GA-1910

GA-1910

 DIVISION OF OVERSEAS MINISTRIES/GLOBAL MINISTRIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINANCE

Lonna Owens, Executive

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

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

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

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

RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT

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

Global Ministries Special Giving and Ministry with Donors – Introduction

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

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

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

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

Strategic Plan Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFRICA OFFICE

Marco Cable, Area Executive

Introduction

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

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

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

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

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

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

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

Mission Personnel

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

 

EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC OFFICE

Derek Duncan, Executive

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

South Korea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pacific

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

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

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

Japan

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

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

Philippines

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

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

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

Hong Kong

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

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

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN OFFICE

Angel L. Rivera-Agosto, Area Executive

Introduction: With Faith and Living Hope

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

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

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

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

Dominican Republic

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

El Salvador:

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

Nicaragua

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

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

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

Colombia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

MIDDLE EAST AND EUROPE OFFICE

Peter Makari, Area Executive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

SOUTHERN ASIA OFFICE

Deenabandhu Manchala, Area Executive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

MISSION PERSONNEL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

GLOBAL ADVOCACY AND EDUCATION

Rebekah Choate, Program Associate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

MISSION ENGAGEMENT

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

Caribbean Initiative

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

World Communion Sunday

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

Social Media

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

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

Global Mission Church

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

CHILD AND ELDER SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM

Linda Lawrence, Program Manager

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GA-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

Download PDF

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.

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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.

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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-1708 Disciples Home Missions

GA-1708

Download PDF (70 pages-includes photos)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Association of Disciples Intentional Interim Ministers (ADIIM)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully submitted,

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAPLAINCY ENDORSER

Steve Doan, Chaplain Endorser

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings in Christ

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Mission Statement:

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

DISCIPLES CENTER for PUBLIC WITNESS

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

MAIN PROGRAM AREAS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Disciples Volunteering
Josh Baird, Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Disciples Men
Stephen Bentley

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Disciples Women Ministry Report
Pat Donahoo, Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Office of Black Ministries:

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

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

SAMPLE WORK from Unity Christian Church in Radford, VA

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

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

We believe God calls us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

General Youth Council
Tracye Stewart

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

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

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

 

Green Chalice
Carol Devine and Scott Hardin-Nieri

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

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

Work Summary

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

7 – Certified Green Chalice Congregations

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

2016 Writings

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

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

New Green Chalice Advisory Team includes:

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

Believe Youth Event, Orlando 2016

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

 

Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel

Tana Liu-Beers

Work Visas

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

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

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

Voter Participation

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

Consultations

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

Communications

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

Community Education

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

 On the Horizon for the Ministry of Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel

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

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

 

Kansas Christian Home
Jason Ault
Director of Development

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

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

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

 

Partnership with National Benevolent Association

Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick
Director of Disciples Care Exchange and Affinity Groups

Executive Summary

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

Affinity Groups

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

Self-Care Clergy Workshops

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

Mental Health Regional Initiative

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

Contingency Events

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

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

Education

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

Inspiration

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

Advocacy

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

Peer Group Update

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

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

Health and Social Service Ministries

Executive Leaders Peer Group

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

Project Updates

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Our Global Refugee Realities, and National Hospitality Challenges

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

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

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

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

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

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

*build friendships among diverse cultures and faiths            

*strengthen public and private welcome of our refugee neighbors

*promote refugee integration and leadership, &         

*celebrate refugees’ community contributions. 

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

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

 

Refugee Hospitality Kits help to:

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

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

*Invite outlying churches into vital support roles with refugees

*Prepare churches for increasing Syrian & other refugee arrivals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Week of Compassion Refugee Emergency Assistance Provided through RIM

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

Emergency aid given during our report period has included:

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

Unaccompanied Minor Children/Central American Refugees Crisis Response

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Refugee Support and Interpretation with Congregations

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

Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries Support

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

Farm Worker Ministries      

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

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

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

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

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

Immigrant Rights Support

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

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

Additional Special Partnerships with Week of Compassion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Scout Ministries
Rev. Robert Thornton, Director

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

Meetings attended on behalf of Disciples Home Missions:

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

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

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

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

 

Urban Spirit
Deborah D Conrad, Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Yakama Christian Mission
David B Bell
Minister for Indigenous Concerns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off-Reservation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Coordinator of Youth & Young Adult Consulting Services
Randy Kuss

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

        Looking Ahead:

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

_____________________________

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

 

NBA Involved in three resolutions

GA News NBA_Monica_resolutionThe National Benevolent Association—with New Life in Christ Christian Church, Mission Behind Bars and Beyond, and Sugarbush Christian Church—co-sponsored GA 1525: A Call to End Solitary Confinement. The NBA Prison and Jail Ministries Affinity Group, coordinated by Rev. Dean Bucalos, continues to provide resources supporting restorative and rehabilitative practices. From the statement in support of GA-1525: “We believe that a call to end the prolonged use of solitary confinement will be the outcome reached by our churches…part of a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.”

The assembly also adopted Revised GA 1521: Substitute Resolution from the General Board on Gun Violence. The assembly calls the Church to promote dialogue, cooperation, advocacy, and action to reduce gun violence through non-violent conflict resolution and reconciliation across cultural divides. More than 50 people have expressed interest in this issue, and the NBA will be working with ministry partners on next steps in response to the resolution’s passing.

Additionally, the Assembly adopted GA 1523: Becoming a People of Welcome and Support to People with Mental Illness and/or Mental Health Disorders. In it the assembly calls the Church to support individuals who struggle with mental health challenges, as well as their loved ones and caregivers. A research and design team for the NBA Mental Health and Congregational Life Affinity Group will begin meeting in the coming weeks to map the landscape for the new group.

To learn about or become part of NBA’s affinity groups related to Prison and Jail Ministries or Mental Health and Congregational Life, please contact Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick, director of the Disciples Care Exchange and NBA Affinity Group Ministries, at mkilpatrick@nbacares.org or (314) 993-9000 ext. 4733.

 

Photo: Rev. Monica Wedlock Kilpatrick speaking in support of GA-1525.