GA-1915

GA-1915

Pension Fund of the Christian Church
Todd A. Adams, President
1099 North Meridian Street, Ste. 720
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Toll-Free: 866-495-7322
E-mail: pfcc1@pensionfund.org

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Report to the 2019 General Assembly

On May 11, 1895, Brother A.M Atkinson, husband of Nancy E. Atkinson, a founding member of the Christian Women’s Board of Missions, received a telegram informing him of the passing of the beloved minister and former governor of Indiana, Rev. Ira J. Chase. Brother Chase left a nearly blind widow and four children with no means of support. “Brother Atkinson could not forget the need of this preacher’s family and set out immediately to raise a fund to provide the widow and family a home and a living.”[1] Enough money was raised to purchase a home in Wabash, Indiana, which Mrs. Chase graciously received, provided $1,000 was returned to the fund from the sale of the home upon her death.

Brother Atkinson called for a Conference on Ministerial Relief, which met on October 21, 1895 in advance of the General Missionary Convention. The purpose of this conference was to raise additional resources for the Chase Fund and formalize the process by which other widows and children would receive support. The outcome of this meeting was recommended changes to the By-Laws of General Christian Missionary Convention, creating the Board of Ministerial Relief and raising an offering which totaled $3,567.25.[2]

In 2020, the Board of Ministerial Relief will celebrate 125 years of working to provide resources “For the Support of Ministry.” From its humble beginnings with two offerings totaling $5,732.56, Pension Fund of the Christian Church, as the successor organization, has embodied our mission and carefully managed the resources of our pastors and lay employees and our legacy funds of Ministerial Relief and Assistance. At the close of 2017, the fund’s value was $3.25 billion[3].

In 2020, Pension Fund will celebrate the expansion of Ministerial Relief and Assistance. The program will have three core functions: Retiree Support, Active Clergy Programs, and Congregational Partnership Grants.

Retiree Support will continue for those who have no Pension, a Pension below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, Healthcare Assistance with Medicare Supplemental plans, and 13th check. Our expanded support for retirees includes adding a Geographic Pay Differential for Supplemental Pensions for persons who retired in a high-cost area. To qualify, a person must meet the current supplemental guidelines and have retired in an area where the cost of living exceeds Indianapolis as a base market. Those persons then qualify for an increase based on the difference but capped at 250% of the Federal Poverty level for a single person.

Active Clergy Programs: Ministerial Relief and Assistance expansion includes Financial Literacy Education (the permanent role of Excellence in Ministry), Career Counseling Grants for Pastors Transitioning to bi-vocational ministry, and a biennial Pastor’s Wellness Conference starting in the fall of 2020.

The career counseling grants are to combat the research which shows clergy who have a second source of income are most likely to serve in a high-crisis profession such as a funeral director or social worker. Continually dealing with crisis, leads to burnout. We want to help clergy work with a professional who can steer them toward a profession which compliments their ministry but also brings joy.

The biennial Pastor’s Wellness Conference will rotate themes of emotional, physical, and financial wellness. The heavily subsidized conference will see to bring together clergy serving various size congregations. The first keynote speaker is Dr. Matt Bloom, a researcher at the University of Notre Dame, who specializes in clergy wellness. More information will be available at Pension Fund’s booth in the exhibit hall. These are in addition to our historic clergy support programs for emergency aid and funeral assistance grants for clergy without pension plan death benefits.

We also desire to work in Partnership with Congregations. We will continue our historic programs, including Student Gift—expanded to include undergraduate internships and Global Mission Interns through Division of Overseas Ministries—and our Chaplaincy Dues program, which purchases pension credits for pastors called to active duty military service.

Our new Congregational Partnership programs include partnering with Week of Compassion to provide salary continuation grants to pastors if their home and/or the church is damaged during a natural disaster. We recognize if there is widespread damage in a community, offerings will decrease and the ability to pay the pastor will be threatened. If the pastor doesn’t have to worry about their basic necessities, they can better lead the recovery in their community. In 2017, MRA provided over $475,000 in salary continuation grants following natural disasters.

We are also responding to GA-1333 and adding salary continuation grants to support pastors at the birth or adoption of a child. The purpose of these programs is to extend the leave time previously granted for materinity and/or paternity leave and provide additional support for any extenuating circumstances related to the birth or health of the newborn. The program will be open for maternity and paternity leave grants, natural birth or adoption—including single parent adoption.

At Pension Fund, we understand our mission is standing For the Support of Ministry, ensuring that pastors and lay employees of Stone-Campbell related employers have a Strong … Smart … Secure retirement. In the coming biennium, we are prepared (as a willing and capable partner) to challenge our members and the church to journey The Road to Financial Wellness.

Our work on your behalf is guided by our:

Mission: For the Support of Ministry

Vision: Stone-Campbell pastors and lay employees will enjoy a Strong … Smart … Secure retirement.

Core Values: Integrity, Security and Compassion

Integrity: the quality of being honest, making membership-oriented decisions

Security: the state of stability, providing freedom from worry or fear

Compassion: the ability to help others in times of need or distress

Guiding Scripture: Matthew 25:20-21 “The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.”

Ends Statements:

In service to our members, Pension Fund will …

  • Partner with employers to offer financially secure retirement savings options and education for pastors and lay employees of the Stone-Campbell movement including financial support of surviving family members and provisions for those who become disabled;
  • Invest and prudently manage the resources of our members — maximizing returns, minimizing costs and assuming the burden of market risk;
  • Engage members with compassionate care and personalized attention;
  • Steward the assets and programs of Ministerial Relief and Assistance; and
  • Utilize current and compliant processes.

Contractual Programs for the United States and Puerto Rico:

As of September 30, 2018, our total assets under management were $3,270,106,921.  Of these $1,962,837,400 were Pension Plan; $280,532,877 were Tax-Deferred; $22,814,466 were IRA (combined) and $299,719,104 were Benefit Accumulation Accounts (BAA). Additionally, Pension Fund has a General Fund of $133,023,443. In 2018 our base rate for Tax Deferred was 3.5%, IRA products 3.5% and BAA 2.5%. In 2018, based on 2017 returns, Pension Fund awarded a Special Apportionment of 5.5% or $96 million and a Good Experience Credits of 10.5% (TDRA), 9% BAA, and 5.5% IRAs or $48 million.

Contractual Programs for Canada:

Pension Fund provides the Pension Plan for clergy and lay employees in Canada. Canada remains a separate corporation with a separate board consisting of two US based Pension Fund employees and two Canadian based board members who also participate in the programs. This structure allows us to comply with the laws and regulations of Revenue Canada.

Pension Fund provides access to membership in the Pension Plan by clergy and lay employees in the Stone-Campbell / Restoration Movement in Puerto Rico.

Investments:

Pension Fund maintains a fully-invested policy with long-term asset allocation of 50% equities, 35% fixed income and 15% alternatives. We are honored to co-sponsor a General Assembly resolution, reaffirming our commitment to socially responsible investing. We partner with Glass-Lewis for proxy vote servicing and research. Glass-Lewis follows the guidance of the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).

Ministerial Relief and Assistance:

In 2017 and 2018, Ministerial Relief and Assistance provided more than $3.6 million for the support of the ministry. Supplemental Gift Pensions are gift distributions to those retirees who have extremely low pensions. Relief Pensions are gift distributions to those who have no pension.

The 13th Check is a gift to all persons receiving a Ministerial Relief pension. The offering received at General Assembly, endowment income, and annual fund contributions provide resources that bless our members. Many recipients offer thanks for the church’s generosity, as the 13th Check provides resources for heating bills, medicine and other necessities that these saints would forgo without this support.

We provided over $450,000 in salary continuation grants in 2017 following Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Additionally, we extended the grace period on pension payments from 3 to 6 months to help these communities in their recovery and restoration efforts.

Commitment to Churchwide Priorities:

Pro-Reconciliation / Anti-Racism: In addition to utilizing the principles of the Executive Search Process, Pension Fund staff engaged Reconciliation Ministries for Cultural Awareness Training with Rev. Sandhya Jha. Our Senior Leadership Team participated in the Executive Leadership School, including Pro-Reconciliation / Anti-Racism Training, Prevention of Harrassment, and Financial Ethics.

Compliance with Board Diversity: For the first time in over a decade, Pension Fund’s Board of Directors meet the 30% racial-ethnic diversity requirements of the Assembly.

Young Adult Leadership Development: We have expanded Student Gift Pensions to include undergraduate students who are pre-ministerial studies, serving in paid internships and Global Mission Interns.

New Church: Pension Fund is exploring with our legal counsel the tax liability of partnering with regions to provide matching funds to new church planters, who are intentionally seeking to start a new worshipping community.

