selected Level365 as a vendor. The software transition occurred in December 2018.
  • Meetings also included updates on finances, procedures, manuals and training cycles as well as schedule of holidays for the building.
  • Gary Kidwell was elected as board chair for 2019-2020.

 

College of Regional Ministers Report
President Greg Alexander, Kentucky
President Elect, LaTaunya Bynum, N. California-Nevada
First Vice President, Nadine Burton, Great River
Second Vice President, Bill Rose-Heim, Greater Kansas City
Secretary, Christal Williams, Tennessee

The College of Regional Ministers is made up of lead staff members of each of the 32 regional churches and the leaders of the three Ethnic Ministries and meets 2-3 times annually for spiritual renewal, mutual encouragement, continuing education, and matters of church oversight and service.

On non-General Assembly years, the CRM holds a meeting in the summer which includes the Moderators of each of the regional churches for community building and skill building.  The CRM also meets for a meal function at each General Assembly and invites the former members of the CRM and their spouses to the function at a reduced cost to continue the ties of friendship and fellowship within this group of church leaders.

The officers of the CRM, known as the CRMX, meet 6-8 times a year online for business between the formal meetings of the CRM.  Officers of the CRM are elected for a two-year term of service during the off General Assembly year gathering in the summer.

The CRM is divided into five fellowship groups based on geography.  The Fellowship Groups meet in person once a year for community building and program coordination.  Two of the five groups are currently meeting together for this function.

The funds of the CRM are managed by the OGMP Office.  The CRM work is funded through annual dues contributed by the regional churches, invested funds, and regional church budgets through voluntary work done by its members.

One of the challenges/opportunities of the CRM is the high level of turnover in the membership.  The report submitted to the 2018 General Board listed this range of service of the regional ministers in regions by their amount of tenure. Add a year to each category for 2018.

  • Five regions have been served for 14-22 years;
  • Six regions have been served for 6-11 years;
  • Six regions have served for 3-4 years;
  • Seven regions have been served for 1-2 years;
  • Two regions called permanent staff in February 2018,
  • Six regions are served by interim ministries/strategies.
  • In addition, two regional churches have changed their models to have multiple regional ministers as teams. This reality means adding five more persons using the title of Regional Minister for ministry. While the college only has one member per regional church that attends its meetings, this still translates into exceptional transitional movement in the CRM.

Highlights of 2017-2018

  • The CRM developed “An Ethical Covenant for Regional Ministers.” The members of the CRM believed Regional Ministers must be held accountable to appropriate ethical standards. At the February meeting of the CRM, all the Regional Ministers will participate in a signing service in the context of worship.
  • John Mobley (Alabama NW Florida) works as Chairperson of the Calling, Advisory, and Orientation Committee to assist Regions in leadership transition.  He works with the General Minister and President to recommend persons to serve in positions of interim leadership.  He assigns CRM members to partner with search teams in Regions that are seeking new regional ministers.  Since the beginning of 2018 the following Regions have benefited from this assistance:  Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Mid-America, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northeast, Ohio, Pacific Southwest, South Carolina, Southwest, and Virginia.  Currently five regions are in various stages of search processes and are working closely with members of the CRM in the process.
  • Five of the CRM members serve on the General Commission on Ministry.
  • Teresa Dulyea-Parker (Illinois Wisconsin) and Bill Spangler-Dunning (Upper Midwest) represent the CRM on the Administrative Committee.
  • The CRM maintains a webpage for the public to learn about their work with a private area for confidential business. The CRM also maintains an active listserv system for fluid and quick communication.
  • Susan Gonzales-Dewey (Pacific SW) represented the CRM in the planning and implementation of the July 2018 FORM (Fellowship of Regional Moderators) meeting in Birmingham, Alabama in the days preceding the National Convocation gathering. The CRM meets in the same time frame with part of the time spent with both groups together. This date and location allowed many of the CRM members to stay for all or part of the Convocation.  A strong and vibrant network of the Regional Moderators emerged that will continue to develop identity and purpose in this next biennium.
  • The CRM is preparing to address some challenging conversations that it must have. The CRM has become very intentional to build greater degrees of trust and transparency into the developing relationships among all its members. These conversations will address the deeper systemic issues of institutional racism that still haunt the structures of our denomination; the challenges facing our current regional structures and the need to explore alternatives that will carry our witness and work forward for generations to come; the changing landscape of congregational life and its impact on our current ministry structures (education, ministerial identity, recruitment, and Search and Call).
  • Twelve of the General Units have at least one Regional Minister on their Board of Directors/Trustees. Regional Ministers serve on all of the Ethnic Ministries boards, Disciples Women Leadership, Reconciliation, Week of Compassion and General Commission on the Ministry. Four Disciples Colleges and six Disciples Seminaries have Regional Ministers on their boards.
  • The four Regional Ministers from the five contiguous regions to the Ohio Region (Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania/West Virginia) have entered into a covenant to provide Regional Ministry support services to congregations/ministers of the Ohio Region during this time of transition and renewal for that Region. Four geographic areas have been identified and one assigned to each of the four Regional Ministers.
  • The eight regions of the Southeast Regional Fellowship (AL/NWFL, FL, GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, and VA) received a grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation to bring key leaders and regional staffs together at Christmount in a three-day retreat to explore areas where ministry/resources could be shared among the eight regions. A follow-up retreat is planned for late February, 2019.
  • WWOW Event – In April 2018 The Wild Women of the West event was a multi-regional event that included worship, workshops, good food and good fellowship. Joined by women from the Office of Disciples Women, leaders of the Disciples Women’s Leadership Conference, and General Minister and President the weekend was rich in community and enhanced by visitors from Puerto Rico and Latin America. It was a wonderful weekend. Another Wild Women of the West gathering will take place in June 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Goals moving into 2019 – 2020 remain the same as for 2018-2019 as they are a continuation of intentional self-reflection and the actions they call forth:

  • Continuing to form a deep and collegial relationship with the new GMP;
  • rewriting our training manual for regional ministry;
  • reengaging at a deeper level our anti-racism work;
  • re-examining the distribution strategy of the regional church pool of DMF;
  • creating innovative methods for regional churches to work together in new partnerships;
  • taking better advantage of on-line meetings to share resources and training;
  • initiating a monthly online conversation about one aspect at a time of regional ministry work;
  • creating a covenant around search and call practices with representatives from CRM and all three Ethnic Ministries’ leadership;
  • rewriting the CRM bylaws;
  • redefining the CRM identity in light of new emerging models of regional ministry leadership; and
  • continuing to find ways forward in collaboration with all the ministries of our whole church that we may be a CRM that helps to bind together the work of the whole church and the congregations through mutual relationship, vision and action.

Rev. J. Gregory Alexander, President
January 31, 2019

Communication Ministries
PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206
317.713.2496
Cherilyn Williams, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications
Emily Martin, Communication and Disciples Mission Fund Coordinator

General communications

  • Supported the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival via social media, web page and e-letters, as instructed by the 2017 General Assembly resolution
  • Began work with grassroots Disciples Public Presence group based in the Upper Midwest region; attended conference in September
  • Began work with West End Strategies Team on communication audit and additional communication projects
  • Convened general ministry communicators for a retreat and monthly meetings that included targeted discussions of shared challenges such as social media practices and policies
  • Consistently distributed of Disciples News Service weekly and Disciples Together bi-monthly e-letters for general and pastor audiences respectively
  • Posted daily on Facebook and Twitter general accounts, consistently posted and monitored special interest groups: General Assembly, Disciples Local Impact and Disciples Exchange
  • Produced original stories for Disciples News Service highlighting a number of notable congregational and other ministries
  • Gathered data on audience response for electronic communications. Now that we have approximately 18 months of consistent data we will be able to begin a more careful analysis of audience preferences.
    • Statistics (January-November 2018)
      • Facebook: 1,559 new page likes in 2018; 3.2% average engagement rate (industry average is 0.17%)
      • Twitter: 534 new followers; 2% average engagement rate (industry average is 0.055%)
      • E-mail open/click rates:
        • Disciples Together: 37% average open rate; 13.7% average click rate
        • Disciples News Service: 33.1% average open rate; 14.5% average click rate

(industry average for religious organizations: 26.3% open rate, 7.3% click rate)

Website traffic:

  • org: average 2,349 page views per month, 425,176 total. The most clicked link from the home page is Our Identity
  • org: average 195 page views per month, 25,332 total. The most clicked links from the home page are What Is DMF and Special Day Offerings

Disciples Mission Fund

  • Implemented new practice of featuring related stories in Disciples News Service during offering periods; coordinated the production and distribution of Disciples Mission Fund special day offering materials (Easter, Pentecost, Thanksgiving, Christmas)
  • Set strategic goals for DMF development; at the time of this report, we had exceeded goal for increasing number of new individual donors in 2018
  • Refreshed Disciples Mission Fund website organization, creating two new pages for worship resources and online giving
  • Increased touch points with Disciples Mission Fund donors (both congregations and individuals) by sending quarterly letters and email solicitations
  • Developed informational Disciples Mission Fund brochure

Year Book & Directory

  • Supported the Year Book & Directory operations of gathering data and updating records, in partnership with regional ministers, and in layout and print production of final product.
  • Connected with Year Book staff of several other denominations to compare best practices and share ideas
  • Revised year book form and data gathering plan for 2019 cycle

General Assembly

  • Coordinated 2019 General Assembly preparation of
    • Bible studies
    • Educational offerings
    • Promotional mailings, ads and videos
    • Website update
    • Local Arrangements Committee, including missions
    • Sponsorship solicitation and ad sales
    • Exhibit booth sales
    • Initial space allocations for education, child care, etc.
    • Mobile app for the event via a third-party vendor

 

The Disciples Center for Public Witness
December 2018 Report for the OGMP
Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston
Executive Director

Introduction:  The Disciples Center for Public Witness (DC4PW) is a justice advocacy ministry within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada.  Originating as a shared ministry of National City Christian Church and the Christian Church Capital Area, DC4PW is now a shared ministry of seven founding congregations and several other partner congregations.  (We are continuing to reach out successfully to new congregations).  DC4PW has official status as a recognized organization through the Office of the General Minister and President; and our finances are handled by Disciples Home Missions.

The mission of DC4PW is two-fold:  to use our denomination’s passion for justice and vision of true community to evaluate and influence the laws and policies that affect all of us—especially marginalized persons and communities—in the United States, Canada, and around the world; and to inform, connect, and empower Disciples and other people of faith for ecumenical and interfaith justice advocacy in the United States and Canada.  Our larger goal is to promote and help achieve the Beloved Community envisioned by Dr. King, a vision based on the Biblical promise of shalom and Jesus’ proclamation of the inbreaking reign of God.

 Overview:  This year has been a year of increased investment in increased capacity and further expansion, especially in two areas of our ongoing work:  communications and fundraising.  With the help of consultants, contracted staff, and volunteers, we have increased our social media presence, revised our website, published weekly enewsletters, and developed a database that better allows us to segment and communicate with our donors and grassroots advocates. Two of our contracted staff have taken fundraising courses, and the executive director has been helped on a regular basis by both a fundraising coach and an informal network of fundraisers within the denomination.

At the same time, we continue our program activities in many issue-areas, including racial justice, gender justice, worker justice, health care, mass incarceration, gun violence, domestic violence, torture (including solitary confinement), religious liberty, drone warfare, Cuba, and Palestine/Israel.  In most of these issue-areas, we work with our ecumenical, interfaith, and secular partners.  We also work with our denominational partners on racism, immigration, refugees, women and children, criminal justice reform, and care for God’s creation.

Special Programs:  Two special programs of DC4PW are the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative (EPI) and Let Justice Roll (LJR).  EPI is an anti-poverty ministry of DC4PW that is shared with the ecumenical community.  It pulls together national and local religious leaders to work on a variety of racial and economic justice issues:  exposing the negative effects of pay day lending, opposing budget cuts to programs that help people who are struggling economically, opposing the increasing debt for college students, and promoting more equal distribution of the resources available to public schools.

Let Justice Roll (LJR) is currently a virtual organization that uses its online presence and social media to inform and empower people of faith to do three things:  promote a living wage on the national level, get more involved in state campaigns that are working to increase the local minimum wage, and oppose disparities in pay between different ethnic, racial, and gender groups.  LJR’s motto is: “A job should keep you out of poverty, not in it.”

Special Projects:  In addition to our regular activities and the activities associated with EPI and LJR, there were a number of special projects in which DC4PW was involved this year.  One of these was Journey to Justice (J2J), a project in which a new pastor of African descent was given the opportunity to learn more about diverse forms of social witness by engaging in three areas of witness:  public policy advocacy, justice-oriented networking with other church leaders, and faith-based activism.

Another special project was Labor in the Pulpits.  In this project, we encouraged Disciples to invite labor leaders or people of faith involved in some form of worker justice ministry to speak in their congregations on or around Labor Day.

Still another special project was our involvement in Torture Awareness Month.  Throughout the month of June, we encouraged congregations to do three things:  give a sermon and/or host a discussion on torture; show a film about U.S. participation in torture; and hang a banner declaring opposition to torture.

Finally, we were actively engaged in Faithful Democracy, a project where we collect and distribute useful information about voter registration, voter education, and voter mobilization to regions, congregations, and faith-based groups.

We were able to accomplish the work necessary for the success of these special projects with the help of college students participating in our summer internship program.

Campaigns: DC4PW has been very involved in three major campaigns:  The Poor People’s Campaign:  A National Call to Moral Revival, where we attended planning meetings and participated in public gatherings and events in Washington, DC; the National Council of Churches’ ACT Now, which began with an event on the U.S. National Mall in which DC4PW organized and staffed a Disciples booth that received a good deal of traffic from participants in the gathering; and MLK50, where we encouraged participation by Disciples in events around the United States that were sponsored by the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN.

Collaboration with other Disciples ministries:  In terms of DC4PW’s collaboration with other Disciples ministries, we worked with Refugee and Immigration Ministries and the coalition to which it belongs, the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, to oppose such things as the separation of undocumented immigrant children from their families, the tearing apart of immigrant families by our current immigration policies, the severe limiting of the number of refugees who are allowed to enter the United States, and the changes in statutory and regulatory definitions that make it even harder for immigrants legally to enter our nation.

We also worked closely with Green Chalice with and through the coalition to which we both belong, Creation Justice Ministries, on clean air and water, the preservation of national parks and monuments, the protection of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge (ANWAR), a quicker transition away from fossil fuels, and opposition to both the Keystone Pipeline and increased offshore drilling.

And, finally, we worked with Family & Children’s Ministries with and through the coalition to which we both belong, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence. Alongside other people of faith, we actively promoted universal background checks, the banning of assault weapons, restrictions on high capacity ammunition magazines, and making gun trafficking a federal crime.

DC4PW also collaborated on a number of projects and events with Reconciliation Ministry, Week of Compassion, the National Benevolent Association, the Council on Christian Unity, the Division of Overseas Ministries, the Office of the General Minister and President, and the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Conferences in which DC4PW actively participated:  Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice, Black Ministers Retreat, the National Convocation, Winter Talk, the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Asamblea Nacional Hispana Y Bingue, the Christian Unity Gathering of the National Council of Churches, Festival of Homiletics, National Immigrant Integration Conference, MLK50 Gathering for People of Faith.

Regional Assemblies where DC4PW had a strong presence:  Canada, Florida, Tennessee, and the Christian Church Capital Area.

Coalitions with and through which DC4PW works: The Poor People’s Campaign:  A National Call for Moral Revival, Interfaith Worker Justice, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Creation Justice Ministries, Paycheck Fairness Coalition, Coalition Against Religious Discrimination, International Religious Freedom Roundtable, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, Heads of  Washington Offices of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community, Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court, Domestic Human Needs, Coalition on Human Needs, Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare, School of the Americas Watch, Medicaid Coalition, Jubilee, USA, Bread for the World, the Interfaith Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, the Interfaith Health Care Coalition, and the Committee on Religious Liberty.

 

European Evangelistic Society
PO Box 24560
Indianapolis, Indiana
www.eesinc.org
317-299-0333
Tony Twist, President
2018 General Board Report

The European Evangelistic Society (EES), incorporated in 1946, has now been in existence for 70 years.  The Institute for the Study of Christian Origins was established in Tübingen, Germany in the early 1960s. Its purpose is to encourage and guide research in the earliest church and to focus the application of that research on the church today. Over the years the Institute has gained the respect of the faculty of theology at the University of Tübingen and as a result occupies a place of honor among scholars of the New Testament and early church history around the world.

The mission of EES in its 70 years of history has not changed.  It remains:  To develop Christian leaders for significant service through higher learning. The vision of EES is that every nation has effective leaders of disciple-making movements making a global impact on their churches, cultures, and countries for Christ. This vision reflects the common mission priorities of the Disciples of Christ as a movement for wholeness that welcomes all to the Table, and fulfills the last command of Jesus – “. . . as you are going, make disciples of all nations immersing them into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaching obedience to all that I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The mission of EES is focused on this concern of leadership development necessary to realize the Four Priorities of the Church as outlined in the 2020 Vision of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  EES views its priorities in terms of developing Christian leaders and future Christian leaders that have unique access to the University for significant service, especially international students who are coming in increased numbers.  This is done through providing practical assistance, counsel, and hospitality when they arrive on campus in order to establish relationships; then through prayer, fellowship, and studies as they get more involved.

Through the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins at the University of Tübingen, Germany, EES is actively involved in research supervision and publication. In conjunction with the Protestant faculty, a doctoral colloquium is offered in which international doctoral students have the opportunity for research supervision at a major European University. This mission expresses itself in three primary areas of ministry:

  • To develop international leaders through advanced studies
  • To assist emerging leaders in research and publication of relevant national articles, books, and other materials
  • To help encourage the establishment and development of churches, colleges, and agencies focused on evangelism and disciple making.

At the present time, the educational ministry at The Institute for the Study of Christian Origins, led by Director Dr. Beth Langstaff, continues to function alongside Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, Germany. The Institute has a long and productive relationship with the prestigious and influential University. The influence of this ministry has been felt all over the world, as international students have come to the University for academic purposes and have been a part of the Institute.  It pursues basic New Testament research, offers colloquia through the academic year, and engages in continuing dialogue with professors and students from around the world.

The English-German Colloquium in New Testament serves as a forum for visiting professors and scholars to read works in progress. The Colloquium also provides an opportunity for doctoral students to present their work (dissertation proposals, chapter, conference papers, etc.) and to receive feedback. Moreover, it offers an unusual opportunity for scholars at all levels—master’s students, doctoral candidates, post-doc fellows, and professors—to meet and to discuss current research with one another.

A few special lectures in 2018:

  • In January, colloquium members went on a guided tour at the Bible Museum in Stuttgart, which had a special exhibition on “Gott und Geld (God and Money)”. In the evening, Professor Marius Reiser gave a guest lecture on the intriguing topic of “The Bible and Money.”
  • Another fascinating and timely topic—German theology during the Third Reich—was addressed at a well-attended guest lecture in June; Professor Anton Segev, from the Philosophy Dept of Loyola University in Chicago, read a paper on “Gerhard Kittel: Religion and Politics”
  • In July 2018, Gregory Fewster from the University of Toronto gave a talk on “Origen, the Alexandrian School, and Critical Philology of the corpus Paulinum in Egypt”.

Courses in Theological German and Theological English are taught at the University with some translation and linguistic work.  The classes include readings from a variety of Christian authors, in addition to Scripture, all with a view toward deepening relationships with God and others.  Both classes and colloquia provide good opportunities for probing questions as well as opportunities to meet outside of class for deeper discussions.  Increasingly the colloquium is serving international scholars as well.  The position that the Institute has by being part of the University officially gives them a great advantage and status as they develop these ongoing relationships.  In order to serve more effectively as Bible college professors, presidents, mission directors, and in other high capacity positions, many from these networks will need the type of advanced preparation that EES can provide.

The Theological German class has included students from all over the world: during the past year, the participants came mainly from the UK and USA. In the winter semester (2017-18), we read and discussed the 2012 book, Jesus, written by the famous Catholic theologian Hans Küng, who has spent many years here in Tübingen. In the summer semester, we focused on the writings—poems, notes, sermons, prayers—that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote during his imprisonment from April 1943 to his execution in April 1945.

The Theological English class is made up mostly of German students, some of whom are preparing to head overseas for an exchange semester/year. During the winter semester (2017-18), we explored “Theologies of the Global South”—getting to know a range of Christian theologians from Peru to Papua New Guinea, from South Africa to South Korea. The topic for the summer class was “J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis: Story and Theology”; we discussed theological motifs such as creation, good and evil, death and eternal life, and redemption in their fantasy writings. The Tolkien/Lewis class was so large that we had to use a seminar room at the University—and it included a good number of native English speakers, as well.

During the past year, the Institute has also offered guest accommodation to visiting scholars, such as Ronald Heine, one of the speakers at the Symposium on the Lord’s Prayer, who was here in Tübingen with his wife Gill.

The Institute for the Study of Christian Origins is being positioned to help develop dedicated leaders for significant service throughout Europe, Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East, and beyond.

EES Goals:

  • Develop relationships between EES and other universities to help provide access to resources and research opportunities for the growing number of graduate students needing advanced studies.
  • Provide more doctoral mentoring, supervision, and opportunities for graduates and others through the EES networks.
  • Provide opportunities for
    • Mentoring doctoral students
    • Teaching theological English and theological German to students at Tübingen University
    • Preparing students from Eastern Europe and Central Asia to conduct research, write, and publish quality materials in their own languages
  • Continue to conduct the Doctoral Colloquium in conjunction with Protestant Faculty at Tübingen University.

On the basis of the respect earned by EES, the Institute has been able to sponsor, with the help of Tübingen’s New Testament faculty and that of the University of Munich, two symposia with scholars from around the world. These meetings help to fulfill the mission of the EES to stimulate study of early Christianity among scholars so our movement to restore New Testament Christianity can be taken seriously at the highest level. The volume of papers from the 2014 Symposium (“Make Disciples of All Nations”) is being published by Mohr Siebeck. A third symposium was held in Tübingen in October 2018. The symposium focused on the Lord’s Prayer in the context of Judaism, the New Testament, and early Christianity. The symposium was organized and sponsored by Prof. Michael Tilly (Universität Tübingen), Prof. Loren Stuckenbruck (LMU Munich) and Dr. Beth Langstaff (Institute for the Study of Christian Origins). Once again, speakers were invited from other regions of the world (e.g. Eastern Europe, North America, Israel, South Africa) and from a variety of religious traditions (Protestant, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish).

