GA-1908

GA-1908

DIVISION OF HOMELAND MINISTRIES OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST) dba
DISCIPLES HOME MISSIONS
Sotello V. Long, President
1099 North Meridian Street, Suite 700
P O Box 1986
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-1036
Telephone: (317) 635-3100
Web site: www.discipleshomemissions.org
e-mail: mail@dhm.disciples.org

DISCIPLES HOME MISSIONS
2018 President’s Report
to the General Board
Submitted: January 2, 2019

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Disciples Home Missions (DHM) is a collective of ministries designed to equip Disciples for Christ, facilitate the ministry of Christ and connect people to the life-changing love of God in relationship with its partners. Our top priority is supporting congregations and their leaders who have discerned their need to transform congregational life and find their future by:

  1. Identifying congregations and their leaders who are committed to the care of creation and assist them to become Green Chalice congregations in partnership with Eco America and Blessed Tomorrow.
  2. Partnering with Family and Children’s Ministries, Youth Ministries, Young Adult Ministries, and the Racial Ethnic Ministries in faith formation and leader development.
  3. Providing consulting services to congregations through our Ministry of Evangelism, Congregational Transformation, and Black Ministries in conjunction with Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation.
  4. Continuing to work with the National Benevolent Association toward the development of a Disciples Exchange Network, incubating new ministries, and supporting NBA’s XPLOR program for young adults in intentional community.
  5. Offering opportunities for Disciples across the United States and Canada to participate in mission trips to help rebuild churches and homes in the aftermath of natural or human-made disasters and to work on special projects in between disasters, i.e. Disciples Volunteering and Church of the Brethren Disaster Services for Children.
  6. Providing resources for congregational leaders – pastors, elders, deacons, teachers, etc. – to strengthen faith, inspire excellence in ministry and congregational leadership, and inform them through social and print accessible media of the various ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), i.e. YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, bi-weekly Constant Contact correspondence, thrice yearly Disciples’ Advocate publications, Week of the Laity, Black History Month, Advent and Lenten Devotional Series, etc.
  7. Continue to explore the possibilities of greater collaboration and partnership in our work, mission, and ministry with the Executive Committees of Overseas Ministries/Global Missions, the Council on Christian Unity, and Disciples Women.

We are integrally designed to further the priorities of the church in becoming a pro-reconciling/anti-racist church; the formation of 1,000 new congregations by 2020; the transformation of 1,000 current congregations by 2020; and the leadership development necessary to realize these new and renewed congregations.

Becoming a Pro-Reconciling/Anti-Racist Church

DHM has established a Pro-Reconciliation and Anti-Racism (PRAR) Team comprised of staff and board members engaged in its transformational journey as a vital part of its commitment to becoming a pro-reconciling/anti-racist church. The team leads DHM in a 6 year cycle resourcing the whole board and staff in training, readings, community building, group outing experiences; assessments and recommendations aimed at transforming the culture and relationships of DHM among its myriad of ministries. The team has outlined the new cycle of readings for 2019 with two books – Lies My Teacher Told Me and Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully about Racism. The team has arranged to have Dr. Carolyn Browning Helsel, Assistant Professor of Homiletics at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Austin, Texas and the author of Anxious to Talk About It… as our November 13, 2019 PRAR Training facilitator.

DHM’s board participated in a cultural bus tour of Saint Louis, MO & dinner at Sweetie Pies as a part of its May meeting. The bus tour went through several communities of St. Louis shed light on the back-story of the certain communities and the historic racism that has influenced their evolution. It was educational and informative. We are thankful to our board member, Pastor Derrick Perkins, of Centennial Christian Church for coordinating the tour.

The Formation of 1,000 New Congregations by 2020

DHM is a collegial partner in the formation of new congregations through its Office of Evangelism and Congregational Transformation led by R Wayne Calhoun, Sr.; the Leadership Initiative Team (LIT) with its ministry liaison, Lonnie Graves; and collaborations with New Church Ministry.

The Office of Evangelism and Congregational Transformation is charged with the responsibility of empowering local Disciples congregations to move into their vision and mission. The ultimate goal of this office is to engage Pastors, congregational leaders and congregational participants individually and collectively to seek effective methods of evangelism as well as striving to be transformative communities of faith in their ministries of context. This office is committed to engaging and helping local congregations accomplish these tasks by employing the following strategies:

  • Resourcing the development and implementation of evangelism and church growth strategies utilizing forums such as the School of Life and Faith at the Biennial Session of the National Convocation.
  • Aiding the development and implementation of evangelism and church growth strategies utilizing the School of Life and Faith at state/regional conventions, convocations and fellowships.
  • Working to develop and continue the enhancement of skills in congregational evangelism, church growth and transformation strategies through congregational interventions.

The Office of Evangelism is networked with Evangelism Connections, which is an ecumenical group of Christians who strive to frame evangelism, hospitality, and church vitality wisdom and witness in a 21-st Century context and provide shared resources toward that end. These colleagues from partner denominations are representative of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, American Baptist Church, Church of the Brethren, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church of Canada, Presbyterian Church in the USA, the Reformed Church in America, the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Canada, the United Methodist Church, as well as other interested observers.

Evangelism Connections met at the Disciples Center on October 24 hosted by our Office of Evangelism. Plans are in the making for a US and Canadian evangelistic conference in May of 2019 in Minneapolis, MN.

The Leadership Initiative Team began as new ministry initiative simply called “LIT!” LIT is convened by Disciples Home Missions and involves a collaboration of leaders in the service of leader development around any focus of ministry. The concept of this initiative is to design leader development around issues pertinent to the body’s (congregation’s/region’s/ district’s/area’s/fellowship group’s/etc.) ministry context. If your ministry needs resources or help designing resources for leader development around evangelism, social justice; men’s ministry; women’s ministry; youth ministry – you name the interest, then LIT is available to help.

LIT designs ministry from the ground up starting with listening to you, the active leaders who are engaged in the ministries, of the Regions, Districts, Fellowship communities, and Congregations among other recognized bodies. LIT listens with intentionality, to hear how and where God is moving in your ministry context. LIT listens to hear your needs and help identify what helpful resources may be needed to help your ministries be more successful. LIT also listens with an openness to receive the leading of God’s Spirit in response to prayer, dialogue and the expectations of your ministry context. LIT uses the collective resources, connections, skills and mutual wisdom of its networks in accompaniment with “you” to design contextual ministry resources. These resources may either be the “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) kind such as especially designed curricula, and targeted resource tools that are facilitated by you, or be collaborative, where you incorporate the gifts of a facilitator, drawing from a member, or members of DHM’s LIT “Speakers Bureau”.

We are invested, optimistic, and enthusiastic about the “LIT” team convened by Disciples Home Missions (DHM) as a part of its leadership initiative. It is a commitment to living into “accompaniment leadership” as a focal point. The plan is simple, yet profound. We have convened a network of diverse persons who excel, and have passion within certain areas of leadership.  We gather those in Christ’s service, who are “lit” (excel and have passion) around evangelism, women, men, youth, young adults, clergy, technology, social justice, etc. DHM seeks to build relationships among networks through dialogue, as we work toward developing mutual understandings of each member’s passion for ministry. DHM and the Leadership Initiative Team (LIT) will work collectively to engage communities in the service of the church as followers of Jesus Christ, supporting positive leadership growth within the church and as we share our services in the larger communities… even unto the ends of the earth.

The goal of LIT is to provide support, resources and speakers to compliment the training and development of Disciples leaders throughout the recognized organizations of the church: Regions, Districts, Fellowships and/or congregations among other bodies!

The objectives of LIT are to:

– Listen to leaders of recognized ministries
– Listen in community with connected partners for mutual understanding regarding your ministry context
– Listen to God’s Spirit in initiating and/or responding to God’s activity in your ministry context
– Design resources fit for a specific ministry context
– Share collective resources for leader development

With respect to the formation of new congregations LIT is in partnership with Terrell McTyer, Minister for New Church Strategies, as a part of the team.

Collaborations with new church ministry involved two direct partnerships as DHM President. First, I had the privilege to participate in addressing participants at the Leadership Academy (LA) in Indianapolis September 17 – 21 at Westview Christian Church. The LA is a leadership event that brings together leaders from across the nation to share leadership experience, wisdom, and trainings. The conference is a five-day event hosted Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

I also had the privilege to participate in the New Church Hacks series sponsored by New Church Ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) through Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation on December 12 via “Webinar Jam”. Specifically, I addressed the audience to inspire leaders to discover their personal, spiritual and church’s purpose.

Hosted by Pastor Terrell L McTyer, Minister of New Church Strategies, New Church Hacks (NCH) provides practical (and sometimes peculiar) prompts for churches from start to restart. Why only do new or better when you can be both! NCH is jam packed with clever solutions to tricky problems and empowers courageous leaders with the tools, tips and how to start, sustain and strengthen congregations. #churchlife

The topic for the installment was Find Your Church’s Purpose with these Hacks. Here is the description:

What purpose does your church serve in your local neighborhood? A purpose statement is different from a vision or mission statement. Purpose answers the question, “Why does my church existence?”

  • Understand the difference between purpose, mission and vision
[Purpose answers why; mission answers what; vision answers aspiration/hope/expectation]
  • Discover who you are and your divine destination
  • Engage a purpose for your church that brings meaning, momentum, fruit, and growth
  • Realize the power that comes when your church is united behind passion and purpose

NCH brings you must-have hacks to develop a purpose-driven church.

The featured guests included Jose Martinez of Multi Nation Christian Church, Kansas City, MO and Amy Shoemaker, Senior Minister, Broadway Church, Kansas City, MO with a special appearance by the President of Disciples Home Missions.

The Transformation of 1,000 Current Congregations by 2020 and the Commensurate Leadership development

DHM is at the heart of congregational transformation and leader development. It does so not only through the aforementioned ministries of Office of Evangelism and Congregational Transformation and the Leadership Development Team but also engaging a diversity of focuses missions. These include Agencies Serving Youth, the Association of Disciple Musicians, The Office of Black Ministries (OBM), Christian Education, Christian Vocations – (Pastors, Chaplains, Specialized Ministers – All clergy), Disciples Men, Disciples Volunteering, Disciples Women (DW), Evangelism, Family & Children’s Ministries, Green Chalice, Mission Centers & Legacy Ministries including

All Peoples Christian Center, Los Angeles, CA www.allpeoplescc.org/
Inman Christian Mission Center, San Antonio, TX www.inmancenter.org/
Kansas Christian Home, Newton, KS www.kschristianhome.org
Kentucky Appalachian Ministries now evolved into Disciples Appalachian Scholarship Ministries. www.kentuckyappalachianministry.com
Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries Los Fresnos, TX www.swgsm.org
Urban Spirit Louisville, KY www.urbanspirit.org
Yakama Christian Mission White Swan, WA www.yakamamission.org

Refugee and Immigration Ministries, Immigration Legal Counsel, Disciples Farm Worker Ministry, Scholarship Opportunities, the Young Adult Commission (YAC), and the General Youth Council (GYC).

I will share the reports of three of these ministries spotlighting their engagement: Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel, Disciples Volunteering, and Refugee and Immigration Ministries.

Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel – Tana Liu Beers

Immigration policy and practice are changing at a furious pace these days. Here are some highlights from my recent work. … Peace, Tana

 Numbers for April – September 2018

New cases opened: 52      Total open cases: 63

Regions served: 19

Arizona, Pacific Southwest, Southwest, Indiana, Kansas City, Northern California/Nevada, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois-Wisconsin, Northwest, Canada, West Virginia, Capital Area, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alabama-Northwest Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Central Rocky Mountain

Countries of origin of clients: 23

Mexico, Colombia, Canada, Sierra Leone, Guatemala, Haiti, Iran, South Korea, El Salvador, Honduras, Western Samoa, Dominican Republic, Germany, Cameron, Venezuela, Myanmar, Malaysia, Slovakia, South Africa, Liberia, China, India, Cuba

The “Invisible Wall”

In recent months US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency with which I interact most frequently, has officially changed its mission from serving immigrants to keeping immigrants out. New policies and regulatory changes create an “invisible wall” by torpedoing the process of legal immigration. They cause delays and stress for our students and pastors trying to change their status or get work permits.

It is a constant effort to keep up with the barrage of policy changes affecting my clients in particular and our congregations more broadly. I have reviewed my full caseload and contacted clients individually to inform them about recent policy memos and to make contingency plans for their cases.

Consultations

With the rapidly-changing policies of this administration, consultations are an important service for immigrants seeking to understand their situations. Salvadorans and Haitians facing the end of TPS are seeking screening for other immigration options. DACA youth are seeking help with renewals and understanding the effects of recent court decisions.

Travel

This summer I traveled to Asamblea Hispana y Bilingue and NAPAD Convocation. As always, these are valuable points of connection with the groups. I serve most directly as well as other ministries. I also had the joy of meeting several clients and their families in person for the first time, some of whom I have represented for years over the phone and email.

Community Education

Immigration Legal Counsel has a new twitter handle @DOCImmigration, which I have begun using to get the word out about Immigration happenings. Facebook is still my primary means of providing immigration updates to Disciples.