Board Membership

     2019                                                           2020                                                           2021

Peggy Brittan*                                   Rev. Thaddaeus Allen                                    Josh Santana*

Kelly Bauer                                               Brenda Cline                                         Camilla Lindsey

Randy Clayton*                                       Charlene Butz                                     Rev. James Johnson

Kelly Nelson                                             Rev. Bill Lee                                          Rev. Jabari Butler

Rev. Esteban Doble-Gonzales              Rev. Janet Long                                          Chad Turner

Greg Smith*                                   Linda Hernandez-Williams*                           Rev. Sydney Avent

 

*2019 Board Officers

 

[1] Smith, W.M; For the Support of Ministry; pg. 49.

[2] Ibid; pg. 54.

[3] This reports was submitted on Dec. 27, 2018, therefore 2018 Finanacial Information was not available.

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.

****

Reservation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Reservation / United States and Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

Respectfully,

David B Bell
Minister for Indigenous Justice

 

Youth & Young Adult Ministry

Rev. Randy Kuss, Coordinator

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

 

 

 

 

GA-1905

GA-1905

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

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

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

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

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

Disciples Church Extension Fund

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In addition, in 2018, Hope Partnership . . .

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

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

Moving forward

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

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

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

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

 

GA-1901

GA-1901

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (DISCIPLES OF CHRIST)

Including the Office of General Minister and President

Teresa Hord Owens, General Minister and President

Download PDF

 

Office of General Minister and President

Administration

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

Regional and Congregational Ministry Engagement

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

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

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

Data Initiative

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

Communications

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

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

Racial/Ethnic Ministries

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

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

Cabinet

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

Justice Ministry

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

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

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

Ecumenical Ministry

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

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

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

General Assembly

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

Other innovations for this assembly include:

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

Recommended Action

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

 

Center for Faith and Giving
General Board Report
Spring 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highlights of 2017-2018

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

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

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

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

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

General communications

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

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

Website traffic:

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

Disciples Mission Fund

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

Year Book & Directory

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

General Assembly

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few special lectures in 2018:

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

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

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

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

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

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

EES Goals:

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

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

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

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

 

General Commission on Ministry
D. Newell Williams, Chairperson

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully submitted, Newell Williams, Chairperson

 

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

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

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

THE NATIONAL CHRISTIAN MISSSIONARY CONVENTION:

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

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

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

Trustees of the National Christian Missionary Convention are:  Donald K. Gillett, President; Irie Session, Vice President; Pamela Dubose, Secretary; James Vertreese, Treasurer; Milton Bowens, Ken Brooker Langston, Delesslyn Kennebrew, Joanne Walker Flowers, William Smith, Cicely Staton-Holt, Juanita Greene, and Beverly Goines.  Ex-Officio officers are: Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President; Sotello Long, President Disciples Home Ministries; and Timothy James, Corporate Secretary.

GREENWOOD CEMETERY:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Reconciliation Ministry
2019 General Board Report

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

Context:

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

Ministry Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

Submitted by,

Rev. April G. Johnson
Minister of Reconciliation
January 2019

 

Treasury Services

John Goebel, Vice President of Finance

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Core Values:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

2018 REPORT

Plans for Global Gathering

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

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

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

Third Global Christian Forum

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Changes in 2018 included:

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

Changes in processes for 2019 include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

GA-1710 Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries

GA-1710

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DIVISION OF OVERSEAS MINISTRIES/GLOBAL MINISTRIES
Julia Brown Karimu
President, Division of Overseas Ministries
Co-Executive, Global Ministries
1099 North Meridian
Indianapolis, Indiana 46205

“That they all may be one” (John 17:21)

Introduction

January 1, 2016 marked the twentieth anniversary of Global Ministries, a common witness in mission of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. Global Ministries represents the visible commitment of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ to live out the unity of the Church of Jesus Christ.  That commitment was formalized at the 1989 General Assembly and General Synod in the adoption of the Resolution on the Ecumenical Partnership, which stated that the two denominations would “not do anything separately that we can do together.”  The vision of Global Ministries “that all of God’s people and creation share in God’s abundant life” speaks to the foundational belief in the quest for unity, peace and justice. Global Ministries has over 290 partner churches located in 90 countries and continues to respond to requests for missionaries, as well as receive missionaries to serve in the various expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ.  Over 112 missionaries served in a variety of categories in 2016. (The area reports provide details related to the ministries of overseas partner churches and church organizations.  The mission personnel report provides specifics related to missionaries.)

Strategic Plan

The Global Ministries Board of Directors affirmed the continuation of the current strategic plan, with minor revisions at the November 2016 Board meeting.  The first strategic direction is nurturing community: to accompany overseas partners, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ regions and conferences, and congregations in witnessing to God’s abundant grace through the proclamation of the Gospel and exchanges of people, gifts, and talents.  The second direction is affirming God’s just and peaceable realm: by living as God’s global mission church, facilitating the mobilization of God’s people as advocates for current issues impacting communities. The third direction is telling the story: to acknowledge mission comes alive through personal stories as a result of hands-on opportunities with local and global partners.  The fourth direction recognizes God’s abundance and growing opportunities for collaboration and generosity by strengthening existing and exploring new funding mechanisms and sources for God’s mission.

Global Ministries introduced the concept of regional initiatives at the 2013 General Assembly.   This provides the church an opportunity to focus on a particular region for a specific time period.  The first initiative focused on the Congo and concluded in early spring of 2015. The Middle East Initiative was launched at the 2015 General Assembly and concluded on December 31, 2016.  This particular initiative offered the church an opportunity to become familiar with the range of denominational partners in the region and the issues they face; to learn about ways that the Disciples and UCC continue to build on a history of engagement; and to become involved in advocacy, as well as support the various programs and witness of partners in the region. The initiative focused on the following countries: Armenia, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Turkey.  Please see the Middle East Report for further information.  The next initiative will focus on the Caribbean to be launched at the 2017 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the General Synod of the United Church of Christ.  This initiative will highlight Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

Collaborative Initiatives with other General Ministries

There has been on-going collaboration between the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, the Disciples Home Missions, Disciples Women and the Council on Christian Unity, which has resulted in the prioritization of four missional issues. These issues are human trafficking, climate change, interfaith relations and migration/refugees. On September 21, 2016, these four ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) met with the staff of the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries to discuss the establishment of common goals and work plans to address these issues. This was a historic meeting and the beginning of a new form of collaboration both within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and also with the UCC Justice and Witness Ministry.  The Global Ministries’ staff is incorporating objectives that ensued from that meeting into their work plans.

Global Ministries collaborated with the Disciples Peace Fellowship Intern Program by supporting two Palestinian young adults to serve as peace interns in 2016. Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh engaged youth in summer camps on issues related to peace and justice.

The Division of Overseas Ministries and the Disciples Home Missions share a common finance office.  Lonna Owens serves as treasurer and vice president of finance for both the Division of Overseas Ministries and the Disciples Home Missions.

Leadership Development for Young Adults

Global Ministries has three programs designed for young adults.  The first is the Global Mission Intern Program, designed for young adults between the ages of 21 to 30 who have completed their basic college degree but have little or no professional training.  This year, there were 15 individuals serving as global mission interns.  The second is the College of Mission Intern Program which is designed for seminarians.  This program provides an opportunity for seminarians to work in the Indianapolis Office on a specific project and it culminates in a cross-cultural experience in order for the students to have a direct experience with an overseas partner.  Two College of Mission Interns served in 2016.  John  Culbertson, a member of First Christian Church in Georgetown, Kentucky and a student at Vanderbilt Divinity School worked with the Latin American Office researching partner information in preparation for the regional initiative and assisted the People to People Program with an advocacy manual.  Whitney Murphy, a member of Light of the World Christian Church, Indianapolis, Indiana and a student at Christian Theological Seminary worked on advocacy issues and assisted in the promotion of MissionWorks.  The third program is a supervised ministry placement.  A grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation enabled Global Ministries to have a supervised ministry placement.  The goal of the program is to nurture future ministers for effective leadership in the global church.

¡Missionworks!

¡Missionworks! was held August 26-28, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. ¡Missionworks! is designed for regional, conference, and congregational outreach leaders to enhance their understanding of the global church through engagement with international church leaders, missionaries, and home-based staff.  A change in strategy and design was initiated in the planning of ¡Missionworks! 2016.  This event has historically been a national event; however given the growing lack of interest and support of national events, it was decided to make this a regional event, including Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Illinois.  123 individuals participated in ¡Missionworks!, along with 24 regional ministers and moderators whose event was coordinated to overlap with ¡Missionworks!.   The Rev. Rick Spleth, Global Ministries Board member and Regional Minister of the Disciples of Christ in Indiana, coordinated the participation of the regional ministers and moderators.  Seventeen states were represented at ¡Missionworks!; 51 (including Indianapolis Global Ministries homebased staff) participants came from Indiana; 19 (including the Cleveland homebased staff) from Ohio; 9 from Illinois; 7 from Michigan and 4 from Kentucky.  Seventy-seven of the participants were from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); 24 from the United Church of Christ; 2 from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and 20 not identified.  The keynote speakers were Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and the Rev. Dr. Johnson Mibillah of the Programme for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa and Global Ministries Board member.  The evaluation of this regional event has been extremely positive and requests have been received for ¡Missionworks! to be offered in other regions across the country.

