GA-1920

GA-1920

REPORT ON 2017 GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTIONS

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

From the General Assembly which met in Indianapolis, Indiana, July 7-12, 2017, the General Assembly Committee of the General Board has the following updates.

GA-1720 Affirmation of Our Commitment to Responsible Investing

  • The Christian Church Foundation formed the Bostick Select Fund as an option for ministries seeking to invest responsibly.
  • The Pension Fund offered a workshop at the Christian Church Foundation’s 2018 Development Conference and will be offering a workshop at the 2019 General Assembly.

GA-1721 A Renewed Commitment to Reconciliation Ministry

  • In an effort to make pro-reconciliation/anti-racism training more easily available, a full training is being offered during the 2019 General Assembly workshop periods.
  • The General Minister and President is working with the co-chairs of the Reconciliation Commission to charge a committee to conduct an assessment of Reconciliation Ministry and develop a proposal for the future of the ministry.  The goal is to ensure that the ministry offers state-of-the-art training and consultation, maximizes financial resources available for grants, and moves beyond training to help the whole church continue to live into becoming a pro-reconciliation/anti-racism church.

GA-1722 Repudiation of the Christian Doctrine of Discovery: A Call to Education and Action and Support for Indigenous Voices in the Witness of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

  • The Northwest and Montana regions are holding Winter Talks based on the model of the larger Winter Talks held at Phillips Theological Seminary and Brite Divinity School in recent years. The regional events are supported in part by Reconciliation Ministry funds as well as regional reconciliation funds. 

GA-1723 On Becoming Immigrant Welcoming Congregations

  • Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries and Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel of Disciples Home Missions, Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries, NAPAD, NBA Hispanic Outreach/Prison and Jail Ministries have worked in collaboration with local impacted immigrants and congregations to encourage congregations to fulfill the goals of the GA-1723 resolution.
  • Obra Hispana works with front line immigrant congregations impacted by policies threatening expanded detention and deportation of our Disciples communities. RIM has provided additional sanctuary, asylee, Central American/African/Haitian TPS and DED, and DACA advocacy and protection resources to help congregations respond to immigrant communities at risk and has expanded immigrant background stories in its “Refugee & Immigrant Welcome Sunday” resources. Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel continues to provide trusted legal assistance and referrals.  NBA and its Hispanic Outreach/Prison and Jail Ministries network continues to strengthen mental health outreach to individuals in detention and at risk of deportation. Thousands of local Disciples congregations and individuals responded in summer 2018 to sign the national Disciples “Family Separations:  A Word to the Church” letter sharing desires for ending family separation and criminally prosecuting migrants seeking freedom and safety.
  • Collaborative partners will host two workshops at the 2019 GA re: “Becoming Immigrant Welcoming Congregations, Part 1 and Part 2” to further the goals of the 2017 resolution. Congregations will hear models for how initial congregations have been engaging as “immigrant welcoming,” and will learn ways for congregations to further “qualify” as “Immigrant Welcoming Congregations.”
  • Additionally: Saguaro Christian in Tucson, AZ Facebook streams a daily prayer vigil for separated families; Southwest Good Samaritan supporting families at the border; Casa de Oración and partners in Tijuana supporting asylum seekers at the border; University Christian, San Diego and Harbor Christian of Newport Beach CA participating in border education; Matthew 25 Project led by Gabriel Lopez.

GA-1724 Resolution Concerning Carbon Neutrality

Green Chalice, Christmount National Camp and Conference Center, Week of Compassion, Disciples Volunteering, and Global Ministries Division of Overseas Ministries sponsored Resolution 1723 which calls Disciples to reduce our carbon output with our goal to become carbon neutral by the year 2030. This resolution seeks to create more economic, spiritual and ecological sustainable congregations and communities while offering leadership in health and wellness for people and planet.