Although EES does not work specifically in any one congregation, it seeks to promote the cause of reconciliation throughout the world by developing leaders who will demonstrate our commitment to the idea of a faithful, growing church that exhibits true community, deep Christian spirituality, and a passion for justice. The work of EES in Germany at the University of Tübingen is truly a multi-cultural community. Since 2000, doctoral colloquium presentations have been given by visiting professors and doctoral students from Australia, Canada, Germany, Finland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, South Africa, The United Kingdom, and the United States. EES seeks to be an international witness for the Christian gospel in one of the most significant theological settings in the world.  In keeping with the original vision of the European Evangelistic Society, the goal is to see churches thriving and flourishing throughout the world by equipping capable leaders to serve.

EES is characterized by a deep and abiding interest in the oneness of the Body of Christ.  The original purpose of the organization was to effect a channel through which it might cooperate in accomplishing the divine mission transmitted to the Church through the New Testament, and that its fraternity in this cause should be recognized as a fellowship for advancing the Christian mission. That interest has not changed with the passing of 70 years of ministry. The European Evangelistic Society is one of the few ministries among Stone-Campbell churches that has historically sought to work among all three streams of the American expression of this ideal.  For over half a century, the dream of a united Church, bound by its commitment to the New Testament as the revelation of God about the person of Jesus Christ, has been the unchanging focus of its mission.

 

General Commission on Ministry
D. Newell Williams, Chairperson

The General Commission on Ministry [GCOM] of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is composed of members appointed by the General Minister and President in consultation with various constituencies across the life of the church.  In odd-numbered years, the General Minister and President may present a slate of members to the General Board for confirmation.

In 2018, the following persons served on the General Commission on Ministry:  Cynthia Adcock, pastor, Northwest Christian Church, Columbus, OH; Greg Alexander, Regional Minister, Christian Church in Kentucky; William Almodovar, local pastor, Indianapolis, IN; Linda Brown, layperson, Main Street Christian Church, Parker City, IN; LaTaunya Bynum,  Regional Minister, Christian Church in Northern California; Eugene Fisher, Pension Fund Representative; Pam Holt, Regional Minister, Christian Church in Oklahoma; Eugene James, Regional Minister, Christian Church in Michigan; Timothy James, Associate General Minister and Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation; Chung Seong Kim, Executive Pastor of the North American Pacific/Asian Disciples; Sotello Long, Disciples Home Mission President; Holly Miller-Shank, United Church of Christ Representative; Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President, ex-officio;  William Rose-Heim, Regional Minister, Christian Church of Greater Kansas City; Matt Rosine, Pension Fund Representative; Glen Stewart, retired Regional Minister, Nashville, TN; Lori Tapia, National Pastor for Hispanic Ministries; D. Newell Williams, Seminary Representative [President, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX]; Tom Yang, pastor, Glenview (IL) Christian Church.  In addition, Warren Lynn, Director, Office of Christian Vocation, met by invitation with the Search and Call Committee to share information directly related to his work and Beth Sullivan, Executive Assistant to the General Minister and President, provided staff support to the Commission as a whole and in particular to the Support Committee which reviews applications for ministerial standing.

GCOM meets twice per year. In 2018, we met February 12-13 in Indianapolis and August 27-28 via electronic conferencing. By the time this General Board gathers, GCOM’s first meeting of 2019, January 7-8 in Indianapolis, will have concluded.

Since GCOM last reported to the General Board, it has addressed the following issues:

  • Policies and Procedures for Responding to Clergy Misconduct: Several editorial changes were approved for the sake of increased clarity. This document is reviewed annually. The Commission approved a motion that the current document be reviewed by legal counsel.
  • Revision of Standing Form used by the Commission: The Commission recommended that all persons applying for standing from the Commission be sent a link to two documents: Policy and Procedures for Responding to Clergy Misconduct and Ministerial Code of Ethics, and that applicants be required to check a box for each of the documents indicating they have read the document. Since August, this addition has been included in the standing forms used by the Commission.
  • Standing for retired regional ministers: GCOM affirmed that standing for retired regional ministers is held in the region where the retired regional minister resides.
  • Potential benefits across the church of a “Ministers’ Registry” distinct from Search and Call that could be created by a standardized annual minister’s standing form adopted by all regions: GCOM appointed Greg Alexander to request the College of Regional Ministers (CMR) to take this issue under consideration.
  • Use of Search and Call by racial/ethnic pastors and congregations: Challenges include: language barriers, length and content of the current profile, regional differences among commissions on ministry and policies of search and call, and overlapping responsibilities of regional and racial/ethnic pastors that can create tension and confusion.  Three action steps were approved: 1) Issue to Suran Systems a request for development (RFD) by which a pastor entering Search and Call could fill out multiple language profiles to be circulated simultaneously, allowing congregations to review their profiles in their native languages and allowing pastors to be considered in congregations beyond their native languages; 2) Initiate a conversation within the CRM about the development of a shorter and more appropriate Search and Call Ministerial Profile; 3) Request the CRM to name those elements they have in common in doing Search and Call and elements that could be done in a more consistent format to bring more consistency to our practices.
  • Standing granted to clergy for whom Standing is lodged with GCOM: 166 clergy were granted Standing. Specific joys and needs were noted and responded to, as well as requirements for Boundary Training and Diversity Training.

We welcome your input, comments, questions, ideas, and concerns.

Respectfully submitted, Newell Williams, Chairperson

 

National Christian Missionary Convention
Donald K. Gillett, III, President
Timothy M. James, Corporate Secretary

And its Subsidiary
GREENWOOD CEMETERY OF NASHVILLE, TN., INC.
William Lee, President
Dwayne Bell, General Manager

The National Convocation Board of Trustees is elected by the General Assembly as the Trustees of the National Christian Missionary Convention, Inc.  The Trustees are basically tasked with the oversight of the resources bequeathed to the National Christian Missionary Convention by our founder, Rev. Preston Taylor.  From these resources, funds are contributed to the Black Disciples Endowment Fund and to the continued growth and development of Greenwood Cemetery.

THE NATIONAL CHRISTIAN MISSSIONARY CONVENTION:

The funds of NCMC are invested with the Disciples Church Extension Fund and Christian Church Foundation.  Transactions related to NCMC operations are handled in the office of the National Convocation.

The Black Disciples Endowment Fund is owned by NCMC. The BDEF is purposed to strengthen the ministry of Black Disciples.  The BDEF assists in sponsoring the African American School of Faith and Life, offered during the Biennial Session of the National Convocation.  The fund sponsors scholarships and funds for Black Disciples congregations and leadership development.

A portion of the Lillian Merchant Fund held by Christian Church Foundation is allocated to the BDEF for ministerial recruitment and nurture.  The Office of African American Clergy and Leadership Development recruits and nurtures prospective ministers and work to continue the training legacy of our founder through the Preston Taylor Institute, William Lee, Director.

Trustees of the National Christian Missionary Convention are:  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, and Beverly Goines.  Ex-Officio officers are: Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President; Sotello Long, President Disciples Home Ministries; and Timothy James, Corporate Secretary.

GREENWOOD CEMETERY:

The Greenwood Cemetery of Nashville, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation organized to manage the cemetery properties owned by NCMC.  Under the able leadership of Dwayne Bell, the cemetery operates three separate sites which are becoming well known by its historic significance.  It has become more attractive to the people of Nashville and we would like for it to be  recognized and used by more Disciples of Christ.

Members of Greenwood Cemetery Board of Directors are: William Lee, Chairman; Freddie Lawton, Vice Chairman; Juanita Greene, Treasurer; Pat Penelton, Dale Braxton, Norman Reed, John Tiggle, Beverly Dickason, Ahmed White, Marvin Owens.  Ex-Officio Officers: Timothy James, Corporate Secretary; John Foulkes, Investment Committee Chair; and Dwayne Bell, General Manager.

 

National City Christian Church Foundation
John Arterberry, Chairperson
Stephen Gentle, Senior Minister
5 Thomas Circle, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Telephone: (202) 232-0323
Web site: www.nationalcitycc.org

National City Christian Church was created to live out Alexander Campbell’s vision to uphold a momentous church facility in the city known for its national and world leaders so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ might be proclaimed. National City Christian Church Foundation is honored to be one of the recognized organizations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. The Foundation holds in trust the ownership of the church property and its facilities on behalf of the wider church. It is led by a national Board of Trustees and reports to the General Assembly. The Foundation is yoked in partnership with the congregation of National City Christian Church to provide a national facility for worship, study, ministry, and mission in the U.S. capital.

The Foundation of National City Christian Church (“The Foundation”) exists for the purpose of maintaining the financial and physical assets of the Foundation so that the congregations and/or wider ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) may pursue mission at 5 Thomas Circle. In order to accomplish this, the Foundation shall: preserve and grow the endowment; manage its facilities and property to maximize its use by tenants whose purposes are consistent with the values of the Foundation and its donors; and maintain the facilities in a manner that protects the Foundation’s assets and honors perpetual care agreements. For the purpose of reporting to the 2019 General Assembly, the following information includes activities in 2017 and 2018.

Richard L. Hamm led the Foundation as the chairperson for the Board of Trustees from 2009 to 2017. In November, 2017, National City Christian Church thanked Dr. Hamm for his eight years of distinguished leadership which has brought the Foundation to a place of strength and vitality. The Foundation is grateful for Dr. Hamm’s continued service on the Board of Trustees. John Arterberry became the new chairperson following many years of dedicated service as the vice chairperson. Mr. Arterberry, now residing in Nashville, Tennessee, is the retired Deputy Chief for the Department of Justice Fraud Section and longtime member of National City Christian Church. For Mr. Arterberry’s depth of institutional knowledge and longstanding, gifted leadership in the Foundation and the congregation, National City Christian Church is truly grateful. In March, the Foundation was delighted to welcome Steven Baines to the Foundation staff as Senior Strategist for Foundation Development, Outreach, and Spiritual Formation. The Foundation is appreciative and humbled by the remarkable leadership and generous support from the Board of Trustees, Disciples of Christ leadership throughout North America, the National City Christian Church staff, and the congregational leadership.

National City Christian Church Foundation, in partnership with the congregation, completed a two-year capital campaign called “Renew and Transform” with the purpose of addressing deferred maintenance and repairs to the facilities. The goal of $800,000 was overwhelmingly supported with over 1.1 million dollars being raised. The following projects were completed: boiler replacement, Beasley Building roof replacement, air conditioning repair, security entry system installation, carpet for the Sanctuary and the Beasley Building, courtyard pavers replacement, courtyard fountain repair, portico railings replacement, flat roof of the Sanctuary repair, exterior Sanctuary doors restoration, and the front steps received some much needed repair to its damaged limestone. The Foundation is grateful to the capital campaign leadership team led by chairperson Kathleen Burger Gerada and consultant James Powell. In conjunction with the capital campaign, the congregation launched a new permanent fund policy for legacy gifts that will support both Foundation and congregation in its future work and ministries. Christian Church Foundation Vice President Randall Johnson gave superb leadership and skilled guidance in this endeavor, and the congregation commends the work of Christian Church Foundation to all congregations interested in establishing permanent funds.

The Board of Trustees is in the midst of a discernment process concerning the sale of the 64-year-old education building that was formerly occupied by a public charter school. With expert assistance from Rock Creek Properties, the Foundation has been able to successfully navigate the complicated D.C. requirements of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the Zoning Board, and the Historic Preservation Board. Presenting before each board or commission, we were delighted to hear board members and commissioners speak so highly of National City Christian Church and its contributions to the Washington, D.C., community. We were impressed that municipal organizations valued our ministries and wanted to preserve – what one commissioner described as – “the jewel of Thomas Circle.” The education building has been cleared, and the asbestos abatement and other demolition work has been accomplished.

The Foundation is grateful to the staff and congregational leadership that is engaged in ministry and mission in the greater Washington, D.C., area. In 2018, the congregation entered into a time of strategic planning with Hope Partnership through the Epiphany program. The congregation has enjoyed many highlights, including the 175th anniversary of Disciples of Christ worshipping in Washington, D.C., the ordination of Chaim Abramowitz Rodriguez and his installation as Pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Nacional, and the PhD graduation of Assistant Pastor Beverly Janet Goines. National City opened its doors to share with many neighbors: 10,000 bags of food were distributed to those who were hungry; hundreds of persons were welcomed with hospitality and face-painting at the church booth at Capital Pride; and many neighborhood pet owners and their canine companions joined in the annual blessing of the animals on the portico steps. In 2018, the congregation began hosting “My Neighbor Ministry” to employ an advocate to work with the poor and teach members how they can extend greater hospitality and care to those who live on the streets.

The first weekend of November, 2017, was yet another historic moment for National City Christian Church. Newly-elected General Minister and President Teresa Hord Owens preached a challenging message on the importance of knowing one’s history. The Foundation dedicated the Oscar Haynes Exhibit on permanent loan by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. This new exhibit celebrates 100 years of the African American Convention movement that is now called the National Convocation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Associate General Minister and National Convocation Administrative Secretary Timothy James, Central Rocky Mountain Regional Minister Joan Bell-Haynes, National Convocation Board President Patricia Penelton, and Historical Society President Emeritus Peter Morgan each spoke eloquently and powerfully on behalf of the National Convocation and the Oscar Haynes family. During that same weekend, National City was honored to host the installation of Historical Society President Richard Lowery and the Kirkpatrick Lecture presented by the Reverend Dr. Delores Carpenter.

The facilities of National City Christian Church continue to be a gathering place in the U.S. capital for Disciples of Christ and ecumenical partners. Some of the gatherings and significant events that have occurred in the past two years have included:

– Disciples Home Missions Board of Directors meeting; Higher Education and Leadership Ministries Fellows annual training; U.N. Youth Conference of the Ohio region, Moral Revival of the Poor People’s Campaign teach-in led by William J. Barber II and James A. Forbes; Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice, National Interfaith Prayer Service for Marriage Equality, National AIDS Conference, National Masonic Day of Thanksgiving and Remembrance, and D.C. Interfaith Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Service with Sister Simone Campbell speaking.

– The Festival of Homiletics welcomed 1,600 clergypersons to National City Christian Church for four days of preaching and worship, lectures and fellowship. During one of the evenings of the Festival, Sojourners hosted Reclaiming Jesus candlelight vigil, filling the sanctuary with nearly 1,000 people and hundreds more listening out on the steps of the church building. Disciples speaking that evening included Teresa Hord Owens, Sharon Watkins, and Dick Hamm, along with other impressive ecumenical leaders including Bishop Michael Curry, Jim Wallis, Barbara Williams-Skinner, Richard Rohr, James Forbes, Walter Brueggemann, Otis Moss, and Tony Campolo.

– National City hosted several musical events, including weekly Friday organ concerts for the community and quarterly two-day Heritage Festival choral adjudication events for high school groups from across the U.S. Musical groups from around the community also performed in the sanctuary: the 120-voice Congressional Chorus, Fessenden Chamber Ensemble, Heritage Signature Chorale, Thomas Circle Singers, and the National Children’s Chorus (which is housed at National City).

– Partnering with the Christian Church Capital Area, National City hosted a region-wide leadership training event called “Salt and Light” and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worship service with CTS Professor Frank Thomas preaching.

As a partner with the General Church, National City is pleased to provide offices and meeting space for the Disciples Center for Public Witness, Disciples Home Missions’ Refugee and Immigration Ministries, the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative, and the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. In 2017, National City Christian Church shared worship materials for the Sunday before the U.S. Presidential Inauguration that were made available to Disciples congregations and ecumenical partners for worship experiences.

Church Historian Peter Morgan and Videographer John Scott Williams have created a four-part educational DVD on the history of National City Christian Church in the context of the Stone-Campbell movement. Copies of the DVD may be obtained by contacting Church Administrator Colleen Walsh at cwalsh@nationalcitycc.org.

As a multiracial/multicultural, bilingual, open and affirming congregation, National City Christian Church enjoys welcoming and worshiping with Disciples from all around the world. National City is your church in the U.S. capital. Tours of these facilities are available during the week upon request. All are invited to learn more about this unique Disciples witness at www.nationalcitycc.org or by visiting 5 Thomas Circle, N.W., in Washington, D.C.

 

Reconciliation Ministry
2019 General Board Report

Mission StatementReconciliation Ministry advances the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)’s journey toward wholeness by empowering each expression of the Church to implement structural change to address historic fractures caused by racism and the systems that perpetuate it.

Context:

As one of the four mission imperatives of the 2020 vision, “becoming a Pro-Reconciling and Anti-Racist Church”, we are well on target to achieving this identity.  The Church is living a new normal, a church that is both transformed while it is transforming.  We have made significant qualitative and qualitative progress toward embracing this identity.

Ministry Highlights

Equipping:  Training in the analysis of anti-racism has become embedded in our institutional identity.  In the 12-month period that encompasses this reporting period, our ministry has facilitated full day or two-day training events in every regional expression of the Church.  At this juncture in this component of the equipping program of our ministry, over 75% of our Regions have an anti-racism educational requirement either for clergy and leader standing or as part of their Region’s healthy boundaries cycle. Of the seven Regions that do not currently require this educational element, all are intentionally addressing ways to incorporate an ongoing commitment to AR training.  We have officially turned a corner in developing the capacity for self-examination of our policies and practices as well as building our capacity for structured dialogue about the continuing impact of our racialized histories.

Engaging:  Two of our newer projects were designed to invite Disciples to creative engagement toward our anti-racist identity.  One Bag of Tea, One Conversation, One Relationship, launched at the 2017 General Assembly, has provided opportunities for our congregations to learn about their own socio-cultural history as well as that of their inter-faith and ecumenical neighbors. It has had a warm reception and a moderate implementation.  Congregations have also been invited to make this conversational model their own.  A follow-on project from One Bag of Tea launched last Fall was our “What’s the Tea with Reconciliation?” bi-monthly podcast.  It has featured guests included Terri Hord Owens, our General Minister and President, Rev. Debbie Griffin of Downtown Disciples in Des Moines, IA a new church start, and Phil Snider, Pastor of Brentwood Christian Church and author of Preaching Resistance published by Chalice Press and has been shared broadly on social media.

Empower:  We have spent significant social media bandwidth re-presenting Reconciliation as a mission fund.  This means that the most visible presence of our ministry rests in our capacity to fund anti-racism and pro-reconciliation activities and projects in the three expression of the Church through our granting program.  We awarded four diverse projects that included intentional dialogue between four historic Disciples congregations in Atlanta, GA; a racial justice conference and an organizing and equipping training in Mid-America; a mentoring program with NBA Prison and Jail ministries; as well as a story-telling project in the Coastal Plains area of the Southwest Region. Part of empowering the saints for a pro-reconciling identity has allowed us to also support an immigration attorney in collaboration with Disciples Home Missions and other ministry partners through this granting program.

Funding:  Attention to promoting Reconciliation Ministry as a Mission Fund resulting in a small increase in overall giving. This in light of Disciples simultaneous generosity during a devasting hurricane season in September.

Opportunities:  As we live into this new reality of equipping, engaging and empowering the Church to embrace our 20/20 vision’s missional identity, we are inviting Disciples to pray and support our future-ing efforts to build capacity to continue to interpret reconciliation in every expression of the Church.  In order to accomplish this re-visioning of our current and future reality, the Reconciliation Ministry Commission with our ministry partners will begin a planning process to structure a response to Resolution 1721 – “A Renewed Commitment to Reconciliation Ministry.”

Submitted by,

Rev. April G. Johnson
Minister of Reconciliation
January 2019

 

Treasury Services

John Goebel, Vice President of Finance

 

OGMP Treasury Services’ (TS) team has grown to 7.5 members as a new position (Controller) was created.  Our HR consultant, Gregory & Appel, has been a great assistance in hiring the Controller, improving our evaluations, job descriptions, and professional development. We look forward to enhancing our ministry to the church.

We are thankful for the following partnerships as we provide accounting services:

  • seven ministries of OGMP (as Year Book and Promotion merged with TS & Communication Ministries (CM)),
  • six general ministries: Council on Christian Unity, Christian Church Services, National City Christian Church Foundation, College of Regional Ministers, Disciples of Christ Historical Society, and Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries, and
  • 20 regions: Florida, Greater Kansas City, Upper Midwest, Illinois-Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Northwest, Mid-America, Capital Area, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Central Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Oklahoma, Great River, Ohio, Arizona (2018), Michigan (May, 2018), Nebraska (September, 2018) and Virginia (2019).

 

 

United Christian Missionary Society
1099 North Meridian Street,
Suite 700, Indianapolis, IN 46204-1036
PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986

Sotello V. Long, President
Julia Brown Karimu, Vice-President
Email: shansen@cef.disciples.org

The United Christian Missionary Society continued to furnish financial support for the Division of Homeland Ministries, dba Disciples Home Missions (DHM), and the Division of Overseas Ministries (DOM), by investing and managing its endowment and permanent funds for the benefit of the two Divisions.

During 2018, there were three gift annuity contracts released. The total residual released amount was $9,904. There was no activity on released life income contracts. When gift annuities or life income agreements are released, the funds are either distributed outright to DHM and DOM or added to the permanent endowments of the Society depending on the beneficiary designation. The Society received $84,625 through 8/31/2018 in Miscellaneous Unrestricted Receipts with $15,000 each distributed to DOM and DHM and the remainder is invested in the pool of the Campbell Multi-Strategy Fund and Beasley Growth Fund at the Christian Church Foundation. A small undesignated mineral interest in Lincoln County, OK was also received. The Society received $16,616 in Estate Distribution from the Ethel Hartman estate designated for overseas ministry and the Cloe Kelly Estate was $1,402.

The Society continued to be involved with ethical issues which related to its investments and was active with the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). ICCR is an ecumenical organization of 17 Protestant denominations and approximately 200 Roman Catholic orders which cooperate concerning ethical and social concerns as expressed by actions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

The Society, which has eight trustees and four officers, has no active employees. Beginning in 1993, the Society contracted with the Christian Church Foundation, Inc. to perform the treasury services for the Society. The current officers of the Society are as follows: Sotello V. Long, President; Julia Brown Karimu, Vice President; Kathy Watts, Corporate Secretary, and Lonna Owens, Treasurer. Four trustees are nominated by each of the two Divisions served by the Society. They are elected by the General Board of the church and serve a term of four years. Their responsibilities are to oversee and determine policies concerning the investments of assets owned by the Society. The protection as well as the income realized from these assets is of paramount concern for the trustees. Their invaluable service is recognized and this report is submitted on their behalf.

The Society distributed the following from the investment pool in 2017:  DHM – $735,710; DOM – $1,038,021; and other entities – $59,205.

The Society distributed the following from the investment pool in 2018:  DHM – $726,429; DOM – $1,022,942; other entities – $59,000.

 

Week of Compassion
Cindy Kim-Hengst, Chair, Board of Stewards
Vy Nguyen, Executive Director
P.O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206
317-713-2442
www.weekofcompassion.org

Mission: As the relief, refugee, and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Week of Compassion works with partners to alleviate suffering throughout the world.