Personnel Changes

David Owen submitted his resignation as Associate in the Resource Development Office as of June 30, 2016.  David served nine years in this position and twenty years as mission personnel in Lesotho and Kenya.

Bethany Guy began her work as Program Associate in the Resource Development Office on November 1, 2016.  Bethany previously served as a Global Mission Intern in Haiti and Guadeloupe.

FINANCE
Lonna Owens, Finance Executive

The Division of Overseas Ministries (DOM) revenue for 2016 is estimated to be nearly $7 million.  It is too early to know the actual revenue for the year or to be able to share the significant fluctuations in revenue.

Of the total revenue, some is designated giving for special programs, projects, endowment contributions and 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 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 2016, this draw was $662 253 (compared to $618,168 in 2015).

An independent audit is performed annually of the financial records and accounting systems of DOM.  A complete audit will be provided for the Yearbook upon completion of the audit and a report 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 the management letter to the board.

OFFICE OF RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT
Jane Sullivan-Davis, Executive
Kelsey Cameron, Program Associate
Bethany Guy, Program Associate

Global Ministries Special Giving and Ministry with Donors

In year 2016 the Global Ministries Resource Development Office continued to engage members, all expressions of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples 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 are the following:

  • 1st Priority: Unrestricted Gifts, used where needed most in the work of Global Ministries
  • 2nd Priority: Gifts for Mission Personnel Support, including intensive efforts on four cases in personalized fundraising for missionary 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 2016; however, the main focus of the work was 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.  Year-end information on special giving to Global Ministries for 2015 and some highlights of 2016 as of this writing are shared below.

The final total of special giving to Global Ministries for the year 2015 through Global Ministries offices both in Indianapolis and Cleveland was almost $2.6 million in direct gifts and almost $900,000 in planned gifts (bequests, residuals of life-income gifts, and contributions to new and existing permanent funds).  The universe of donors working with Global Ministries in the year 2015 included approximately 1,800 individuals, 620 Disciple and UCC churches and judicatories, and 50 other organizations and churches of other denominations.

Promotions, Appeals and Special Campaigns

During the period of January – August 2016, Global Ministries received almost $1.6 million in direct gifts through its offices in Indianapolis and Cleveland, both unrestricted and restricted.  More than $220,000 arrived during the same time period in planned gifts for the same time period.  The amount received in direct gifts represents an increase over the same period of 2015 of $1.4 million.  The final report on 2016 special giving to Global Ministries will be calculated after the writing of this report and is available upon request.

In 2016, the Global Ministries Spring Appeal letter was signed by the two Co-Executives and mailed on March 28, 2016, to approximately 35,800 households with a connection with Global Ministries.  The 2016 Indianapolis Year-End Appeal, signed by the President of the Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries, was mailed November 14, 2016, to approximately 12,200 households of Disciple constituents, individual constituents from denominations other than UCC, and constituents for whom no denominational affiliation is known.

In early January 2016, the Global Ministries staff team declared financially viable the fourth case of personalized fundraising for new mission personnel  launched in May 2015.  By this date, the resources received for the appointments of Monica and Tom Liddle to serve with the Protestant Church in East Timor had achieved the benchmark of covering the first year of the appointment, and intentions/other funding sources identified to cover approximately 50% for years 2, 3 and 4 of the appointment.  The fundraising goal for these two appointments is a total of $510,000 spread over four years.  As of September 30, 2016, Global Ministries had received over $280,000.  The Liddles began their four-year term of service in East Timor in June 2016.

The remaining three personalized fundraising campaigns continued on track in 2016.  The first trial experience to raise funds for the missionary appointments of Kim and Erik Free to serve in Mozambique received $145,000 as of September 30, 2016, toward the goal of $200,000.  The fundraising goal has been adjusted because term was shortened due to violence in the area of Mozambique where they were working.  The Frees’ itineration and home assignment period will conclude February 28, 2017.

As of September 30, 2016, almost $123,500 was received toward the goal of $150,000 for Anne Gregory to serve with the Church of Christ in Thailand. Anne completed the second year of her three-year term in December 2016.

As of September 30, 2016, more than $300,000 has arrived toward the goal of $360,000 for Paul Turner to serve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Paul will complete the second year of his four-year term in May 2017. The additional resources given for this appointment, which represent an over-subscription of the original fundraising goal, are being used to cover unanticipated on-site expenses for Paul Turner’s appointment.

Special Giving promotion related to the Middle East Initiative, which concluded December 31, 2016, centered around five special giving themes, with specific countries emphasized during one or two months during the Initiative.  The special giving themes were:  a) Exile and Diaspora; b) Christian Presence and Witness; c) Justice, Peacemaking, and Human Rights; d) Education for the Future; and e) Health, Wholeness, and the Environment.  Support for the YWCA of Palestine was emphasized during the Global Ministries 2016 Alternative Christmas campaign.  Since the launch of the Middle East Initiative in June-July 2015 through September 30, 2016, Global Ministries has received more than $340,000 for these special giving themes and the specific partner churches and programs working in the region, representing a significant increase (more than 100%) as compared to the same period length previous to the Middle East Initiative.

The 2016 Global Ministries Alternative Christmas campaign utilized the Alternative Giving Catalog, published in late 2015, in print and online.  For the second year, the Alternative Christmas materials featured a specific special giving opportunity related to the area emphasis (the YWCA in Palestine as part of the Middle East Initiative) as well as the special giving themes of:  General Gifts, Peace with Justice, People in Mission, Water, Health, Education, Microcredit, Child Sponsorship, and Church Capacity Building.

The Global Ministries Case Statement of Support Walking Together in Hope was published in April 2016.  It is in use by staff and included on Global Ministries’ display tables.  Walking Together in Hope presents a rationale for giving to Global Ministries based on the Global Ministries Vision, Mission Statement, Core Values and Strategic Plan, and includes donor stories of current Global Ministries constituents.

In 2016 Global Ministries Resource Development launched the Community of Mission Advocates made up of individuals who give automated recurring gifts monthly or quarterly to Global Ministries.  Over 300 Mission Advocates are committed to accompanying sisters and brothers in Christ around the world by providing regular support for the work that is most near and dear to them.

AFRICA OFFICE
Marco Cable, Area Executive

Introduction

Partners in the Africa region continue to reach milestones in development, reducing poverty, and educating women and girls in spite of challenges and pillaging and exploitation from communities outside of the continent.  In 2016, Global Ministries through the Africa Office accompanied partners in southern Africa in their response to climate change which has caused droughts and poor agricultural yields and increased the costs of fertilizer and seeds.  Many of the challenges impacting partners in Africa often go undocumented in mainline US media, yet Global Ministries has been able to respond and invite others to participate because of the strong partnerships in Africa.

Congo

The Community of Disciples of Christ in the Congo (CDCC) continues to place a strong emphasis on evangelism which has resulted in a Disciples’ presence in new regions around the country.  With this expansion, the CDCC is building new churches, schools and clinics to meet the spiritual and physical needs of the congregation.  In addition, the church is increasing their micro-credit project programs for women. This program has assisted local women in starting businesses that generate income to support their families and congregations. The ecumenical organization in the Congo, the Church of Christ in Congo, partnered with the CDCC and other mainline denominations to put pressure on the Democratic Republic of Congo president, Mr. Joseph Kabila, to respect the country’s constitution by holding scheduled elections in November.  Despite the ecumenical communities’ advocacy, the elections were not held as scheduled. The capital, Kinshasa, has been bombarded with protest marches organized primarily by the nation’s youth. Forty-two people have been killed during protest and hundreds injured and arrested. The faith community in partnership with political and community activists brokered a deal that calls for elections to be held by the end of 2017.  The future of democracy in DR Congo is unclear; however, the faith community is committed to working for a country with peace and justice.

Angola

After 27 years of civil war, the Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola (IECA) continues to restore hospitals, schools and communities destroyed by the war.  IECA has partnered with the government to make community services available in areas most impacted by the war in response to the poor health care and poverty in these regions.  In addition to building infrastructure, IECA in partnership with the Council of Christian Churches in Angola, responded to the worst outbreak of yellow fever in 30 years with a documented 350 deaths since December 2015.  The country experienced death rates up to 75% of those who were infected.  In addition, 2,915 died from malaria in the country.  IECA and the Council provided medical support to people impacted and hosted educational seminars on how to avoid getting infected. These epidemics are occurring in the midst of the country’s debt rising and currency plummeting as a result of depressed oil prices.