The family separation crisis on the U. S. – Mexico border has been a travesty, but it has also been an opportunity to educated Disciples about the longstanding family detention and deportation system. I collaborated with Disciples Seminary Foundation, the Arizona Region, the Illinois-Wisconsin Region, Reconciliation Ministries, and Week of Compassion to provide written pieces, webinars, and teleconferences about current immigration issues.

Disciples Volunteering

Disciples Volunteering connects, supports, and equips Disciples serving in mission. This work is carried out in three ways: Sending Teams in Mission, Shaping Servant Leaders, and Supporting Local Missions. At the core of this work are three faith values: learning, serving, and growing relationships. As Disciples, we are students, learning through action and reflection, striving to deepen our faith by living it with others. In serving, we model ourselves after the one who came not to be served but to serve, giving and receiving in humility, and expecting the gifts of each one. Through community, we connect our faith and our lives with others, with deference for those with whom we serve, growing together in faith. Disciples Serving Community move from volunteer to servant to neighbor to friend, as we get dirty for Jesus together.

Sending Teams in Mission

One area of focus for Disciples Volunteering is supporting disaster response and recovery. Disciples Volunteering responds to disasters in partnership with Week of Compassion, Regions, and local congregations (as well as ecumenical, interfaith, other NGO, and government partners) with a particular focus on long-term recovery and the recruitment, when appropriate, of mission teams for providing labor in service with hose affected by the disaster.

Disciples Volunteering is currently supporting fully operational mission responses in several communities. A Mission Station has been operational with First Christian Church, Texas City, TX, since the start of the year with commitments to enable service opportunities throughout 2019. The summer schedule ran near capacity and next summer is already beginning to fill in. Mission teams coordinated by long-term volunteers in partnership with the local long-term recovery group are enabling case managed work and the matching of resources to see the work through as homes are rebuilt across Galveston County. In March, Disciples Volunteering also supported work at First Christian Church, Port Arthur; plans are being laid for a similar repair blitz at Iglesia Cristiana Bethania in Corpus Christi in the spring of 2019. Several summer weeks were an exciting new partnership with Reach Beyond Mission.

Mission opportunities are also available in Puerto Rico and Disciples Volunteering is excited to have the first group go there in December; the first six months of 2019 are beginning to fill in as well. This collaborative response, called Program Edifiquemos, includes Week of Compassion, Global Ministries, and the Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) in Puerto Rico (ICDCPR). Through Disciples’ membership with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD), Program Director Jose Molina Resto is able to access up to $5,000 worth of building materials from FEMA for every home Disciples work on; since July 8, homes have already been repaired utilizing local volunteers.

The Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI), a cooperative effort with Week of Compassion and the disaster ministries of the Church of the Brethren and the United Church of Christ, enabled Disciples Volunteering to engage two specialists, Rachel Larratt and Tim Sheaffer, to support communities affected by disaster. There was a particular and acute need for this service in the U. S. Virgin Islands, where the recovery has now advanced to the stage where local leaders are ready to coordinate and receive mission groups. At the close of that response, the DRSI partners chose to renew Rachel’s contract and continue to serve with a particular emphasis on early community engagement, resourcing, and support.

Disciples Volunteering is also calling for servant mission teams to aid in the recovery of communities impacted by flooding in Missouri and West Virginia and by hurricanes in Daytona, Florida, where folks are referred through First Christian Church, Daytona. Work with congregations on Iowa and North Carolina continues through the early stages of recovery, including the possibility of partnering with International Orthodox Christian Charities to support muck and gut work in North Carolina. In addition, Disciples Volunteering supports a growing network of Disciples-based mission sites. Ridglea Christian Church, Fort Worth, TX and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Pacific Grove, CA are the most recent congregations hosting mission teams for service and learning; the addition of a partner site in Indianapolis is under exploration. Disciples Volunteering has been in contact with the local Missions Planning Team for the 2019 General Assembly and that work is progressing well.

Shaping Servant Leaders

Building on the strength of relations with United Church of Christ and Church of the Brethren colleagues, Disciples Volunteering co-led the third joint servant leadership-training event in April. Participants are prepared to serve as long-term volunteers and mission station managers after a disaster. Training together provides for richer, deeper, and broader experience, equipping new leaders to support missions with each of the participating denominations. In an effort to expand the reach of long-term volunteers, Disciples Volunteering continues to encourage and equip these servant leaders to identify, resource, and support other missions that are developing within their local and regional settings.

The Summer Mission Intern program also continues to evolve. Along with Deb Conrad, Summer Mission Intern Coordinator, this year’s training was co-led by former intern, Whitney Waller-Cole. Five interns were initially matched with placement sites; unfortunately, in the time leading up to training two withdrew. The training is being broadened for next summer to include mission interns as well as young adults who serve in congregational intern settings (if you know churches with such positions please let us know).

Supporting Local Missions

Because answering the call to serve begins at home, Disciples Volunteering is making strides toward a broader effort of supporting, connecting and resourcing those missions and ministries as they exist or are emerging from congregations and regions/areas. A variety of resources are also being collected, ranging from basic information about serving to specifics such as planning a mission trip and how best to serve after a disaster. Disciples Volunteering continues to support the disaster recovery network in the Pacific Southwest Region, which is now focusing on disaster preparedness and in late October [co-led] an organizational event with the Christian Church in Oregon and Southwest Idaho. Other local missions support has already been mentioned above, for example, working with congregations that are hosting mission teams for service and learning opportunities. Disaster response also provides an opportunity for supporting locally led missions as church members are educated and resourced for engaging in long-term recovery within their own community.

I am grateful, as always, to the Board of Disciples Home Missions and the Committee for Week of Compassion for your support in this ministry that we share.

Josh Baird, Director, Disciples Volunteering

Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries

 Responding with Hope Amid Threats & Challenges

 Racial and ethnic exclusion, religious discrimination, and efforts to criminalize, prosecute, and put immigrants into prison and detention have surfaced in US immigration policies and laws at various points throughout U. S. history. Yet in recent months, deep and new threats have emerged which further induce fear among refugee and immigrant communities, and threaten our nation’s values of welcome. In these times, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries, a ministry of Disciples Home Missions, continues to work with churches to offer hope and hospitality. Recent highlights include:

Historically, the U. S. has resettled an average of 85,000 refugees per year – until 9/17, when the U. S. named its lowest goal number of refugees since beginning resettlement in 1980: 45,000. In the end, the U. S. resettled only 22,941 refugees in FY 2018, less than half its goal. In response:

  • Disciples RIM, with funding from Week of Compassion, and working with the General Minister and President, led a #Pray4Refugees campaign in Aug. thru Sept. In the campaign, the GMP, Regional Ministers, and Pastors encouraged Congress to resettle at least 75,000 refugees for FY2019. See all 16 videos at http://bit.ly/2PuXb8N, including the amazing story of Disciples Governor Ray of Iowa, who helped welcome 10,000 refugees to the state, inspired by his faith! Sadly, in Sept. the U. S. named a historically low goal, of only 30,000, for FY2019.
  • Disciples led in multiple White House vigils and Congressional visits near World Refugee Day and throughout the summer, and got free publicity with a shout out by Trevor Noah in October!
  • RIM invited Disciples to share stories of refugee welcome on Refugee & Immigrant Welcome Sunday, celebrated this year on June 17th, the Sunday nearest World Refugee Day (6?20). See multiple worship and story materials at: http://bit.ly/2AgLBC
  • Disciples are continuing to urge congress to hold the administration accountable to resettle the full goal number of its 30,000 refugees this year! Go to: http://bit.ly/H2xuDr0 to help!
  • Decisions are soon to come regarding cuts to funding for refugee resettlement agencies that could greatly dismantle US refugee resettlement structure. Our response in needed!

Immigrant and Asylee Restrictions and Growing Enforcement

In April 2018, the administration unveiled its intent to enact immigration laws in the most extreme way by “Zero Tolerance” which separated immigrant children from their parents at the border and charged parents with unlawful entry or unlawful re-entry. Despite an EO that claimed to end separations on June 20, hundreds are yet separated, key parts of “zero tolerance” remain, and families are now held in longer term, more restrictive detention. With more enforcement at the border and interior, and restrictions in child/family and asylee protections, Disciples RIM:

  • Spoke at multiple national actions in Congress, outside the White House, and at DHS to share faith values of family and compassion, lead prayers, and support congregations.
  • Compiled response resources to help connect Disciples with Families Belong Together and other national actions to help separated families.
  • Led together with the GMP and Week of Compassion a letter against family separation that was signed by early 3,000 Disciples.
  • Worked with partners like the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, Women’s Refugee Commission, and Defund Hate to seek to reduce enforcement funding
  • Chairs the DC Sanctuary Congregation Cluster to support asylee families, and works to link congregations to help asylee families, through RIM WRAP alerts.

Loss of Protections or TPS/DED, DACA, Farmworkers, Refugees & Others

Protections have been systematically removed since our last report for 300,000+ persons with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and 4000 Liberians with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED)> Also previous refugees stateless persons, Farmworkers, & Dreamers remain at risk and seeking protection. Amid these, RIM:

  • Continues to work with TPS led partners (such as the National TPS Alliance and Alianza Americas) to support a national solution for these TPS recipient country numbers scheduled to lose status by dates below unless there is a fix: Sudan/1,040 by 11/2/18, Nicaragua/2,550 by 1/5/19, Nepal/8,950 by 6/24/19, Haiti/46,000 by 7/22/19, El Salvador/195,000 by 9/9/19, Honduras/57,000 by 1/5/20. An Oct. 4 court injunction gives reprieve for persons from El Salvador, Haiti, and Sudan, as RIM continues to engage in advocacy to support other protections, and a national solution for all groups.
  • Works with our Disciples Liberian congregation in Maryland to strengthen their national leadership to develop a solution for 4,000 Liberians for whom DED status will end on 3/31/19.
  • Partners with dreamer led organizations such as the United We Dream to support legislative protections for dreamers, and encourage congregations to build relationships of support with dreamers in their areas. RIM also offers support for NAKASEC (Korean dreamers), who RIM invited to present at NAPAD’s [Convocation]
  • Working with additional populations now targeted by ICE for removal, despite no criminal records; including hundreds of stateless, previously enslaved Mauritanians now living in Columbus, Ohio. In addition, 16,000 Southeast Asians who entered as refugees are also being targeted, and RIM’s Director serves on a national board of SEARAC to help support protections for these populations.
  • Leads Disciples in connecting with farmworkers, through our partnerships with National Farm Worker Ministries, where RIM’s Director serves on NFWM’s board. In recent months, key partnerships for our congregations include our ongoing boycott of Wendy’s until it signs the Fair Food Program (to support tomato farmworkers with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers), 2)  sharing of Managers’ Letters with Starbucks to urge awareness of their milk (sold as “Lucerne”) purchased from 400 Darigold dairy farms in the Northwest where farmworkers have died and experienced worker abuses, and 3)  requested to WAWA and 7-11 store managers to remove “VUSE” electronic cigarettes from their shelves, as sales support Reynolds related tobacco farms where workers are not allowed to organize for better wages and safety.

Rule Changes That Need Our Help for Children and Families

The administration is seeking to change myriad federal regulations; resulting in the removal of vast opportunities for many to enter the country legally, adjust status, and receive protections. Comments [were retrieved] on two issues of Flores protections and Public Charge.

Disciples Border Evaluations & Actions

In the face of family separations, migrant needs, and border discussions, RIM:

  • Encouraged Disciples from various locations who participated in three border trips during Aug-Oct: including El Paso, Tucson, and Brownsville areas. 

Partnership Building/Resources:

  • RIM participated in a national Disciples Justice gathering held in the Upper Midwest Region, and provided training for Disciples Reconciliation Ministries to strengthen partnerships.
  • RIM regularly produces “Holy Days & Holidays” resources, & compiles other video resources, which can be found at: http://bit.ly/llCHolDays
  • RIM continues to develop models for Immigrant Welcome Congregations.

Connect with Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley Rea, Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries

sstanley@dhm.disciples.org  |  @StanleyRea on Twitter  |  And http://bit.ly/RIMFacebook

One or two significant challenges faced by our ministry:
  1. Gathering our collective wisdom and implementing effective initiatives around ministry fund development. DHM needs to form and effective development arm for its collaborative ministries.
  2. Doing as much or more with less. DHM models tapping into the resourcefulness of collaboration and partnering with ministries aligned with our diversity of missions.