Vision: A world where God’s people transform suffering into hope

Core Values:

CONNECTION-                 Partner with individuals, congregations, and organizations to serve the needs of the world

INTEGRITY-                      Honor the commitment to faithful stewardship, ensuring gifts entrusted to Week of Compassion are making the most impact

ACCOMPANIMENT-          Embody God’s grace by committing to a long-term presence with communities in need

As the number of displaced people worldwide rises daily as a result of natural disasters and civil and political conflicts causing millions of people to seek refuge, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), through Week of Compassion, stands in solidarity with these families and communities.  By working with international partners we not only provide immediate and long-term relief, but also we continue to be the church serving and caring for our most vulnerable neighbors at home and around the world.

Severe natural disasters and global conflicts continue to displace more people every day.  By the end of 2018, we were faced with the highest levels of displacement on record—an unprecedented 68.5 million people (an increase of 2.9 million since our last General Assembly in 2017). Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.  According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, about 44,400 people a day are forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution; that is roughly one person every two seconds. This has been largely fueled by new crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Myanmar, as well as the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Week of Compassion is grateful for our partners, especially Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, Disciples Home Missions’ Refugee and Immigration Ministries and Legal Counsel, Church World Service, and ACT Alliance. These ministries work closely on the ground with internally displaced people and refugees here in North America and around the world, especially in Bangladesh, Myanmar, the Middle East, and the Horn of Africa. Through these partnerships, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) accompanies those forced to flee encroaching danger by walking with them as they seek refuge in different countries. In Central America, many mothers and children are fleeing imminent threat and severe poverty by walking thousands of miles to reach our southern border, only to be turned away. Our partners at Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries in South Texas and Global Ministries partner, Centro Romero Center in San Diego continue to provide emergency medicine, food, shelter, and protection for these individuals.

At home in North America, Week of Compassion continues to respond to myriad small- and medium-scale disasters that affect communities where Disciples have a presence, as well as to large-scale disasters. In the fall of 2017, powerful Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria impacted Texas, Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, causing extreme flooding and destroying billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure and homes. 2018 saw another damaging hurricane season with Hurricanes Michael and Florence causing extreme damage in Florida and North Carolina. Today, Week of Compassion is working with communities in these places to help rebuild through Disciples Home Missions’ Disciples Volunteering and other partners.  With Disciples Volunteering, we have established a mission station at First Christian Church, Texas City, Texas, that continues to receive volunteers. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, our response has been through the Disaster Recovery Support Initiative, a collaboration among Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering, United Church of Christ Disaster Ministries, and Brethren Disaster Ministries to provide support, mentorship, and encouragement in the development of local Long-term Recovery Groups through a sustained on-site presence.

In Puerto Rico, we continue to provide grant support to the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico,  a bilateral partnership through the Division of Overseas Ministries. This grant supports repairs to buildings and campus infrastructure, cash-flow assistance (due to decreased tuition income),  tuition assistance for students, and emotional and spiritual care for students, staff, and faculty. Home repairs continue through the Programa Edifiquemos of the Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo). With Week of Compassion’s support, ICDCPR hired a full-time program director, Jose Molina, and a part-time construction manager, Rev. Rafael Rivera Bidot. They have created and assessed work plans for more than three dozen homes and have acquired materials for at least half of those projects. Our partners in Puerto Rico continue to be in need of more volunteers, and they are ready to receive Disciples from the mainland to help rebuild.

Climate change is creating more powerful hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and other major disasters on a more regular basis. In the fall of 2018, one wildfire in Northern California wiped out 95% of the town of Paradise, while two other major wildfires simultaneously roared in the southern part of the state. In Zimbabwe and Kenya, extreme droughts block communities’ clean water access, forcing many to migrate to new areas. In India and Bangladesh, severe flooding continues to destroy homes and roads, making rebuilding more challenging for volunteers. We are grateful for our partners at ACT Alliance and Church World Service who are on the ground providing relief and long-term recovery in many of these areas. Disaster response organizations, especially in the United States, have collected concrete data showing that destructive natural disasters have increased in the last several decades. A comprehensive report was recently released stating that climate change could soon imperil our way of life, changing every part of the world, imposing frustrating costs on the global economy, and harming the health of virtually everyone. Climate change will have a major impact on Week of Compassion and how we will be able to respond to many of these ever-stronger disasters, thus making our disaster preparedness initiatives more crucial in the near future. It is vital to help many of our churches, regions, and general ministries prepare to serve communities when severe disasters hit.

Our partners continue to provide crucial, sustainable infrastructures that are improving lives in many communities. Week of Compassion’s Women’s Empowerment Fund has provided vital resources to many women who have gained entrepreneurial skills that have lifted their families and communities out of extreme poverty.  Our partner at IMA World Health has been providing vital health services in Africa to women, while our partner at Prosperity Catalyst is providing livelihood skills to Iraqis to generate revenue to support their families.  From providing access to clean water in Mexico, to girls being able to go to school in Cambodia, to mothers receiving loans to open up businesses, the impact the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) through Week of Compassion is making a difference in creating peace and justice around the world.

Financially, Week of Compassion continues to remain strong due to the many generous donations from local churches and individuals, enabling this ministry to have an important impact in vulnerable communities. As of the end of November 2018, Week of Compassion’s year-to-date undesignated giving totaled over $1.7 million, a decrease of 19.14% from the prior year’s giving.  This is a result of the extremely generous giving in 2017 for the various hurricanes in the Caribbean. Comparing the undesignated giving of 2018 to our budget, Week of Compassion giving is slightly up, by less than .10%.  Designated giving at the end of November 2018 is at $550,000, a decrease of 75% from the prior year.  Again, the designated giving in 2017 was for major hurricanes, which accounted for that significant difference.

The nature of relief, refugee response, and sustainable development continues to shift and change in significant ways. Week of Compassion continues to build strong partnerships and position itself to respond to the greatest needs in our world.  In 2019, Week of Compassion welcomes a new full time Associate Director for Communications and Marketing to help us better share our impact, stories, and resources with our partners and congregations.  As we work together through this life-saving ministry, we serve as a vital, visible sign of our witness to Christ in the world, so that we can bring healing, reconciliation, and wholeness in a fragmented world.

 

World Convention
(CHRISTIAN – CHURCHES OF CHRIST – DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)
Gary Holloway Executive Director/General Secretary
PO Box 50998, Nashville, TN  37205-0998 USA
Phone: +1 (615) 830-7210 Email:  office@worldconvention.org
Home Page:  http://www.worldconvention.org

2018 REPORT

Plans for Global Gathering

In 2018 World Convention continued its mission of embodying and encouraging fellowship, understanding, and common purpose within the global family of Christian-Churches of Christ-Disciples of Christ churches in 199 countries and territories. We did this through personal visits to national meetings, through our website and newsletters, and through planning for our next Global Gathering.

As I reported last year, the World Convention board approved holding our Global Gatherings more frequently. They accepted an invitation from churches in Swaziland to have our next Global Gathering in Manzini, eSwatini, April 18-21, 2019. However, internal tensions among Churches of Christ in southern Africa made it impossible to have our planned Global Gathering in eSwatini.

Our board has accepted an invitation from our churches in Poland to have our next Global Gathering there in June 2021.

Third Global Christian Forum

World Convention related our churches to other Christians in many ways in since our last meeting. The most notable was participation in the third gathering of the Global Christian Forum, held in Bogota, Colombia April 24-27, 2018. Paul Chimhungwe, President of World Convention, and I were blessed to attend, along with 251 other Christian leaders from 64 countries and 24 church families. Paul Tche and Angel Luis Rivera-Agosto from the Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council were also there.

The Global Christian Forum (GCF) is a unique gathering of global Christian churches and organizations bringing together all the major streams of world Christianity. The GCF is an open space where all Christians can meet to nurture unity by fostering mutual respect and understanding as well as by addressing together common challenges.

The formal sessions in Bogota were of great benefit. Some of the greatest blessings were informal discussions around meals and between sessions. For me, these included:

  • A Christian from China sharing how the church has been faithful there even though local political leaders are destroying church buildings and Christian schools.
  • Testimony regarding a woman who walked four hours to receive a Bible in her own language for the first time.
  • Christians in Athens, Greece who feed 2500 hungry people each day.

The list of blessings goes on and on, from uplifting worship together to sharing our faith stories to fellowship around dinner tables to discussion of how to work together.

 

Year Book & Directory
PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206
317.713.2453
John Goebel, Vice President of Finance
Cherilyn Williams, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications
Emily Martin, Communication and Disciples Mission Fund Coordinator

The editorial team worked to review many of the data collection and production processes as the 2018 Year Book & Directory was produced. Generally, Treasury Services staff process orders, financial data and relate to the database providers. Communication Ministries staff gather congregational data and produce the final document. Regional ministers and staff are vital partners in connecting directly with congregations.

Changes in 2018 included:

  • Inclusion of the 2018 General Board reports. In past years, those reports have not appeared until the following year. The 2018 book included both the 2017 and 2018 reports. The 2019 Year Book will include the 2019 General Board reports.
  • Payment for Year Books occurred at the point of order, saving invoicing and collection costs.
  • Fonts and format were updated slightly for legibility.
  • Forms were translated into both Spanish and Korean.
  • No CD versions of the year book were produced. Electronic access is provided via PDF files of the various sections of the book.

Changes in processes for 2019 include:

  • Additions to the reporting form to include information about mission participation and giving that has not been requested before. There are also a few opportunities to connect to ministries for additional information.
  • Elimination of full page pre-filled forms mailed to congregations that will be replaced with postcards encouraging online submission (Paper forms can still be downloaded.)
  • More frequent information provided to regional staff to assist in raising response rates and offer opportunity to connect

General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens is encouraging several ministries of the Church to integrate the data that makes up the Year Book with the hope that we will be able to access real-time data in the next biennium. This will involve cooperation between the databases currently maintained in at least four formats and locations.

With sadness, we report that our communion had some losses in numbers for 2018.

  • 7 were removed by their region for inactivity (lack of reporting or contact with the region or general ministries)
  • 14 were reported as closed
  • 16 formally withdrew

With great joy, we report that we have added to our numbers with 20 congregations recognized in the following regions:

  • Alabama/Northwest Florida (3)
  • Canada (1)
  • Central Rocky Mountain (1)
  • Florida (1)
  • Illinois-Wisconsin (1)
  • Kentucky (1)
  • Mid-America (1)
  • North Carolina (2)
  • Northwest (2)
  • Oklahoma (1)
  • Oregon/Southwest Idaho (1)
  • Pacific Southwest (2)
  • Southwest (2)
  • Upper Midwest (1)

 

 

 

 

GA-1921

GA-1921

 REPORT FROM THE SOCIAL WITNESS TASK FORCE

  Download PDF 

At the 2015 General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio, GA 1524 called for a task force to be formed by the Office of General Minister and President, Disciples Home Missions and the Division of Overseas Ministries for the purpose of:

“…bringing to the 2017 General Assembly, meeting in Indianapolis, IN, a jointly sponsored process for discussion of and education about important religious, ethical and social issues.”

The resolution stated “the task force shall include representatives of, but not limited to”: Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries

  • Council on Christian Unity
  • Disciples Home Missions
  • Diverse congregations throughout the United States and Canada Division of Overseas Ministries
  • General Board
  • Historic justice and peace advocacy groups in the church
  • National Convocation
  • North American Pacific/Asian Disciples
  • Office of General Minister and President

The Social Witness Task Force made a progress report at the 2017 General Assembly in Indianapolis, IN, (GA-1731) with the intent to present a finished proposal to the General Assembly in July 2019. The Task Force met via video and conference call on multiple occasions over the past 2 years.

A small working group worked to ensure that various issues and concerns with regard to the previously developed and reported working document were noted and addressed. However, there are still elements of the working document upon which the Task Force has yet to achieve consensus.

The Task Force has continued to discuss the working document, and work through issues upon which there is not agreement. The Task Force will continue its work with the intent to bring a finished proposal by the 2021 General Assembly.

The Social Witness Task Force

Task Force Members

Robert Cayton
Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder
Shannon Dycus
Jeff Goodier
Sekinah Hamlin
Richelle Himaya
Mark Johnston
Julia Brown Karimu
Fiyori Kidane
Scott Kinnaird
Ken Brooker Langston
Rebecca Littlejohn
Sotello Long
Terri Hord Owens
Vangie Perez
Dean Phelps
Katherine Raley
Paul Tche
Tawanda Wilson

__________________________________________ 

The General Board has reviewed GA-1921 Report from the Social Witness Task Force. The report is submitted to the General Assembly for presentation and discussion. No action is required. (Discussion time: 12 minutes)

GA-1731 report

GA-1730

REPORT FROM THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE OF THE GENERAL BOARD

Download PDF

The General Assembly Committee of the General Board has a two-fold responsibility. First  – it is the General Board committee responsible for recommending the location for future General Assemblies.  Secondly, it follows up on approved or referred resolutions which contained actionable items from the previous General Assembly and report back to the current General Assembly.

From the General Assembly which met in Columbus, Ohio, July 18-22, 2015 , the General Assembly Committee of the General Board has the following updates.

GA-1522 A Call for Peace, Justice and Reunification in the Korean Peninsula

North American Pacific/Asian Disciples (NAPAD) and the Council on Christian Unit encouraged the whole church to observe the Sunday of Prayer for reunification of the two Koreas in August 2015. In addition, at the 2017 General Assembly, the Justice Track is offering a session on the initiative headed by the National Council of Churches of Korea regarding a peace treaty between the two Koreas.

GA-1523 Becoming a People of Welcome and Support to People with Mental Illness and/or Mental Health Issues

The submitter of this resolution Mary Alice Do has written a book being released this spring about dealing with mental illness while pastoring a congregation. Disciples Home Missions is partnering with Mary Alice in the development of a study guide to accompany the release of this book for local congregational study.

The National Benevolent Association working in collaboration with DHM has launch a Mental Health Initiative focused on countering stigma, providing resources and education and prioritizing clergy mental health care.  The NBA has hired a full time Mental Health Manager.

GA-1525 A Call to End Solitary Confinement

The Justice Track at the 2017 General Assembly has offered a session to delve deeper into the issues of both Solitary Confinement and Mass Incarceration.  Both issues continue to be studied regionally and in local congregations throughout the church.

The National Benevolent Association in collaboration with Disciples Home Missions has offered webinars on prison and jail related issues including solitary confinement.  An affinity group of persons and organizations across the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) working ecumenically continue to address advocacy and activism related to solitary confinement including sponsoring at GA 2017 a Virtual-Reality Solitary Confinement cell experience.

GA-1536 Resolution Calling for a Study Document on Understanding Stewardship as a Spiritual Discipline and Its Practical Application in the early 21st Century

The Center for Faith and Giving was charged with creating this document, to be presented at the 2017 General Assembly. The document has been written and GA-1732 calls for the document to be issued to the church for study.

GA-1539 Charleston and Beyond: Terror, Intimidation and the Burning of Black Churches

By adopting this resolution, the 2015 General Assembly gave their support to the General Minster and President’s continued condemnation of the massacre of the Charleston 9 and her continued partnership and solidarity with the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.  Letters of support were sent to AME leadership on September 14, 2015.

A letter to Disciples congregations from Timothy James, Associate General Minster and Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation, April Johnson, Minister of Reconciliation Ministry, Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President and Robert Welsh, President of the Council on Christian Unity, was issued on August 28, 2015. The letter encouraged congregations to observe Confession, Repentance and Commitment Sunday to End Racism in September 2015.

GA-1540 Support For Agreement with Iran

Letters of affirmation regarding the Agreement with Iran were mailed to President Obama August 14, 2015, and to Indiana US Senator Joe Donnelly on August 19, 2015, who also supported the Agreement in the Senate.

General Assembly Committee of the General Board

 

The General Board has reviewed GA-1730 Report of the General Assembly Committee. The report is submitted to the General Assembly for presentation and discussion. No action is required. (Discussion time: 12 minutes)

 

 

GA-1708 Disciples Home Missions

GA-1708

Download PDF (70 pages-includes photos)

DISCIPLES HOME MISSIONS
President’s Report to the General Board
Ronald J. Degges, President
1099 N. Meridian Street, Suite 700
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 635-3100
E-mail: mail@dhm.disciples.org

As I walk down memory lane, I am reminded that my great grandmother and grandmother, traveled from their home in Wellsville, Ohio, to Washington, D.C., in October 1930 for the dedication of National City Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). They came with a gift from their home church to support Alexander Campbell’s dream of a “great Washington witness for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).” National City has lived up to Alexander Campbell’s dream. Designed by noted Architect, John Russell Pope, architect for the Jefferson Memorial and National Archives buildings, National City has been home to James Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, to Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th President of the United States, and even though he turned Presbyterian along the way, to Disciples born and educated, Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States.

I was born into a loving family of four sisters and two brothers. My first dwelling was just about 6 miles away from National City Christian Church on Massachusetts Avenue, S.E. My mother worked for the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and my father was a Captain on the Metropolitan Police Force. Dad stood duty here at National City during the Funeral Service for President Lyndon Banes Johnson.

I share with you all of this because the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at its core is relational and covenantal by design. We are bound to one another. According to the Preamble to the Design for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):

“. . . this church expresses itself in covenantal relationships in congregations, regions, and general ministries . . . bound by God’s covenant of love. . .. to the end that all expressions will seek God’s will and be faithful to God’s mission.”

The Preamble to the Design goes on to say that this church will nurture congregational ministries, provide for regional and general ministries, develop and recognize new forms of ministries for mission and witness . . . “and engage in continuing renewal, reformation, and adaptation as necessary to minister in the world.” 2017 will bring us to the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

We at Disciples Home Missions have been involved in an intentional process to strengthen this covenant between our congregational, regional, and general ministries of the church. Our Refugee and Immigration Ministry program was relocated from Indianapolis, IN to Washington, D.C., to strengthen this covenant. Refugee and Immigration Ministries is a ministry of Disciples Home Missions in partnership with the Christian Church Capital Area, the Disciples Center for Public Witness, and is housed at National City Christian Church. It was designed this way to be a witness to the fact that we can do things better together than we can apart.

2016 was one of the best years for the United States Refugee Admissions Program in the past seventeen years with over 85,000 refugees resettled. As I write this, I am reminded of those years back in the 1990’s when we were resettling over 100,000 arrivals every year and during the Vietnam War, over 200,000 arrivals a year. It is anticipated that we will help resettle over 110,000 arrivals in this current fiscal year. We call on our elected officials to appropriate the needed funds to help accomplish this goal. We are appreciative for the excellent representation provided by the Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, our Washington, D.C. staff.

Such is the case with our Green Chalice Ministry, the environmental justice ministry for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It is a partnership ministry between Disciples Home Missions, the Kentucky Region, and local congregations and regions throughout the United States and Canada. The Rev. Carol Devine and the Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri help direct this program. Both are Disciples ministers with a passion for environmental justice. Carol is pastor of a congregation in Kentucky and Scott is currently searching for a congregation to serve in North Carolina. This is another example of strengthening the relationships between general church, regional church, and congregations. Resources are extended out from the general church to regional and congregation entities for support to a greater degree of what is already happening in communities throughout the United States and Canada.

The collaborative efforts that helped create Green Chalice Ministry have been extended over the past two years to include a covenantal partnership with Eco America and Blessed Tomorrow. We received our first grant of $25,000 in 2015 to help us educate Disciples clergy and congregations about climate change. In 2016-2017, Eco America and Blessed Tomorrow have extended our grant by another $40,000. A recent survey of Disciples clergy and members conducted just a few months ago, found 86% of our Disciples leaders and congregants knowledgeable about the effects of climate change and a willingness to do something about it.

Our partnership with the United Church of Christ and their Department of Local Church Ministries resulted in a National Youth Event, July 26-29, 2016, that brought together over 4,000 youth from both of our denominations. The General Youth Council and their adult leaders as well as youth groups from across the life of our church were represented at this gathering in Orlando, Florida. During these days’ together, general ministries, regions, conferences, and congregations from both denominations were immersed in relationship building and extending the covenant across denominational lines.

Did you know that another of our partnerships that involve general church, regions, and congregations working across denominational and faith lines is our P.R.A.Y. Program – Programs of Religious Activities with Youth. Disciples have been an integral part of P.R.A.Y. for the last 33 years with the AME’s, AMEZ’s, ANG’s, AOG’s, BAP’s, BRE’s, CMA’s, to name just a few. Twenty-eight denominations are involved and work together to foster the Christian growth of children, youth, and families through churches and youth serving agencies. In 2016, 363 Disciples congregations housed Cub Scout Packs with 10,202 youth enrolled. Our congregations housed 368 Troops that reached out to 7,857 scout youth. Total youth involved in our Disciples programs is 18,405 with the help of 8,761 adult sponsors. For two decades, the Rev. Robert Thornton has been directing our Religious Activities with Youth Programs. Bob met with me a few weeks ago, to share with me his desire to retire from this ministry effective May 31, 2017.

Disciples Volunteering, a hands-on ministry of disaster response utilizing work groups and skilled long term volunteers, continues to respond on behalf of the church in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. Much of our work is ecumenical, rebuilding communities with teams from the Church of the Brethren, the United Church of Christ, and other partners. On occasion, the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] has leaned on Disciples Volunteering to support communities in distress. Our presence in recent months in South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia has been phenomenal. Just recently, I received the following correspondence from Thaddaeus Allen, Regional Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Thad writes:

“Yesterday I spent the day with Josh Baird and Caroline Hamilton-Arnold in the badly flooded WV hills. We met with representatives of the West Virginia Council of Churches, the UMC and Presbyterians. Then we met with the Roane County, Long Term Flood Recovery Center. Then we visited some sites. It was important time . . .They represented you well. Thanks for having them on Staff. They are charged with important work. I hope we can work together in this time of recovery.”

I want to thank our Director of Disciples Volunteering, Joshua Baird, for the leadership he provides. Also, let me thank Week of Compassion for funding this vital ministry. This is another example of covenant between our congregations, regions, general church, and other ecumenical and interfaith partners. Josh has been about building a sustainable infrastructure for all Disciples Volunteering related responses in key areas throughout the United States and Canada.

For two years, Disciples Home Missions has been part of a deepening conversation with Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, the Council on Christian Unity, and Disciples Women’s Ministries leading to a closer alignment of our ministries with one another. On two occasions members of each of our Executive Committees have met to explore what possible future relationships would look like. Following the January 7-8, 2016, meeting of our joint Executive Committees, Ministry Leaders Julia Brown Karimu, Paul Tche, Pat Donahoo, and I, met to distill three or four common goals which can focus the work of all four ministries. Common areas identified are: Interfaith, Climate Change, Immigration/Migration, and Human Trafficking. Individuals from each of our four ministries met together in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 21, 2016, with our sister United Church of Christ Staff members to begin collaboration in each of these four areas. Disciples Home Missions staff involved in this event have acknowledged that the event was very productive. Collaborative work between the staff of these four ministries continues.