Mozambique

The United Church of Christ in Mozambique, the Mozambique Synod of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa and Christian Council of Mozambique collaborated in calling for peace and stability in the country.  After 24 years since the end of the Civil War, sporadic violence erupted in the last six months of 2016 as former civil war adversaries, the Mozambique Liberation Front and the Mozambican National Resistance, took up arms with demands for the country’s political future. Partners organized to encourage both parties to continue negotiations.  The church is challenged to maintain peace within its membership as church members have political afflictions on both sides of the conflict.  The United Church of Christ in Mozambique and the Mozambique Synod of the United Congregational Church in South Africa provided housing for their members who fled their homes as a result of violence.  In the midst of violence and brokenness both churches continue their ministries of evangelism, Christian development and Christian education that encourage peaceful resolution to conflicts.  The rise in violence in the region instigated the early return of missionaries, Kim and Erik Free.

Drought

The first two quarters of 2016, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia and Swaziland were the most impacted by drought.  Malnutrition and food insecurity due to below-average rainfall threatened these communities that depend greatly on the growing seasons. Data from the U.N.’s World Food Program report that 40 million people in rural areas and 9 million in urban centers who live in the drought-affected parts of Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi, and Swaziland will need food assistance in the next year.  The Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA) experienced the driest summer (October, November, and December) in memory with elevated temperatures and severe winds.  This resulted in water shortages in communities where the majority of the population depends on community taps or natural springs to supply their daily water needs.  This drought interrupted classes at the church’s seminary because the seminary relies on piped water from springs on the Makhoarne Plateau to source their buildings and dormitories.  The church continues to work with Global Ministries to provide water to these communities and respond to food shortages that are expected later into 2017.  This humanitarian crisis has the potential of causing starvation in many remote rural communities.  In response to the crisis, Zambian authorities have imposed an export ban on maize meal in an attempt to boost its reserves in light of drought.  Zimbabwe will be impacted the most by this decision because the country needs more than 1.8 million tons of maize to avert the crisis.  The United Church of Zambia (UCZ) has coordinated programs that will provide food and potable water to the most vulnerable communities: elderly persons, children and households headed by women.  They continue to work with Global Ministries to implement projects that encourage women and youth participation in climate change adaptation which include climate-smart agriculture, environmental stewardship and rainwater harvesting.

In Memoriam

Lillian Moir died on November 13, 2015. In 1987, Lillian became a missionary in Swaziland through the Division of Overseas Ministries (today Global Ministries).  During her two year appointment in Swaziland, Lillian was the Director of Communications with the Council of Swaziland Churches.  Lillian then returned to Indianapolis to become a home-based staff member of the Division of Overseas Ministries in the Office of Mission Education and Interpretation for several years until she returned to Africa in 1995, appointed as the Communication Officer for the Council of Churches in Namibia.  In 2002, she transitioned into the position of Registrar at the Kgolagano College in Gaborone, Botswana, until her retirement in 2005.

Mabel Alice Christofersen died June 15, 2015.  She was born to missionaries Arthur Fridtjof and Julia Marie Rau Christofersen, serving with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), a predecessor mission body of Global Ministries, at Ifafa Mission, Natal, South Africa.   After graduating high school and college in Illinois, Mabel returned to South Africa and taught Home Economics at Inanda Seminary, a secondary-level boarding school for girls affiliated with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA).  After teaching at Inanda for approximately 20 years, Mabel taught at another private secondary school for girls.  She then spent a number of years working at the Durban YWCA where she was very active in the recycling program.

Carol Ann Cannon Gilley died on September 19, 2016.  She was a missionary in southern Africa for 38 years.  Appointed in 1963, Carol began her 38 year missionary career at Ifafa Mission Station near Umzinto, South Africa where she was both a student of the Zulu language and a teacher until 1969.  From 1969 through 1974, Carol worked with the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA).   From 1974 through 1977, Carol was assigned to the Zululand Churches Health and Welfare Association (HELWEL) at Kwa Magwaza, in Melmoth, South Africa and from 1978 through 1985, for the Anglican Diocese of Swaziland.  From 1988 to 1997 Carol taught in the Inhambane Region of the UCCSA – Mozambique Synod at Zakewu Likumbe Bible School. Her final assignment in 1998 was at Kuruman Moffat Mission Trust, in Kuruman, South Africa.

Rev. Dr. Bongajalo Goba died on September 21, 2016. An ordained minister of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa (UCCSA), he resided in the South Africa Synod of the UCCSA. He served a number of UCC churches and taught in seminaries in South Africa and in the United States. Dr. Goba was one of the signatories of the historical ‘Kairos Document’.   Rev. Goba served as vice-chancellor at the Durban University of Technology. From 1989 to 1992, he served as the Regional Secretary for Africa with the United Church Board for World Ministries in New York City and from 2002 to 2005, he served Global Ministries as the Area Executive for Africa.  After his work with Global Ministries in Indianapolis, he returned to his beloved South Africa to teach and work there until his retirement.  He was honored with a Special Provincial Official funeral service on Thursday, October 6, 2016, at the Amanzimtoti Civic Center, Durban, South Africa.

EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

Xiaoling Zhu, Executive

Pacific

The churches in the Pacific Region are going through an important time of transition. In the last two years almost every member church of the Pacific Conference of Churches has elected a new president or moderator. The transition in ecclesiastical leadership is vital for the people of the Pacific at this moment in time. Issues of political economy and the manipulation of smaller island states by bigger countries like Australia, Indonesia, and New Zealand are becoming more common. An Australian mining company in a joint venture with two Japanese mining companies paid millions of dollars to the Fiji government to mine the interior of the largest island in Fiji. Awaiting the implementation of the new UN Climate Change agreement that calls for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, smaller island nations (mostly atolls) continue to face the blunt force of climate change, tropical cyclones, heat waves, and prolonged drought. These are just some of the regional problems these new church leaders are walking into.  For the Pacific Conference of Churches, women’s leadership in the church has become an important issue.  With profound biblical meditation and discussion, it was agreed that at the next meeting in 2018, every church should send both a male and female representative.

China

In 2015, the crosses of more than 1,400 churches were demolished in Zhejiang Province, China because of a violation of sign code. Zhejiang Christian Council, under the leadership of Rev. Yuese Gu (Chairman) issued a statement against this on July 10, 2015.   In January 2016, Rev. Gu was removed from the senior pastor position at China’s largest church with 10,000 members in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province,  and ten days later taken into custody and arrested for “economic crimes.”  In early February 2016, the Area Executive visited the State Administration for Religious Affairs of PRC (SARA) and had a conversation with officers about Gu’s case.  It was said that these issues were limited to Zhejiang .  The Center Government in Beijing, as well as the SARA, had tried to stop these actions in Zhejiang without success.  “What Zhejiang did has pulled the freedom of religion policies backward 30 years.” said the SARA officers.  Prayers continue for Rev. Gu to be fairly treated and for all of the Christians in Zhejiang Province.

A China Christian Council (CCC) delegation led by Rev. Dr. Feng Gao, President, visited the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church USA, the United Church of Christ, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) from September 18-24, 2016, to deepen the relationship, exchange information on current ministries, and discuss further cooperation.

The Chinese people experienced serious flooding in many places during the summer of 2016.  One Great Hour Sharing and Week of Compassion provided humanitarian support through Global Ministries.  A Week of Compassion delegation visited some of these projects led by Xiaoling Zhu.  They visited Shanghai, Nanjing, Xi’an, Zhengzhou, Zhoukou and Beijing from Oct. 16-30, 2016.  The group met church leaders, visit programs and projects supported by WoC.

Hong Kong

Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) is a joint program of the Asia Pacific Alliance of YMCAs (APAY) in Hong Kong and the Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  ICF’s main activity since 2006 is the School of Peace (SOP).  All of the 112 members of the network in 17 countries have taken part in this program.  Several human rights programs for the Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) were carried out in August in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  A one-week workshop in September in Vientiane, Laos, focusing on the rights of people with disabilities was requested by ICF’s national forum in the country.  During a field visit to the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE), the participants of the ICF human rights workshop learned about the hundreds of people in Laos who are still killed or disabled each year by unexploded “bombies” that were dispersed by cluster bombs by the United States during the Vietnam War.

Japan

Five years after the disaster in northeastern Japan, 177,866 people are still displaced because of the tsunami and nuclear disaster. The population along the coastal areas has decreased by 156,000. Many of those living in temporary housing are the elderly. They have lost their supportive community, and their livelihood. The Emmaus Relief Center in Sendai and Ishinomaki provided relief for tsunami survivors in the initial stage, and still continues to walk with those living in temporary shelters, and with farmers and children who still suffer. During the past five years, 7,711 people have volunteered via the Emmaus Center that continues to work in temporary shelters with the mandate to continue support “until the very last person moves out of temporary housing.”  In addition, Emmaus helps farmers who lost everything to the tsunami.