A few bright spots on the horizon are:

  1. The Leadership Initiative Team (LIT) is a ministry birthed in response to the call “to keep from becoming ‘deaf’ to the cries for help emanating from congregational life, responding to those cries with a spirit of compassion and accompaniment.”
  2. The collaboration of several general ministries and regional ministries in the financial and collegial support of our Immigration Legal Counsel!
  3. Continuing relationship with Blessed Tomorrow allowing the Disciples an integral and impactful voice in creation care and climate change initiatives.
  4. Two new Mission Centers aligned with The National Youth Event for both Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ youth.
  5. The Rest & Renewal Policy for Ministry Associates allowed two weeks of R&R in 2018 for Kelly Harris and Kathy Watts.
  6. Sheila Spencer rejuvenated in a 3-month sabbatical in 2018 and sabbaticals for Olivia Updegrove, Sharon Stanley Rea and Lonna Owens are in process for 2019.
  7. Our continued sharing of financial services with Overseas Ministries/Global Missions.
  8. Our School of Faith and Life is an annual opportunity for leader development and we are exploring way to expand its outreach in cluster, regional, district other advantageous ministry contexts.
  9. The establishment of a new scholarship aimed at students of Appalachia trough the Disciples Appalachian Scholarship Ministry.
  10. The Call of a dynamic duo in offering leadership with Disciples Men in the persons of Greg Alexander, former General Minister and President of the Christian Church in Kentucky and Alex Ruth, the pastor of Marshfield Christian Church, Marshfield, MO
  11. The initiative of “Ministries Across Generations” (MAG) in convening voices from across the denomination and a diversity of racial ethnic expressions for equipping in contextual intergenerational ministry.
  12. The transformational impact of our PRAR team on DHM’s ministry as a whole in living into becoming a pro-reconciling and antiracist general ministry.

Let me end my remarks with a story. A Disciples pastor had the audacity to obey the leading of God’s Spirit to go to a community gym and get the attention of a teenager playing a pick-up game of basketball. He called aside the teenager off the basketball court. The pastor invited the teenager to have a seat with him on a couch in the hallway. The pastor came straight out with it as he told the teenager, “I believe you’re gonna be a preacher!” The teenager looked steely eyed and unmoved on the outside. Oh, but on the inside he wondered how the heck did the pastor knew his secret? The teenager had indeed been in the midst of having imaginations, experiences and an inward witness of God’s call rooted in the stories of Jesus that resonated deep within his longing heart but he kept them at arm’s length. Instead the teenager occupied himself with excelling in school and competing in athletics, but not ministry, because he just knew he was not ready. He knew he wasn’t good enough for God to use – or so he thought. The teenager nevertheless was struck to his core by the pastor’s words and kept them at heart.

Years later, another pastor prayed with that same teenager, now a young man in college, in a prayer line. As he prayed, he offered a word of prophecy, saying to the young man, “I see you leading ministries!”

Now the Disciples pastor is Colonel W Sutton, who is as of this submission, alive and well into his nineties. He was the pastor of Grove Park Christian Church in Kinston, NC. The other pastor was Mac Timberlake, now deceased, but at the time was the pastor of Christian Faith Center, a non-denominational congregation in Creedmore, NC. The teenager and subsequent young man to whom both pastors spoke a word of life is yours truly, Sotello Long. God has positioned me in this place of service not because of any perfection on my part, but because of God’s amazing grace bestowed on me when I said yes to God’s call. I am humbled to serve as President of Disciples Home Missions for the United States and Canada – our denominational “breadbasket” of ministries connecting people with the life changing love of God – transforming lives!!!!

 

MINISTER TO AGENCIES SERVING YOUTH MINISTRIES

REV. SCOTT THAYER

 The following is my report to the Department of Homeland Ministries and to the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for the year 2018.

  • NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DISCIPLES SCOUTERS – An information letter went out by mail in February to all current and prospective members of the National Association, informing them of events and activities and also soliciting membership dues. All dues were sent to DHM for deposit. Future communication with the membership will take place electronically in the form of a quarterly newsletter that is being developed in partnership with P.R.A.Y. (Programs of Religious Activities for Youth). [See next bullet item].
  • PROSPECTIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH P.R.A.Y. – I have been in consultation with Mr. Jason Noland, Executive Director of P.R.A.Y. about working cooperatively to produce and distribute a quarterly newsletter to all Disciples Boy Scout units and adult Scout leaders. [This newsletter could also be extended to include Girl Scout adult leaders and other youth serving agencies]. Other denominational groups have already undertaken such a partnership with P.R.A.Y., to great benefit (eg., Lutherans and Baptists). P.R.A.Y. personnel would design, produce, and distribute the newsletter electronically. I would be responsible for writing informational pieces each quarter to include in the newsletter. The newsletter would promote both Disciples Scouting and the religious emblems program that is offered by P.R.A.Y. This religious emblems program is the largest and most effective of its kind. It is used by thousands of young people and their religious leaders all over the country. It is ecumenical and interfaith and can be utilized by any young person without regard to membership in Scouting. I still need confirmation that P.R.A.Y. can use the red chalice & cross logo of the Disciples of Christ. The cost of this program will be about $250 per year. I am still waiting for the national office of the Boy Scouts to release the contact information for all of our Disciples Scout leaders to P.R.A.Y.
  • DISCIPLES YOUTH SERVED BY THE P.R.A.Y. RELIGIOUS EMBLEMS PROGRAM IN 2018
    • Cub Scouts: (‘God & Me’) – 116
    • Webelos Scouts: (‘God & Family’) – 130
    • Boy Scouts (‘God & Church/God & Life’) – 99
    • Girl Scouts: 8
    • Other: 18
    • Total Youth Served:  371
  • BOY SCOUTS STATISTICS – According to national BSA statistics, 356 Cub Scout Packs, 357 Boy Scout Troops, and 53 Venturing Crews are chartered to Disciples congregations nation-wide, for a total of 17,249 youth served. 8,319 adult leaders are associated with these units. I was not able to secure similar statistics for Girl Scouts in the U.S.A. or for other youth serving agencies that might be connected with Disciples congregations.
  • NATIONAL ANNUAL MEETING, BOY SCOUTS IN THE UNITED STATES –  In May, 2018 I attended the National Annual Meeting (NAM) of the Boy Scouts in the United States in Dallas, TX. This was an extremely productive meeting at which I was able to network with other members of the National Religious Relations Committee (NRRC), P.R.A.Y. leadership, and much more. Here are some highlights:
    • New Chaplain/Chaplain Aide training and a new statement on Duty to God were approved by the NRRC
    • New national leadership is emphasizing more diversity in Scouting
    • Partnership with P.R.A.Y. and DOC was planned
    • Potential partnership with the United Church of Christ and DOC to host a combined information booth at future U.S. National Scout Jamborees
    • Discussion of a portion of national training shifting from Philmont Scout Training Center in New Mexico to the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia
    • Strategies for incorporating girls into the Cub Scout program nation wide
    • Strategies on how to proceed after the departure of the Church of Latter Day Saints as chartering partner beginning next year

WORLD SCOUT JAMBOREE 24

I have been chosen to serve as a subcamp chaplain at the World Scout Jamboree (July 22-August 2, 2019) at the Bechtel Summit Reserve in West Virginia. Unfortunately this will preclude my ability to attend the 2019 DOC General Assembly in Des Moines. I will make arrangements to appoint representatives to host the Scouting booth in the DHM exhibit hall area.

GIRL SCOUTS IN THE U.S.

I have reached out to the national leadership of GSUSA in an attempt to partner with them on projects of mutual benefit. I have issued a formal invitation to the GSUSA to join with the Boy Scouts in hosting a common information booth at the 2019 DOC General Assembly. The invitation has not yet been accepted.

SCOUTS FOR EQUALITY

I have joined an organization called Scouts For Equality and now serve as a board member. The organization is dedicated to advocating that any young person who desires to be a Scout should be allowed to do so, regardless of race, physical/intellectual ability, sexual orientation/identity, religion (or no religion). It is a very progressive organization and it is an honor to be named to its board.

GOALS AND DIRECTION FOR THE FUTURE

  • Encourage DOC churches that already host Scouting units to continue and grow.
  • Recruit new DOC churches to host Scouting units, advocating to church leaders the benefits of Scouting to their congregations and communities. Occasional articles in DHM publications such as The Advocate would help to achieve this. The proposed quarterly newsletter from P.R.A.Y. will enhance communication and promotion.
  • Serve as DOC denominational representative to the P.R.A.Y. Board. Encourage more DOC youth to earn religious emblems.
  • Be actively involved with local, Area, Regional and National levels of Scouting (and other youth serving agencies when possible) to strengthen relationships between the various youth serving agencies and DOC churches.
  • Participate in the National Committee on Religious Relationships in Scouting and similar committees in the other youth serving agencies.
  • Revive The National Association of Disciples Scouts by re-constituting the membership roster and by recruiting a leadership team to start planning significant events for DOC Scouts and adult leaders.
  • Seek to raise financial support for the National Association of Disciples Scouts to pay for postage, promotion, signage and booth space.
  • Increase interest among DOC ministers and laity in becoming a chaplain at Scouting events. Offer training at national and regional church events.
  • Serve as a good-will ambassador from the Disciples church to youth serving organizations nation-wide.
  • Represent youth serving agencies at General Assembly meetings.
  • Report on youth serving agency activities, events and religious emblem achievement to the DHM Board and the General Board.
  • Interface with leaders of the Church of Christ-Disciples of Christ and with all Regional Ministers of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), informing them of events and activities of youth serving organizations in their respective jurisdictions.

This concludes my report for 2018. I remain grateful to be able to serve in this capacity and I eagerly solicit any and all suggestions from DHM board members.

 

Office of Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministry

It is both an honor and privilege to serve as the Endorsing Officer for Disciples serving in chaplaincy ministries across our denomination. I have completed just over one year of service in this position. I am thankful for and blessed by the trust and support I have received from our chaplains and from the leadership of OHM and our Church. Thank you for all that you are doing to recognize and lift up our Disciples who serve faithfully in the wide variety of chaplain ministries where they are engaged daily.

The maintenance of current ecclesiastical endorsementby a recognized faith group is a regulatory requirement for chaplains who minister in Federal settings including the Veterans Administration and all branches and components of the U.S. Military. Denominational endorsement for chaplain ministry is also a requirement for most hospital, hospice, prison, law enforcement, and workplace settings where professional chaplains are employed. It is the responsibility of the Office of Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministry to provide endorsement services as well as to recruit, support, and account for our denominationally endorsed chaplains. It is a condition of endorsement that chaplains be members of a local Disciples congregation and have ministerial standing in one of the Regions of the Church or with the General Commission on Ministry.

Where our 331 Disciples Endorsed Chaplains currentlyserve as of October, 2018:

  • U. Navy: 14 (Active Duty and Reserve)
  • S. Air Force: 15 (Active Duty, Reserve, Air National Guard)
  • S. Army: 22 (Active Duty, Reserve, Army National Guard)
  • Federal Bureau of Prisons: 2
  • Civil Air Patrol Chaplains: 1
  • Veterans Administration Chaplains: 18
  • Institutional Chaplains: 251 (hospital, hospice, retirement homes, nursing homes, state prison, fire department and law enforcement)
  • Pastoral Counselors: 8

Each one of these chaplains provides an annual report to our office with information about their current status of service, changes to personal information, continuing education, congregation and Regional activities, and an opportunity for the sharing of joys and concerns. All endorsed chaplains are also members of the Disciples Chaplains Association – an informal community of support and connection.

The Office of Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministry has been graced with the staff support of Ms. Anne Marie Moyars, our dedicated Ministry Associate for over 10 years. Anne Marie maintains current paper and electronic files on each endorsed chaplain. In addition she watches over and provides access to the online Chaplain Endorsement Application process and the Disciples Chaplains electronic information interface. Anne Marie also publishes the monthly “Disciples Chaplain Check-in” newsletter. Our chaplains and our ministry are grateful for her professional attention and support. She is the “voice” of chaplaincy for all who call seeking information.

Currently the Disciples Chaplain Endorsing Officer is a deployed program staff, quarter-time position. As such I work primarily from my home in Vancouver, Washington. have represented our Disciples Chaplains, OHM, and our Church this year by attending annual meetings of the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces and the Armed Forces Chaplain Board in Washington, DC, the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education in

Atlanta, Georgia, and the Association of Professional Chaplains in Anaheim, California. I also participated in the Virginia Regional Assembly and the Northwest Regional Assembly. In addition I visited with our chaplains in North Carolina, New York, Virginia, Washington, DC, Georgia, Alabama, Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington.  I attended the funeral of one of our Disciples Chaplains and the graduations from military chaplain training for two others who are just entering into their chosen vocations.

The Disciples Chaplains Association will be active at the Des Moines General Assembly by offering workshop sessions, an informal meal gathering, participation in Assembly Worship, and informational presentations in the OHM exhibit area.

Thank you for your continued support of our Disciples Chaplains as they serve in vital and life-changing ministries. They serve in places of armed conflict, places where trauma, death, and life-altering illness are an everyday reality, provide hope and comfort for those behind bars, and spiritual support without restriction to all who cross their paths. They covet our prayers and efforts to bolster their numbers. Many feel that they are lone voices for inclusion and affirmation in a ministry environment that isn’t always that way.

Respectfully submitted,

The Rev. Thomas A. Yates, D.Min, BCC, CH (LTC) US Army, retired Disciples Chaplain Endorsing Officer

 

Christian Vocations

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.

Each year, we evaluate systems for highest priority needed updates to improve efficiencies, create a more-helpful system for users, and incorporate new technologies. In 2018, we integrated new tools to allow for increased automation of information sharing between regions and DHM, regarding clergy credentials, status, and personal information. This facilitates a more-effective means to maintain up to date information about clergy at regional and general offices.

This year, we also worked with our vendor, Suran Systems, to identify ongoing training needs for regional staff-persons who also use the CDM+ system. As a result, Suran staff was better able to help regional staff learn and use the systems we have in place.