In addition to these expanding collaborations, Disciple Home Missions in partnership with Reconciliation Ministries and the Disciples Center for Public Witness has called Deirdre Harris-George to serve as a part-time Advocate for Racial Justice. As our denominational advocate, Deirdre will provide a Disciples presence at ecumenical and interfaith gatherings and events, including Congressional visits and briefings, that deal with public policy issues and concerns related to racial justice.

We have also called, beginning January 1, 2017, Rev. Marcus Leathers to serve as our Volunteer Director of Human Rights in a partnership with the Christian Church Capital Area and the Disciples Center for Public Witness. Marcus will provide a Disciples presence at meetings and conferences dealing with: criminal justice reform, the death penalty, gun violence, human trafficking, and torture. He will write articles for The Disciples’ Advocate, DCPW e-newsletters and updates, and provide regular content for the Human Rights Ministry website.

Our Program and Relationships Committee forwarded to the DHM Board of Directors at our April 26-28, 2016, meeting of the Board of Directors in Lexington, KY, a Draft Resolution intended to come before the 2017 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) meeting in Indianapolis, IN, July 7-12, 2017, entitled: “Repudiation of the Christian Doctrine of Discovery, A Call to Education and Action, And Support for Indigenous Voice in the Structure of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Board was asked to review this document and come to the November 2016 Board meeting prepared to determine our willingness as a Board to repudiate this doctrine and to be supportive of the proposed Resolution. Our Board drafted and adopted the first statement of any General Ministry repudiating the Christian Doctrine of Discovery.

DHM’s Board and Staff received Pro Reconciliation Anti-Racism training by Dr. Richard Grounds from the University of Tulsa, OK, on November 3, 2015, apprising us of the brutal settler-colonial structure and ideology designed to erase all traces of native/indigenous presence: genocide. Furthermore, DHM’s Staff and Board Members immersed themselves in Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s seminal work, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States. I am also reminded of those clergy, including Disciples, who made their way to the Dakota’s a few weeks ago, to be a Disciple-presence at Standing Rock. A group of Disciples leaders from The Disciples Center along with clergy from throughout the country, joined in a 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time Prayer Call, on November 1, 2016, to affirm our solidarity with our native/indigenous sisters and brothers and to bless those going to Standing Rock to represent the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

The Disciples Home Missions Board of Directors adopted a ‘best practices’ document during the November 2016 Disciples Home Missions Board of Directors meetings. The document was created by our Pro Reconciling Anti-Racism Team and our Minister for Reconciliation, the Rev. April Johnson. It is a document that will be placed in our Board docket after the DHM Mission Statement and Statement of Board Members Covenant. It is entitled, “Process for our Reconciliation and/or Mediating Conflict.” It will guide the Board of Directors on what to do when a boundary has been crossed. It calls for the Board to suspend business as usual, immerse itself in prayer, state with clarity the mutual concern that needs to be addressed, listen to one another, note points of agreement and synergy, note points that call us to change something, establish steps forward, and close with a brief time of worship and prayer with communion or a shared meal. I commend this document to the whole church for study and reflection.

On June 28, 2005, Chaplaincy Endorsement Officer Steven Doan began his employment with Disciples Home Missions. For over 12 years, Steve has captured the heart and spirit of those who serve in specialized ministries to all branches of military service – Active Duty, Reserve, and Retired – and to Institutional Chaplains, Pastoral Counselors, Veteran Affairs Chaplains, and Federal Prison Chaplains. Steve has announced his intention to retire from this ministry he loves effective July 31, 2017, shortly after the conclusion of the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) meeting in Indianapolis, IN.

A pre-Assembly retirement reception for Steve will be held at the Indianapolis Repertory Theatre on Saturday afternoon, July 8, 2017, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. A Position Description for the Chaplaincy Endorsement Officer position was posted on November 15, 2016, detailing job duties, responsibilities, knowledge, and skills required. A minister holding standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) with a history of military experience or a good grasp of Military culture is preferred. As I write, we have a growing group of interested candidates for this position.

On December 1-2, 2016, our Family and Children’s Ministry Team held an ‘Across the Generations’ Event, that brought together children, youth, young adult, and family ministry leaders from throughout the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to create a vision on best practices to help resource, and equip Disciples children, youth, young adults, pastors, churches, and families. The Event had representation from all sectors of the church, including each of our Racial/Ethnic Ministries.

DHM will sponsor a Youth Ministry Summit, March 5-7, 2017, at the Christmount Retreat Center in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Our current design for youth ministry was adopted back in 1996, over 20 years ago, and is long overdue for review and revision.

At this event, Disciple’s youth leaders will gather for the purpose of sketching out structures, resources, and leadership needs for youth ministry for the next 5 to 10 years. After the Summit, a follow-up team will take the results from the Summit and refine them into a working document to bring to the DHM Board at its next meeting in July 2017. The General Youth Council and youth from across the life of our church will participate in decision-making regarding the outcome of these conversations.

Regions, constituency groups, General Youth Council adult leaders, and representatives from the UCC Council of Youth and Young Adult Ministries will participate in the event. The Oreon E. Scott Foundation has provided us with a grant to make this happen. Christmount and DHM will provide additional support to make this a low-cost event for all participants. Let me offer my gratitude for Rev. Randy Kuss for serving as our DHM Youth Ministry Consulting Team Coordinator.

2016 Advent Devotions were well received by many of our congregations and used throughout the recent Advent Season, the Office of Christian Vocations is working with the General Commission on Ministry to revise documents and refresh Search and Call processes, the Office of Evangelism and Congregational Transformation is working with Hope Partnership and its new Staff Person for New Church development, Terrell Tyler, to identify and learn about creative ministry enterprises like the Galileo Church in Arlington, Texas. The Rev. Dr. R. Wayne Calhoun, Sr. and the Rev. Terrell McTyer made a visit to the Galileo Church just before the Mission Council Event in December 2016.

Assistant to the President, Minister Sheila Spencer, continues to work toward the completion of her Master of Divinity degree at Christian Theological Seminary, a degree program designed for working professionals. She is making steady progress toward completion of the degree. The benefit to DHM is that academic learnings are immediately translatable into the workplace.

On November 17-18, 2016, Sheila and I met with Mark Anderson, President of the National Benevolent Association and Chris Dorsey, President of Higher Education and Leadership Ministries, to determine those areas of possible intersection between our three ministries. At present, NBA and DHM have a shared ministry position with the Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick. That shared position has served both ministries very well. It is my hope that DHM, NBA, and HELM can find areas of greater collaboration and shared mission.

I had the privilege to lead a Regional Elders Workshop in Wooster, Ohio, in September 2016. I met some of the finest church leaders you would ever want to meet. The Retreat was divided into two sections. Section one was entitled: “Beating the Odds: If God is For Us, Who Can be Against Us?” The scripture text cited was from Romans 8:31-39. Hear, in part, what the scripture says:

“If God is for us, who is against us? . . . Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I shared with those elders that we need to find a way to stop the negative, defeatist thinking that has pervaded the life of our congregations and reclaim the fact that through Christ the odds are stacked in our favor and not against us. Let us be, as Leander Keck suggested, The Church Confident.

Section two of the retreat was entitled: “Regrouping for the 21st Century Frontier.” The scripture text cited was from Acts 1: 15-26. The scene is the death of Judas and the need for the community to regroup and fill the vacancy left by Judas’ betrayal and death. Two candidates rose to the top of the candidate pool, Joseph called Barsabbas, and Matthias. The text continues:

“Then they prayed and said, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place. And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.’”

The broken circle of apostolic leadership is restored with the election of Matthias and the mission of the early church continues to touch lives and restore wholeness.

During the retreat, I introduced the elders to what I think is the single most descriptive definition of leadership. The definition is attributed to Ron Heifetz. Heifetz says that: “Leadership is disappointing people at a rate they can tolerate.” Old paradigms for ministry are quickly fading. New paradigms are being birthed, sometimes painfully, into existence. The role of the leader is to bring glimpses of the new paradigm to the faithful in a way that invites them to feast on what is yet not, but what is certainly yet to come.

I would like to think that my ministry since my ordination 43 years ago, this past October 14, has been one of a faithful leader “disappointing people at a rate they can tolerate,” and leading them into the new paradigm of what it means to be church today.

The great majority of my ministry has been spent in the local parish. It was there I learned to be a pastor and to love the people. Even during times of great distress there was always love for the people. Back in October 2008, I was called to become President of Disciples Home Missions. My service as your President began on January 1, 2009. Disciples Home Missions became my congregation and the Disciples Home Missions Board of Directors became my employer. I was supplied with a gifted and talented Program Staff and Ministry Associate Staff that freed me up to lead.

Back on April 26, 2016, the Personnel Committee and the Executive Committee of the DHM Board and I had our first conversation about pending retirement. We prayed for each other and for God’s wisdom in determining what timing might be best for both DHM and for me. Since that time Deniese and I have been in prayer about the best time to retire.

On September 20, 2016, after much prayer and consideration about retirement, I informed DHM’s Personnel Committee of my decision to retire as President of Disciples Home Missions on August 31, 2017. I informed DHM Board Chair, Candyce Black, about my decision to retire.

I met with Staff of Disciples Home Missions on Thursday, November 3, 2016, at a specially called Staff Meeting, to inform all DHM Employees of my intention to retire as President of Disciples Home Missions on August 31, 2017. Due to issues of transparency and honesty, I wanted the Staff I work most closely beside to know my intentions before my report to the Disciples Home Missions Board of Directors.

On November 8, 2016, I shared this decision with the Disciples Home Missions Board of Directors on the opening evening of our Board meeting in Washington, D.C. so that the Board could be prepared for the report of the Personnel Committee during the next day’s Plenary Session. No surprises on anything we do at Disciples Home Missions, only openness, transparency, and truth.

All I can say to the General Board is that it is a privilege to serve as President of this most unique and needed General Ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). All of my life I have benefited from White Privilege. At an early age, I received honors and awards in academics and sports. I traveled throughout Europe and the Middle East studying theology at Oxford University and participating in archaeological digs at Megiddo. I was ordained to the ministry when 19 years old and served my first student pastorate in Possum Valley, Tennessee. Yale University became my theological home and my Master’s degree opened up doors to serve in some of our finest congregations, even as President of Disciples Home Missions. I have been immeasurably blessed!

My ministry began in the District of Columbia with my ordination many years ago. It   seemed a fitting thing that I announce its ending while meeting as a Board of Directors in the District of Columbia. Life always comes full circle.

Now is the time to step aside and open up this position for another one, whom God is now preparing, to take a major leadership role in the life of this church. Leadership is not only “disappointing people at a rate they can tolerate.” Leadership is handing off the baton to a whole new generation. I will do so next August 31 and we together will see what new thing God will do with Disciples Home Missions and with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Association of Disciples Intentional Interim Ministers (ADIIM)

Leigh Earley
www.adiim.org / adiim.org@gmail.com

The Association of Disciples Intentional Interim Ministers (ADIIM) was established in 2006 by a group of trained, intentional interim DOC ministers who wanted to provide a resource to both ministers and congregations. In 2008 it was recognized as a Relational Partner of Disciples Home Missions (DHM) and provides recognition and support for DOC ministers who are called to serve in the unique contexts and capacities of transitional/interim ministry. The focus of ADIIM is to support both established intentional interim ministers and to nurture those who want to explore a sense of call or are ready to be trained. ADIIM seeks to provide information, resources, support, and connections by working with regional staff and the general units of the church as they service congregations during the time between installed pastors.

We seek to provide opportunities for connections between established and potential DOC intentional interims through the ADIIM website, the Faster Pastor Express newsletter, and the availability of the ADIIM Steering Committee members to provide 1:1 mentor relationships or supportive teleconferences to discuss transitional ministry related challenges on an as-needed-basis. In 2015, Continuing Education was also provided through 20 webinars that spanned 22 subjects related to transitional/interim ministry. ADIIM was represented at General Assembly in Columbus with a table and display.

In February and September 2015, ADIIM was graced to participate alongside the Hope Partnership Leadership Academy sessions and provided Interim Ministry Network (IMN) directed training to four and then five participants respectively. This training was led by a Disciple IMN Faculty Member, Leigh Earley. ADIIM is thankful and hopeful for this ongoing relationship with Hope to prosper. Currently, on an ecumenical level, the Disciples of Christ are represented on the Interim Ministry Network General Board by the ADIIM Steering Committee Convener, Chuck Rolen.

2015 – 16 saw the ADIIM embark on an exciting and promising initiative. The Steering Committee aspires to begin identifying and nurturing prospective interim ministers who have passion and calling to serve culturally, racially, or ethnically-minority congregations within the Disciples movement. The initial phase has been engaged which is to establish connections among Disciple General Church leaders whose calling and focus is to engage minority groups and congregations (e.g., National Convocation, North American Pacific/Asian Disciples; Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries). ADIIM is establishing relationships in order to raise awareness about the discipline of intentional transitional/interim ministry and to begin developing accessible and relevant educational tracks that will equip and nurture ministers who are called to serve minority congregations. To aid in this process ADIIM has a modest scholarship fund (balance to date: $1,535) and is exploring ways to provide culturally informed and relevant training and support for prospective intentional interims who are called to serve distinct communities of faith.

In August of 2016 ADIIM made it possible for Steering Committee member, Reverend Bill Meyer to attend the NAPAD gathering in California. Bill made a presentation about how the Interim Ministry Network and ADIIM are committed to developing culturally-specific training and support paths. Reverend Meyer also presented a $200 scholarship gift to encourage ministers to seek out entry-level training that is being provided by the Ohio Region of the Christian Church (DOC). This relationship is ongoing with dialogues occurring within NAPAD, The Interim Ministry Network Board, and ADIIM.

ADIIM remains poised and committed to supporting informed, trained, growing transitional/interim ministers who claim the movement known as The Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in proclaiming and embodying a welcoming presence that aspires to bring wholeness in and to this world.

Respectfully submitted,

The ADIIM Steering Committee:
Chuck Rolen, Convener
Peggy Hickman, Treasurer
Kathy Bryant, Membership
Katrina Palin
Bill Meyer
Richard Newman
Kevin Colvin
Rick Truitt
Leigh Earley, Emeritus Founder/Convener

 

All Peoples Community Center
Saundra Bryant, Executive Director
822 E. 20th Street, Los Angeles, California
(213) 747-6357
allpeoples@allpeoplescc.org
www.allpeoplescc.org

Founded in 1942, by the Christian Church Disciples of Christ – United Christian Missionary Society is now a mission center of Homeland Missions.  Prior to the civil rights movement, All Peoples was a revolutionary concept that sought to be a place in the inner-city where all people could unite under one roof  to share a vision for a stronger, more self-reliant community and to help turn the dreams of struggling local youth and adults into reality.  The values and principals continue today, 75 years later.

The services provided; day care, pre-school, comprehensive after school program, summer residential camp (held at Loch Leven Camp and Conference Center,) charter high school, sports and recreation, parenting, parent support groups, domestic violence support group, counseling, Supplemental Food Distribution, legal clinics, health education classes, employment referrals/placement, health screenings, financial literacy and coaching, English as a Second language (ESL), immigration services, VITA tax services, College readiness classes, Domestic Violence support group, Food Growers Network and Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

The support received from Disciples Home Mission is primarily through Disciples Men’s Cookin’ for Mission and the “Remember there are no Undeserving Children in the World fund”. These funds are designated for our “Tomorrows Leaders” Program, Urban Adventures Summer Day Camp Program and Joe Ide residential camp program. All Peoples completed a successful accreditation process through American Camping Association (ACA) for our Joe Ide residential camp.  The Joe Ide camp is held annually, at Loch Leven Camp and Conference owned and operated by the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, Pacific Southwest Region

Volunteers are important to our work with youth.  In partnership with the Pacific Southwest Region and National Benevolent Association, All Peoples is a host for an NBA X-PLOR intern.  Our intern this year is Eliud Peralez, a member of Iglesia Cristiana Emmanuel; San Benito, TX.  A housing developer is donating a 40 x 150 lot to develop a micro-farm.  The intern will work community members to design a micro –farm including usage and find resources.  Potential opportunities include farmers market, education, and other possibilities.  This is an exciting assignment for community development from the inception of this major gift to the conclusion.

All Peoples has been recommended to serve as the FamilySource Center for the City of Los Angeles South East community.  This program is designed for families with children 7-17 years of age to increase economic stability and educational attainment.  Through partnerships in the community we will offer more than 26 services i.e. counseling, case management, financial literacy/coaching, tutoring, performing arts, ESL, immigration services, legal assistance.

Highlights of the Family Source Center Program include; 26 parents completed ESL classes, 30 parents completed financial literacy training and were able to open a savings account with $100 – $300 dollars. The participants will continue with financial coaching and All Peoples will match up $1,000 in monies saved for a particular goal i.e. small business, car. Thirty –five students and parents toured Cal Poly Pomona, University and University of California Riverside. Parents have participated with students in workshops for our “College is Possible” program.  Two College Advisors have been hired to work with students and parents.

Immigration is a critical issue in our community.  Our partner in immigration services held a town hall to prepare community members with “know your rights” and potential changes that may occur in immigration laws for the upcoming year.  The City Attorney for Los Angeles also selected All Peoples as a location for his town hall meeting to gather input from community members regarding issues of concern.

All Peoples will celebrate 75 years of service this year.  The board and staff are planning various ways to celebrate our accomplishments with donors, participants and community stakeholders.  It is my hope that Disciples will join in our celebrations throughout this year.  Our witness in South Central Los Angeles is because 75 years ago, UCMS had a vision to follow in the footsteps of Christ and be a beacon of hope and love for persons regardless of their race, ethnicity or economic status.

“Mission First” is not a new theme for the All Peoples Community. Our legacy is built on a movement for wholeness in a fragmented community.  We are grateful to Disciples for your support in the past and look forward to opportunities to continue our relationship in the future.

CHAPLAINCY ENDORSER

Steve Doan, Chaplain Endorser

Continuing my status as both co-pastor for a United Methodist two-point charge here on the Eastern Shore as well as part-time Endorser for Chaplains and Counselors of the Christian Church (disciples of Christ), I began the year once more with my annual attendance at the National Council for Ministry to the Armed Forces (NCMAF) and ECVAC–VA Chaplain Endorsers–in January. For four days I spent time with nearly 200 endorsers and was able to visit with a number of our chaplains and counselors in the DC area. I plan to attend the same conference this coming January.

I made several trips to South Carolina this year, to attend graduations for chaplains at the Chaplains Schools at Fort Jackson in Columbia. We have seen an increase in the number of our active duty Navy Chaplains, as more and more young clergy are seeing the military as a real calling for their gifts of ministry. In addition, I continue to interview three to four clergy a month for various forms of specialized ministry, most of them for hospital and hospice ministry.

At the end of June, Donna and I concluded our three years of service with the UMC, having attended four annual conferences in the Virginia Conference. While it was a most gratifying ministry for us, we have missed attending Disciples of Christ churches–and live over 70 miles from the nearest one. In semi-retirement, we have been able to attend Regional activities here in Virginia. In June I spoke at the ministers and Mates luncheon at the Regional Assembly here, as well as giving a workshop on helping clergy and congregations relate to returning veterans. At the end of June, our church sponsored a breakfast for our chaplains at the annual APC Conference in Orlando, FL–at which over 30 chaplains were in attendance. The three days gave me opportunity to have private conferences with a number of our hospital and hospice chaplains.

This past year I was able to attend the farewell ceremonies for two of our great chaplains who left for duties in combat zones–Chaplain (CPT) Marta Conway, from Fort Lewis, WA, who just returned from a highly successful tour of duty in Afghanistan, and CH (MAJ) Jonathan Fisher, who recently returned to Fort Campbell, KY from Iraq. One more remains in Iraq, Chaplain (CPT) Owen Chandler, a National Guard chaplain in the Army, who serves a church in Arizona. I ask your prayers for these as well as all our men and women who continue to serve in harm’s way.

There are several more trips planned before year’s end, and my objective for the coming year is to prepare to transition to full retirement. Looking ahead to the General Assembly in Indianapolis in July, I will have completed 12 years in this position, and as I just passed my 71st year, think it might be high time to have fresh ideas and enthusiasm in this vital area of ministry. I covet your prayers as I discern the next step.

DHM and each president I have served with–and especially Ron Degges–have been an important part of my life. Serving with the men and women of DHM and the General Staff has enriched my life immeasurably and filled me with a great sense of pride for what our church is doing in the world. Anne Marie Moyars has been the rock of this office. As the Administrative Associate, she has given superb service to hundreds of chaplains over the course of the nearly six years in this job. It has been my great joy to serve our specialized ministry clergy with her. Finally, it is all about our chaplains and counselors who serve the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) so faithfully and well, with servants’ hearts and unshakeable dedication to doing God’s work wherever God leads them.

Blessings in Christ

 

Christian Vocations Report
Warren Lynn
PO Box 1986
Indianapolis, IN  46206
(317) 713-2652
wlynn@dhm.disciples.org

The nature of ministry through the Office of Christian Vocations is expressed mostly through areas related to Search and Call (clergy relocation), Ministers Directory (clergy credentialing), and Ministry Educational/Formation (Scholarships & Grant programs for students and credentialed clergy, & Spiritual Formation resources). Along with Ministry Associates in these areas, I strive so that those making use of our ministries have a positive experience that is ultimately fruitful for their life and vocational calling.

Within the day-to-day responsibilities of this ministry, there is much detail-oriented work, troubleshooting of complexities and needed attention to minutia. For such, I count on the three Ministry Associates of this office to offer a high degree of professionalism upon all that must be dealt with. With gratitude, I am proud to say Anne Marie Moyars, Brenda Tyler and Kelly Harris each offer significant and generous service to those who need our care. They, each, empower our ministry to be one that is trustworthy, compassionate, just, and fair.

Once again, we’ve successfully moved through another year of major systemic updates to our clergy data system (CDM+ and WebMinPro). As a result of improvements, clergy data will now be able to be better shared between regional databases and our General Church database with greater automation. Such will increase efficiency within, both, regional and general offices. It eliminates a significant level of redundant workload, and manual data entry. This effort also helps increase the accuracy and fidelity of clergy data between regional and general databases.

For a second year in a row, we worked with our vendor, Suran Systems Company, to provide a training event for regional staff-persons who also use the CDM+ system. Anne Marie, Brenda and I helped provide leadership for this event that was attended by regional ministers and administrative staff from many regions. As a result, regional and general staff in attendance received valuable training on systems we use daily, developed deeper collegial relationships, shared information/wisdom that will enhance regional staff performance, and fostered partnerships for future collaboration.

This last year saw an upgraded replacement for the Ministry Position Listing Website. The new incarnation of this tool is now entirely Web-based, and allows for better management of ministry position listings by each regional office. It also archives all listings for future use/reuse by regions, and provides all users greater ability to sort and view position listings by various criteria.