The Aizu Radioactivity Information Center in Fukushima and the Kyodan Nuclear Disaster Relief Task Force “Izumi” in Sendai are two projects that support those suffering from the ill effects of the nuclear disaster. There are many families concerned for the health of their children. Medical counselling services, free thyroid tests, community building, information gathering, educational opportunities about radiation, fresh-air retreats and advocacy for victims are some of the services provided to the wider community.  Since last year there has been an increased demand for free and trustworthy thyroid testing.   All of these projects have been supported by CGMB from the start. The local leadership intends to continue these projects in order to walk alongside those who are still suffering.

The 5th Global Inter-Religious Conference on Article 9 of the Japanese Peace constitution was held on June 7-9, 2016, at the Minami-Mido temple of the Shinshu Otani-ha, Osaka, Japan.  More than 200 participants from different parts of the world attended.  Participants affirmed that at this time when peace in the world is facing deep crisis, it is our duty as people of faith to speak out.  The conference called on people of faith to analyze the international situation, name the violence and to continue working for peace. The conference urged the Abe administration to look honestly at Japan’s history of invasion, colonization and militarism and make a clear apology to the world.  A sincere expression of remorse from Japan remains a critical dimension for the foundation of peace.

Philippines

Christians in the Philippines shared their concern over the conduct of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.  The reality of extra-judicial killings has shaken people’s confidence in the ability of the government to uphold basic human rights and legal processes, hallmarks of their constitution.  More than 2,000 people have been killed extra-judicially this year.  Churches are making their prayers concrete by mobilizing their resources to help out in this task.  The National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) consistently continues to campaign to uphold human rights.

The senseless and inhumane bombing of a night market in Davao City took place on September 2, 2016.  This act that claimed the lives of 15 people and injured 71 was senseless and brutal. The National of Churches of the Philippines called on partner organizations and Christians to lift the families of the fatalities in prayer.

Korea

Both the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) passed resolutions supporting the reunification of the Korea Peninsula in the summer of 2015.  Global Ministries has been working hard on implementation since then with the following actions:  participating in PROK Conferences on Peace and Justice;  participating in international ecumenical meetings on Korea Reunification in Germany and Hong Kong; PROK delegations attending DOC regional and UCC conference gatherings; supporting the NCCK Peace Treaty 2016 Campaign by sending two staff to receive training in South Korea and helping them to collect 100,000 signatures to be presented to President Obama;  and supporting a PROK youth group to attend and share at the  National Youth Event, July 26-30, 2016.   All these activities focused on the mission of supporting Korea reunification.

The Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula (EFK) held a meeting in Shenyang, China, June 10-11, and again in Hong Kong, China, Dec. 14-16, including the Korean Christian Federation (KCF) from the North, the National Council of Church in Korea (NCCK) from the South, and representatives of churches from the United States and European counties. Global Ministries was confirmed as a member of the EFK Steering Committee which gave more opportunity to focus on peace and justice mission work in the Korean Peninsula.

The National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) Peace Treaty Campaign led by Rev. Kim Young Ju, General Secretary, traveled to the United States from July 14-29, 2016, to promote a plan for permanent peace between North and South Korea. Churches and religious leaders from the US joined them in this call for peace.  The delegation visited the national office of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  On July 18, 2016, Global Ministries, UCC and DOC leaders issued a letter to President Barack Obama opposed to the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea.

In Memoriam

Rev. Richard Lewis Lammers, best known as Dick, died at the age of 90 on February 2, 2016 at the Uplands Retirement Village in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee.  In 1948, he accepted a three-year assignment to Sendai, Japan. After he married his colleague Martha Lewis, Dick and Martha returned to Japan in 1954 as missionaries sent by the United Church Board for World Ministries.  They returned to the United States in 1990 and settled in Tennessee where they both became very active in the Pleasant Hill Community Church and the broader community.

Armin Kroehler died on July 31, 2016.  Armin married wife Evelyn on July 29, 1950 and the very next day they were commissioned for Christian service in Japan where they served for over 50 years. Armin taught at the Aizu Christian Rural Life Center in Aizu Takada, Fukushima, Japan. As part of their ministry, they also made 22 mission trips with Japanese delegations to US Churches.  He passed peacefully at home on July 31, 2016.

LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN OFFICE

Angel L. Rivera-Agosto, Area Executive

Introduction

The work of our partners in the Latin America and Caribbean Region throughout this past year is echoed in the words of a former missionary, Rev. Juan Marcos Rivera, who described devotion to God and to the neighbor:

 “To live now means to go around leaving fragments of one´s life among those who are being crucified daily in the midst of a suffering people.  Living today is also being aware of your presence, Jesus, in every human being, in every circumstance. Each human being is a witness of your grace, and each new day a hope that begins to take shape to the rhythm of your mercy.”

Leaving fragments of one´s life among those who are being crucified daily”, is the testimony of the work of our partners: building solidarity networks across the continent, working on sustainable development in indigenous communities and advocating for the ceasefire and the fulfillment of peace accords.  They are a witness of God´s grace accompanying displaced and uprooted people, affirming indigenous peoples’ right to the land and building new hope by empowering women and children with socioeconomic possibilities in the midst of an unjust neoliberal system.

Guatemala

The Ecumenical Christian Council of Guatemala has been active in the promotion of just peace.  At the beginning of the year they sponsored a consultation in La Milagrosa from January 21-25, 2016. This gathering reaffirmed the process of creating a Continental Christian Network for Peace (CCNP).  As a network, CCNP stands to hear the cries of those who suffer violence across the region and to find and build solidarity promoting actions that restore comfort, hope, peace, justice and dignity of the men and women affected.  The ECCG also sponsored an Intergenerational Ecumenical Dialogue “20×20: 20 Years of Agreement, 20 Years without Peace” with youth representation from El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Colombia, as well as leaders who supported the Guatemalan peace process. The event included forums, dialogue and activities where different generations gathered to share knowledge and commitment in the search for peace with justice in Guatemala.

Ecuador

The Ecumenical Foundation for Integral Development, Capacitation and Education (FEDICE) continued sponsoring sustainable development projects in Cotopaxi, in the northern highlands of Ecuador.  Contributions from Global Ministries, as well as resources from the provincial government and the community have joined forces in the construction, implementation and equipping of children´s centers, medical centers, sustainable development projects for women.  When the community repays the loan, FEDICE opens other possibilities for new communities to join into the solidarity system for their own projects.

Since the earthquake that devastated the Ecuadorian coast, FEDICE has been working with congregations in Sua.  They have helped the community organize including the provision of a refrigerator, 25 small plastic chairs, 50 large plastic chairs, 10 large tables, and 6 small tables that allowed the community to provide food during the crisis.   FEDICE worked on credits for micro-family projects for approximately 30 families providing for the creation of 27 small sustainable ventures that would reactivate the economy of this small village.

U.S. Mexico border

Southwest Good Samaritan Ministries (SWGSM) held their Board of Directors’ Meeting from April 20-23, 2016 in Los Fresnos, Texas.  It was established in 1985 with the specific purpose of providing assistance to refugees (primarily from Central America) seeking asylum in the United States.  SWGSM Executive Director, Rev. Feliberto Pereira reported the continuing work with refugees and migrants from Latin America.  SWGSM helped individuals and families with comfort, temporary shelter, transportation, and other needs, as they get resettled in the U.S. with relatives, friends, and/or churches.

Paraguay and Argentina

On August 13-22, 2016, a delegation travelled to Paraguay and Argentina.  In Paraguay, they were received by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Paraguay, the International School, Friendship Mission and the Churches’ Committee for Emergency Affairs.   In Argentina, they were received by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Argentina, the United Mission Board, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and the Argentinian Commission for Work with Refugees (CAREF).    The delegation also met with the indigenous communities in both sides of El Chaco to hear about the struggle for their land rights, sustainable development, health and well-being and the affirmation of their cultural identity.   A key meeting was with Mrs. Estela Carlotto, President of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, and a long-term advocate for the grandchildren who disappeared in the midst of the Argentinian dictatorship (1976-1983).

Mexico

The closing event of the first phase of the Mexican Woman-to-Woman Project 2013-2016 was held in September.   The Mexican Women to Women Project is sponsored by women from the three denominations that are part of the Joint Mission Table: the Confraternidad de Iglesias Cristianas Evangélicas (CICE), the Iglesia Cristiana (Discípulos de Cristo) in Mexico (ICDC) and the Junta General de Iglesias Cristianas Congregacionales de México (JGICCM).

Puerto Rico

Global Ministries supported the advocacy efforts of the Disciples of Christ and other churches in Puerto Rico related to the recent socioeconomic and humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico regarding its public debt.  On December 3rd, 2015, Global Ministries signed a letter calling for a resolution to the crisis that includes debt relief, investments in people, increased budget transparency, increased public participation in economic decision making, and halting austerity.