Regions are also increasing their use of our Ministry Position Listing tool we maintain, which allows clergy better knowledge of what positions are available.

The Well-Fed Spirit Website: www.wellfedspirit.org continues to be popular with clergy, as we are regularly hearing from them regarding their gratitude for having such a resource available. This site is unique within our denominational system in it’s offering of wellness and spiritual formation/practice resources for church leaders (clergy and lay).

Senior Regional Ministry Staff positions continue to turnover, and we have done a good job of facilitating regional search committees seeking candidate profiles, as well as clergy seeking to be considered for such.  In this process, we continue to help 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.

Upon request for a summary paragraph report to General Board, the following is what I provided regarding the ministry responsibilities of my office:

The ministry of the Office of Christian Vocations is primarily focused on four areas of responsibility. The first area is Search and Call; wherein we facilitate the General Ministries portion of the clergy relocation program for the denomination, and provide support to regional offices. The second area is in regard to the Ministers Directory; in this area we provide a system for an accurate recording, reporting and archiving process through which our denomination maintains the legal database of clergy and their credentials/status within our church. The third area focuses on Vocational Ministry formation. In this area we provide direct and collaborative efforts to help empower initial vocational formation, and ongoing vital ministerial capacity, for clergy and ministry-candidates. The remainder of our responsibilities include liaison and varying degrees of support to other church-related bodies, such as Association of Disciples Musicians, General Commission On Ministry, and Chaplains Endorsement Office to name a few.

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.

-Warren Lynn

 

The Disciples Center for Public Witness
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 newer partner congregations.  (We are continuing to reach out successfully to other 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, with which we enjoy an increasingly close relationship.

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 in-breaking reign of God.

 Overview:  This year has been a year of increased investment and further expansion in two main areas:  communications and fundraising.  With the help of consultants, contracted staff, and volunteers, we have increased our social media presence, revised our website, published weekly e-newsletters, 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 are 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 Disciples Home Missions (DHM):  In terms of DC4PW’s close working relationship with DHM, 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.

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.

Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel

Tana Liu-Beers

Immigration policy and practice are changing at a furious pace these days. Here are some highlights from my recent work.

Thanks to dedicated fundraising by Sotello Long and Cathy Myers Wirt, DHM was able to increase my hours from 20/week to 25/week beginning this February. This increase could not have come at a better time, as you’ll see below.

As always, thanks for your ongoing support. Knowing that so many of you have my back gives me strength to face the attacks on our immigrant communities and the decimation of our immigration system.

Peace,

Numbers for the Past 6 Months

New cases opened: 52

Total open cases: 63

Regions served: 19

Arizona, Pacific Southwest, Southwest, Indiana, Kansas City, North California/Nevada, Florida, Kentucky, Illinois-Wisconsin, Northwest, Canada, West Virginia, Capital Area, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Alabama-N Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Central Rocky Mountain

Countries of origin of clients: 23

Mexico, Colombia, Canada, Sierra Leone, Guatemala, Haiti, Iran, South Korea, El Salvador, Honduras, Western Samoa, Dominican Republic, Germany, Cameroon, Venezuela, Myanmar, Malaysia, Slovakia, South Africa, Liberia, China, India, Cuba

The “Invisible Wall”

In recent months U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency with which I interact most frequently, has officially changed its mission from serving immigrants to keeping immigrants out. New policies and regulatory changes create an “invisible wall” by torpedoing the processes of legal immigration. They cause delays and stress for our students and pastors trying to change their status or get work permits.

It is a constant effort to keep up with the barrage of policy changes affecting my clients in particular and our congregations more broadly. I have reviewed my full caseload and contacted clients individually to inform them about recent policy memos and to make contingency plans for their cases.

USCIS’ new policies promote denials and delays wherever possible, causing hardship for immigrants and increased workload for their attorneys. Full representation cases that used to take on average 30 hours of work time from opening to completion are now taking 50-100 hours.

Consultations

With the rapidly-changing policies of this administration, consultations are an important service for immigrants seeking to understand their situations. For example, I’ve had many calls from Cubans trying to navigate the closures at the U.S. embassy in Havana. Salvadorans and Haitians facing the end of TPS are seeking screening for other immigration options. DACA youth are seeking help with renewals and understanding the effects of recent court decisions.

Travel

This summer I traveled to Asamblea Hispana y Bilingüe and NAPAD Convocation, as well as the Committee on Week of Compassion meeting. As always these were valuable points of connection with the groups I serve most directly as well as other ministries. I also had the joy of meeting several clients and their families in person for the first time, some of whom I have represented for years over phone and email.

Community Education

Immigration Legal Counsel has a new twitter handle: @DOCImmigration, which I have begun using to get the word out about immigration happenings. Facebook is still my primary means of providing immigration updates to Disciples.

The family separation crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border has been a travesty, but it has also been an opportunity to educate Disciples about the longstanding family detention and deportation system. I collaborated with Disciples Seminary Foundation, the Arizona Region, the Illinois-Wisconsin Region, Reconciliation Ministries, and Week of Compassion to provide written pieces, webinars, and teleconferences about current immigration issues.

 

DISCIPLES WOMEN OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)
REV. DR. PATRICIA A. DONAHOO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
1099 NORTH MERIDIAN STEET, SUITE 700
INDIANAPOLIS, IN 46204
PH: 317-713-2663
E-MAIL: PDONAHOO@DHM.DISCIPLES.ORG

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

Disciples Women are serving in ministry in various capacities. Women continue to try new ways of doing ministry and of being Disciples Women groups. Since my last report I have keynoted, preached, led workshops, marched, served with, and/or gathered in conversation with Kentucky DWM; FCC Richmond, IN; Poor Peoples’ Campaign on Capitol Hill; General Ministry Cabinet; Disciples Peace Fellowship; Governance Committee of General Board; the Summit – World Change through Faith and Justice; DHM Development Committee; Heartland Interregional; Expensify Training; Valerie Melvin Installation as Regional Minister; Obra Hispana Assembly; National Convocation; Fairhill Manor CC; NAPAD Assembly; Justice Summit; HOPE Leadership Academy; Junia Conference; Alabama-NW Florida DWM; Executive Committee; FCC Bloomington, IN; Capital Area Regional Assembly; IL/Wisconsin Regional Assembly; FCC Bloomington, IL; CTS – Grace Embodied; Great River Region Regional Assembly; and Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising training.

We continue in close covenant with Disciples Home Missions and continue in anti-racism/pro-reconciliation efforts and training. We have a healthy partnership with HELM in sharing Lisa Hubbard as a Ministry Associate to provide full-time employment for her while handling both of our support needs.

Our Woman-to-Woman Worldwide (W2WW) program facilitates journeys to visit our global partners each year. In partnership with Global Ministries we prepare delegations for what they will encounter during journeys through study, training, and conversation. Chesla led a delegation to Cuba in October in cooperation with the Caribbean Initiative of Global Ministries. Next year the delegation will be going to Morocco followed by a journey to Southern Asia in 2020 as part of the new global ministry initiative focused there. Among other projects, last year’s delegation to India was excited and moved by the work being done to fight trafficking especially for the most vulnerable. The delegation was excited to fund a project that would provide training and support for 7-10 women to begin their own business to provide for their families and keep them safe from the dangers of poverty. $6,000 was required and has already been completed.

In in its 10th year of publication, Just Women Magazine, the designated resource for Disciples Women has begun to publish the Bible study annually. The theme for 2019 is “The Church: Mission Possible”. Given the loss of our quarterly publication we are working to find ways to continue to communicate regularly with Disciples women across the continent. Chesla and Regenia are developing a e-newsletter.

Disciples Women continues to use #DWConnect as a means of better understanding the value of shared stories, resources, and concerns. Recognizing the strength of being connected to one another helps to provide for the needs of women throughout the United States and Canada. We will also be providing finger labyrinths to General Assembly attendees to encourage the development of spiritual disciplines and will label each with the woman’s name, congregation, and location to celebrate that Disciples women are serving in ministry far and wide.

New members for the Executive Committee have been chosen to begin their terms in 2019. This will be our first time with a President-Elect and staggered terms for members. We are excited about the help this will be in continuity of leadership.

Chesla Nickelson, program director and merger staff, continues to update and improve the Leader Apprentice Program (LAP) to continue to provide leadership training for women of color. Past graduates are now serving at all levels of the Disciples church. We are currently in the process of developing a similar program that will focus on young women, middle and high school age, to include not only leadership training but also financial responsibility, and body and personal agency. Chesla is also working on new volumes of our Wisdom of Women by interviewing women leaders to capture and share their wisdom.

Disciples Women continue to contribute to the whole mission of the church through their ministries and giving. We appreciate the covenant with DHM that continues to share funding from DMF. With our current funding we are unable to do the breadth of ministry we are called to do. We continue to explore ways to improve it. We have established a legacy fund in hopes that we can inspire women to participate in the ministry by remembering Disciples Women in their estate planning as well as provide gifts to an endowment fund to support the ministry into the future. We will be celebrating our 145th ‘birthday’ in 2019 and are hoping to celebrate it by encouraging Disciples to celebrate by giving monetary gifts to the ministry.

Respectfully,

Patricia A. Donahoo

Executive Director, Disciples Women

 

Disciples Volunteering

Disciples Volunteering connects, supports, and equips Disciples serving in mission. This work is carried out in three ways: Sending Teams in Mission; Shaping Servant Leaders; and Supporting Local Missions. At the core of this work are three faith-values: learning, serving, and growing relationships. As Disciples, we are students, learning through action and reflection, striving to deepen our faith by living it with others. In serving, we model ourselves after the one who came not to be served but to serve, giving and receiving in humility, and respecting the gifts of each one. Through community, we connect our faith and our lives with others, with deference for those with whom we serve, growing together in faith. Disciples Serving Community move from volunteer to servant to neighbor to friend as we get dirty for Jesus together.

Sending Teams in Mission

One area of focus for Disciples Volunteering is supporting disaster response and recovery. Disciples Volunteering responds to disasters in partnership with Week of Compassion, Regions, and local congregations (as well as ecumenical, interfaith, other NGO, and government partners) with a particular focus on long-term recovery and the recruitment, when appropriate, of mission teams for providing labor in service with those affected by the disaster.

Disciples Volunteering is currently supporting fully operational mission responses in several communities. A Mission Station has been operational with First Christian Church, Texas City, TX, since the start of the year with commitments to enable service opportunities throughout 2019. The summer schedule ran near capacity and next summer is already beginning to fill in. Mission teams coordinated by long-term volunteers in partnership with the local long-term recovery group are enabling case managed work and the matching of resources to see the work through as homes are rebuilt across Galveston County. In March, Disciples Volunteering also supported work at First Christian Church, Port Arthur; plans are being laid for a similar repair blitz at Iglesia Cristiana Bethania in Corpus Cristi in the spring of 2019. Several summer weeks were an exciting new partnership with Reach Beyond Mission.

Mission opportunities are also available in Puerto Rico and Disciples Volunteering is excited to have the first group go there in December; the first six months of 2019 are beginning to fill in as well. This collaborative response, called Program Edifiquemos, includes Week of Compassion, Global Ministries, and the Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) in Puerto Rico (ICDCPR). Through Disciples’ membership with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD), Program Director José Molina Resto is able to access up to $5,000 worth of building materials from FEMA for every home Disciples work on; since July, 8 homes have already been repaired utilizing local volunteers.

The Disaster Recovery Support Initiative (DRSI), a cooperative effort with Week of Compassion and the disaster ministries of the Church of the Brethren and the United Church of Christ, enabled Disciples Volunteering to engaged two specialists, Rachel Larratt and Tim Sheaffer, to support communities affected by disaster. There was a particular and acute need for this service in the U.S. Virgin Islands , where the recovery has now advanced to the stage where local leaders are ready to coordinate and receive mission groups. At the close of that response, the DRSI partners chose to renew Rachel’s contract and continue to serve with a particular emphasis on early community engagement, resourcing, and support.

Disciples Volunteering is also calling for servant mission teams to aid in the recovery of communities impacted by flooding in Missouri and West Virginia and by hurricanes in Daytona, Florida, where folks are referred through First Christian Church, Daytona. Work with congregations in Iowa and North Carolina continues through the early stages of recovery, including exploring the possibility of partnering with International Orthodox Christian Charities to support muck and gut work in North Carolina. In addition, Disciples Volunteering supports a growing network of Disciples-based mission sites. Ridglea Christian Church, Fort Worth, TX and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Pacific Grove, CA are the most recent congregations hosting mission teams for service and learning; the addition of a partner site in Indianapolis is under exploration. Disciples Volunteering has also been in contact with the Local Missions Planning Team for the 2019 General Assembly and that work is progressing well.

Shaping Servant Leaders 

Building on the strength of relations with United Church of Christ and Church of the Brethren colleagues, Disciples Volunteering co-led the third joint servant leadership training event in April. Participants are prepared to serve as long-term volunteers and mission station managers after a disaster. Training together provides for a richer, deeper, and broader experience, equipping new leaders to support missions with each of the participating denominations. In an effort to expand the reach of long-term volunteers, Disciples Volunteering continues to encourage and equip these servant leaders to identify, resource, and support other missions that are developing within their local and regional settings.