Once again, one of the creative resources provided by The Office Of Christian Vocations that continues to be a popular resource is the Well-Fed Spirit Website: www.wellfedspirit.org . This site is unique within our denominational system in its offering of wellness and spiritual formation/practice resources for church leaders (clergy and lay). My plan for next year’s sabbatical is to begin a major update of this site, using a new platform to increase stability and function.

One challenge in the past year, and one we foresee continuing into the near future, is related to turnover of Senior Regional Ministry Staff. As several of our regional ministers have retired, and more are scheduled for such in the next year, a need continues for my office to provide care and consultation to new regional leadership, and nurture new collegial relationships. This includes helping new regional leaders build technical and ecclesiastical capacity in areas of ministry data and clergy records, Search and Call, and policies that bind our mutual ministries in areas for the support of local clergy.

Throughout all of this work, my office is committed to serve professionally and effectively, as partner and initiator, so that leaders in the Christian Church are more able to be who G_d calls us to be in this world.

 

Christmount
Rev. Rob Morris, Executive Director
222 Fern Way
Black Mountain, NC 28711

Mission Statement:

To provide opportunities in the heart of the mountains for Christian hospitality, provide rest for the soul, and renewal for the journey.

 

Christmount is the retreat, conference, and camp center for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It’s a place for education, spiritual renewal, church retreats, camps, family reunions, and many other events. In the ecumenical spirit of the Disciples of Christ, the facilities are used by many faith traditions, organizations and non-profit groups.

After serving Christmount for 33 years, Michael Murphy recently retired from his position as the Executive Director. Not to be outdone, Helen Johnson retired from her position as the Associate Director after a run of 38 years. The Rev. Rob Morris assumed leadership as the new Executive Director on July 5, 2016. Rob and his wife Beth live in Asheville with their two teenage daughters and a 10-year-old son.

Christmount has been busy completing renovations to the Conference Rooms and restrooms in the Gaines Cook Guest House, with plans to complete renovations to the Assembly Hall during the winter months.

Christmount is finding new and exciting ways to connect with the local community such as providing wall space for local artists from the Red House Art Gallery to showcase their artwork in our newly remodeled Conference Rooms, and offering space for the local Kiwanis group to meet & eat every week!

As the national camp & conference center for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christmount is exploring ways in which we can support the programs and ministries that stem from our General Church (DHM, Reconciliation Ministries, DOM, et al), Regions, and local congregations. We are excited to partner with Green Chalice to offer SOIL (Social Opportunities for Intentional Listening) Camp for the summer of 2017. This will be like a “Summer Camp-meets-Mission Trip-meets-TED Talks” experience for youth and adults!

Contact Christmount sometime – we would love to hear what you’re up to and discuss how we can work to create a better church together.

 

Disciples Center for Public Witness Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston
Five Thomas Circle
Washington, DC 20005
202-797-0113
disciplescenter@verizon.net
www.disciplescenter.org

DISCIPLES CENTER for PUBLIC WITNESS

The Disciples Center for Public Witness, a ministry started by the Christian Church Capital Area and National City Christian Church in Washington, DC, is more and more becoming a ministry for the whole church. Now an officially recognized organization of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, the Center is increasingly recognized and utilized by diverse congregational, regional, and general ministries, as well as constituency groups and grassroots organizations, as a Disciples office for social witness in the U.S. Capitol. But with an active presence in New York and Ontario, and a growing network of justice advocates throughout the U.S. and Canada, the Center is more than a Washington office: we are also a denomination-wide ministry that works cooperatively with other ministries effectively to inform, connect, and empower Disciples and other people of faith for ecumenical and interfaith justice advocacy in the United States and Canada.

MAIN PROGRAM AREAS

Care for Creation: Working with creation care advocates from various Christian denominations through Creation Care Ministries, Green Chalice and the Center were part of collective efforts to promote clean water, protect endangered species, support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Methane Rule, urge states to quickly implement the Clean Power Plan, highlight the need for rebuilding just communities on the 10th year anniversaries of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, activate the grassroots to advocate for a Green Climate Fund, co-host a roundtable conversation on creation care by representatives from six major historically black denominations, and propose to congressional staff ideas for increased participation in our National Parks and Monuments system by a greater diversity of racial and ethnic groups.

Criminal Justice Reform: The Center is working closely with Disciples Home Missions (DHM) and the National Benevolent Association (NBA) to speak both prophetically and practically to issues related to prisons and criminal justice reform. For example, the Center joined with NBA and DHM to organize a special event (reception and panel discussion) for Disciples and members of the United Church of Christ attending the 2015 Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference–where nearly a thousand Christians from across the United States came together to worship, share information, network with one another, and advocate for criminal justice reform to their elected officials in the U.S. Congress. (Note: criminal justice reform is one of the few issue areas in which there is growing bipartisan support in Congress).

Gender Justice: The Center works closely with denominational, ecumenical, and interfaith coalition partners on issues that affect the lives of women in the United States: we have a presence on the board of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; we provide leadership to a Religious Advocacy Working Group that deals with reproductive health care; we are involved in a religious-secular coalition which has as its focus equal pay for women; and we actively participate in an interfaith coalition to end domestic violence.

Health and Wholeness: This year was a significant anniversary year for several important pieces of legislation related to health care: the 5th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the 25th anniversary of the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA), and the 50th anniversary of the legislation that created Medicare. Through our Health and Wholeness ministry, the Center has been actively involved in these and other areas of public policy related to health care.

For example, the Center provides an active Disciples presence in IDAC (the Interfaith Disabilities Act Coalition), a group that has long been working with faith groups to encourage and help them to advocate for the preservation, extension, and implementation of the ADA. We also actively participate in the interfaith Health Care Working Group, which had a lead role in coordinating the efforts of people of faith to secure the passage of ACA, and which now focuses on issues related to the implementation of ACA by the states.

Immigration and Farm Workers: The Center carries out its work on immigration reform and farm worker Justice in conjunction with Refugee and Immigration Ministries (RIM), a ministry of Disciples Home Missions in partnership with the Center and the Christian Church Capital Area. Under the leadership of RIM, Disciples have been very active in efforts to promote both immigration policies and farm worker employment practices and conditions that are more just, humane, and compassionate.

In the area of farm worker justice, this activism includes supporting tomato farm workers, tobacco workers, and berry workers. In the area of immigration reform, RIM has taken a leadership role in mobilizing Disciples and other people of faith to advocate for the closing of family detention centers, to counter anti-immigrant legislation, to support Syrian refugees, and to end harmful rhetoric and actions against immigrants and refugees.

The Middle East: The Center provides a Disciples presence on the Interdenominational Networking Group, a coalition that informs and mobilizes people of faith around the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation of Palestine.  The Center also supports and participates in the important work of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) by attending meetings with Congressional and White House officials, and by sharing CMEP information with our network of grassroots advocates. And the Center joins with other ministries and organizations to organize conferences such as the one held at Howard University, the theme of which was “Occupied Palestine: How Should the Black Church Respond?”

Poverty: The Center carries out much of its work on poverty issues in cooperation with national, state, and local ecumenical partners through our Ecumenical Poverty Initiative (EPI). Working with coalition partners in the Circle of Protection, EPI took a leading role in getting nine U.S. Presidential candidates to address via video how they would work to address poverty if they were elected. Through the “Pastors Ending Poverty” campaign, EPI helped highlight the issue of payday predatory lending. And, joining with diverse faith-based and secular worker justice groups, EPI successfully pushed for a wage increase for underpaid federal contract workers.

Public Education: The Center is currently communicating with potential partners among religious and educational leaders with the goal of exploring possibilities for creating a national network of faith-based advocates for public education in the United States.  Although we stay involved in ecumenical and interfaith conversations about public education issues throughout the year, specific work around the formation of an advocacy network happens mainly in the summers when our capacity for such work is increased by consultants and interns.

Racial Equality: At the invitation of the Center, a diverse group of thirty-six guests participated in a conversation about “Disciples and Racism in the United States.” The framework for the conversation was “Do You See Me?” and was based on the assumption that “before Black lives can matter, Black people must be seen.” The event included presentations, one-on-one conversations, and table discussions about “really seeing each other” and the structures of accountability that might allow and encourage this to happen more often. Among the next steps identified by the gathering were (1) a continuation of this conversation online, (2) the promotion of this or similar conversations in other contexts, and (3) the formation of a group or groups to put more thought into the issues of accountability related to actually “seeing” people of color, especially from the perspective of Black Lives Matter.

Religious Liberty: The Center is an active member of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination, a coalition of more than 40 faith-based and civil rights organizations in the United States. Currently, this coalition is working closely with the White House Office for Faith Based and Community Partnerships, to implement appropriate rules to govern government funding of faith-based charities.

Torture: The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a member of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), and the Center provides a Disciples presence on NRCAT’s Participating Members Council. Recent shared activities have been focused primarily on solitary confinement. These include follow-up support for a General Assembly proposal for reflection and research (GA-1525), a letter to the Obama administration, and a webinar co-sponsored by NRCAT, NBA, and the Center.

Worker Justice: The Center promotes greater worker justice through its active participation in the ministry of Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), a Chicago-based organization with chapters, workers’ centers, and coalition partners throughout the nation. Working with and through this organization, the Center has helped pass over two dozen ordinances to protect workers throughout the U.S. from wage theft and unsafe working conditions; publicly certify and celebrate those businesses that pay a living wage to their employees; and help craft key portions of the “Wage (Workplace Action for a Growing Economy) Act.” (This legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act to help ensure that workers have a voice in the workplace, and it would crack down on employers who break the law by forbidding and then retaliating against workers who seek to unite with other workers to exercise their right to collective action).

CANADA: Through our partnership with our sister ministry, the Disciples Centre for Public Witness in Canada, we are involved in ecumenical and interfaith witness with various Canadian ministries on issues of global warming, poverty, and the rights of indigenous peoples (First Nations).

INTERNSHIP PROGRAM:  In the summer of 2015, the Center was blessed with six talented interns: three from Washington College in Maryland; one from Eureka College in Illinois; a Colonel Clarence Hodson Trust Intern from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD; and an Oreon E. Scott Intern in Prophetic Ministry from Yale Divinity School. One of our interns was from India and another one was from Peru. Our college interns worked on issues of public education, worker justice, refugees, environmental racism, and business support for raising the minimum wage. Our seminarian helped coordinate social media at General Assembly and also worked on the production of an online resource for congregations wanting to get more involved in justice advocacy. (This resource can be found at www.disciplesadvocacy.net).

GATHERINGS and MEETINGS: At General Assembly 2015, the Center joined with other ministries and organizations to sponsor five workshops, three after sessions, two youth advocacy trainings, three small-group conversations, a special concert, and a public rally outside the Convention Center.

Other conferences in which the Center participated in 2015 include the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice, a conference on the use of lethal drones, and the Black Ministers’ Retreat.  Board meetings in which we participated include Interfaith Worker Justice, Creation Justice Ministries, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, National Farm Worker Ministry, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

The Center and its partnership ministries participated in numerous meetings with Congressional leaders and staff on various issues and concerns.  We also participated in White House meetings on criminal justice reform, Central America, Cuba, domestic violence, rape and sexual abuse, employment non-discrimination, health care, immigration reform, the minimum wage, and worker safety.

REMEMBERING OUR SAINTS: In January, 2015, Brian Adams, our Minister for Economic Justice left this finite world to become more fully part of God’s eternal life. To honor the memory of his life, his ministry, and his passion for justice, the Center established the Brian P. Adams Justice Education Fund. Monies given to this fund are used to help young adults participate in justice-oriented gatherings and events. A web site with more information can be found at www.bpadamsfund.org. The web site for general support is www.centersupport.org.

 

Disciples Volunteering
Josh Baird, Director

Disciples Volunteering assists and enhances Disciples serving community, especially through the servant missions and ministries of congregations. By focusing on supporting local mission interests, developing servant leaders, and sending teams in mission, Disciples Volunteering is promoting a fundamental shift toward service and missions that are more sustainable, flexible, effective, and, ultimately, a better witness to our faith in action. To this end, Disciples Volunteering continues to Call, Connect, Equip, and Send Servants and the Church for Service with the Community. Disciples serving community move from volunteer to servant to neighbor to friend as we Get Dirty for Jesus together. Disciples Volunteering also seeks partners from across the life of the church – including other general unit ministries, regions/areas, and local congregations – and a growing array of faith-based and community service agencies to enable servants and promote service opportunities. This report lifts up work that is currently underway as well as emerging ministries and developing partnerships through a creative openness to how God is leading Disciples Volunteering in service with and for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Sending Teams in Mission
Disciples Volunteering’s disaster response ministries and related host Mission Stations continue to evolve as a core collaborative ministry. While immediate relief and response is best facilitated locally, Disciples Volunteering (DV) has the experience and servant leadership to promote appropriate long-term recovery, calling Disciples to participate long after the camera crews have left the scene of a disaster. When appropriate, a Mission Station is established, usually in a Disciples church, as a partnership with DV, Week of Compassion (WOC), the Region/Area, and local congregation(s). The mission station with First Christian Church in Rowlett, TX, opened in May and will continue through August 2017. Following a recent visit to southern Louisiana, steps are now being taken to open a mission station with First Christian Church, Baton Rouge, to support the recovery from August flooding. Disaster responses are also often ecumenical – not just in function, but in structure – and sometimes interfaith. The initial flood response in Louisiana may be in partnership with NECHAMA, a Jewish disaster response organization. From February through May, DV partnered with the United Church of Christ’s Disaster Ministries (UCC) to facilitate a mission station outside Austin, TX. And in Columbia, SC, DV and WOC have partnered with the UCC and Church of the Brethren’s Disaster Ministries (COB) to implement the next phase of our cooperative Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI). International Orthodox Christian Charities has also been a partner with housing provided at a local Orthodox congregation.

The DRSI has two aims: helping communities shorten their timeline from disaster impact to long-term recovery; and enabling Disciples, UCC, and COB mission teams’ earlier entry into a disaster affected community in order to better assist with the recovery. In Columbia, we achieved the second goal as mission teams have been on the ground making home repairs since January, just three months after the flooding. Collectively, we have secured $80,000 in grant funds to support this effort, including $50,000 awarded to DV/DHM from the United Way of the Midlands (South Carolina). To move the DRSI to the next level, it is clear that staff need to be hired. To achieve this, each partner denomination has committed the funds necessary for DHM to staff positions for Case Management, Construction Supervision, and Long-term Recovery Specialist.

Another exciting development is taking place in partnership with WOC and the Pacific Southwest Region (PSWR).  In February 2016, the PSWR Board approved a proposal to develop a Regional Disaster Recovery Ministry. Together, we prepared for a November training for geographically disbursed response coordinators and regional response teams who facilitated congregational preparedness, response, and recovery. Our hope is that the model that was developed can be adapted to other Regions, to create a stronger denomination-wide network.

Disciples Volunteering also continues the work of expanding connections with and referrals to other Disciples related mission locations under the designation of “Mission Inns” and “Hospitality Stations,” where traveling mission teams can serve for a time or simply rest for the night on their way to or from a mission destination. Support continues as well for the historic Mission Centers as DV encourages the engagement of mission teams for service and learning opportunities at the Centers. Next year, the vision for an expanded network of Mission Inns and Hospitality Stations will be refined and implemented.

Shaping Servant Leaders
Three Summer Mission Interns, including two second summer interns, served this summer with Urban Spirt and the Urban Mission Inn. While five positions were initially offered and accepted, two young adults later withdrew in order to pursue other opportunities. This is becoming a regular challenge, leaving potential placements without an intern. New this year, Sandhya Jha assisted Deb Conrad with the interns’ week-long intensive training, further enriching their training experience.

Long-term Volunteers (LTVs) continue to serve in a number of capacities, including as Mission Station Managers and Registrars. They also represent DV at a variety of events across the life of the church and in ecumenical settings. Disciples Volunteering is continuing to develop LTV cross-training with their counterparts in the United Church of Christ and Church of the Brethren.

The LTV ministry will undergo a potentially significant restructuring to begin in October 2016. Thanks to a $2500 Leadership Education at Duke Divinity Innovation Grant that DV was awarded, current and prospective LTVs will gather for retreat. We will celebrate the many ministries LTVs have shared in and dream, vision, and begin to construct a new future for the ministry as it aims to better serve the church and communities in need of servant leadership.

Disciples Volunteering also continues its collaboration with WOC, DHM’s Family and Children’s Ministries, and the National Benevolent Association (NBA) to support the expansion of Children’s Disaster Services, a ministry of Church of the Brethren.

Supporting Local Missions
DV supported two significant local missions’ projects this year. The first was the continuing construction of a new church building with Lynnville Christian Church in Lynnville, IL. The participation of mission teams was lower than initially hoped for, but it seemed to keep pace with the congregation’s sense of timing and capacity to fund materials. A second project supported Urban Spirit, enabling that Mission Center to move to new facilities which are better serving their mission of poverty education and justice work.

I am grateful, as always, for the on-going support from and partnership with Week of Compassion staff and the Week of Compassion Committee. Thank You!

 

Disciples Men
Stephen Bentley

Most of the excitement in Disciples Men’s ministry this year has been planning and experiencing Session 2016 July 8-10, 2017 in Fort Worth, TX.  We were welcomed with open arms by Texas Christian University who went out of their way to make us welcome.  As we gathered around the theme “You are Called by Name!” almost 100 men from across the General Church to experience good food, meaningful fellowship, and be spiritual enriched.  The attendees at Sessions 2016 voted unanimously to hold Sessions 2020 at Texas Christian University and have set the date of July 10 – 12, 2020 for this event.

We continue to sponsor the “Men Cookin’ for Mission” project to raise money for our four Mission Centers:  Yakama Christian Mission, All People Christian Center, Inman Christian Center and Kentucky Appalachian Ministry.  I spent the last month of my sabbatical visiting 3 of these mission stations and hope to visit KAM soon.  We postponed my visit because of the forest fires Kentucky was experiencing at the time as KAM was helping in the recovery effort.

Our current leadership team consists:  Archie Jenkins – Past President, Dan Crawford – President, Brian Burton – President Elect, and David Grandgeorge – Pastor-Counselor.  Members at-large include:  Stuart Price, Remmie Crawford, Harvey Anderson, Ken Marston, Ron Petrick, and Arnold Hayes represents National Convocation. We are currently looking for representatives from NAPAD and Hispanic Ministries.  All of these are currently involved and working with the Disciples Men’s Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee is meeting in San Antonio, TX on Feb. 10-12, 2017 to plan the next couple of years as well as finalize plans for the General Assembly in Indianapolis, IN.  In addition to this annual face- to-face gathering we meet monthly via conference call to keep each other up-to-date on our work.

We once again were excited about the possibility of a receiving an Orem E. Scott Grant from the Christian Church Foundation.  This grant would be used to call together men from every Region of every ethnic group within that Region partnering with NAPAD, National Convocation, Hispanic Ministries, and Young Adult ministries, in building a data base of Models of Disciples Men’s Ministry.  Unfortunately, we did not receive the grant.  However, this has not dampened our spirits.

Disciples Men continues to work on two emphases.  First, strengthening local and regional men’s groups following a three pronged approach: 1) Strengthening Relationships with God (Spiritual) 2) Strengthening Relationships within the Group (Fellowship) and 3) Strengthening relationship with the local and wider community (Mission).  Second, we continue to emphasize our mission to hungry children at the local, Regional and General church manifestations of the church.  Our “Men Cookin’ for Mission” program allows local and regional men’s groups to raise moneys and split the funds so that one half of the funds can be used locally for a ministry that serves hungry children and the other half will go to support our four mission centers that each support ministry to hungry children.

 

Disciples Women Ministry Report
Pat Donahoo, Director

Personnel:  Elizabeth Clough began working as a part time ministry associate in February 2016 after Beverly Ledwon’s retirement. She is on a steep learning curve both with her work and understanding how Disciples Women works. She will also be working part time for HELM since their offices have been moved to Indianapolis allowing her to have full time work while Disciples Women pays only half.

Our vice president of IDWM has resigned. She was promoted to a new ministry in her chaplaincy that requires a great deal more of her time.

Ministry: Pat Donahoo and Chesla Nickelson have led or participated in a number of events with congregational, regional, general and ecumenical connections. Chesla led the W2WW group to South Africa/Ghana and Pat and Marilyn will be attending the World Convention in India in January 2017.

The Executive Committee (EC) requested that interregional gatherings be expanded beyond leaders and potential leaders to include a wider group of women so more connections can be made that might otherwise have been made at our national event. In the hopes of expanding these events, both Heartland and WWOW have postponed their dates from 2017 to 2018. The EC will be asking each planning group to use our developing #DWConnect as part of those gatherings helping to connect well-versed Disciples Women to women who are unfamiliar with the ministry.

Resources: Chesla has led a number of changes in Just Women staff including a new editor, designer, publisher, etc. We have also been working to address issues that are difficult and cause uncomfortable conversations. We have also added a “Connections” section providing a place for women across the DOC to connect with one another. The theme for 2017 will be “Freedom: The Promise and the Struggle”. 2018 will be our 10th year with our anniversary being January 2019. Chesla is beginning conversations to consider how we might commemorate this milestone. We are also researching ways to provide Just Women in Spanish while being aware of the large cost that goes along with it.

We have some outdated resources that need to be updated and we are searching for writers for our annual general programs.

Chesla will be seeking funds to finance another volume of Wisdom of Women. We are hoping to focus on one of the leaders of NAPAD.

We are partnering with Refugee and Immigration and Children and Youth Ministries for a subscription to gotowebinar so we can conduct trainings and have conversations with a wider group of women.

Finances: Pat and Chesla will be attending the Disciples Development Conference in January 2017, as well as the Lilly seminar on the spirituality of fundraising. We continue to look for ways to financially sustain the ministry. Blessing box giving, as well as DMF continues to decrease.

Future:  The EC began conversations about what changes might be necessary to sustain the ministry in the future. A personnel and/or structural change may be required to keep the ministry healthy.

We are also looking at changing the structure of the EC so that team members rotate off at different dates rather than replacing the entire team and having a long learning curve.

Conversation continues about who we are and where God is calling us to serve and how that fits in our current ministry and structure. Marilyn Williams, IDWM President, has called us to share our picture of what it means to be a Disciples Woman. This is a process we are working on and will, hopefully, be ready to share at GA2017.

GA 2017: We are making plans for our booth space to tell our story of who we are and what it means, as well as highlighting the need for continued work to combat human trafficking. We will be hosting a luncheon on the last day of GA, as well as an after session on Monday evening.

Advertising/PR:  Pat and Chesla are working on a social media plan so we can be intentional about when and what to post. Lashaundra McCarty, designer for Just Women, has provided some specific details about what this plan should include.