Colombia

The Christian Centre for Justice, Peace and Nonviolent Action (JUSTAPAZ) and the Colombia Council of Churches´ Peace and Justice Commission participated in efforts to give continuity to the peace process in Colombia despite the negative results of the referendum held in that country in October that prevented the Government from implementing the Peace Accords.  Organized as the Interchurch Dialogue for Peace (DiPaz), they attended a hearing at the Colombian Congress.  Jenny Neme, director of Justapaz, challenged the senators of Colombia to “show greatness or show smallness.  What has come to your hands is not a simple document with good proposals, regular or bad.  What you have in your hands to study and decide is nothing less than the future of Colombia, a choice to continue seeking peace in the midst of war or to build peace amid the differences. We are tired of violence. We do not want a cheap peace where more pride and arrogance can lead to desperate conditions that make democracy and coexistence in the country unviable.” As a result of this and other efforts, the Congress approved a fast-track process to implement the new Peace Accords as amended.

Brazil

Barbara de Souza is working on the final stages of her book related to her experiences and work in Brazil as a missionary.  She worked with the Associacao das Educadoras Comunitarias de Saude and the book will tell the stories of women who have worked with her on this exciting project of community health work.  The title of the book is “When Sleeping Women Awake, Mountains Will Move” and it will be edited by Chalice Press.

In Memoriam

Genoveva (“Beba”) Córdova Rodríguez – former DOM missionary serving in Paraguay (1979-1982) and loving wife of Reverend Luis F. Del Pilar, also a former missionary and General Pastor of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico (1993-1996) passed away on January 26th, 2016, after battling with different health conditions.

Flor María Piñeiro – Flor María and her husband, Juan Marcos Rivera, served with the United Christian Missionary Society, appointed to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Paraguay from 1959 until 1962.  She continued her missionary service with Juan Marcos in Venezuela until 1972, serving with the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela.  In both places, Flor specialized in education.  From there, they went on to Puerto Rico where she served as mission personnel from 1972-84.  In Puerto Rico she assisted the Latin America Council of Churches in its early years in document translation, writing, and correspondence.  Flor Maria passed away at the age of 94 on July 11, 2016.

Marshall “Frisco”Gilchrist – Frisco and his wife, Bertha G. Jacobs, lived and worked in Paraguay for 24 years. He founded and served in the Friendship Mission, a project sponsored by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Paraguay.  After years of improving the lives of many, in 1976 he was imprisoned by the dictator, Alfredo Stroessner, and had to return to the United States.   Frisco became Director of International Human Rights for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He retired in 1986 and was a member of Central Christian Church.  Frisco passed away on August 29, 2016. 

Michael Saenz – From 1954 until 1965, Michael and his wife Nancy served as missionaries of the United Christian Missionary Society (UCMS) in Puerto Rico where he provided training and guidance in stewardship and administration, leading to the construction of churches, schools, and parsonages of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico. He also served on the boards of the Puerto Rico Council of Churches and the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, and led in the construction of the ecumenical Centro Evangélico which now is the seat of the Puerto Rico Council of Churches.  Michael passed away on November 3, 2016.

Patrick Villier, 53, was the President and General Bishop of the National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti (CONASPEH) since its founding in 1986.  Rev. Villier was an all-around leader in Haiti.  He was a local pastor, an engineer and university professor. He taught physics, mathematics and Spanish.  He was also assigned by a Presidential committee to head up a literacy program, through local churches, for many of the poorest and disenfranchised.  As an International Partner on the Global Ministries´ Board (2004-2011), he brought a unique vision and presence.  Patrick passed away on December 15th, 2016.

MIDDLE EAST AND EUROPE OFFICE

Peter Makari, Area Executive

Introduction

At the end of 2015, the Middle East was in the news.  The battle for Aleppo reached a climax with the plight of the people remaining incurring great sympathy.  Days after the safe passage of Syrians from Aleppo was announced, a cease-fire agreement involving Russia, Turkey, and the Syrian regime and several opposition parties to end certain aspects of the war was reached.  In the midst of that, the UN Security Council approved a resolution defining Israeli settlement activity in occupied territories illegal, and Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a seventy-minute speech in which he assessed the then-current state of affairs in Israel/Palestine, offered warnings if trends persisted, and hope for a way to resolve the conflict.  Finally, in Istanbul, 39 people were killed and many others injured by a shooter at a nightclub—an incident for which Islamic State claimed responsibility.  In the midst of all of this, with support from Global Ministries, partners in the Middle East and Europe continue to offer life and hope, a critical presence in the midst of profound challenges that “all of God’s people and creation share in God’s abundant life,” in the words of the Global Ministries vision statement.

Middle East Initiative

Throughout the eighteen months beginning with the 2015 General Assembly and running through the end of 2016, Global Ministries actively promoted the Middle East Initiative to provide Disciples and United Church of Christ churches and members with opportunities to pray for, learn about, and engage the issues and partnerships in the region.  Over the course of the year and a half, 900 groups made use of the children’s curriculum; nearly 3,700 individuals participated in webinars with partners and mission personnel; over 17,000 advocacy messages were sent; and over 3,000 individuals and groups engaged with the 18 Bible studies written by Global Ministries’ partners.  Presented through geographical and thematic lenses,  each of the countries where the church nurtures partnership relationships was highlighted for a set period of time, and the themes of Christian Presence and Witness; Justice, Peacemaking, and Human Rights; Education; Health, Wholeness, and the Environment; and Diaspora and Exile: Refugees and Migrants were lifted up.  In 2016, a major Disciples and UCC leadership delegation visited Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel/Palestine to engage partners, to be in solidarity with them, and to learn about their vital ministries.  The visit included interfaith dialogue with Muslim leaders in Egypt and Lebanon, and people of the three Abrahamic faiths throughout the trip.  Another highlight of the Initiative in 2016 was the collaboration of Global Ministries and the Disciples Peace Fellowship to invite two young women nominated by the YWCA of Palestine to spend the summer as Missionaries in Residence as part of the DPF’s Summer Internship program.  Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh spent June through August in Disciples camps, at MissionWorks, and at the UCC-Disciples National Youth Event, sharing what it is like to grow up under Israeli occupation.  Their presence and witness had a strong impact and they characterized their time among the churches as some of the most meaningful moments in their lives.  One of two keynote speakers at MissionWorks, held in Indianapolis in August, was His Grace Bishop Munib Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.  His speech focused on the situation of Christians in Israel/Palestine, and the many ways that they, including the Lutheran Church, are engaged in peacemaking and justice-seeking efforts.  A powerful presence, Bishop Younan’s speech was well-received (available on the Global Ministries website).  Although the Initiative has concluded, all of the stories, webinars, Bible studies, youth curriculum, and other resources remain available on the website (www.globalministries.org/meinitiative).  It is especially significant that the whole church embraced the Initiative including Disciples Home Missions and the Council on Christian Unity.  Ron Degges and Paul Tche were active participants with Global Ministries colleagues throughout the implementation and promotion of the Initiative, demonstrating the unity of the church in purpose and effort.

Syria

A major focus in the past year has been on the Syria crisis.  In March 2017, the war will have passed the six-year mark.  It began peacefully, but quickly degenerated into a violent conflict that involved the Syrian regime, multiple Syrian opposition groups, has included several Islamic groups including Islamic State and Jibhat Fath ash-Sham, and expanded regionally and internationally.  It is a complex situation, but the human toll has been more than half a million Syrians killed and more than half the Syrian population displaced from their homes, either internally or as refugees in neighboring countries and beyond.  Global Ministries has worked hard to educate and to encourage advocacy through various means, all of which can be found on the “Syria Crisis and Our Churches’ Response” webpage (globalministries.org/syria_crisis).  Global Ministries took a lead in organizing, the Global Day for Action and Prayer for Syria, which was held on September 21, 2016, to coincide with the World Day for Peace, and held a follow-up webinar.  In addition, Global Ministries has produced statements, resources, and supported partners working in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Hungary, and Greece to offer humanitarian needs.  Global Ministries, in close collaboration with Week of Compassion, remains committed to responding to those needs and Disciples have been especially generous in responding to these efforts.

Israel/Palestine

In 2016, the Disciples were present at two major events related to the churches’ ecumenical engagement on Israel/Palestine.  The first was a major consultation held at the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA called, “Pursuing Peace and Strengthening Presence: The Atlanta Summit of Churches in the USA and the Holy Land.”  Held from April 19-20, the Summit brought together heads of churches from Jerusalem, representatives of churches from the Holy Land, and church leaders and staff from US churches and church-related organizations.  It was the first such meeting in many years, and perhaps unprecedented.  President Jimmy Carter addressed those gathered and engaged in discussion for a one-hour session, committing to give his energy to this issue, and commenting that this summit is perhaps the most important meeting that the Carter Center would host this year.  The statement from the Summit is available on the Global Ministries website.   A second event was a World Council of Churches and National Council of Churches joint consultation on Israel/Palestine that was held in the Washington, DC area from Sept. 19-21.  This meeting also brought together representatives from Israel/Palestine, including church representatives, ecumenical bodies, and human rights and advocacy organizations, with US church leaders and representatives of church-related councils and agencies.