The Summer Mission Intern program also continues to evolve. Along with Deb Conrad, Summer Mission Intern Coordinator, this year’s training was co-led by former intern Whitney Waller Cole. Five interns were initially matched with placement sites; unfortunately, in the time leading up to training two withdrew. The training is being broadened for next summer to include mission interns as well as young adults who serve in congregational intern settings (if you know churches with such positions please let us know).

Supporting Local Missions

Because answering the call to serve begins at home, Disciples Volunteering is making strides toward a broader effort of supporting, connecting, and resourcing those missions and ministries as they exist or are emerging from congregations and regions/areas. A variety of resources are also being collected, ranging from basic information about serving to specifics such as planning a mission trip and how best to serve after a disaster. Disciples Volunteering continues to support the disaster recovery network in the Pacific Southwest region which is now focusing on disaster preparedness and in late October will be co-leading an organizational event with the Christian Church in Oregon and Southwest Idaho. Other local missions support has already been mentioned above, for example, working with congregations which are hosting mission teams for service and learning opportunities. Disaster response also provides an opportunity for supporting locally led missions as church members are educated and resourced for engaging in long-term recovery within their own community.

I am grateful, as always, to the Board of Disciples Home Missions and the Committee for Week of Compassion for your support in this ministry that we share,

Josh Baird
Director, Disciples Volunteering

 

Report and Updates of the Office of Evangelism and Congregational Transformation, Disciples Home Missions

I have two updates I would like to share with you. First, the Office of Evangelism and Congregational Transformation is getting ready to unveil a “new process” for accomplishing “evangelism” in local congregations in a 21st century context. We first unveiled it earlier this year at the African-American Institute of Faith and Life during the 25th Biennial Session of National Convocation this summer in Birmingham, Alabama. As the world around us has transitioned from a 20th century context to a 21st century context, the church must also come into a 21st century context. Everything that local congregations do moving forward must be transformed from a 20th century context to a 21st century context.  Helping Disciples congregations to “Reclaim the Great Commission: A New Evangelism” will be the goal and mantra of this office for the next six to seven years moving forward.

I often remember so well the excitement and feeling I had fifteen years ago when I arrived at DHM to begin a new season in my life and ministry to this community of faith I have been a part of for most of my 61 years on this earth. I remember how excited I was to be able to have the opportunity to help this church rediscover one of the core values, which propelled the Stone-Campbell Movement unto the landscape of the American frontier as it was then in 1801 with Barton Warren Stone in Kentucky at the Cane Ridge Meeting House. Now please do not misunderstand me, I am no Barton W. Stone, but the excitement he created at Cane Ridge is the same excitement I felt in August of 2003 when DHM extended me the offer to be the evangelist of this community of faith.

About two years ago, I began the process of thinking seriously about my time, work and accomplishments over the course of the last 38 years of ministry to this church I love called the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ in the United States and Canada. I thought seriously about what legacy I wanted to leave to the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ and even more important to the National Convocation. It occurred to me, that I had met, fulfilled and achieved all the requirements and expectations that my church had set before me some 38 years earlier. Now in year number 39 and moving very quickly toward year number 40, as I anticipate the last season of my ministry to this church, what legacy do I want to leave when my time and ministry come to an end.

Well! Here it is in a “nutshell”, I would like to see this church “Reclaim the Great Commission.” So, for the next six to seven years of my tenure in this office called Evangelism and Congregational Transformation, my goal will be helping Disciples congregation to Reclaim the Great Commission, and I am going to need your help and assistance. The time and season have come again that Disciples of Christ congregations need to Reclaim the Great Commission, in other words, “evangelism” will become a core value if you will, as Jesus instructed his disciples in the latter part of Chapter 28 in the Gospel of Matthew, Go! And make disciples! And baptize! And teach the world! About this Savior name Jesus who transforms lives!

Report on the third initiative of the 2020Vision/Congregational Transformation

Speaking of transforming, this brings me to the second observation I want to make in this report to you. All of you should be aware of by now that we Disciples are presently working on a vision and mission called the 2020 Vision. One of the four goals of that vision and mission, this office has direct charge of, it is called “congregational transformation.” The goal is simply this, by the year 2020, this community of faith is working on having 1,000 of our established congregations committed to being “congregation in transformation”, in other words, the ultimate goal by the year 2020 is to have at least 1,000 Disciples congregations who are intentionally and actively working on being transformational congregations. At this juncture in our journey, we have about 650 congregations in transformation.

My partners in Hope Partnership’s New Church initiative have a saying, “starting 1,000 new churches in a 1,000 different ways.” The Office of Evangelism and Congregational Transformation does not advocate transforming 1,000 congregations in a thousand different ways, but I do advocate and encourage Pastors, congregational leaders and congregations to seek out a transformational process they think might work best for their ministry context and work that process toward being a transformed congregation. I would also like to inform the DHM Board of Directors, that the Office of Evangelism and Congregational Transformation does offer and have in place a very effective congregational transformational process that it offers to congregations. With that said, I also need to inform you that although DHM’s CT process has worked well for many of the congregations that have engaged it, there are other effective and good processes available in the marketplace. I am not concerned whether Disciples congregations engage my office in becoming a transformed congregation, but simply that congregations engage a process to become a transformed community of faith. Here is the bottom-line, if Disciples congregations in the 21st century are going to be relevant in their mission and ministry context, they will need to be committed to a transformational process as they move into being transformational bodies in the context, which they now find themselves doing mission and ministry.

We are about a little more than a year from the year 2020 and we are approximately 350 congregations from our goal of 1,000 congregations in transformation. Therefore, my hope is that you will continue to pray with me as I continue to pray that we reach our goal of 1,000 congregations in transformation by January 1, 2021. One last point on my second observation, although the goal is 1,000 congregations in transformation, the reality is all 3,500 of our congregations in the United States and Canada need to be congregations in transformation.

As the Executive for the OECT, I felt that the DHM Board should be aware and kept informed of where the church, in general, is as it relates to the third initiative of the vision that DHM has been entrusted with leading. I hope you find this report helps to that end.

Gracefully submitted,

Rev. Dr. R. Wayne Calhoun, Sr.
Executive for Evangelism & Congregational Transformation
Merger Staff
Disciples Home Missions
Celebrating Year #16 in the Office of Evangelism & Congregational Transformation
Fifteen years ago, I was giving the honor of being called to Disciples Home Missions to be the Minister of Evangelism and Merger Staff for the National Convocation of the Christian Church. It has been a wonderful fifteen years. Come October 1st of this year I will begin my sixteenth year of service to DHM and the General Church.                                                                                                

 

Family and Children’s Ministry

Olivia Updegrove

 I have been at this “part-time” job for 5 ½ years!  Things continue to change, shift and adjust. This year included making sure the new President was aware of the connections between the multi-levels of our ministries. Connecting the dots between Families and Children (me), Youth (Randy Kuss and GYC), Young Adults (YAC), Children Worship & Wonder (Lisa Engelken), Justice responses (Kate Epperly), and what that looks like alongside our constituency groups with Ministries Across Generations in formation.  Combining the visions that were already forming with the visions of our new leader takes time, but he seems to have gotten on board and taken inclusive initiative with the Leadership Initiative Training (LIT).

Highlights:

  • Travel: End of 2017:
    • PRAR Meeting and Youth Ministry Update (both in Indianapolis);
    • NBA outreach for Hurricane Harvey Pastors retreat in AZ,
    • Black Ministers Retreat (D.C)
    • Obra Hispana Convecion (AZ)
    • Canadian Regional Assembly and Youth Encounter (Guelph)
    • CCIW Regional Assembly
    • North Carolina Regional Assembly (Greensboro)
    • Created to Be Me Camp
    • Kentucky Spring Women’s Retreat
    • Ministries Across Generations Gathering (December, 2018)
  • Ongoing: Website, Newsletters, Social Media, DHM Updates and Articles, and Critical Responses
  • Worship Planning Team for General Assembly 2019. Lisa Engelken and I have also been in conversation with Kaye Edwards (my predecessor and the creator of the “Family Spaces” at General Assembly about updating.
  • Light a Candle for Children 2018. (Check out the videos – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLfHqk4jzqgxQgjzxEUxW-qOw10jZ3daXY) Sotello, Tana, Lisa, Shantha, Randy, Kate, and me all contributed to sharing our thoughts on “Realizing Our Vision for Our Children.”
  • I continue to be a part of the planning team for the Intergenerate conference. The 2nd event will be held on May 20-22 in Nashville. The first event published a book that included as article about my work with Children Worship & Wonder in corporate worship.  This conference combines scholarship and practices of the best ways to serve across generational lines.
  • Ongoing work continues to create a Children’s History of our denominations and its constituency groups.

It was not possible to continue the Disciples 5K for this third and final year.

I will be taking a sabbatical from Jan. 1 to March 31 in 2019. (Thank you, Jesus!)

 

GENERAL YOUTH COUNCIL

The General Youth Council continues to meet monthly to discuss and plan how to best engage with both and partners across the life of the denomination. Earlier this year, the group met in Indianapolis for their mid-winter retreat which provided an opportunity to discuss the councils mission, purpose and goals. GYC has identified its guiding mission and reason for existence is to help plan, implement and evaluate the total youth ministry program for the Christian Church (DOC).

There are several projects they have identified to help them live into that mission. To better connect with a wider audience, GYC now has quarterly newsletters that are available for download through the DHM website along with videos which will be created every few months as well.

The council has developed a goal of hosting annual events for youth that empowers young voices, includes leadership development and further lifts the mission of GYC. Initial plans are underway for a kickoff event to be held in 2020. More details will be revealed as they become available.

One of the challenges for the group is in recruiting new members/applications. A very much needed goal for GYC is to increase its diversity in applicants and thereby the council. They will continue to reach out to our ethic constituent groups to build authentic relationships that be mutually beneficial for all.

Finally, General Youth Council has been working with the General Assembly planning team to give shape to the 2019 youth program. We are excited that some of the old traditions will continue while bringing in some other new elements to remain relevant. Although GYC/DHM is not in charge of the program this GA cycle, they have been very involved and will continue through the duration of assembly.

Respectfully submitted,

Rev. Trayce Stewart

Green Chalice 2018

Carol Devine

 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 is a partner ministry between Disciples Home Missions and Christian Church in Kentucky and is led by two part-time ministers, Rev. Carol Devine and Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri. We give great thanks to Rev. Sotello Long and Rev. Greg Alexander along with the DHM and CCK Boards for their continued support and advocacy for this critical ministry.

The primary focus for Green Chalice in 2018 is to create a model for support and guidance to congregations and ministries going carbon neutral. First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Midway, KY is the first congregation to actively work toward carbon neutrality.

Administrative Work Summary

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

9 – 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.
  • Aqua-Marine Certified Chalice Congregation – Pacific Grove Christian Church has the Blue Theology Mission Station and earned the first Aqua-Marine Chalice.
  • 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 every few months
  • Social Media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – new posts, almost daily.
  • Numerous Writings including: Disciples Advocate, E-publication articles, Patheos Blog
  • Eco-Challenge– Green Chalice is using the North West Institute to help support more participation in climate solutions and action. The 21-day challenge begins Oct. 3.
  • Climate Data and denominational Leaders:C. is exploring opportunities for DOC financial and property influencers to work with Climate Scientists for adaptation and mitigation behavior. Leadership would include insurance boards, pension funds, church loan officers, new church start ministers, and disaster relief leaders. Preparing a faith/spirituality track of the Climate City Expo offered in April 2019.   

Partnerships

  • Eco-Palms (ethically & sustainably grown and harvested.)
  • Carol is Chair of the Creation Care team of the Kentucky Council of Churches and helped organize a Day of Prayer and Advocacy on Climate at KY Capitol as part of the Poor People’s Campaign
  • Carol is Secretary of the Executive Board of Creation Justice Ministries and traveled to DC for the annual Board Meeting in D.C . in May and attended an interfaith reception.
  • State of Appalachia Conference with CJM, IPL, Franciscan Action Network and Creation Care Alliance (March 2018)
  • Scott attended and led a climate and faith panel at Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, NC
  • Scott partnered with Christmount for S.O.I.L. (Spiritual Opportunities for Intentional Living Conference), 2017 & 2018, looks at faith through sustainability, justice, service, and climate.
  • Scott presented how to green your church at Elders and Deacons Retreat with Leah Schade Keynoting at Christmount
  • Scott represents Disciples on the Climate Realities Project faith leader advisory team.
  • National, Religious, Partners for the Environment.
  • Interfaith Power and Light – Carol presented at “Waste Not Want Not: Helping churches go Zero Waste” (April 2018)
  • Devine helped organize and lead a G.C. Regional Meeting in KY and is working with Lex. Theological Seminary to become the first Green Chalice Seminary (Spring 2018)
  • Devine trained Disciples Peace Interns in Climate and Faith, May 2018, DHM meeting of leaders on G.C. and Carbon Neutrality, June 2018
  • Green Chalice was at the National Convocation Biennial Gathering in Birmingham, AL. G.C. established and strengthened relationships with denominational leaders. (July 2018)
  • Carbon Neutral Pilot congregations: Congregations are beginning to commit to carbon neutrality. We are still in process of creating the pathway to carbon neutrality with Midway Christian Church leading the way.