  • Toward these goals, Green Chalice has worked with its partner, Blessed Tomorrow, to create a Carbon Neutral Guide and a Climate Ambassador training program. In addition, Blessed Tomorrow has added a carbon offset program. Green Chalice has offered workshops on going carbon neutral and will host a Clergy Pre-Assembly training retreat in Des Moines, Iowa July 18-20, 2019. Currently 156 congregations and ministries are Green Chalice Ministries, nine of them are certified. Mission Hills Christian Church, Mission Hills, CA and Midway Christian Church, Midway, KY are both officially working actively toward carbon neutrality and many other congregations are discussing it. Working toward carbon neutrality requires conserving energy by substituting clean, renewable energy for polluting fossil fuels and offsetting any energy source that cannot be reduced or replaced. It is also requiring us to conserve forests, urge our policy makers to provide clean energy choices; explore a plant rich diet, and guide and support communities everywhere to do the same.

 GA-1725 Recognition of the Region of Canada as a Traditionally Underrepresented Cultural Community

  • The Canadian Region extends its thanks to Council on Christian Unity, Week of Compassion, NBA, and Alliance Q who were the first groups to respond to the call to greater inclusion of Canada within their ministries and organizations. Alliance Q was the first group to make radical changes, most notably changing their constitution to guarantee a place for a Canadian representative. We are grateful for the occasional times when changes have been made across General Ministries to recognize and include French language, Canadian-specific nomenclature on forms, and requests for Canadian representatives for committees. We believe more can be done. We specifically call on Reconciliation Ministries to include Canadian content in ALL of their training as a standard and integral piece. We also call on the OGMP to be intentional about including the Canadian perspective when consultants are retained to assist the church in visioning and future plans (i.e., when consultants are hired to review who we are, our future, etc., it is unclear if any Canadians are included). We continue to call on the entire church to recognize that the Canadian Disciples’ story IS the Disciples’ story! We recognize that change is difficult, but we are a Church with a passion for justice…and greater inclusion of the Canadian church is a justice issue.  Thank you to all who have taken the adoption of this resolution seriously and taken steps to live it out.

 GA-1732 Stewardship as a Spiritual Discipline and Its Applications in the 21st Century

  • Aware that there was a good chance the study document may not find its way from the protective covers of the 2017 docket into the church, Director of the Center for Faith and Giving, Bruce Barkhauer, assembled a team of curriculum writers to make the 22,000-word study more accessible for congregational use. That team created a six-week stewardship study entitled Overflowing which became available for use on March 1, 2018. The material is designed with both Adult and Grade 6-12 designation.  Youth are an intentional priority for the church and teaching young people about faithful stewardship is a priority of the Center for Faith and Giving.

GA-1739 Concerning Executive Order 13780 (Emergency Resolution)

  • Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries (RIM) has continued to monitor and advocate against Executive Order 13780 through its subsequent revisions and court responses and has offered ongoing education and engagement opportunities for congregations to help protect the US’ long-term history of refugee resettlement. RIM promoted resources for congregational participation in the June 2018 and June 2019 celebration of “Refugee and Immigrant Welcome Sunday” near to World Refugee Day.  In partnership with Week of Compassion and Disciples Marketing and Communications in the Office of the General Minister and President, RIM worked collaboratively to gather, and utilize for advocacy, video testimonies by Disciples leaders of the positive impacts of refugee resettlement in communities and their desire to restore US resettlement levels of at least 85,000 refugees annually.
  • RIM led an interfaith Press Conference at the White House in response to the September 2018 “Presidential Determination” announcement of a refugee resettlement goal of only 30,000 during FY2019; less than half of historic US resettlement numbers. RIM, Global Ministries, and the Council on Christian Unity have worked with Church World Service partnership communions to revise and update our “Ecumenical Declaration: Protecting Welcome, Restoring Hope,” as of November 2018.

GA-1740 Concerning Support for the “New Poor People’s Campaign: National Call for a Moral Revival” (Emergency Resolution)

  • General Minister and President Teresa Hord Owens made it a priority to attend both the beginning and ending events for the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in Washington D.C. In addition, Communication Ministries shared information leading up to events as well as photos and reflections from individuals who participated in PPC activities throughout the 40-day period. A grassroots group from the Upper Midwest Region, Disciples Public Presence, also shared organizing information and news from state campaigns in which Disciples participated. The connections fostered among those interested in these issues resulted in a fall 2018 conference that continues to build a network of those interested in social justice.