As we continue to engage the world through prayer, education, solidarity and support, and advocacy, we must continue to seek ways through the church to look for and raise the perspectives of those most often forgotten or lost in the swirl of discourse, those whom our partners work directly with, those whose voices cry out.  The Syriac Orthodox evening prayer concludes this way:

O Lord, Listen to our prayers with mercy and answer them with compassion.
May God accept, and be pleased in our worship and prayers, and be gracious to us.
May it be so. Amen.

In Memoriam

Fay Mary Linder passed away March 4, 2016 at Pilgrim Place in Claremont, California.  She was hired in 1971 by the United Church Board for World Ministries (today Global Ministries) to teach and coach at Uskudar American Academy for Girls, where she taught until her retirement in 1992. Ms. Linder also worked at the Uskudar school at various times as registrar, college counselor, director of activities, boarding supervisor, and vice-principal.  Under Ms. Linder’s leadership the Uskudar school contributed to the start of a Special Olympics program in Turkey.  Ms. Linder also authored a history of Uskudar American Academy for Girls, supported by the Uskudar graduates association.

SOUTHERN ASIA OFFICE

Deenabandhu Manchala, Area Executive

Introduction

In January 2016, in the Indian city of Hyderabad, Rohit Vemula, a Ph.D. student in the Central University hanged himself, blaming his birth as a “fatal accident.”  Rohith belonged to the Dalit community which bears the brunt of discrimination and exclusion legitimized by India’s caste system. According to the National Human Rights Commission, a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes, every day three Dalit women are raped, two are murdered, and two houses burnt. Caste-based discrimination is the most shameful reality practiced in India, and also in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Women are the worst victims as they face the triple oppression on account of caste, patriarchy and poverty. Along with Dalits, there are also tribals (Indigenous Peoples), and religious and linguistic minorities who are constantly disempowered and marginalized by these cultures of domination and discrimination. The region is also gripped by the resurgence of rightwing religious forces, often incapacitating the state to protect these vulnerable communities. Social justice, therefore, remains an important missional challenge for the churches in the region.

Human Trafficking and Migration

Nayanti Sarkar, a 17 year old young woman of Betahar in South Dinajpur district of West Bengal, India went missing from her home on April 17, 2013.  Nayanti was lured by her aunt, a distant relative, to go shopping and the next day she found herself sold to a brothel. After a few days of search, staff of the Anti-Human Trafficking project of the Diocese of Durgapur of the Church of North India was able to locate and rescue her with the help of local police. A day later Nayanti identified the man involved who was then arrested and admitted that he had been marrying and supplying young women to the brothels in nearby cities. Nayanti, along with a dozen others like her, continues to receive the support and encouragement of the AHT team to rebuild her life. Trafficking of young girls and boys has become commonplace in many parts of the world; and especially in Southern Asia. Structurally embedded injustice, cultural legitimizations of inequalities and human suffering, the wide disparities between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, and the literate and the illiterate on the one hand, and the pathological obsession of many governments for economic growth, make many lives exposed to be abused and discarded as if they were mere things.

For decades, the region has been known for the rapid movement of its people within and across regions in search of livelihood. Most of them are forced to migrate. Extractive industries and injudicious mechanization of agriculture during the past two decades have been driving people out of their traditional homelands to search for employment and livelihood in already overcrowded cities. Hundreds and thousands of families and impoverished children living on pavements, under bridges and trees are a common sight in many Asian cities. These children are constantly exposed to traffickers.  In partnership with the Churches Witnessing with the Migrants, the Area Desk was involved in organizing the Fourth International Consultation in Dhaka, Bangladesh in December 2016. The objectives were to provide a space for the grassroots migrants to articulate their needs, concerns and advocacies, and to identify strategies and practical action for international, regional and national campaigns and to unify on themes and issues for common action and accompaniment. It also facilitated a one day special session on Responses to Human Trafficking. The Asia Pacific Forum will follow up on the recommendations of this event. We hope that this meeting will help us to strategize on collective actions that would make an impact in Asia as well as in North America.

India

The Student Christian Movement in India, a partner of the Global Ministries, has initiated a forum called “Christian Collective for Justice” with a view to bring together churches and Christian organizations to join the struggles for social justice. The Christian Collective for Justice hopes to expand further to enable the churches to recognize the moral and spiritual imperative of justice as well as to be an instrument that moves initiatives into concrete action.

Global Ministries is now in partnership with AHT Programme in the Diocese of Durgapur of Church of North India for three years (2016-2018). This project operates in the north and south Dinajpur districts of West Bengal that border with Bangladesh and the state of Bihar. It will focus on awareness education, livelihood support, health and hygiene, and use of information technology, besides offering training for other churches and dioceses. Supporting initiatives that prevent Human Trafficking, assisting victims, and advocating for effective deterrence are the major concerns of the Southern Asia desk. In addition to similar partnerships in India and Laos, we are exploring partnerships in Cambodia.

Sri Lanka/East Timor/Indonesia

In the upcountry tea estates in Sri Lanka, and in the remote parts of East Timor too, the Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM) and the Protestant Church in East Timor (IPTL) are involved in protecting and also providing opportunities for children who are exposed to child labor, traffickers or early marriages. In Sumba, in Indonesia, the Protestant Church of Sumba (GKS) with the Week of Compassion funds, is renewing its efforts on sustainable agriculture with a view to help small farmers to find livelihood without having to migrate or send their children away to other islands in search of livelihood.

The leaders of the Church of the American Ceylon Mission (CACM) in Sri Lanka were able to heal their divisions and elect a new panel of officers at their Bi-annual convention in June 2016. The new leadership has been very active not only in streamlining their administration but also in planning to develop their ministries and mission activities. They organized a grand celebration of the 200th anniversary of the American Ceylon Mission in Jaffna in October 2016.

The Protestant Church in East Timor (IPTL), a partner church of the GM, continues to be vulnerable on account of a number of reasons, the most important of which is that it is the only protestant church in a predominantly catholic country. IPTL is a small and frail church with challenging ministries.  The presence of Tom and Monica Liddle, mission personnel, should help in activating and strengthening their ministries and training pastors.

Laos

Efforts to train the leadership and staff of the Dongsavath Child and Youth Development Centre, Vientiane, Laos in organizational management, program development and financial accountability continue. Through this intervention, the staff team of Dongsavath are learning new skills and developing new plans to expand, grow and become effective in addressing issues of child protection in Laos and the Mekong region.

 

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 a ministry which attempts 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.  Other important aspects of this ministry include 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, missionaries 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 112 missionaries served in 44 countries in 2016, which included 34 fully-supported missionaries, 15 global mission interns, 23 long-term volunteers, and 40 associates.  In addition, 21 individuals served as short-term volunteers.

Nineteen persons were appointed to church and/or church-related institutions around the world, including 5 re-appointees.  Terms varied from fully-supported to long-term volunteer staff.   This distribution by area of total appointments was Africa 4; East Asia and the Pacific 1; Europe 0; Latin America and the Caribbean 5; Middle East 4; Southern Asia 5.

Six new fully-supported missionaries were appointed in 2016:  Maria and Laurence (Nishan) Bakalian, Lebanon; Bosela Eale, Kenya; and, Ricardo Mayol, Guatemala. Two of these fully supported missionaries were appointed through the personalized funding model:  Monica and Tom Liddle, East Timor.

Five new global mission interns were supported by Week of Compassion funds.  They are:  Cara McKinney, Ecuador; William O’Brien, Egypt; Stewart Barker, Swaziland; Toni Reynolds, Dominican Republic; and, Nia Sullivan, South Africa.  Three new long-term volunteers (one year and longer) were appointed in 2016:  Leah Dewey, Thailand; Bethany Waggoner, Lebanon; and Brigitte Eale, Kenya.

There were 21 short-term volunteers (two weeks to eleven months) appointed in 2016 who served in or will serve in 2017.  A 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 2016:  Ann Rogers-Brigham, Thailand.

Three individuals completed their service with the Common Global Ministries Board in the category of regular appointees:  Gloria Vicente, Guatemala; and Timothy and Diane Fonderlin, Haiti retired after nineteen years of service.

Eight Global Mission Interns completed their service in 2016:  Nathaniel (Nate) Bailey, Palestine; Henry Brewer-Calvert, Dominican Republic; Bethany Guy, Guadeloupe and Martinique; Lauren Kabat, Chile; Tyler Reeve, Morocco; Sarah Williams, India; Ariel Royer, Lebanon; and Bethany Waggoner, Chile.