Blessed Tomorrow

  • Blessed Tomorrow National Climate and Faith Leadership Forum, Auburn Seminary, New York City, Carol and Sotello attended. (May 2018)
  • DOC Focus Groups for clergy and congregational leadersThe focus groups were conducted in Fall of 2017. Still working to draw together denominational leaders for review. Waiting for email response.
  • Continued work to improve communications
  • Work to create and distribute Carbon Neutral Guide

General Assembly 2019

  • Workshops for adults and youth, Interactive Booth in Assembly Hall.
  • Clergy Retreat in Iowa 2019

CCK Regional Assembly 2018

  • Green Chalice will have a booth in the Display Hall and Carol is leading a workshop on Carbon Neutrality.

 

Justice and Advocacy for Families and Children

  DHM Board Report 2018 by Rev. Kate Epperly D. Min.

 

I have been at this “five hour a week” ministry as Coordinator of Justice and Advocacy for Families and Children for approximately 4 years.  I continue to be delighted to be able to  resource the denomination in which I was born and raised in five primary areas:

  1. Networking with/participating in and sharing with Disciples about ongoing family and children related educational and advocacy resources/actions through the following organizations:
  • Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence (member: Education and Communication Committee)
  • Interfaith Disability Advocacy Collaborative (affiliated with AAPD)
  • Ecumenical Advocacy Days (an annual education and advocacy event in DC)
  • Children’s Defense Fund and Samuiel DeWitt Proctor Institute
  • The National Council of Churches (Unite to End Racism Initiative)
  • Disciples Immigration and Refugee Ministries
  • The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival
  • Disciples Center for Public Witness
  • Global Ministries (Depending upon Global Ministries staff cooperation)
  • Bridge of Hope (congregation based homeless ministry)
  • Sandyhook Promise and Grandmothers Against Gun Violence (I, personally, am a member).

 

  1. Sharing out to Disciples Family and Children Justice and Advocacy resources and actions by:
  • Writing Advocate articles, writing Kids to Kids and other FCM webpage resources
  • Writing a “Disciples Justice 4 Children” blog (disciplesjustice4children.org),
  • Writing a “Disciples Justice 4 Children” Facebook Page shared out to 5+ other Disciples leadership FB pages. (In lieu of a “Constant Contact“ option.)
  • Writing occasional Tweets
  1. Two ongoing major projects:
  • Initiating the launch of an Ecumenical Children’s Advocacy Coalition through the Children’s Defense Fund (DCF) Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute of child advocacy which recently established a multi-seminary program of academic credit for its annual summer Institute This offers a database for initiating such a coalition. My research shows that a judicatory based database for such a coalition is impossible due to the elimination of staffing designated to family and children’s justice advocacy.

I have also conferred with Sharon Watkins about launching such a coalition through/with the National Council of Churches and its Unite to End Racism initiative. However, it is too early in the life of this initiative for such action.

  • Creating an Online Intergenerational Conversation and Action Resource for Congregations on Gun Safety and Gun Violence Prevention* (the 35 page booklet is currently being formatted for online publication by Olivia Updegrove and should be available soon!)

In addition I have participated in:

  • Regular DHM staff meetings (leading opening worship twice) (via Go to Meeting)
  • DHM regular Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Racism (PRAR) Team meetings (via Go to Meeting)
  • PRAR Annual Staff Training with CTS Dean Leah Gunning Francis (in person)
  • Ecumenical Children’s Faith Formation Conference at UCC in Cleveland (in person)
  • UCC/Disciples Global Ministries Partnership Conference at UCC in Cleveland (in person)
  • Annual Ministries Across Generations start-up meetings in Indianapolis (in person)

I look forward to new opportunities to form partnerships for justice and advocacy ministry across various Disciples regions through the new DHM LIT relational ministry approach to leadership which Sotello Long and Lonnie Graves are launching.

——————————————————-

* Finding no existing” family and child friendly” faith based resource for conversation and action about gun safety and gun violence prevention, I decided to create my own online resource. This project grew exponentially as I recognized God’s call for congregations to not only to respond to but to transform the current gun violence epidemic and our nation’s predominant culture of violence. Meeting this challenge called for my including an innovative theological approach calling faith leaders and families to explore Jesus as a non-violent “Suprahero” (above all other Superheroes). In keeping with this, is the call to take on the challenge of modeling and teaching non-violent communication and conflict resolution, and offering children and youth a wide variety of spiritual warrior/guardian disciplines such as Calmer Choice/breath prayer, Tai Chi, and Kung Fu.

Seeing Jesus as a “superhero” has been around in VBS curricula for some time, but in light of my daily care for my 6 and 8 year-old grandsons, I realized that I had to take it a few steps further by providing resources for faith leaders and families to engage in concrete ways of non-violent, spiritual empowerment in the way of Jesus.

 

Leadership Initiative Team (LIT)

Lonnie Graves, Ministry Liaison

Greetings in the matchless name of Jesus Christ,

Please receive this report from DHM’s Leadership Initiative Team.

Capable, sustainable leaders must have support, direction, training, mentors and appropriate resources to be successful.  Leaders in the ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) must also be able to understand, articulate and incorporate the principles of the movement as followers of Jesus Christ, that are found in the preamble of the church.

As years, even decades have progressed regions and other entities have struggled to find the leadership tools that will allow them to thrive and grow in their ministries.  Recognizing the growing need for this type of support, DHM has been proactive in prayerfully creating a team, dedicated to spreading the news of Jesus Christ offering their ministries, callings and gifts in various ways, on the Leadership Initiative Team (LIT). Because of its unique prayer, faith and follow format; with the intention to follow where God is leading, LIT continues to be an unfolding work in program design, based on the needs of each region or group needing the LIT support.

The goal of the Leadership Initiative Team (LIT) is to provide support, resources and speakers to compliment the training and development of Disciples leaders throughout the recognized organizations of the church: Regions, Districts, Fellowships and/or congregations among other bodies!

The objectives of LIT are to:

  • Listen to leaders of recognized ministries
  • Listen in community with connected partners for mutual understanding regarding your ministry context
  • Listen to God’s Spirit in initiating and/or responding to God’s activity in your ministry context
  • Design resources fit for a specific ministry context
  • Share our collective resources for leader development

The opening and current team are:

  • Wayne Calhoun, Executive for Evangelism & Congregational Transformation Affiliation: DHM Staff
  • Kate Epperly, Coordinator, Justice and Advocacy for Family and Children’s Ministries Affiliation: DHM Staff
  • Lonnie Graves, Consultant Affiliation: Business Owner, Course Design/ Interpersonal Communications
  • Randy Kuss, Coordinator, Youth & Young Adult Consulting Services Affiliation: DHM Staff
  • Sotello Long – President DHM
  • Warren Lynn, Executive Minister for Christian Vocations Affiliation: DHM Staff
  • Lashaundra McCarty, Consultant Affiliation: Business Owner, Social Media Specialist/ Communications
  • Terrell McTyer, Minister for New Church Strategies Affiliation: Church Sustainability
  • Cathy Nichols, VP and Executive for Mission Personnel Affiliation: Division of Overseas Ministries
  • Chesla Nickelson, Program Director, Disciples Women Affiliation: IDWM
  • Sheila Spencer, Director Christian Education/Faith Formation Assistant to the President Affiliation: DHM Staff
  • Olivia Bryan Updegrove, Minister of Family and Children’s Ministries Affiliation: DHM Staff
  • Richard Williams, Men’s Ministry Director Affiliation: Ray of Hope Christian Church

More information on each of the team members, their background and ministries can be found on the DHM website.  Lonnie Graves has also been asked to be the Ministry Liaison of DHM’s Leadership Initiative Team through the end of this year.  The team has met a number of times this year via conference networking.

The first request for assistance came from the Georgia Region, asking for leadership and facilitation training for their Regional Elders and Board of Directors and other leaders as they were kicking-off their LIFT Initiative.  After two plus years of research, the Georgia region finally concluded that their goals are to:

L. Love everybody
I. Inspire all generations
F. Focus on Jesus Christ
T. Transform Communities

Their five key regional strategies for the Georgia region, as they are moving forward are:

  • Evangelism
  • Clergy Health
  • Congregational Health
  • Outreach / Mission
  • Social Concerns

Lonnie Graves was able to provide facilitation training via digital media, and was the LIT representative and presenter at their region-wide kick-off event this past summer.  Graves was able to present each of the Leadership team, their ministries, contact information etc. within her presentation and to also share DHM/Leadership resources and links that will support Georgia regional ministries in the future.

As the LIT later debriefed the Georgia experience, we discussed ways of offering some of the same resources and support to other regions as we move forward as a team.  We now also have a special (generic) Power Point Presentation that reveals what LIT has to offer that can be used “as-is” or modified and added to other types of training.

Stay-tuned as the Leadership Initiative Team “grows” forward, prayerfully, in faith, listing for Gods call.

Faithfully submitted,

Lonnie Graves

 

Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries: Responding with Hope Amid Threats & Challenges

Sharon Stanley-Rea

Racial and ethnic exclusions, religious discrimination, and efforts to criminalize, prosecute, and put immigrants into prison and detention have surfaced in US immigration policies and laws at various points throughout U.S. history. Yet in recent months, deep and new threats have emerged which further induce fear among refugee & immigrant communities, and threaten our nation’s values of welcome. In these times, Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries, a ministry of Disciples Home Missions, continues to work with churches to offer hope and hospitality.

Recent highlights include:

Highest Refugee Numbers in World, but Lowest Ever U.S. Resettlement Goals

Historically, the U.S. has resettled an average of 85,000 refugees per year—until in 9/17, when the

  • named its lowest goal number of refugees since beginning resettlement in 1980; 45,000. In the end, the U.S. resettled only 22,491 refugees in FY 2018, less than half its goal. In response:
    • Disciples RIM, with funding from Week of Compassion, and working with the General Minister & President, led a #Pray4Refugees campaign in Aug. thru Sept. In the campaign, the GMP, Regional Ministers, and Pastors encouraged Congress to resettle at least 75,000 refugees for FY2019. See all 16 videos here: http://bit.ly/2PuXb8N, including the amazing story of Disciples Governor Ray of Iowa, who helped welcome 10,000 refugees to the state, inspired by his faith! Sadly, in Sept. the U.S. named a historically low resettlement goal, of only 30,000, for
    • Disciples led in multiple White House vigils and Congressional visits near World Refugee Day and throughout the summer, and got free publicity with a shoutout by Trevor Noah in October!
  • RIM invited Disciples to share stories of refugee welcome on Refugee & Immigrant Welcome Sunday, celebrated this year on June 17th, the Sunday nearest World Refugee Day (6/20). See multiple worship and story materials at: http://bit.ly/2AgLBZC
  • Disciples are continuing to urge Congress to hold the administration accountable to resettle the full goal number of its 30,000 refugees this year! Go to: http://bit.ly/2HxuDr0 to help!
  • Decisions are soon to come regarding cuts to funding for refugee resettlement agencies that could greatly dismantle US refugee resettlement structures. Our responses will be needed!

Immigrant and Asylee Restrictions and Growing Enforcement

In April 2018, the administration unveiled its intent to enact immigration laws in the most extreme way; by “Zero Tolerance” which separated immigrant children from their parents at the border and charged parents with unlawful entry or unlawful re- entry. Despite an EO that claimed to end separations on June 20th, hundreds are yet separated, key parts of “zero tolerance” remain , and families are now held in longer term, more restrictive detention. With more enforcement at the border and interior, and restrictions in child/family and asylee protections, Disciples RIM:

Loss of Protections for TPS/DED, DACA, Farmworkers, Refugees & Others

Protections have been systematically removed since our last report for 300,000+ persons with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and 4,000 Liberians with Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). Also previous refugees, stateless persons, Farmworkers, & Dreamers remain at risk and seeking protections. Amid these, RIM:

  • Continues to work with TPS led partners (such as the National TPS Alliance and Alianza Americas) to support a national solution for these TPS recipient country numbers scheduled to lose status by dates below unless there is a fix: Sudan/1,040 by 11/2/18; Nicaragua/2,550 by 1/5/19; Nepal/8,950 by 6/24/19; Haiti/46,000 by 7/22/19; El Salvador/195,000 by 9/9/19; Honduras/57,000 by 1/5/20. An Oct. 4 court injunction gives reprieve for persons from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sudan, as RIM continues to engage in advocacy to support other protections, and a national solution for all groups.

 

Yakama Christian Mission

Report of Activities

As reported last year the Yakama Christian Mission’s top three priorities are: Build denomination wide congregational support for indigenous justice (2017 Repudiation Resolution’s Resolved #6).  Work denominationally to create a permanent Indigenous position (Resolved #3).  Develop and provide educational resources and opportunities to learn and understand the impact of the Doctrine of Discovery in all manifestations of the Church (Resolved #2 & 5). While also having a direct presence on the Yakama Reservation.  A few highlights are noted below.