 

The General Board has reviewed GA-1920 Report of the General Assembly Committee. The report is submitted to the General Assembly for presentation and

discussion. No action is required. (Discussion time: 12 minutes)

GA-1925

GA-1925

 ADRESSING THE STATE OF GLOBAL FORCED MIGRATION

(Sense-of-the-Assembly)

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WHEREAS, currently more than 68.5 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes globally for reasons of war, violence, persecution, climate change, economic injustice, impoverishment, colonialism and its legacy, and exploitation, among others, so that the global state of forced migration and displacement has reached a crisis, a trend that continues to increase with no sign of a reversal; and

WHEREAS, more than 85% of those who are displaced are currently in countries that have little economic or structural capacity to provide care or services for them, while those nations who are far better able to do so, including the United States, have oftentimes placed restrictions on refugee admissions, asylum applications and other forms of immigration, even while benefitting economically from the impoverished and unstable countries from which many of these displaced persons flee; and

WHEREAS, policy debates and general discourse on migration in the United States, Europe, and, to a lesser extent, in Canada, have centered on justifications of restrictions that are racist, xenophobic, bigoted, and slanderous, and have specifically named people who are brown and black, from specific countries, and of certain faiths, particularly Islam, as excluded; and

WHEREAS, those countries that do host refugees and migrants often receive compensation from the US and Europe to keep the migrants from attempting to enter the US or Europe; and

WHEREAS, thus far, the global community has failed to address comprehensively and collaboratively the massive movement of people, most often for reasons of fear, self-interest, preservation of privilege, power, and wealth, enabling wealthy economies to benefit from the labor of migrants with little acknowledgement of obligations for the security and welfare of the migrants themselves; and

WHEREAS, due to restrictions and strict regulations, people take tremendous risks to reach safety and a new home, crossing deserts, seas, and other difficult terrain, for days, weeks, and months, only to meet reinforced and militarized borders, detention, and incarceration, likely rejection and forced return; not to mention the thousands who do not survive the journey at all; and

WHEREAS, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has a long history of providing welcome and creating robust structures of welcome for the resettlement of refugees; and

WHEREAS, global partners of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are advocating for and responding to the needs of the displaced and refugees among them, often with support through Global Ministries, Week of Compassion, and the United Church of Christ’s One Great Hour of Sharing offering, including:

  • People fleeing from high levels of structural, social and economic violence in El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and seeking asylum elsewhere to escape horrific conditions;
  • African migrants and refugees who have become bottle-necked in North Africa, including in Morocco, in their attempt to make their way to Europe;
  • Refugees from conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, now living in camps in Tanzania;
  • Syrian and Iraqi displaced persons and refugees who have escaped war and conflict, now located throughout the Middle East and in Europe;
  • Generations of Palestinian refugees displaced and dispossessed of their homes and property following the wars of 1948 and 1967, in the Middle East and beyond;
  • People from throughout Southern Asia where millions are forced to migrate, and are trafficked and pushed into various forms of slavery;
  • People at risk from climate change in the Pacific Islands, including Tuvalu, where rising sea levels threaten to flood and eventually eliminate whole island countries;

WHEREAS, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is called to become an immigrant welcoming church (GA 1723); and, with the guidance of our global partners through Global Ministries, advocates for the rights and dignity of displaced persons and migrants the world over;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the 2019 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, July 20-24, 2019, affirm a vision of God’s family that is all-inclusive, accepting, and welcoming, recognizing the dignity of every human being; and rejects the divisive discourse of fear, xenophobia, bigotry, and racism that pervades the discourse on global forced migration, including as it relates to policy debates on immigration; and

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2019 General Assembly call upon the members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to engage the matter of global forced migration, to pray and learn about the current state of global forced migration using, among other resources, those made available through the church, specifically Global Ministries and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Refugee and Immigration Ministries; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2019 General Assembly urge members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to participate in practicable ways to address the state of global forced migration through