Clergy:  While we recognize the need for women clergy to have a support system that deals with their specific needs we are still trying to discover what the support should look like. Two of the pastors on the EC team are working to develop how we move forward.

At Marilyn’s suggestion we agreed to spend time in prayer for those on the team with specific struggles on Thursday mornings at 9:00 a.m. Any specific requests will be posted to our EC Facebook page to share with one another.

Disciples Women’s Ministries is a conduit for diverse connections empowering each woman to find her voice and live out her call.            Micah 6:8

Executive for Evangelism & Congregational Transformation
Director of the Office of Black Ministries
Merger Staff
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Rev. Dr. R. Wayne Calhoun, Sr.

The DHM Office of Evangelism & Congregational Transformation in a 21st Century Context

In the fall of 2003, I came to DHM to be the new Minister of Evangelism and Merger staff (for National Convocation) for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. October first of this year began my fourteenth year as part of the ministry team that makes up Disciples Home Mission. It has been a great fourteen years and I still enjoy the rewards and fulfillment that this position continues to bring to me as I strive to make a difference in the life of this community of faith called the Disciples.

I would like to share what evangelism looks like in a 21st century context and the nature of my work with Pastors, Clergy teams, congregational leaders and congregations. I think the most effective way for me to do that is not by giving you a list of things I have accomplished over the past years or activities I have been engaged in, but demonstrate the nature of my work and ministry through the sampling of some of my work with a local congregation. To that end I have included as a part of my report a sampling of my work with a local congregation in Southwest Virginia. I would ask that you review the sampling first and then continue reading the rest of my report. (Please see pages 3 & 4 below)

At this point you might be asking why I included a sampling of my work with a local congregation. Well the answer is simple; my portfolio says that I am to do the work of evangelism and transformation. Both evangelism and transformation are not a one shot deal. In other words, once a Disciples congregation engages the ministry and services that the Office of Evangelism has to offer it becomes a lifelong partnership. With that stated, I would like to report to you the present day status of Unity Christian Church of Radford, Virginia. As part of my continuing work with the Pastor, congregational leaders and the congregation, the first goal which this congregation and I agreed upon was to begin by taking a serious and critical look at their mission, ministry and vision for the 21st century. I am elated to report that this is one Disciples congregation which understands that the first step in becoming a transforming church is to have a relative mission and vision in order to do effective evangelism in a 21st century context. This congregation now continues to find ways to be relevant in doing mission and ministry as they strive to accomplish their vision in a 21st century context.

The Office of Black Ministries:

I have requested and have been granted by Ron Degges, the President of Disciples Home Missions, to step away from the responsibilities of the Office of Black Ministries. This action will be effective at the end of 2016. I am proud to have been a part of building a great relationship that DHM has now established in partnership with the National Convocation as we have striven to effectively serve African-American Disciples clergy and congregations. One of the accomplishments of my time and service to this task is the strengthening of the Annual Black Ministers Retreat. I will continue to be available for consultation as DHM decides what the next best steps should be in continuing the service of the Office of Black Ministries.

My work and ministry continues,
Rev. Dr. Reginald W. Calhoun, Sr.
Executive for Evangelism & Congregational Transformation
and Director for the Office of Black Ministries

SAMPLE WORK from Unity Christian Church in Radford, VA

Welcome to Unity Christian Church.  We are glad you are here.  If this is your first time worshipping with us, please stop by the Welcome Center table for a small gift.

At Unity Christian Church, we strive to be a transforming 21st Century, Disciples of Christ congregation, gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a faithful witness in our congregation, community and beyond.

We believe God calls us:

OUR VISION:
To be a spiritually vibrant congregation intentionally committed to the discernment of God’s will, growth and understanding of what it means to be a disciple, and serving God by serving others.

OUR OBJECTIVES:
(We will know we are living into our vision when the following are observable)
–Transformation of disciples resulting in enthusiastic and committed participation in worship and all ministries in the life of the congregation.  (Spiritually Vibrant)
–Commitment to Prayer of all disciples resulting in personal faith sharing and conversations of God’s movement within the life of the congregation (Committed to discernment of God’s will—Reaching Up)
–Emphasis on Study and Growth resulting in biblical knowledge, awareness and sharing of personal and congregational spiritual gifts, and regular practice of spiritual disciplines (Commitment to growth and understanding of what it means to be a disciple—Reaching In)
–Opportunities for Mission and Service to respond to the ongoing needs of our neighbors in our community and beyond (Serving God by Serving Others—Reaching Out)

We lift these values that bind us in covenant: (From our Positive and Desired Core Values)
–The promotion and practice of ongoing mission
–Spiritual Growth and Renewal of disciples of all ages within the congregation
–Reaching out to children, youth, young adults, and young families and nurturing their faith and growth into discipleship
–The importance of witnessing and sharing our faith with one another as well as our neighbors.

OUR MISSION:
To transform lives, our congregation, and community based on God’s unique vision for us, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and sharing the unconditional love of Jesus Christ.  (Romans 12:2)

To accomplish this, we shall:  Reach Up.  Reach In.  Reach Out.

Unity Christian Church of Radford, Virginia, is the new congregation formed from the joining of First Christian Church and Radford Christian Church.
In Sept. 2010, exploration of a joint congregation progressed into forming a Unity Committee composed of 6 members from each Church. In just 3 short months it was determined that the formation of a joint Church between the two congregations was warranted.  On Sunday January 2, 2011, the first joint worship service was held in the sanctuary of First Christian Church on Tyler Avenue. Since that first joint service in January, excitement, anticipation and love grew in the hearts of every member.  The thirst to be together as one large family of Christians grew rapidly and by June, joint worship services were moved from once a month to twice a month.

Both congregations voted overwhelmingly in favor to join together under one name and come together under the new name of Unity Christian Church.
Starting the first Sunday in November 2011, both congregations worshiped together at the Carter Street location of Radford Christian Church in order to make way for renovations to begin at the Tyler Street location.  In early January 2012 both congregations transformed from 2 into 1 new large family.  On that Sunday, there were celebrations marking the first meeting together as Unity Christian Church in the newly renovated church facility that once was First Christian Church.

God has enriched our lives and blessed us to witness and participate in the most exciting event in the history of over 200 combined years of two of Radford’s longest standing congregations

 

Families and Children Ministries
Olivia Updegrove
Website: http://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/
Newsletter: http://www.docfamiliesandchildren.org/newsletter
Text Message: 81010, @weeklyfc

  • Kate Epperly rejoined the team and began to deal directly with our advocacy and justice needs. She continues to help put together our Kids to Kids material. She has started a blog http://www.disciplesjustice4children.org.
  • Olivia Stewart has started to gather together an ecumenical group that will oversee the shifts in the Children Worship & Wonder program over the next generation. Our Disciple trainers are included in this shift and discussion.
  • Our 40 day devotional, Light a Candle for Children was themed, “Helping Children Heal from Violence.” We have had a wonderful variety of Disciple voices participating. Our daily posts reached an average of 800 people per day.
  • Disciples 5K: See Images in linked PDF for results.
  • Ministries across Generations: We had our first intergenerational/cross-constituency meeting December 1-2, 2016. We had representatives from each constituency group, across a variety of ages, experiences, and locations. We gathered to do intentional work together to cover all aspects of our denomination needs in the lifelong journey of faith.
  • North American Youth Event (NYE): Kate and Olivia U. attended the UCC/Disciples Youth Event in Orlando, Florida. They introduced some family elements to the worship and event experience. Spent a lot of time making connections with our other ministries and our General Youth Council.
  • FYI:
    • Olivia Updegrove attended: DYMN Retreat, NAPAD, & NYE (Kate Epperly), and the Youth Specialties Conference
    • Olivia Updegrove: “Family Matters” article in Just Women, curate website, and basic responses to our Facebook and ministry avenues to resourcing and curating.
    • Olivia U. is working as a team member for the Intergenerational Conference which is connecting her with some of the top names and insights to shifts that are happening.
    • Kate participated in the Global Ministry meeting in Cleveland, and the GA Worship Planning
    • We continue to work with the Children’s Disaster Service.
    • Randy Kuss has been a part of all of this and is bringing together some important previsioning ideas from the youth aspect to all of these shifts. He is also bringing together this year’s DYMN event with the Progressive Youth Ministry Event.

The hardest part of our year was losing our amazing administrative assistant, Jessica Kramer. We are currently in the process of hiring a new person to fill some very big shoes. Please pray for us.

General Youth Council
Tracye Stewart

The General Youth Council (GYC) is excited to have increased its membership by adding additional youth and adult members during last year’s application cycle. We currently have eleven council members and Rev. Trayce Stewart is serving in her second year as the DHM liaison to GYC. The council will focus on leadership development and clarifying its purpose in the coming months to better serve youth within the denomination as well as the wider church.

Last year it was announced that the Disciples would partner with the United Church of Christ for their biennial youth gathering, National Youth Event. GYC has several current and past members who are serving on leadership teams to bring this event to fruition and continue to establish this partnership so this truly becomes a joint youth endeavor.

GYC is looking forward to taking a more active role in planning and implementing youth programming during the 2017 General Assembly and are looking forward to this creative process of learning and service.

 

Green Chalice
Carol Devine and Scott Hardin-Nieri

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. Out of our call to “do justice” (Micah 6:8), we strive to demonstrate the fullness of God’s shalom through living out our faith by caring for God’s creation. From Hawaii to Ontario to Florida, and everywhere in between, Disciples’ congregations are caring for creation in unique and inspiring ways.   Our mission is to connect Christian faith, spiritual practice and creation consciousness in order to demonstrate the fullness of God’s shalom.

Green Chalice committed to another year and a half in partnership with the faith arm of EcoAmerica called Blessed Tomorrow. Blessed Tomorrow provided $25,000 to Green Chalice to support our work for 2016. Sharon Watkins and Ron Degges have been involved and very supportive of this work.

Work Summary

  • Monthly e-newsletter, Green Chalice News
  • 109 Green Chalice Ministries (Congregations, Camps, Regional Office)

7 – Certified Green Chalice Congregations

  • Green Chalice Regional Teams in KY, OH, IN, and OR/ID, Pacific Southwest Region
  • Green Chalice Covenant – Individuals, creation care teams and congregations continue to sign.
  • Community Gardens –updates to the map with Disciple’s community gardens regularly.
  • Numerous phone calls, emails, meetings and workshops about creation care every month.
  • Website – updates to website org has been very liked
  • Facebook over 185 New Posts in 2016, total new likes this year is 1261

2016 Writings

  • Just Women – Carol
  • Disciples Advocate in Spring and Fall – Scott
  • Numerous e-publication articles
  • Patheos Blog – Scott

 Growing Partnership with Eco-Palms (ethically & sustainably grown and harvested.)

New Green Chalice Advisory Team includes:

  • Stacy Sheldon, Ion Community Church, OR
  • Kevin Howe, Harvard Ave Christian Church Tulsa, OK
  • Seung Un (Paul) Tche, Council on Christian Unity
  • Katherine Raley, First Christian Church, Columbia, SC
  • Johnny Wray, High Hope Farms, MS
  • Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick, National Benevolent Association
  • Carol is Chair of the Creation Care team of the Kentucky Council of Churches
  • Carol is Secretary of the Executive Board of Creation Justice Ministries and traveled to DC for the annual Board Meeting in D.C .
  • Carol helped write and edit the Creation Justice Ministries Earth Day Worship Resources.
  • Carol spoke on the KY Capitol steps about Climate Justice for the Moral Day of Action, 9.12
  • Scott preached at FCC, Black Mountain, NC for Green Chalice
  • Scott presented to Cyprus Creek Christian Church in Spring, TX
  • Scott gave 10 sermons, spoke at 26 events or vigils and 7 testimonies and visits with N.C. legislator in 2016
  • Scott attended and led a climate and faith panel at Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, NC

Believe Youth Event, Orlando 2016

  • Green Chalice Booth – with Jinga interactive game
  • Premiere of Green Chalice “Butterflies Effect” video
  • 4 Workshops for Youth Led by Scott
  • Collaboration with UCC leaders to start “Generation Green” a youth social media empowerment and education group.
  • Carol met with Kara Ball from EcoAmeria/Blessed Tomorrow in Washington DC in May
  • Carol and Scott co-edited Blessed Tomorrow Faith Climate Communications Guide
  • Carol and Scott traveled to NYC in June 2016 for a week long training called The Gospel and the Ecological Crisis where Al Gore and the Climate Reality Project presented along with other great faith and creation organizations.
  • Carol and Scott are working hard to prepare for GA 2017 with workshops for adults and youth and a resolution on climate.
  • We submitted a Scott Grant Application that would have enable us to have clergy leadership training but it was not accepted.
  • Scott is working with Christmount to lead a youth camp/mission experience on ecojustice.
  • Scott will be presenting at Brite Divinity Schools “Minister’s Week” on youth ministry and creation care in February.
  • Sharon Watkins and Ron Degges attended and provided leadership at the EcoAmerica Leadership Summit, Washington, D.C. September 2016
  • Midway Christian Church is a model Green Chalice Congregation and was a runner up in the Interfaith Power and Light national “Cool Congregation” challenge in the area of Sacred Grounds.

 

Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel

Tana Liu-Beers

Work Visas

This summer has brought a significant uptake in full representation cases for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. I currently have twenty-one open active full representation cases. Several of these cases are for individuals who consulted with me years ago and are finally eligible to apply. Several pastors currently on religious worker visas are due for renewal this year.

I continue to provide full representation for churches and regions filing nonimmigrant religious worker petitions (R-1 and R-2 visas), special immigrant religious worker petitions (which lead to a green card), and professional employment petitions (H-1B visas).

Since the wait time for initial R-1 religious worker cases has stretched to an average of ten months, I have been doing H-1B visas for anyone who qualifies. A few Regions have stepped up to hire pastors directly so that they are not subject to the H-1B visa lottery, which is significant progress in Regions’ willingness to support immigrant pastors.

Voter Participation

Due to the upcoming presidential election and some candidates’ anti-immigrant rhetoric, there has been a strong push in immigrant communities to become eligible to vote by November. I am handling a few of these last-minute naturalization cases for pastors who are part of Obra Hispana and NAPAD.

Consultations

This summer the correlation between world events and brief service cases has been more apparent than usual. Due to economic crises in South America, I have heard from more Venezuelan and Colombian families wanting to immigrate. Options are limited for most of these families who do not already have family or employment connections in the U.S. Due to ongoing terror and war in Syria, I have heard from more Syrian and Jordanian families seeking refuge in the U.S. Thankfully, the Department of Homeland Security has recently designated Syria for Temporary Protected Status (TPS), so there is help for Syrians who are already in the U.S. However, refugees who remain abroad do not benefit.

Communications

I increased the Immigration Legal Counsel presence on Facebook and have been surprised by how useful this mode of communication has been for the ministry. It has driven traffic to the disciplesimmigration.org website and increased subscriptions to Legal Updates. All of these means have helped me get the word out about raids of Central Americans and the Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s Executive Actions.

Community Education

I attended Obra Hispana’s National Bilingual Assembly in July and spoke at the Women’s Pre-Event. The women were particularly receptive to the launch of a new initiative to train community navigators to be expert immigration resource persons in their own communities. I attended NAPAD’s Convocation in August and presented a workshop with Sharon Stanley-Rea. As usual, both of these events were a productive time to connect with current and former clients and to provide consultations for many individuals seeking legal help.

 On the Horizon for the Ministry of Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel

  1. Beginning this summer and continuing through at least the next year, Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel will be collaborating with Refugee & Immigration Ministries to provide more in-depth community education than we have ever provided before. We will be using the Community Navigators model to train Disciples to be resources to immigrants in their congregations and communities. They will be equipped to provide reliable information about the immigration system, help protect others from scams, and empower their communities, all while avoiding the unauthorized practice of law. A key component of the training is equipping Disciples to train others so that we expand our reach and multiply our impact. We will offer webinars, podcasts, and in-person sessions in both English and Spanish.
  1. International seminarians face the usual challenges of discerning God’s leading in their lives and finding a call following graduation. However, their challenges are compounded by the fact that they cannot remain in the U.S. legally unless they receive a call in time to petition for a work visa. Seminary graduates whose job prospects do not fall perfectly into place either have to leave the U.S. or become undocumented, thereby jeopardizing their entire future ministry in the U.S. When this happens, we risk losing the next generation of leaders of our Church.

I have been addressing this recurring issue from the legal immigration side, but over the next two years I plan to invite leaders of the church—including Office of Search and Call, HELM, College of Regional Ministers, General Commission on the Order of Ministry, and Regional Committees on Ministry—to  create more structural solutions. This joint effort will likely begin with information sharing as I hope to develop a deeper understanding of the regions’ various standing and ordination processes. At the same time, I hope to impart a better understanding of the legal process and requirements to everyone involved. I also envision listening sessions to hear from current and former international seminarians willing to share the challenges they face.

 

Kansas Christian Home
Jason Ault
Director of Development

In the loving memory and caring spirit of Jesus Christ, Kansas Christian Home exists to provide social and health services to meet the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of its residents. Kansas

Christian Home’s emphasis of service is to older adults, although recognizing God’s love has no limits.

  • Karen Sturchio is now the Chief Executive Officer of Kansas Christian Home. She started in an interim role in April 2016 and transitioned into the permanent role in June 2016. She brings a wealth of experience in long-term care and has a powerful vision for the future of Kansas Christian Home.
  • Mark your calendars for the 2017 Legacy of John Dinner, which will be held on August 26, 2017 at the Meridian Center in Newton.
  • Kansas Christian Home is embarking upon a capital campaign to make additions and improvements to its facility to better serve the future generations of senior citizens. For more information on how you can be involved with the exciting project, please contact Jason Ault, Director of Development, at 316-283-6600 x116 or by email at jault@kschristianhome.org.

 

Partnership with National Benevolent Association

Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick
Director of Disciples Care Exchange and Affinity Groups

Executive Summary

There are several exciting things happening with Connect this fall that puts us on course for a very full year in 2017. As you will read below, NBA through the Mental Health and Congregational Care Affinity Group is partnering with the Christian Church (DOC) in Georgia for a 2-year regional pilot initiative focusing on mental health and wellness for clergy and congregations. It is our hope that this will be a model for other regions and the general church as we seek to live out the 2015 GA resolution of becoming a welcoming church to those with mental illness. I give thanks also for the ways we are moving forward in our work with established health and social service partners and their leaders. The Executive Leaders peer group is proving to be a much needed space for leaders to share in confidence and with one another the joys and challenges of leading such impactful work in our church. One question that continues to surface in conversations is what does it mean to be Disciples-related today? My sense is this is not a question of moving away from this relationship, but more so of finding ways to deepen the relationship even among real challenges such as board makeup or hiring other key leadership who may not be Disciples. The Prison and Jail Ministries Affinity Group is expanding its scope to include issues of immigration and detention, and a new research & design team has begun thinking about the need and purpose for an affinity group focused on faith and activism.

Affinity Groups

Mental Health and Congregation Care Affinity Group (MHAG) (led by Angela Whitenhill) – Since launching the MHAG in May we’ve received inquiries/interest forms from nearly 30 Disciples from across the country interested in the work of and partnership with the MHAG. We have been hosting small group meetings and individual calls to learn more about their interests, experience and passions for serving. We are noticing that as the expertise and enthusiasm of our partners grows, they are not only serving as our connection to the local and regional expressions of the church, they are also serving as inspiration for future topic areas and direction for the months and years to come related mental health and congregational care.

Self-Care Clergy Workshops

  • After overwhelming receptivity of a clergy self-care workshop facilitated at National Convocation this summer, we launched an online webinar series, “Clergy Self-Care: Leading by Example”. This pilot webinar series seeks to prepare clergy for a lifestyle of balance, self-care and wellness. This four-part series is offered each Monday beginning October 17 through November 7th, and serves as a prelude for an upcoming clergy peer group in 2017. Our hope is to create a safe, non-public space for education and dialogue regarding clergy wellness. The pilot is also helping us learn how we might offer this ongoing for clergy groups in the future, and/or how we might use this content for potential liturgical brainstorm ideas and Commission on Ministry training resources.

Mental Health Regional Initiative

  • After a number of fruitful and strategic meetings with Rev. Denise Bell, regional minister in Georgia, and a stellar presentation to the Georgia regional board by Angela Whitenhill and Rebecca Hale, the Georgia region voted unanimously to establish a 2-year partnership with NBA MHAG focused on mental health and congregational care with a particular lens to clergy wellness! This partnership initiative seeks to: (1) cultivate welcome / counter stigma, (2) provide MH education, resources and services, (3) develop processes, protocols, and infrastructure for clergy care and support, and (4) promote sustainability of a regional MH team, protocols and trauma care resources.
  • Additionally, Angela was able to participate as a panelist at a regional clergy town hall meeting as they discussed the life of the church in Georgia and sparked great interest in the MH initiative. And so we are excited that this initiative will not only address issues of mental health, but is already proving to address a common relational divide within the region by giving clergy a universal common issue to rally around.

Contingency Events

  • We have carved out a space for the MHAG to aid in clergy and congregational care after social justice crises beginning with the Ferguson Initiative and most recently, helped host a celebration and healing retreat for clergy and activist involved with the Ferguson Uprising. The honoring and retreat was a powerful combination of clinical, pastoral and activist knowledge and skill and the first of its kind in interdisciplinary congregational care after community crisis.
  • Unbeknownst to us, the weekend also served as preparation for crisis clergy care after the Charlotte Uprising, where Angela was invited by John Richardson, regional minister, in North Carolina, to listen to the needs and concerns of the clergy in Charlotte, and provide a meaningful and much welcomed general church presence.

 Prison & Jail Ministries (P&JM) Affinity Group (led by Dean Bucalos and Hector Hernandez)- We continue to focus upon our three principle areas of impact: education, inspiration and advocacy.

Education

  • Hosted “Becoming a Welcoming Church: Safe Sanctuary Protocols” –a webinar focused on equipping congregations to welcome people who have been convicted of sex offenses. Presenters: Dean Bucalos and Nick Haynes, attorney experienced in representing people accused of sexual offenses.

Inspiration

  • Blog posts featuring issues of immigration/detention, Black Lives Matter, and the power of social entreprneurism in the area of prison and jail re-entry; as well as guest bloggers, Lisa Sherman, a jail chaplain, and Ford Rowan, who works with Kairos Ministries.
  • Dean led a workshop and hosted the NBA table in the exhibit hall of the Kentucky Regional Assembly.

Advocacy

  • A continued focus on the NBA sponsored General Assembly resolution on the extended use of solitary confinement, the criminal justice reform bill out of the Joint Senate Judiciary Committee, banning the box promoting restorative justice practices, educating people about expungement procedures and pursuing the restoration of voting rights for ex-felons. Addressing concerns about mass incarceration and the disproportionate impact on people and families of color continues to be a high priority.