****

Reservation

Skate Park:  This feature is now completed.  Today work has expanded to include basketball courts as well. Important to this additional park feature is Tribal programs have lent money and power.

Universities, Colleges, and Congregations:  Groups continued to visit the reservation this year.  The two most requested areas of conversation were indigenous justice through the lenses of the Doctrine of Discovery and eco-justice.

Wilbur Memorial United Methodist Church:  At the core of this year’s work were conversations of identity.  These conversations were to help build and understanding of how the local church’s identity is based in the Doctrine of Discovery and racism.  This work is a first step toward imaging how the voice of the local church—due to its unique identity—has a distinctive story for the larger Church.

Other:
Organizing the High School Baccalaureate is a highlight of the year.

Directly related to the local work is the denominational work of anti-racism.

As normal, sad to say, the year within the reservation boundaries has experienced an abnormal (based on off-reservation statistics) number of suicides, death due to diabetes and liver disease, and car accidents.  All of which have taken time and energy.

Off Reservation / United States and Canada

Standing Rock:  The youth trip to Standing Rock—organized by Bill Spangler-Dunning and Laurie Feille of the Upper Mid-West Region—I spoke of last year occurred the first week of June.  Organized as a youth conversation on indigenous justice, youth had the occasion to speak with a number of Lakota and Dakota leaders who laid a base from which an ongoing conversation might occur.  The success of the event has led to a second trip come June of 2019.

The drive to and from Standing Rock also allowed the opportunity to begin conversations with the Flathead, Blackfeet, Crow, and Northern Cheyenne.  Congregationally (thinking of the repudiation resolution), the best opportunities to create relationship are between the Kalispell congregation and Flathead and the Billings area congregation’s and Crow.  Additionally, this drive allowed for some travel along the Missouri River—including the headwaters—which impacts the many ancient people of this particular landscape including those of Standing Rock (more thoughts on this below).

Oak Flat:  The February trip to the San Carlos Apache reservation and the Oak Flat march included travel to Laguna Pueblo, Cochiti Pueblo, Acoma Pueblo, and Gila River Reservation. In each setting conversations were begun.  Each having the chance of becoming a location where Disciple congregations might begin a conversation on relationship.  On first blush, the best opportunities for relationships may be between the Gila River people and Phoenix congregations and the Laguna people and Albuquerque congregations.

The march was much like in the past.  Not an overly large group—some whom have marched since Oak Flat was first opened to potential mining.  Being present is beginning to raise a level of recognition which in turn has allowed conversations not previously possible.  A few people arrived due to YCM publicity.  All of whom do not identify as “Disciple.”

Winter Talk 2018:  Experience a good turnout which included Terri Hord Owens OGMP.  Though Chase Iron Eyes, the events keynoter, could not make it due to legal issues arising from the Standing Rock occupation, the event turned out better than hoped.  Having the opportunity to spend more time dealing directly with the Doctrine of Discovery (DOD) and its impact on the DOC, the event allowed for a re-energizing of people who have been engaged for years and created a commitment to indigenous justice work for many new to the DOD indigenous story.

This event has led to three Winter Talks coming up in 2019.  This year’s annual Winter Talk is at Tulsa, OK at Phillips Theological Seminary with Rev. Chebon Kernell keynoting.  Then the Northwest and Montana Region’s will hold their first regional Winter Talks with Sarah Augustine keynoting the Northwest and Julie Cajune keynoting Montana’s.  Conversations have begun to spread these regional Winter talks in 2020.

Landscape Mending Council:  Last year’s report spoke about Landscape Mending Council (LMC) becoming council to the Minister for Indigenous Justice of YCM, within the DHM structure. It went on to note that while the DHM Board was agreeable to the proposal, Ron Degges and the Board could not finish the foundational work to make that happen before his retirement.  As a consequence, LMC began counseling the Minister for Indigenous Justice with hopes this would be worked out in the coming year.

Good conversations were had between DHM, the Minister for Indigenous Justice and LMC during the first two-thirds of this year.  However, it became apparent to LMC that formal change was not on the near horizon. Based on that understanding LMC took two actions in this liminal time: One, LMC will continue to council YCM’s Minister for Indigenous Justice informally.  Two, LMC changed its name to the Center For Indigenous Ministries (DOC) (CIM).  CIM looks forward to a greater and closer relationship with Yakama Christian Mission and DHM, holding onto the hope that a relationship with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will form and one day lead to recognized indigenous ministry.

In this liminal space I have begun using CIM’s people (and expertise) to broaden YCM’s impact ecumenically and tribally.  One example is YCM and Disciples were represented at the Skä·noñh—Great Law of Peace Center where discussions there about next steps concerning the Doctrine of Discovery were held.  Another example is dealing with the YCM/DOC boarding school history.  YCM and Disciples will be represented at the first national conference of National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition concerning The Spirit Survives: A National Movement Toward Healing thanks to CIM representation.  The importance of this event, I believe, is invaluable as Disciples work toward healing the unfathomable divide between Denominational and Tribal.

Ecumenical:  The one keynoted event this year was the western Methodist Women’s event, MissionU.  The event focused on indigenous justice and the Doctrine of Discovery.

Gatherings:  Alongside the gatherings listed above, conversations have begun toward creating “in-the-landscape” indigenous immersion events for young adults and pastors.  With that in mind, next June—either going to or returning from the Standing Rock event—I will visit Canadian indigenous landscape’s while following Sitting Bulls travel from Canada to Fort Buford to Fort Yates where he was killed.  On the reverse route, I will spend more time on the Missouri River (noted above) working toward some understanding of its course and ancient history.  The goal is to create a gathering in 2020 or 21 following either the Siting Bull story from Canada to Fort Yates or the Missouri River story from the head waters to Fort Yates.

Additionally, this year has seen some travel in the Bears Ears region.  No formal gathering is planned for Bears Ears this or next year, however, the goal is to be prepared to have folk present in the region, when needed, should the current administration work further to dismantle Bears Ears National Monument status.

****

Respectfully,

David B Bell
Minister for Indigenous Justice

 

Youth & Young Adult Ministry

Rev. Randy Kuss, Coordinator

  •  Consultant Support – Provided Consultant Travel Support for three YYA Ministries Leadership Events:
  • FloridaRegional Young Adult Event, January 5–7, 2018 – Lori Tapia keynoting.
  • Pacific Southwest – UNITE Youth & Young Adult Retreat – February 16–19, 2018 – Sandhya Jha keynoting.
  • DYMN 18Disciples Youth Ministry NetworkMarch 4–6, 2018 at Christmount – Dr. Andrew Root keynoting.
  • Family & Children’s Ministries Collaboration – Ministry Across Generations – Continued work with the Family & Children’s team including serving on the team working on Ministry Across Generations. Next gathering of this team is November 28–December 1, 2018 in Indianapolis. Submitted two video reflections for use in the 2018 Light a Candle for Children Prayer Vigil.
  • DYMN – Worked with Disciples Youth Ministry Network Team on the DYMN Retreat, March 4–6, 2018 at Christmount. The event drew 18 youth ministers from ten regions. Dr. Andrew Root from Luther Seminary keynoted the event with a focus on learnings from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s ministry with young people. There was also an option to stay over to attend the Progressive Youth Ministry Event at nearby Montreat Conference Center, offering DOC youth leaders two excellent events with no additional travel costs. (See PYM note). Plans are underway for the 2019 DYMN Retreat. I continue service on the DYMN planning team.
  • Progressive Youth Ministry Event – Gathered with 15 Disciples Youth Leaders attending the 2018 Progressive Youth Ministry Event at Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina, March 7–9, 2018 for networking, event updates, and sharing questions and concerns. Worked with PYM planners to share expenses for our keynoter and also to arrange an event discount for DOC registrants.
  • General Youth Council – Continuing support and work with the GYC in their mission to help plan, implement and evaluate the total youth ministry program for the Christian Church. GYC met in Indianapolis, February 16-19, 2018, and has regular monthly video conference calls. Current work includes working with the General Assembly Youth and Young Adult Team in planning for the 2019 General Assembly, exploring new approaches to increasing the diversity of the Council, and initial steps toward an event in 2020 focused on leadership development and empowering young voices.
  • Young Adult Commission – Continuing support and work with the Young Adult Commission. YAC met in Indianapolis, February16-18, 2018 and has regular conference calls. For several years, the YAC has been a rather small team. This past year the YAC expanded the team to nine members to broaden representation and strengthen effectiveness of its work. YAC is represented on and working with the General Assembly Youth and Young Adult Team toward the 2019 General Assembly. Each month from March to December of 2018 a member of the Young Adult Commission is uploading a “passion video” sharing their passion on an issue. These Passion Videos are posted on the Disciples Young Adult Commission Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/disciplesyoungadults/ and will soon be linked on the DHM page as well.
  • Young Adult Service Opportunities – Collaborated with NBA XPLOR, DHM’s Disciples Volunteering, Christmount, Disciples Peace Fellowship, and Global Ministries on development of a new promotional piece on Young Adult Service Opportunities available through the General Ministries of the Christian Church. This flyer was rolled out at the 2018 constituency gatherings and at regional events.
  • General Assembly 2019 – Serving on the General Assembly Youth and Young Adult Team and coordinating connections with GYC and YAC as all three groups work on plans for youth and young adults at the 2019 General Assembly.
  • Leadership Initiative Team – Serving on DHM’s Leadership Initiative Team as the group works to identify skills and resources and develop fresh ways DHM can listen and respond as “accompaniment leaders” to expressed needs of regions, districts, fellowships, and congregations.
  • Outdoor Ministries Connections – Connecting with leaders from regions, curriculum developers, and others on the current status of Outdoor Ministry within the Disciples and partnerships to strengthen them going forward.

 

 

 

 

GA-1905

GA-1905

CHURCH EXTENSION FINANCIAL & MISSIONAL RESOURCES, INC.
 Inclusive of Board of Church Extension
dba Disciples Church Extension Fund
Erick D. Reisinger, President
and
Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation
Gilberto Collazo, President

1099 N. Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204
P.O. Box 7030, Indianapolis IN 46207-7030
Telephone (800) 274-1883; en español (866) 534-1949; FAX (317) 635-6534
Web sites: www.disciplescef.org; www.hopepmt.org
Email: info@disciplescef.org; info@hopepmt.org
Download PDF

In 2018, Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF) and Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation (Hope Partnership), under the umbrella of Church Extension Financial & Missional Resources (CEFMR), partnered with Disciples in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rio and, in some cases, other Christian denominations throughout the U.S. and Canada to find new and innovative ways to transform communities through service-driven mission and ministry.

Congregational vitality and sustainability are, in part, the result of effective stewardship of capital and leadership resources. These are the missions of DCEF and Hope Partnership. Our ministries recognize that a church is much more than a building or a once-a-week service. At its best, it is a manifestation of the divine at work in the world, of people living the teachings of Jesus Christ and, through service and celebration, connecting both with God and neighbors. For this reason, our services and programs are focused on helping congregations look beyond themselves and their own immediate, internal concerns to the larger world and a future vision of the role they may play in transforming their communities.

In this way, the question most often asked by the local ministries with whom we partner evolves from “How do we survive?” to “Why do we exist?” Answering this different question, through collaboration with DCEF and Hope Partnership, has established new and enhanced existing mission and ministries wherever Disciples can be found.

Disciples Church Extension Fund

Disciples Church Extension Fund inspires and empowers congregations to create Holy Places where people connect with God, each other and their community.

Disciples Church Extension Fund is the primary Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) ministry that provides congregations with building planning and capital funding services. In part, this is done through loans for new construction, renovation, repair, accessibility improvements, “green” initiatives, special facility projects, relocation, and more. Our mission is to partner with congregations and ministries as they create, re-create, fund, and use/re-use their Holy Places (conventional or other, owned or not) as instruments for connecting with God; places to gather as Christians who are called to love and serve each other and their neighbors, inside and outside church walls.

Despite late year market volatility, 2018 was a year of generally positive financial trends for DCEF, including continued growth in the number of churches seeking loans for capital projects and purchases. This was the second consecutive year of such growth in loan demand and the second highest advance total in the last ten years. After deferring routine maintenance and delaying facility improvements for nearly a decade of recession in the U.S. economy, many congregations are now feeling more confident about the future. We anticipate this trend to continue. For this reason, DCEF will endeavor to significantly increase investor participation in 2019 so that we have the liquidity needed to fund the growing excitement of Disciples to reimagine and revitalize their Holy Places for mission and ministry.

DCEF offers investment opportunities to Disciples congregations and individuals at competitive interest rates through our demand and term Notes. Our investors benefit their Church by providing funds that allow us to make loans and provide capital services to Disciples ministries, and benefit themselves by earning good rates of return.

October of 2018 kicked off a year of commemoration for Disciples Church Extension Fund and its predecessor organizations as we began celebrating our 135th year of service. Back in 1883, at the 34th annual meeting of the American Christian Missionary Society, Convention Secretary Robert Moffett raised the issue of material aid to new churches. He said to those assembled there, “Your Board thinks it advisable to begin the creation of a fund, the principal of which shall be loaned on easy terms to such weak churches and mission stations as may stand in need of such aid.” Ultimately, the convention concurred and so began both the Church Extension Fund and its Board of Church Extension, now known as DCEF. In the intervening years, the fund has grown from $2,605 to more than $167 million; made more than 13,500 interest-free and interest-bearing loans; and, provided a total of more than $926 million in funds used to benefit churches and church-affiliated organizations.