  • support of denominational partners around the world who are responding to the needs of displaced people, whether they are refugees, migrants, internally displaced, asylum-seekers, or others, through Global Ministries and Week of Compassion;
  • engagement in refugee resettlement programs in the US including the Disciples Home Missions’ Refugee and Immigration Ministries;
  • advocacy for the rights of refugees everywhere based on the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951); and for Palestinian refugees specifically as stipulated in UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948), and for continued US funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency;
  • advocacy and action on issues of economic justice, climate justice, and immigration justice; and
  • efforts to dismantle racism, to learn about different cultures and religions, including Islam, and to counter any form of discrimination, bigotry, and xenophobia when encountered; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that the 2019 General Assembly call upon the governments of the United States and Canada to take the issue of global forced migration seriously, leaving behind partisan discourse and promoting actively the principles of the United Nations’ Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, which seeks, among other things, to:

  • address all aspects of international migration, including the humanitarian, developmental, human rights-related and other aspects;
  • make an important contribution to global governance and enhance coordination on international migration;
  • present a framework for comprehensive international cooperation on migrants and human mobility; and
  • set out a range of actionable commitments, means of implementation and a framework for follow-up and review among Member States regarding international migration in all its dimensions,

and for Disciples members and settings to advocate for the US and Canada to work with the global community toward these goals.

Board of Directors of the Division of Overseas Ministries

 

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The General Board recommends that the General Assembly ADOPT GA-1925. (Discussion Time: 24 minutes)

 

BACKGROUND:

Migration, displacement, and exile have been present throughout human history, including in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.  Some biblical examples include God’s call of Abram to leave Ur; Joseph’s brothers’ venture to Egypt to buy grain because of famine in Canaan; Exodus as a story of escape across borders; Noah and the threat of climate change; the Babylonian exile; and the Holy Family’s escape to safety soon after the birth of Jesus because of King Herod’s edict that all first-born male children under two born in the Bethlehem area be killed.

Jesus teaches us that the two greatest commandments are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31).  When Jesus spoke of the judgment, he taught the reality of the realm of God by saying, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’… ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it unto me’” (Matthew 25:35-36, 40).  The author of the letter to the Hebrews goes on to remind the faithful, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). James warns against the sin of partiality that gives preference to those with resources over those without access. (James 2:9).

In our day, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), in a 2017 report, estimates that more than 68.5 million people are forcibly displaced from their homes, including more than 5 million Palestinian refugees registered with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).  This massive displacement is the largest in recorded history, and there is no sign of a reversal of the trend.  While almost two-thirds of those displaced remain within their own countries, most cannot return home.  The UNHCR report cites war, violence, and persecution as significant causes.  Additional factors for global forced migration include climate change, drought and famine, and impoverishment, among others.

The overwhelming majority of those who have been forcibly displaced outside their home countries currently reside in poorer, developing countries, barely able to provide services for their own populations, let alone influxes of new arrivals.  Countries and systems increasingly restrict the movement of people, denying them respite and dignity.  The global community needs to be engaged in creating and strengthening international systems to better accommodate this phenomenon so that the responsibilities, and the opportunities, of caring for humanity are shared.

Among economically developed countries, contemporary policy debates around immigration policies in the United States and Europe in particular, with few exceptions, have centered on stereotypes and fear, suggesting that newcomers would be “criminals and rapists,” violent terrorists, usurpers of public wealth and job opportunities.  Efforts, including presidential executive orders, have been made to disallow people from coming to the US based on their countries of origin and their religion.  Children have been separated from their families, with long-term impact on their mental health a result.  This is a not-so-subtle message that brown and black people, and Muslims, in particular, are not welcome, and a clear effort to preserve the privilege of some at the expense of many.

With this resolution, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) recognizes the global scale of the issue, the human impact, the variety of causes, the responses of many of our global partners, and the abhorrence of racism, xenophobia, and bigotry that underlie barriers to addressing the matter with a sense of justice.

 References:

  • “Global Trends: Forced Displacement in 2017,” published by UNHCR,

http://www.unhcr.org/globaltrends2017/

  • Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951),

https://www.unhcr.org/1951-refugee-convention.html

  • UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948),

https://www.unrwa.org/content/resolution-194