Peer Group Update

  • Group has met online monthly since their first gathering in April 2016. During our monthly meetings we are intentional in sharing with each other how are ministries are going, how are we doing (professionally and/or personally) and we also share our joys and each with each other. Not all the group members have been able to meet each month, but as group convener, Hector is always reaching out to them either by e-mail or phone calls to see how they are doing.
  • During the August online meeting, we hosted a guest speaker: Sister Kathleen Erickson, RSM. She has worked for decades in immigration-related ministries, including 18 yrs. on the U.S.-Mexico border and for a period of time as chaplain at Dilley Immigrant Detention Center.
  • In September, the group reflected upon the topics of Suffering and Hope. Many of the members are dealing with multiple difficulties. Hector is working to create a safe space in which as a group we could share our stories.
  • The peer group will participate in our 2nd face-to-face meeting at the Franciscan Renewal Center near Scottsdale, Arizona. We will be sharing some quality time and we will be welcoming our guest speaker James Croft, who will be offering a workshop on Public Narrative: the Story of Self, Us and Now.

Disciples Faith and Activism Research & Design Group (DAct) – a group of 9 Disciples activists are gathering as an activist and organizer think tank to outline a structure and next steps for the formation of an affinity group for activists and organizers in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and to consider if/how to help create an infrastructure for justice work in our denomination. Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker is the convener for this research & design group and has begun with individual and small group conversations to gain a better understanding of the history, goals and contributions of the current DOC justice ministries, assess what might be missing in our church regarding justice work, and consider what could be the unique purpose of the NBA activist and organizer affinity group.

Health and Social Service Ministries

Executive Leaders Peer Group

Nine CEO/executive directors from our health and social service ministry partners have been gathering since July as an Executive Leaders Peer Group to cultivate peer support/encouragement, participate in mutual dialogue, share in spiritual renewal practices, and engage in peer-to-peer learning experiences. This group includes: Mark Anderson (NBA), Debbie Dobbins (SCSYC), Milele Hobbs (Gomer’s House), Mark Palmer (Woodhaven), Feliberto Pereira (Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries), Sabrina Porter (Juliette Fowler Communities), Elaine Sanford (HER Faith Ministries), Don Stump (Christian Church Homes), Kimberly Weir (Florida Christian Center) and Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick serves as group convener. We will meet for our first face-to-face on Oct. 28-30 at the Historic Banning Mills Conference and Retreat Center outside Atlanta, Georgia, with the theme of Mission in the Murkiness: Health and Social Service in the 21st Century. We plan to visit to the National Civil and Human Rights Museum as we reflect on how our ministries relate to the historic and current struggle for such rights, create individual and collective Soul Collages to claim our individual stories and their connection to the work of our ministries and the greater story of Disciples health and social services, reflect on a colleague’s case study, and enjoy getting to know one another over social activities and meals.

Project Updates

Christian Services for Children in Alabama (CSCA) –The board is diligently moving forward with the CEO executive search process. Rebecca Hale and Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick visited with the board in late September to guide them through a strategic planning process related to the search. We were able to create space for affirmation of their mission and unique work in the Selma and greater Alabama community, uncover areas of much needed clarity for the board and the search committee chair, guide them towards finalizing a position guide, search process, and confirm a timeline for transition. Additionally, we have supplied the board with resources such as a sample budget for the search process, a listing of possible back office support services, and offered another consultation with Bob before the end of the year.

Cleveland Christian Home (CCH)CCH is in a time of transition and has just welcomed a new CEO, Charles Tuttle, on October 1st. The development officer at CCH is been tasked with taking on new responsibilities related to marketing and approached NBA for support in learning this new role. Kasi Zieminski was able to offer an initial consultation and brainstorm some starting points for CCH. This has led to a new avenue for learning more of the stories of their work and sharing those out through NBA networks. We look forward to discovering new areas of partnership and support for CCH in the coming months.

 

REFUGEE AND IMMIGRATION MINISTRIES REPORT
Report on RIM’s Refugee Ministries to DHM Board
Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, RIM Director
5 Thomas Circle NW, Washington, D.C.  20018
Website:  https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/refugee-immigration-ministries/
Email:  sstanley@dhm.disciples.org;  Twitter:  @StanleyRea
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/RefugeeAndImmigrationMinistriesChristianChurchDoc
 

“We live in a globe where 21 is ANYTHING BUT a lucky number: There are over 21 MILLION REFUGEES in OUR world…in our world where EVERY MINUTE 24 people are forced to flee their homes because of war or persecution—where a total of 65 million together are displaced…meaning 1 in each 113 people globally is an asylum seeker, internally displaced, or a refugee. Over 51% are children, nearly 100,000 have become separated from their families—including unaccompanied minors from Central America at our own border. And Filippo Grande, UNHCR High Commissioner for Refugees—reminds us ‘this represents an almost 10% increase of persons on the move from last year.’”  Rev. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Faith Press Conference on Refugees, D.C., Sept. 15, 2016

Refugees are unable to return to their country due to a “well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”     (UN Geneva Convention on Refugees)

Refugee Arrivals and Engagement Report thru Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Disciples of Christ work through RIM and in partnership with CWS’ 34 refugee resettlement affiliate offices across 21 states to resettle refugees assigned for welcoming to our denomination.  Disciples are assigned to work with approximately 8% of CWS’ total refugee arrivals.

Our Global Refugee Realities, and National Hospitality Challenges

This report period saw continued legislative pushback against refugees, in the face of unparalleled refugee needs.  See this gripping 5 minute video of the global refugee crisis, produced through UNHCR: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RstxqdvwFIo.

RIM engaged in consistent interpretation of refugee concerns, and supported congregational engagement through both advocacy and relational resettlement support for the world’s most vulnerable populations.  Also early this Fall, the US met its goal of resettling 10,000 Syrians during FY2016—out of a total of 85,000 total refugee resettlements anticipated this FY from all populations.  As comparison, the US had resettled only 1,682 Syrian refugees throughout FY2015.  (Note:  the federal Fiscal Year for resettlement extends from Oct. 1 thru Sept. 30).

In mid-September, the White House announced a goal of 110,000 refugee resettlements from multiple populations into the U.S. for FY 2017 (covering the time of October 11, 2016-September 30, 2017).

To help Disciples participate actively in helping to meet these challenges, RIM has engaged in the following:

1)  RIM’s Director helped launch and continues to provide ongoing convening leadership in a national and proactive faith campaign called “Refugees Welcome,” and will continue to engage Disciples in central roles to welcome refugees over the months ahead! 

  • Over 25 faith and refugee communities from multiple backgrounds around the country were recruited to endorse the campaign before its official national launch through two launch calls and multiple launch welcome events in April.  Go here for more info:  www.refugeesarewelcome.org.
  • RIM provided leadership in March and in April for premier events of the campaign, including a “Refugees Welcome Dinner” and program in Baltimore, MD. in March, and at University Christian Church in Hyattsville, MD. in April (each with 200+ participants (including multi-faith community members and leaders, regional legislators, numerous Syrian refugee families, and visiting global leaders.)
  • RIM sponsored a DC area “Refugees Welcome Week” the first week of April, which including preaching on refugee themes, visits by Syrian leaders, Syrian food, and a cultural photography exhibit held at National City Christian Church.  We supported multiple “Interfaith Iftar” events to build multi faith understanding during Ramadan.
  • RIM encouraged congregational participation in refugee engagement events around “World Refugee Day” and the seasons surrounding the date of June 20.  Since this time, RIM has supported multiple advocacy efforts, awareness building events (such as the “DC Rally for Refugees” on the National Mall on August 28th), and has served as a national faith voice in encouraging the welcome of refugees (for example, through the Director’s interview with CNN’s anchor Alisyn Camerota in September.  See pic below.)
  • The goal of the Refugees Welcome campaign is to provide opportunities for refugees to share their experiences with faith and community groups to:

*build friendships among diverse cultures and faiths            

*strengthen public and private welcome of our refugee neighbors

*promote refugee integration and leadership, &         

*celebrate refugees’ community contributions. 

We will continue to work with faith leaders to encourage Refugees Welcome to promote hundreds of refugee welcoming opportunities around the U.S.!

2)  RIM continues to offer special Syria resources for churches through the following website:    

 

Refugee Hospitality Kits help to:

*Build partnerships between churches in areas of high refugee arrivals with local resettlement offices; 

*Link churches within 50 miles of a resettlement office with that office and local refugees;

*Invite outlying churches into vital support roles with refugees

*Prepare churches for increasing Syrian & other refugee arrivals

3)  RIM underscores its request for “Refugee Hospitality Kits” to assist our CWS offices throughout the country. See the full Hospitality Kits alert at:  https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/refugee-immigration-ministries/refugees/hospitality-kits/

4)  RIM participates in and supports refugee advocacy at national and local levels, and seeks to engage Disciples in constant advocacy to strengthen U.S. support globally for refugees, and to ensure adequate resettlement and integration assistance for most vulnerable refugee populations, regardless of race or religion.

In this report period, RIM worked consistently with denominational partners and Interfaith Immigration Coalition colleagues to provide proactive responses to often overwhelming and immobilizing refugee challenges. As refugee numbers have continued to multiply, more than 300,000 people of faith around the country have demonstrated their support for refugees through combined organizations’ postcards and petition campaigns.  Among these has been a campaign sponsored in part by Disciples of Christ (See postcard below).  10,000 of these postcards were delivered to the President, House and Senate leadership, and other appropriate senators and representatives of signers, following a faith leaders press conference to support refugees on September 15th—ahead of the U.N. and President’s Global Refugee Summits.

The postcard requests additional support for refugee resettlement, enhanced opportunities for refugee education and work, and increased humanitarian aid for the hurting.  RIM recognizes this as a moment where our nation can LEVERAGE a NEW WAY of shared relief responsibility, where we can call forth the world to better shoulder shelter among many nations, where we can encourage a hospitality that gives MORE of our households opportunity to build hope for those wearied by war.

5)  RIM works with regions and congregations in encouraging and supporting their understanding of and outreach to refugees, and is available and interested to visit and speak with Disciples throughout the U.S. & Canada to encourage regional and single church projects! 

  • See materials here to understand the security checks for all refugees, via video at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQUIxQ6TFZc, and see updates at http://www.rcusa.org/uploads/pdfs/Refugee%20resettlement%20-%20step%20by%20step%20USCRI.pdf, https://www.uscis.gov/refugeescreening, and https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/11/20/infographic-screening-process-refugee-entry-united-states.

  • Examples of partnerships during the time period have included outreach through N.C. and VA. Regional Assemblies, Outreach and Educational presentations at the National Hispanic Asamblea, at National Convocation, and at the North American Pacific Asian Disciples (NAPAD) conferences. Special training and consultation was also offered to the Kansas City Region of churches, along with interested Missouri congregations, and to the Illinois Valley Cluster of Churches. A “Hospitality Truck Caravan” is in planning for the Virginia region and nearby CWS office affiliates, and the RIM Director will be presenting in the next weeks to the Christian Church Capital Area Region and the Illinois-Wisconsin region gatherings. Refugee Hospitality items have also been gathered through churches in Ohio, Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and other sites.

 Week of Compassion Refugee Emergency Assistance Provided through RIM

In partnership with Week of Compassion, RIM continues to provide emergency assistance to Disciples-assigned families through support of the Week of Compassion’s “Compassion in Action” Fund.  Requests are often received through CWS refugee affiliate offices for cases where refugee families face extreme and unmet family, health, and mental health needs. Funds are provided to RIM by WOC, and then are disbursed, if and as emergency needs require, from the RIM office.  All disbursements to families indicate the support is given in partnership with WOC.   (Picture above is in the CWS affiliate/Refugee One office in Chicago, IL., with RIM Director & Illinois Disciples, in Feb. 2016.)

Emergency aid given during our report period has included:

Date Account WOC Emerg. Assistance for: WOC Emerg. Amount Given
9/7/2016 200-800-800-8475 Community Refugee & Immigration Service – NP-138675 Man Bahadur Rai (Nepalese), for rent and utility assistance; wife on dialysis, husband unable to work and care fulltime for wife and 1 yr. old baby. $750.00
9/7/2016  200-80-800-8475 Community Refugee & Immigration Service –KE-565790 Charles Chanmera (Kenyan), for rental and setup assistance.  Refugee is single, and organization unable to locate appropriate roommate for cost sharing. $750.00
5/3/2016 200-800-800-8475 Refugee Services of Texas – ET-129378 Farah, Farihya Abdulahi – (Ethiopian) 3 months rent and utilities $1,250.00
4/29/2016 200-800-800-8475 Community Refugee & Immigration Service – NP-142062 Hari Prasad Pokharel –(Nepalese) funeral expenses for son. $1,400.00
 Totals $4,150.00
 
  • As seen in the above graph, four emergency grants were given for refugee assistance over the time period of the report.  Funds were requested, and then distributed, through case workers in our CWS refugee affiliate offices.
  • In addition to the above grants, RIM and WOC continue our unique partnership with First Christian Church of Lynchburg, and their outreach to Hawa Bakhteyari, a local young adult Iraqi woman who came to the US seeking asylum status after fleeing persecution due to threats received after her father’s murder and her public support for the freedom of young girls to not be required to marry at age 12 or 13.  Hawa received final notice of asylee status in March 2015. Since, the church continues to provide supplemental support to Hawa as she works and continues her education. The church donates support funds through WOC, and they are passed through RIM and paid out as necessary to support Hawa’s needs.

Unaccompanied Minor Children/Central American Refugees Crisis Response

RIM continues to consistently partner and strategize with DHM, WOC, Global Ministries, and DCPW regarding the ongoing unaccompanied Central American children and families refugee crisis.  Root causes and violence in the Northern Triangle nations of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala continued again to escalate during the period.  And, the U.S. practice of detaining nearly three thousand mothers and children who have sought protection in the U.S. continued also to grow.  Three family detention centers remain, in Dilley, Texas, Karnes City, Texas, and in Berks County, Pennsylvania.  RIM consistently partners with multiple faith communities through the Interfaith Immigration Coalition to advocate for the protection of these migrants, and seeks constant opportunities to educate and engage our Disciples congregations to support those seeking asylum, and to seek to end family detention.

During this report period, highlight actions to support Central American refugees included:

  • Leadership at a Prayer Vigil outside the White House for detained Central American mothers and children held on March 28 (during the day of the WH Easter Egg Roll)
  • Organizing leadership of a Mother’s Day “Blooming Hope” vigil outside the White House which honored Central American mothers with gifts, offered prayers for their families, and provided opportunities for sharing their experiences while in detention.
  • Assistance with the August-early September “Diapers in Detention” campaign, which raised awareness about family detention, and encouraged congregations to contact Immigration Detention Offices to urge the ending of the practice.
  • Publicized support for Central American mothers and children ahead of the President’s Refugee Summit, in support of a “Shadow Summit” on the day of the President’s summit.
  • Continued to support a BIBLES AND BIBLE STORY BOOKS PROJECT to aid the mothers and children in Dilley.  See the updated flyer online at: https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/RIM-Dilley-Spanish-Bibles-and-Books-KidsMoms-Updated-816final.pdf
  • Continued to support the “ANGEL TO ANGEL” CARDS OF CARE PROJECT for women and children in the detention centers. See here for more information on this exciting project for church connection:   In English: https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Angel-to-Angel-Project-DISCIPLES-Call-for-Letters-EnglishFINAL4815.pdf and in Spanish:  https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/RIM-Angel-to-Angel-Project-Call-for-Letters-SpanishFINALupdated83116.pdf

RIM likewise continues to encourage churches and individuals to GIVE TO WEEK OF COMPASSION, marked “Refugee Children Aid to help Disciples continue to reach out to assist Central American migrants, and to access multiple resources about the crisis at: https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/refugee-immigration-ministries/asylum-seekers-migrants/background-resources/central-american-refugees/

The RIM office continues to track the very small scale “in country” Central American Migrants (CAM) program established in early 2015,which is targeted to assist up to 400

Additional Refugee Support and Interpretation with Congregations

  • RIM Director continues to strengthen partnerships with Disciples Women through shared human trafficking/labor abuse work, and unaccompanied children and mother refugee concerns and actions.
  • RIM Director continues to support Southeast Asian refugee and new American communities by serving on the national Board of SEARAC (Southeast Asian Resource Action Center).

Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries Support

  • RIM continues to serve as our Disciples Home Missions representative on the Board of SWGSM, and sometimes often also serves as DHM & WOC representative, as well, in its twice annual meetings.  During the report period, the RIM Director had speaking commitments at the NC Regional Assembly during the time of the SWGSM Board Meeting, and so was unable to attend.  However, she provided a sermon for inclusion in the “Epiphany Emphasis Toolkit” for congregations to use in educating and lifting up SWGSM’s ministries.
  • Director Feliberto Pereira consistently expresses great appreciation for the support of Week of Compassion grants which assist him in meeting critical refugee needs as above, and which also assist with the ongoing distribution of rice and beans throughout multiple border communities and projects.

Farm Worker Ministries      

  • RIM provides coordinating leadership to educate and engage Disciples in ministries to increase justice for farmworkers throughout the U.S.  Building upon our Disciples heritage of helping found the National Farm Worker Ministry 40 years ago, RIM’s Director serves on the Executive Committee and Board of the NFWM organization.  In partnership with over 15 other ecumenical partners with the NFWM, RIM engaged in the multiple critical farmworker campaigns.  Most active in this report period included our::

–Support for tomato farmworkers in Immokalee, Florida and workers in other states and crops through the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).  The primary efforts of the CIW continue to be to reduce modern slavery in the fields through the furtherance of the “Fair Food Program.”  At this time, the CIW is striving especially to encourage Wendy’s restaurants and Publix grocery to join the Fair Food Program.  On May 25, Disciples joined 13 other denominations to pledge our commitment to BOYCOTT Wendy’s, as a way to push for its positive decision to join the Fair Food program.  Go here for more details: http://www.ciw-online.org/blog/2016/05/heads-of-communion-letter-to-wendys/.  THE WENDY’S BOYCOTT REMAINS IN PLACE.

–Solidarity with the farm workers’ organization of Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), in its efforts to encourage Sakuma Berry Farms, Driscoll Berries, and additional business which purchase Sakuma berries (such as Haagen Dazs, who uses the berries in its strawberry ice cream) to enter into negotiations to recognize FUJ and allow them to represent farmworkers.  Sakuma berries is located in Washington state.  See more here:  http://nfwm.org/2016/09/important-message-familias-unidas-por-la-justicia/. The pressure of a boycott has been effective, and as of Sept. 5th, FUJ requested its partners to END THE BOYCOTT, due to successfully being granted a process toward negotiating toward a collective bargaining agreement.  In solidarity with FUJ, WE HAVE ENDED ALL BOYCOTT ACTIVITIES AGAINST SAKUMA BROTHERS FARM AND DRISCOLL’S.

–Partnership with farm workers represented through the United Farm Workers, in their efforts to secure passage in California of the Farmworker Overtime Pay bill, AB1066.  This law passed on August 29, and was signed into law by Governor Brown on Sept. 11.  See more at:  http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article101400142.html

–Support for farmworkers in N.C., Ohio, and elsewhere linked through the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC).  FLOC continued in this period to work on enhanced rights for tobacco and other crop workers, and especially focused on campaigns against Reynolds Tobacco and Philip Morris International.  See more here:  http://nfwm.org/campaigns/floc-campaign/.  For the third year in a row, Pastor Jose Luis Cartegena of Park Avenue Christian Church represented NFWM faith partners at the Philip Morris International Shareholders’ meeting in New York City—pushing for bargaining and labor protection rights for tobacco farm workers.

Immigrant Rights Support

RIM leads our denomination’s communities in understanding and engaging in the promotion of immigrant rights.

  • RIM provides consistent education and ongoing leadership to engage Disciples in understanding the complex issues and movements related to immigrant rights.  RIM works in partnership with ecumenical colleagues to further the collaborative faith goals of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. See:  www.interfaithimmigration.org
  • During this time period, RIM built relationships to strengthen ministry opportunities among Hispanic, NAPAD, and African American Disciples constituents thru attendance and leadership at the Hispanic Asamblea in Miami, FL, at the National Convocation in Kansas City, KS, at the Black Ministers’ Retreat in Jackson, MS., and at the North American Pacific Asian Disciples gathering in Sunnyvale, CA.
  • One special development during this period was the reception by University Church, Chicago of an immigrant named Jose Juan Moreno as a “Sanctuary” case into the protection of their facilities (beginning April 15th). Since that time, Disciples around the country have been invited to offer him support, and members have done that through support letters, videos, photos, and more.  (See Jose Juan in pic third from left, and add’l info. at:  https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/sign-the-petition-dont-deport-jose-juan-father-of-5/.)
  • During all months of the report, advocates and immigrants eligible for “DACA+” and “DAPA” programs (which had been introduced by President Obama in November 2014, and held up by opponents through the courts since that time) continued to encourage a positive Supreme Court decision on these issues.  Multiple prayer vigils were held in the months leading up to the release of a decision. On June 23, the decision released by the Supreme Court was a 4-4 tie, leaving the potential for a future re-consideration by the Court, and resulting in great disappointment by eligible persons and families.

Additional Special Partnerships with Week of Compassion

  • RIM continues to appreciate the joy of partnering as often as possible to share in the interpretation of WOC’s work. Caroline Hamilton-Arnold (in photo, below left) from WOC conveys her welcome for refugees at RIM’s display during the Black Ministers Retreat in Mississippi in March.
  • RIM will be traveling with Global Ministries, together with WOC staff, to the Middle East to view Disciples mission projects with refugees in Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan on Sept. 24-Oct. 7, 2016.
  • RIM plans again to assist with worship materials and promotion of the WOC offering efforts,

and consistently lifts up RIM’s partnership with WOC in presentations. WOC and RIM Directors, and related Global Ministries area staff, network regularly to share resources on advocacy efforts, statements, and other needed coordination to serve refugees.

  Please contact the RIM Director, Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, at sstanley@dhm.disciples.org or 202-957-7826 to engage together in advocacy priorities.  Call upon us to encourage your local immigration and refugee work, and come alone or with a group to join our ministries and visit our office in National City Christian Church, 5 Thomas Circle NW, Washington, D.C.

See RIM’s Vision for Future Partnerships with denominational groups in the pages following.)