Even more amazing, at age 135, DCEF continues to evolve to better deliver its ministry. Glendale Mission and Ministry Center of Glendale, AZ serves as a case in point and pilot program of established and new DCEF services. A collaborative vision of the former First Christian Church Glendale (FCCG), the Arizona Region, and Disciples Church Extension Fund, the center has worked creatively to help those in the Glendale community by enhancing established ministries and starting new ones. The congregation of FCCG voted to cease its worshipping ministry in the Fall of 2017, naming the Christian Church in Arizona as its successor and empowering its Chair of Trustees to negotiate its final desires, one of which was “to promote an outreach center at this location.”

DCEF is partnering with the Arizona Region to honor this request, helping to ensure that dedicated Disciples can continue to benefit their communities even if their congregations cannot. The building evaluation for the former First Christian Church Glendale was conducted in September 2017 by Disciples Church Extension Fund, which is now providing on-going property management for the facility.

Now, from its three-acre, five-building campus, Glendale Mission and Ministry Center serves more than 820 free lunches and distributes 110 emergency food bags and 60 hygiene kits, plus clothing, to the area’s poor and homeless each month. The center also supports various local non-profits with meeting and office space, houses a much-needed Head Start Program run by Catholic Charities, and provides a Holy Place of worship to three congregations who nest there including Iglesia Hispana de Glendale, and Iglesia de Cristo Sion which has used the space for 20 years. DCEF is very grateful to participate in this exceptional example of a mission-driven investment in a community for the good of its people.

Last year was also one of recovery for many Disciples congregations. In 2018, 15 congregations received immediate facilities assistance from a DCEF advisor through our Disaster Response Service after their buildings were damaged by natural disasters such as fire, flood, and hurricane. These congregations are located in eight states throughout the country including Florida, North & South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and California.

Off-shore, recovery continues in Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017. Within weeks of that storm, DCEF President Rick Reisinger and Hope Partnership President Gilberto Collazo, a Puerto Rican native, flew into San Juan as participants in a meeting of the Joint Commission of US and Puerto Rican Disciples. Other Joint Commission members included General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens, Lori Tapia, Julia Brown-Karimu and Angel Rivera-Agusto. Representatives of other general ministries and Week of Compassion were also in attendance. All met with the leadership of Iglesia Cristiana (Discipulos de Cristo) en Puerto Rico, toured the island, and visited many of the church facilities as their damage was being assessed. This resulted in a $1,000,000 unsecured line of credit from DCEF for emergency repairs and rebuilding projects. In the year since, a great deal of progress has been made but much is left to do. For this reason, DCEF has committed to providing on-going support and partnership, including an additional $300,000 increase to the line of credit to cover more extensive damage than was originally assessed.

In addition to the preceding highlights, 2018 was a year of increased capital fundraising activity and increased loan participation among our ecumenical partners. Because the need to reimagine our Holy Places as evolving instruments of God’s work is not unique to Disciples congregations, DCEF has established and continues to enhance relationships with our ecumenical and para church partners. We all bring unique gifts to finding solutions to the capital planning and funding challenges of creating Holy Places where connections to God, each other and community occur. The church extension funds of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), and the United Church of Christ (UCC) represent some of the denominations that have come together with DCEF and Hope Partnership in 2018 to host and participate in ecumenical events. In these settings, congregational leaders explore creative ways to design and use our Holy Places for mission and transformational change.

Three DCEF services in particular are effective in helping congregations answer the question of how best to utilize their assets to empower mission and ministry:

  • Building Evaluation – This service sends an expert DCEF advisor or contractor with a background in facility and construction management to assess the condition of a congregation’s facility and to recommend a plan that addresses building condition, maintenance issues and requirements. By engaging church leadership throughout the evaluation process, this service teaches “Building Know How 101” so that each congregation will be able to internally recognize and address facility issues in the future.
  • Building Planning – Effective planning is essential to ensure that mission is driving the design, use, management, expenses, location, and even ownership status of our Holy Places. This service helps to ensure that a congregation’s overall facilities strategy is based primarily on building relationships and connecting with God, each other and community. The strategy often includes a ministry plan, developed in cooperation with Hope Partnership’s Mission Pathways service, which puts mission priorities at the center of any project to create, re-create or situate a Holy Place.
  • Capital Fundraising – With DCEF’s counsel, a congregation generates funds for special projects or needs, using processes that involve identifying a purpose/vision that relates to a church’s ministry; clearly defining and articulating the project/need and case for support; discerning the most effective fundraising methodology and sources of revenue for the need; developing themes, timelines and goals based on capacity; and, determining leadership responsibilities.

In addition, DCEF also offers services designed to help congregations with more specialized projects: Architectural Consultation is an advisory service provided by experienced church architects selected by DCEF, and Relocation Services assist congregations with relocating their ministry to a different venue.

This past year, our Advisors had more than 60 General Consultations with congregations; reached out to more than 350 local churches through the end of November; and, held 12 Shine Events to let our congregations know what services are available to them as part of DCEF’s ministry.

Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation

Hope Partnership empowers courageous leaders to guide the Church into life-giving expressions of ministry for this era of God’s mission.

Since its formation in 2012, Hope Partnership has been dedicated to achieving its goal of empowering and equipping clergy and lay leaders so that their congregations can be strengthened and the lives of people inside the church and out in the community can be transformed. Our services engage congregations in conversations of informed discernment that most often result in empowered churches offering community-transforming ministries. Whether by planting a new faith community or transforming an existing congregation, Disciples leaders are boldly guiding the Church to new possibilities for life-giving expressions of mission and ministry. Hope Partnership is called to walk alongside these courageous leaders by offering services and programming designed to train, nurture, and coach faith leaders. Hope Partnership is also the general ministry home to New Church Ministry and transformational leadership programming.

Over the past six years, Hope Partnership has served more than 1,300 congregations in the US and Canada. Utilizing feedback loops, data-monitoring and customer evaluation surveys, we are constantly improving our services so that congregations can more effectively make bold decisions and step out in faith to meet the needs of the evolving, real world.

For clergy and lay leaders in established church contexts, Hope Partnership’s transformational services offer training and support through proven procedures and protocols that promote conversations about future mission and vision. Congregations within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have transformed their ministries and connected with their communities in new and innovative ways after engaging with Hope Partnership through these services:

New Beginnings – For the congregation that knows it can’t continue “as is” but doesn’t yet know what to do. More than 1,000 congregations have engaged in the New Beginnings process, with 99% finding clarity and embracing a new vision for their future ministry. This six-to-eight month process helps churches clarify their context, explore ministry options, and make an informed decision about their future missional direction.

Mission Pathways – For the congregation that wants to move forward and needs a plan. The Mission Pathways process shows congregations how to use the capital, relational, and spiritual assets they currently have to be a transformative force in their communities. During the approximately three-month, self-led process, church leaders identify current resources and create a road map for their future ministry plan.

Epiphany – For the congregation longing to become a transforming presence both inside and outside of their church walls. The Epiphany service is designed to help churches imagine, and then live into, a new vision for mission. During the one-plus year process, congregational leaders will shift the focus from “what” the church is doing to “why.” By finding clarity on why they exist, a congregation will discover innovative ways to do ministry to transform their community.

Because the need for leader development crosses denominational lines, as with DCEF, Hope Partnership has established and continues to enhance service relationships with a number of ecumenical partners, who now represent a growing portion of our services portfolio. In fact, 2018 has been a year of significant growth in this area and Hope now works with churches in the United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church (USA),  Presbyterian Church (Canada), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Episcopal Church.

One innovation that developed in 2018 is a new ecumenical partners service offering called Mid-Level Judicatory, or The Partnership Option. It is a way for our ecumenical partners to utilize proven Hope Partnership resources with clusters of congregations within a Region/Conference/Synod. We provide the mid-level judicatory with infrastructure, training and administrative support for the delivery of our services to their congregations. Individuals from the mid-level judicatory offices are trained to work directly with their congregations as facilitators and coaches.

Combining aspects of the New Beginnings and Epiphany services described above, The Partnership Option guides groups of congregations through discernment that results in intentional decisions concerning “how” each congregation would like to re-develop (the New Beginnings service). It is anticipated that several of these congregations will then continue to work through elements of the Epiphany process engaging in coaching and additional services that support their plan implementation.

There are multiple advantages to this new service offering for both the ecumenical partner and for Hope Partnership. Unlike with our traditional transformational services in which Hope Partnership facilitates directly with the congregation, congregations benefit from a proven process provided by their own denomination’s representatives with The Partnership Option. In this way, the Region/Conference/Synod has more engagement with congregational successes and congregations see their denominational leadership as providing the service. In addition, as of this writing, Hope Partnership President Gilberto Collazo reports that he is in serious conversation with two Disciples of Christ Regions for Mid-Level Judicatory consideration in 2019.

We continue to work closely with our sister ministry Disciples Church Extension Fund whose Board of Directors recently approved a $100,000 contribution toward Hope Partnership’s operating costs in 2019. In addition, DCEF has allocated $85,000 of its 2019 budget for grants to qualifying Disciples congregations to cover up to 50% of the cost of Hope services, thereby making these proven transformational programs more accessible to the churches who need them most.

It is an exciting time for New Church Ministry which continues to be integral to the work of Hope Partnership, because the stewardship of leaders and developing congregations are at the center of the Disciples’ new church movement. Under the 2020 Vision, we have grown the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) family by welcoming many new and affiliated faith communities into the fold. Our partners in these communities are eager to answer God’s call to share the gospel in new ways and places. The 2018 Year Book & Directory reports an additional 14 new congregations ‘in formation’ through November, 2018.

A key tactic for growth is continued connection with our Regions/Areas. For this reason Terrell L. McTyer, the Minister for New Church Strategies, has visited 21 regions and participated in gatherings of the National Convocation, Obra Hispana and North American Pacific/Asian Disciples.

In addition, in 2018, Hope Partnership . . .

  • hosted the Coaching Academy in Indianapolis, IN May 17-19. The event brought together clergy and lay leaders to train a team of coaches to walk alongside the leaders/pastors of both new church and transformational church projects. The three-day event featured coaching demonstrations, in-depth training on coaching procedures and best practices, and educational sessions with keynote speaker Robert E. Logan. Logan is the founder of Logan Leadership and co-author with Sherilyn Carlton of Coaching 101: Discover the Power of Coaching.
  • conducted Leadership Academy in September which brought together 35 registered trailblazers from across the life of the church to share leadership experiences, wisdom, and training. Pastors, leaders and new church planters gathered to collaborate with colleagues in church development, including headliners like DOC General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens; Eric Law, Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Institute; and Angela Whitenhill, Mental Health Initiative Manager of the National Benevolent Association.
  • continued to engage in strategic conversations with Regions and Areas, National Convocation, Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries, and North American Pacific/Asian Disciples about how we can work together to collaborate with new churches, often through coaching, to improve our 60+% new church sustainability rate (at the five year mark).

Through the Pentecost Offering, which benefits both New Church Ministry and regional new church work, Hope Partnership continues to encourage the wider Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to become more involved in supporting courageous new church planters, whose vision and energy are so vital to the future of God’s Church.

Moving forward

Looking ahead, the offices of Disciples Church Extension Fund and Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation are preparing to say ‘good-bye’ in 2019 to some long-term and highly valued partners in ministry. Ellen Mitchell, COO and Corporate Secretary for DCEF and Hope Partnership, will retire in March after nearly 39 years of service. Mary Beight, DCEF and Hope Partnership Vice President, Treasurer and Assistant Secretary, will retire in June, 2019 after an amazing half century of service. And, Rick Morse, Vice President, will retire this coming August following 18 years of serving both DCEF and Hope Partnership. Though we plan to give each a celebratory send-off, their dedication to mission and service will be sorely missed.

Still, Disciples Church Extension Fund and Hope Partnership remain committed to delivering our ministries in close collaboration with each other and with our Disciples of Christ partners, supporters and friends for the benefit of congregations currently struggling with a variety of issues. In 2019, we will continue to dedicate our various resources, expertise, perspectives and experience to live in the teachings of Jesus Christ and live out God’s call to help Disciples in the real world, in real ways – enabling congregations to thrive and communities to transform.

And, because this need to redefine and reimagine ministry opportunities is not unique to Disciples congregations, DCEF and Hope Partnership have expanded our exciting collaboration with five building funds that serve four of our closest ecumenical partner denominations, including The Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Under this new collaboration, each church extension fund will contribute financial and operational support to train and coordinate the expanded ecumenical network of assessors and facilitators needed to deliver transformational services to member churches. Continuing to grow in 2019, our transformational and capital services will now be available to a wider ecumenical network of congregations than ever before.

Living into our foundational calling as Disciples to let Christian unity be our polar star, Hope Partnership and DCEF are committed to collaborate with our ecumenical partners in this exciting and evolving way. However, we remain resolute, first and foremost, in our devotion to the principle of ‘Disciples helping Disciples’ wherever and whenever needed, today and tomorrow.