RIM VISION OF DENOMINATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE UPCOMING 12-24 MONTHS-AUGUST 25, 2016

RIM’s identity as a DHM ministry, and consistent and core partnerships with Week of Compassion, will continue to focus upon engaging Disciples in the resettlement of refugees throughout the geography of our churches in the U.S. and Canada, and in responding to refugee emergency needs. In addition, however, RIM hopes to engage together with denominational partners in the building of justice for refugees, and thus provides the following reflections on additional visions for partnership in the 12-24 months ahead:

Hosea calls in 12:8 for the Israelites to, “with the help of God, RETURN, return to love and justice!”  Isaiah likewise reminded the Israelites in Isaiah 56:1 that they would find community restoration only when they “return to justice, and do what is right!” Therefore, Refugee & Immigration Ministries—in partnership with DHM, WOC, and GM–invites an ongoing “return to justice” of faith family members throughout the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) by engaging to honor and strengthen the rights of, show compassion for, and help integrate refugees, immigrants, and farm workers into our communities.  Key areas of partnership in the 12-24 months ahead include:

 *”Refugees Welcome” Movement:  With over 60 million people displaced worldwide, and nearly 20 million refugees (the largest number since WWII), Disciples helped birth a movement in early Spring of 2016 which seeks to provide opportunities for refugees to share their experiences with faith and community groups to build friendships among diverse cultures and faiths, strengthen public and private welcome of our refugee neighbors, promote refugee integration and leadership, and celebrate refugees’ community contributions. The movement provides a toolkit of resources for hosting welcoming events, shares stories of successful connections and local/state policies of welcome, and provides advocacy resources to assist refugees be supported nationally, locally, and globally. Already, more than 50 faith organizations have joined the movement, including WOC, DHM, and GM.  RIM’s director looks forward to continuing to help convene this national partnership, and to expanded partnership actions through it with WOC, DHM, GM, and other interested partners.

*”Disciples Refugee and Immigrant Welcoming Network”:  RIM seeks to establish and grow—hopefully also in partnership with DHM,WOC, GM, and other interested groups–a network of knowledgeable, passionate, and engaged welcomers for refugees and immigrant families and communities throughout our faith communities in the U.S. and Canada. This network would be strengthened by ongoing sharing of opportunities information through the “RIM WRAP” newletters and advocacy alerts, sharing of interactions and advocacy of partners, as well as through envisioned webinars, structures, and interactions with resources included in these visions. This team could also serve as “inspirers” and “refiners” of language for future potential resolutions in support of welcoming and supporting the community inclusion and integration of refugees and immigrants.

*”Around a World of Refugees” Webinars:  RIM is interested to offer periodic webinars and/or workshops in partnership with Week of Compassion and Global Ministries which invite Disciples to understand root causes of refugees around the world, introduce participants to the world of WOC’s partnerships in various regions of the world that assist refugees globally, share stories of resettlement relationships within the U.S. between congregations/regions and refugee families, explain refugee resettlement processes, offer opportunities for our Disciples faith communities to strengthen our engagement in refugee resettlement, and promote policies that support refugees.  Suggested topics could include:  “Disciples and the Congolese:  Mission Partnerships Globally Resettlement Opportunities in the U.S.”; “Central Americans Escaping Violence:  How Disciples Can Help”; “Helping Syrians Escaping War, and Settling as New Neighbors in Our Communities”, “Ministries in the Middle East, and Middle Easterners in America,” “Liberians and Rwandans:  Powerful Witnesses Around the World—and Perhaps Around Your Block!”, “Haitian Disciples:  Roots of Faith, Power of Hope!”, and etc.

*”Community Navigators” Trainings:  RIM to continue to work together (begun August, 2016) in partnership with Immigration Legal Counsel to prepare and conduct periodic Community Navigator trainings in Spanish, English, and other languages as requested, to build the capacity of Disciples to offer informed support and quality resources to strengthen the lives of immigrants and families in their communities. These webinars will provide consistent advocacy updates to lift the voices of immigrants and supporters together, and will cover topics such as avoiding fraudulent legal practices, understanding immigration laws, preparing documents, deportation defense and enforcement education, screening for various forms of relief, workers’ rights, naturalization, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), expanded DACA, and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), and etc. Resources are adapted from the Committee for Immigration Reform (CIRI) and the Administrative Relief Resource Center, and are augmented with resources through RIM’s partnerships with groups such as the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

 *”Intersections of Brown and Black Struggles for Freedom” Trainings:   Increasingly, Latino movements for immigrant rights, and efforts to resist the growing criminalization of immigrants, are finding and developing points of intersection and shared goals with efforts to improve the lives of Black Americans, as well as black skinned Caribbean, African, Haitian, and other immigrants.  Groups such as the Black Alliance for Just Immigration and the Black Immigration Network provide resources to foster alliance building between communities committed to racial equity, to economic justice, and to the reduction of mass criminalization of communities of color. Likewise, Asian American and Pacific Islander immigrant rights networks such as Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Southeast Asian Resource Action Center, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund are increasingly working for immigration reform and to strengthen immigrant rights.  RIM hopes to encourage the linkage of our related African American Convocation, Hispanic Ministry, and NAPAD partners with resource networks, as well as to assist in sponsoring conversations that build new understandings among interested denominational partners about shared goals and strategies. These conversations could perhaps be developed as a part of Pro-Reconciling/Anti-Racism Trainings, and could be linked with other denominational efforts focusing on racial justice.   

*”Faith and Welcoming the Stranger”:  Together with WOC and other interested partners, RIM would develop a series of webinars/powerpoint and print resources/training sessions to be mutually shared, which cover the connectedness of our faith and opportunities and essential questions related to how Disciples are working with, and CAN develop deeper relationships with, refugees, immigrants, and farm workers.  These core sessions would include topics such as:  ”Faith and Refugee Support 101”,”Faith and Immigration Advocacy 101”, ”Faith Along the Borders 101”, and ”Faith and Farm Worker Partnerships 101”.

 

Scout Ministries
Rev. Robert Thornton, Director

This report covers the activities for the calendar year of 2016 for the Director of Scout Ministries.

Meetings attended on behalf of Disciples Home Missions:

Three times during the year, February, May and October I attended the BSA Religious Relationship Committee of the Boy Scouts of America. The February and October meeting is always held in Fort Worth, just north of the Dallas / Fort Worth Airport. This year our attentions have been on plans for the 2017 National Jamboree, where the Disciples will have a booth to promote the Religious Awards that we have for young people. There are four awards: God and Me and God and Family for young people (8 to 10 years of age) and God and Church for those (11 to 13 years of age). The awards are for young people who are Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, as well as all young people within our churches, including our Chi-Rho and Christian Youth Fellowship. Like our General Assemblies, to have a booth means to raise money for the space. Cost this next year is $1,495. I was able to raise $1,000 and still working on the last $495. Originally, I was hoping to share our space with the United Church of Christ, but at the last minute they decided to put their emphasis on recruiting chaplains and not staffing a booth.

We are also trying to recruit chaplains from the Disciples. In the past we have had three to four chaplains on staff. Chaplains have had to pay their own way to the Jamborees, which makes it that much harder to recruit them.

I have also attended the Board meetings of P.R.A.Y., the organization that writes the curriculum for the Religious Awards. Those meetings are held in March and in September. This organization was first associated with Christian Board of Publication, but due to reorganization, they became independent. The organization for the last thirty-three years has been directed by Mark Hazelwood, who took over upon the retirement of his father. Mark began the work thirty-three years ago, with the intent to run the program for three years. Three years has stretched into thirty-three, and he passed the torch on at the end of October. Mark and his father have been the head of PRAY since the beginning. I became a minister because of the minister that worked with me on the God and Country Award that I earned when I was 15. Mark and his wife, Debbie have been the backbone of PRAY for thirty-three years. They have expanded this ministry, and Debbie will continue to be employed with PRAY. Mark and Debbie are lifelong Disciples. Though PRAY is not an arm of Disciples Home Missions, I believe that we should recognize them at our next General Assembly.

Finally, I feel that it is time for me to pass the torch of this ministry to someone else. I have been in my position for about twenty years, serving under the leadership of four Presidents of DHM. I have two individuals who I believe could continue to lead what I believe is a vital mission of DHM. My first choice would be the Rev. Scott Thayer, who serves as Minister of Bethany Christian Church and Chaplain at Bethany College. He has served as a Chaplain at a number of National Jamborees, and currently is the treasurer of the Scouting Association. My second choice would be the Rev. James Gazaway, who recently retired from the military. He lives in Florida and served in this position prior to my coming to Disciples Home Missions.

 

Urban Spirit
Deborah D Conrad, Director

November 8 changed things forever, folks are saying. That seems true and not in a good way.  At Urban Spirit, we know how bad it has been for such a very long time: income inequality sucks the life out of us, devouring communities, devastating families, and doing its dastardly self-perpetuating work. This isn’t new, and it isn’t going away. We never expected a single election to save us; but, if the early cabinet selections and confirmation hearings are a reasonable barometer, we can be sure it is, in fact, going to get much worse.

From Pharaoh’s edicts to Augustus’ registration, scripture tells political stories, stories of people in exile, people in captivity, especially captivity to economic systems that eat alive the most vulnerable among us. Jesus challenged that system, tossing tables, breaking rules, telling stories to empower laborers, and calling out the hypocrisy of the religious leaders who bore images on the very coins in their pockets of an emperor who called himself god. Not God, said Jesus. Not God.

In that faith, in that spirit, in that way of Jesus, Urban Spirit continues its work of challenge, of tossing and breaking and empowering and calling out hypocrisy, in order that people of faith may see a different future and lead in a new direction.

At General Assembly in 2015, I met a young woman working in the exhibit hall who looked familiar. She reminded me that she had experienced Urban Spirit’s simulation of poverty in 2005 – a decade before. She was in high school back then, and now was completing a fellowship with Justice and Witness Ministries – her perspective informed in part by a week-long summer mission trip program she couldn’t forget.

Urban Spirit, now 15 years old, is still changing minds. And in practical matters, we are also seeing glimpses of the sustainability that has eluded us.

Last summer we moved into the remodeled facilities of Plymouth UCC Settlement House in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood, facilities remodeled through the sweat of Disciples Volunteering and with the financial assistance of the UCC. We welcomed our first mission groups: young adult group which engaged in a week-long simulation of poverty, and a middle school group, which participated in a 4-day social justice camp, So Just. The point of course is education, perspective-shifting, eye-opening, rebellion-inciting, faith-living, and world-mending. This is what we do, and now we can do it better in our new place. We are beginning to hear from groups planning 2017 experiences with us; it’s going to be a great summer.

Chief among our blessings are our denominational partnerships. In addition to space solutions and denominational marketing mechanisms, our summer program staff comes in part from DHM summer mission interns, students willing to think deeply and critically about the mess we’ve made of the world. DHM is a valued partner in this among many ways.

Chief among our challenges is board development, the ongoing need for a strong and visionary group of rabble-rousers who will help make us known and make us strong. While we operate on a shoestring, we still need the shoestring! Secondarily (some would say primarily), we are challenged that our program director/facilitator lives 2 states away, and commutes for program weeks. We are fortunate to have an administrator and registrar on the ground in Louisville, able to oversee event preparation and ensure the wheels are greased.

We are not yet all that we will be. But we continue to hear stories from folks who experienced our program 2, 5, 10 years ago, and call it one they will not forget. That reminds me that Urban Spirit matters. In our world that is a mess, I am proud and blessed to continue to develop future leaders, to help them guide us into a future we cannot clearly see.

 

Yakama Christian Mission
David B Bell
Minister for Indigenous Concerns

Since the first of the year, the Yakama Christian Mission (YCM) has been in a state of reorganization as it has come within the organization of Disciples Home Missions (DHM).  Finding place and opportunities to engage mission has a different spin than in the past due to the interconnected relationships that come along with the DHM relationship—for instance, the developing relationship between YCM and Disciples Center for Public Witness.

Let us take a look at the work of YCM since the first of the year by splitting it into two categories: Reservation and Off Reservation.

Reservation
White Swan Art and Recreation Committee (WSARC)—local non-profit

Yakama Christian Mission worked with White Swan Art and Recreation Committee (WSARC)local non-profit—to developed skate park feature drawings for the developing Community Park in White Swan.  Alongside this, the mission worked with Job Corps and the local high school to have these features constructed.  The first half of those features were designed and completed in 2016.  Photos attached to PDF report.

Due to having a long-term presence on the reservation and due to entrenched poverty, the mission often participants in family(s) structure in a manner to help meet basic issues that come up.  Three examples:  David met with family, tribal representatives, and federal representatives to give opinion and answer questions during a probate hearing.  Second, David is working with a grandfather who cannot read and attends meetings both in and out of the courthouse concerning grandchildren custody issues.  Last, David meets with families to help develop a conversation of intersectionality that might allow a conversation between traditional Yakama thought and Christian theology that allows the full community to attend traditional stone settings.

In partnership with the local United Methodist Church—Wilbur Memorial—David agreed to pastor on a part time basis.  Core to this agreement is recognizing the UMC conference and DOC Mission will collaborate to help guide a local Yakama through the UMC Certificate of Lay Ministry process.  The hope is that for the first time in the 156-year history of Methodists and Disciples on the Yakama Reservation, a Yakama person will become the pastor of the local community gathering.

YCM has continued to work with Between the Ridges (BTR), a non-profit the mission collaborated on as a start-up.  In the spring, BTR held its third annual Meet Your Farmer event, allowing over two dozen farmer, fishers, gatherers, and ranchers to meet local people.  With local musicians and local folk cooking food, relationships developed to bring traditional and non-traditional foods to the community.  Additionally, through conversations with the local Episcopal Diocese, BTR has been recognized as a Specialized Ministry.

YCM participated in local events like the Farmworker March.  As well as hosting Farmworker Ministry Northwest.  Photos attached

Late summer, in collaboration with Heritage University, YCM held a one-day training for Heritage faculty to include in their University 101 class considerations of the Doctrine of Discovery (DoD) and its effects on teaching, racial, and ecological issues.  Then in the fall, half of all entering students spent a day with YCM in conversation of those issues.  Photo attached.  Additionally in the fall, Portland University visited YCM for an afternoon to talk about the ramifications DoD as they apply to farmworkers and Native Americans.

YCM in collaboration with DHM, Between the Ridges, Wilbur Memorial, and JustLiving Farm—along with donations from local business—developed a Garden to Foodbank project last summer.  Planting began in the spring and harvesting began by mid-summer.  By the time of the first fall freeze, the Garden to Foodbank provided nearly 1500 lbs. of vegetables to three reservation foodbanks and the only reservation homeless shelter.  Additionally, the Garden to Foodbank provided two summer jobs to reservation youth who worked with children within a local afterschool program.  Photos attached.

Off-Reservation

Since the first of the year, Yakama Christian Mission worked closely with the ad-hoc group Landscape Mending on a number of projects.  The third annual Winter Talk was held at Philips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Ok, featuring the Eastern Shawnee legal scholar Robert Miller.  Photo attached. Currently, YCM is working on the last aspects of the fourth annual Winter Talk held at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, TX, at the end of January 2017, which will feature the Native scholar Sarah Augustine who worked to develop the World Council of Churches statement on the Doctrine of Discovery.

Alongside Landscape Mending and Disciples Center for Public Witness, YCM has worked to bring awareness to US and Canadian Disciples about the prayerful protest of the Standing Rock Sioux concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline near Cannon Ball, ND.  Currently YCM is exploring the possibility of having Disciples and ecumenical churches join the prayer in Cannon Ball during the 2016-17 winter.

Along with the Disciple Office of Reconciliation, YCM has broadened the understanding of the impact of Doctrine of Discovery.  The DoD is now often a part of Reconciliation’s first-day anti-racism trainings.  Additionally the DoD has had its first introduction to west coast seminarians at Pacific School of Religion, San Francisco Theological Seminary, and Claremont School of Theology.  Furthermore, David has developed a new area of the Doctrine—EcoRacism—introduced this year at western Reconciliation trainings.

YCM also had David attend a meeting with the Directors of Disciple historical Mission Centers and Affiliates just prior to the spring DHM meeting.  Conversations spanned areas from Mission Center’s current relationship with the DOC to what voice that group might or might not bring to the DOC in the future.

Additionally, David has worked to enhance YCM’s online presence.  Having a continual, updated, presence is somewhat spotty.  However, using Mailchimp, a free online newsletter provider, YCM has created and sent three newsletters since the first of the year.  Additionally, YCM’s presence on Facebook is somewhat better than a year ago.  The greatest Facebook change though, has been to use existing Disciple Facebook pages to make comments and raise awareness on issues of indigenous justice.

If one were to ask what the one greatest focus of YCM is this year to date, the answer would be the development and proposal of a resolution before the 2017 Disciples General Assembly.  Working closely with Landscape Mending, Disciples Center for Public Witness, and Ron Degges of DHM, David drafted a resolution that addresses the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery while also calling the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to action and accountability with/for Native Americans and First Nations people.  Accountability to American Indians is core to this document.  Therefore, while many had a voice in the drafting of the resolution, only American Indians decided items of accountability, tone, and challenge.  YCM and Landscape Mending released the resolution—found on YCM’s website—at Winter Talk 2016.  This release was well in advance of its January 2017 submittal to the Office of General Minister and President.  The early release was so General Units, Ethnic constituencies, and congregations could have a year to study, analyze, and converse about the document and one-year to give input for wording change.  To date, the document has seen a number of alterations, though the core of the document remains the same.  As of this writing, five congregations have agreed to co-sign the resolution, at least five are having congregational meetings to discuss the DoD and consider co-signing, and one Regional Council has agreed to affirm the document as a Supporter and Advocate.

The work of Yakama Christian Mission to bring about indigenous justice looks much different from 95 years ago.  However, the work continues to be the same: To live out the Christian gospel to end hopelessness and hurt, and bring about caring and compassion.

 

Coordinator of Youth & Young Adult Consulting Services
Randy Kuss

  • Consultant Support – Provided Consultant Support for three YYA Ministries Leadership Events and Program Assessments:
  • OklahomaNovember 11–13, 2015 at Post Oak Lodge, Tulsa, OK – Adult Swim: A Retreat for Those Who Minister to Children & Youth – Randy Kuss keynoting.
  • DYMN 2016 – March 29–31, 2016 at Disciples Crossing, Athens, TX – Andrew Zirschky, Youth Ministry Architects, keynoting.
  • FloridaRegional Assembly Youth Event, October 21–22, 2016 – Jose Morales keynoting.

        Looking Ahead:

  • Mid-AmericaChristian Regional Youth (CRY) 2017July 17–20, 2017 at Drury University – Erin Reed-Cooper keynoting.
  • DYMN – Worked with the Disciples Youth Ministry Network (DYMN) to connect with and provide support to Disciples youth ministry leaders through the 2016 DYMN Retreat, March 29–31, 2016 at Disciples Crossing, Athens, TX, with Andrew Zirschky from Youth Ministry Architects as keynoter. Working now with the DYMN Team on the 2017 DYMN Retreat, March 5–7, 2017 at Christmount. This event will be a working event as the Youth Ministry Summit. (See YMS note.) There will be an option for leaders to stay over and attend the Progressive Youth Ministry Event at nearby Montreat Conference Center, thereby offering DOC youth leaders two excellent gatherings without incurring additional travel costs. (See PYM note.)
  • Youth Ministry SummitMarch 5–7, 2017 at DYMN Retreat at Christmount – The Design for Youth Ministry was last updated in 1996. Twenty years later we are long overdue for review and revision of the Design. This gathering of Disciples youth leaders will identify needs, issues, and goals for 21st century Disciples Youth Ministry and sketch out structures, resources, and leadership needs for the next 5–10 years. A follow-up team will take results from the Summit and refine those into a working document to bring to the DHM Board for approval. Each region will be invited to send one adult representative to the event. Constituency groups will be invited to send 2-3 adults each to ensure some diversity of voices. General Youth Council adult leadership will be invited along with some representation from UCC Council of Youth and Young Adult Ministries. The event is open to others who usually attend the DYMN Retreat as well. Oreon E Scott grant support and strong backing from Christmount as host site and from DHM will make this a very low cost event for all participants.
  • Progressive Youth Ministry Events – Gathered 27 Disciples Youth Leaders together at the 2016 Progressive Youth Ministry Event in Dallas, February 18–20, 2016 for networking, event updates, sharing questions and concerns, and, of course, some great southwest fare at Mario’s. Plans are under way for similar connecting at the 2017 Progressive Youth Ministry Event at Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina, March 8–10, 2017. Worked with PYM planners to arrange event discount for DOC registrants and with Montreat to add a meals-only option for those choosing to stay at Christmount instead of Montreat.
  • Family & Children’s Ministries Collaboration – Monthly online meeting with the Family & Children’s team for collaboration, networking, support, and resourcing each other as we increasingly move beyond siloed, age-specific ministries into Ministry Across Generations.
  • NYE – Worked with Trayce Stewart and our DOC NYE Team in partnership with UCC colleagues lead by Waltrina Middleton on plans for NYE, a joint UCC/DOC youth event, in Orlando, July 26–30, 2016, which drew over 3000 UCC and DOC youth and adults.
  • General Assembly 2017 – Working with Young Adult Commission and with General Youth Council leadership on plans for General Assembly 2017.
  • CYYAM Dreaming Team Gathering – Joining Trayce Stewart to meet with the UCC team gathering in Cleveland, October 28–30, 2016, to revision the UCC’s Council for Youth and Young Adult Ministries, including ways DOC and UCC youth and young adult ministries might network and collaborate. UCC reps will be present at our own Youth Ministry Summit, March 2017.

_____________________________

The General Board has reviewed GA-1708 from Disciples Home Missions. The report is submitted to the General Assembly for presentation and discussion. No action is required. (Discussion time: 12 minutes)

 

Disciples Home Missions evident in many ways

Not only was Disciples Home Missions present and accounted for through Disciples Volunteering in the local missions efforts, but they popped up all over.

Scores of Disciples marched down the street Sunday evening of General Assembly 2015 to protest Dublin, OH-based Wendy’s refusal to join other fast food companies in agreeing to pay a fair wage to farm workers. Members of the Disciples Peace Fellowship, Disciples Justice Action Network along with people involved with the Disciple Center for Public Witness, Refugee & Immigration Ministries joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Ohio Fair Food, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, and the Student/Farmworker Alliance.GANewsWendysProtest2

Scores of Disciples marched down the street Sunday evening of General Assembly 2015 to protest Dublin, OH-based Wendy’s refusal to join other fast food companies in agreeing to pay a fair wage to farm workers. Members of the Disciples Peace Fellowship, Disciples Justice Action Network along with people involved with the Disciple Center for Public Witness, Refugee & Immigration Ministries joined the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Ohio Fair Food, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus, and the Student/Farmworker Alliance.

Steve Doan, Ron Degges & Anne Marie Moyars honored by Chaplain Jane Pekar at the chaplain’s retreat prior to the General Assembly. Pekar honored them for supporting the ministries of chaplains. She is a chaplain for the Peel District School Board in Brampton, Ontario.
Steve Doan, Ron Degges & Anne Marie Moyars honored by Chaplain Jane Pekar at the chaplain’s retreat prior to the General Assembly. Pekar honored them for supporting the ministries of chaplains. She is a chaplain for the Peel District School Board in Brampton, Ontario.