Five individuals completed their service as Long-term Volunteers in 2016:  Glenn Herbert, Ecuador; Benjamin Lyvers, India; Santos Par-Vasquez, Guatemala; Sharla Russell, Congo; and Andrew Shearer-Cooper, Lesotho.

Missionary Relationships

From January 1 – December 31, 2016, ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­21 missionaries were involved in a ministry of critical presence through missionary visits and relationship building:   Ariel Royer, Lebanon, (3 months), Lauren Kabat, Chile (3 months), Nate Bailey, Palestine (1 month), Gloria Vicente, Guatemala (1 month), Santos Par Vasquez, Guatemala (1 month), Elena Huegel, Chile, (4 months), Anne Gregory, Thailand, (4 days), Bethany Waggoner, Ecuador, (2 months), Tim Fonderlin, Haiti, (3 months), Diane Fonderlin, Haiti, (3 months), Bethany Guy, Guadeloupe & Martinique, (1 month), Jim Wilson, South Africa, (3 months), Jayanthi Wilson, South Africa, (3 months), Henry Brewer-Calvert, Dominican Republic (2 months), Anil Henry, India, (2 months), and Teresa Henry, India, (2 months) and Kristin Wolf, Thailand (2 days). Additional interpretation was done by long-term volunteers Linda James, Congo, (4 days); Nancy Lott-Henry (2 days); Andrew Shearer Cooper (2 months); and Jeff Wright (6 days).  Throughout the year we had 28 current and former missionaries participate in twenty annual meetings and eight regional assemblies.

Global Ministries hosted four Missionaries in Residence. Nehemias Ayala, Honduras (3 months). Marta Bernadini, Italy (4 months). Two as a part of the Middle East Initiative: Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh, both from Palestine. In collaboration with Disciples Peace Fellowship, Rachel and Minerva each attended 7 different camps. They also attended a Mid-Summer Retreat in Indianapolis, NYE, one month of itineration and MissionWorks.

Three Global Mission Interns attended the National Youth Experience in Orlando, FL July 26 – 30, 2016: Tyler Reeve (Morocco), Bethany Waggoner (Ecuador), and Beth Guy (Guadeloupe & Martinique). Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh, Missionaries in Residence (Palestine) also attended.

Five missionaries participated in the Mid-West Mission Event in MO: Judy Chan (Hong Kong), Tyler Reeve (Morocco), Beth Guy (Guadeloupe & Martinique), Tim Fonderlin (Haiti), and Diane Fonderlin (Haiti). Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh, Missionaries in Residence (Palestine) also participated.

Nine missionaries participated in the 2016 MissionWorks! event in Indianapolis. They were Judy Chan (Hong Kong), Tyler Reeve (Morocco), Tim Fonderlin (Haiti), Diane Fonderlin (Haiti), Elena Huegel (Chile), Jim Wilson (South Africa), Jayanthi Wilson (South Africa), Paul Turner (Congo), and Beth Guy (Guadeloupe & Martinique). Rachel Shomali and Minerva Halteh, Missionaries in Residence (Palestine) also attended.

From January 1 – December 31, 2016, 34 UCC Conferences and 24 Disciples Regions received visits.  (Three point sixty three Conferences/Regions were visited per missionary unit.)  Of those visits, 122 were to UCC Congregations and 133 were to Disciples Congregations.  (Sixteen congregations were visited per missionary unit.)  There were a total of 497 missionary presentations made.  (31 presentations were given per missionary unit with an average of 15 presentations per month of interpretation.)

People-to-People Pilgrimages

The People-to-People Pilgrimage Program assists Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ congregations, regions and conferences with mission pilgrimages to meet and walk in solidarity with our international partners, share their joys, understand their challenges, and experience their unique connection to our wider church. In 2016, the People-to-People office assisted with inquiries, provided educational materials and supported delegations, resulting in 63 mission pilgrimages. The numbers of pilgrimages per area were: 5 to Africa, 6 to the Middle East and Europe, 7 to Southern Asia, 1 to East Asia and the Pacific, and 44 to Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition, in 2016 this office has created a new People-to-People advocacy resource, “Now You are Home: What Next?” intended to guide delegations as to how to remain engaged after their pilgrimage. This resource can be ordered through the Global Ministries website.

GLOBAL ADVOCACY AND EDUCATION

Derek Duncan, Program Associate

“Building Bridges” across Denominational Advocacy Work

At the April 2016 Extended Staff Meeting it was decided that Global Ministries would identify four global issues as priorities for its collective advocacy work: Human Trafficking, Refugees and Migration, Climate Change, and Interfaith Relations. To prepare for developing strategic work on these issues, Global Ministries invited to its September 2016 Extended Staff Meeting select colleagues from other ministries in the Disciples and UCC to seek common goals and identify opportunities for collaboration. Called Building Bridges, the consultation was an opportunity to learn more about our respective program work on global issues, to better understand and define the scope and contours of our work on those global issues, and to explore together how to communicate and collaborate better in our work generally, and on the four priority issues specifically.

The Global Advocacy and Education program provides leadership in implementing the Global Ministries strategic direction “Working for Peace with Justice.”  The advocacy program also 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 supporting 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.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice

The 2016 Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference, held April 15-18, was titled “Lift Every Voice! – Racism, Class & Power.” The 2017 Ecumenical Advocacy Days, entitled “Confronting Chaos, Forging Community: Challenging Racism, Materialism and Militarism,” will be held April 21-24, 2017 and will mark the 50th Anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King’s “Beloved Community” address.

Africa

In coordination with the Africa Office and in support of Congolese partners, the advocacy associate maintained a focus in 2016 on the urgency to hold free and fair presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. President Joseph Kabila’s efforts to delay and then cancel elections scheduled for November 2016 incited demonstrations and incidents of violence throughout the year. Congo Week in 2016 was focused on the U.S. administration maintaining engagement with the DRC and regional players to support the DRC Constitution and democratic process, alongside guaranteeing civil and human rights. At the end of this year there were hopeful signs that an agreement had been reached for President Kabila to leave office and recognize the results of elections now scheduled for late this year.

East Asia and the Pacific

Working with the East Asia and the Pacific Office, the advocacy focus was the implementation of the 2015 Disciples resolution “A Call for Peace, Justice and Reunification in the Korean Peninsula.” In 2016 attention focused on preparing background and advocacy materials focusing on peace and reunification in the peninsula, and supporting a delegation of our Korean partners who toured the US to gather signatures for the Campaign to sign a Korean Peace Treaty in July 2016, on the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice in 1953. Peace and human rights in the Philippines is also priority for Global Ministries’ advocacy. As co-chair of the Philippines Working Group of the Asia-Pacific Forum, the associate hosted a delegation of Lumad survivors of violence in Mindanao for Ecumenical Advocacy Days in April 2016.

Latin American and the Caribbean

There were notable achievements in long-time advocacy efforts in three areas in Latin America and the Caribbean. First, throughout 2016 partners in Puerto Rico engaged Global Ministries in advocacy with the U.S. government to strengthen the U.S. territory’s legal rights to restructure tremendous debt that restricted government and social services and placed the public welfare at risk which resulted in the U.S. Congress in September passing legislation providing for a mechanism for debt relief for Puerto Rico. While the plan includes an undesirable Control Board that undermines Puerto Rico’s self-governance, it nonetheless provides some means to support the island’s economy. In Colombia, the churches played a key role in engaging in a peace process to end the fighting between the U.S.-backed Colombian forces and various popular resistance groups. A historic agreement was signed on September 26, and while not initially ratified by the Colombian people in October 2, the treaty provides the framework for a sustainable peace likely to be approved in the near future. Finally, through years of cold war-era isolation by the U.S., Global Ministries supported efforts to end U.S. sanctions against Cuba and promote rapprochement between the two countries. While increasing religious exchanges with Cuba, Global Ministries will continue to advocate for the U.S. Congress to fully lift the embargo on Cuba.

Middle East and Europe

In Middle East and Europe the advocacy focus was on peace, human rights and demilitarization throughout the region. As the Global Ministries Middle East Initiative entered its second and final year in 2016, advocacy focused on political and material support for Syrian refugees, recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and promotion of the Kairos campaign and facilitation of denominational relations with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel. Global Ministries was part of a core group that planned resources and activities to mark an event called the Global Day of Action and Prayer for Syria which focused on promoting peacemaking alternatives to end the war in Syria and encouraging greater U.S. support for Syrian Refugees. An interfaith Prayer Service was held in New York City on September 21, which is the International Day of Peace. The materials were hosted on the Global Ministries website and included five study resources: Shifting to a Just Peace Approach, Nonviolent Resistance in Syria, Unarmed Civilian Protection in Syria, Syria’s Acute and Intergenerational Trauma, and Islamophobia, the United States.

Southern Asia

A focus of advocacy in Southern Asia concerns social, economic or political rights of marginalized groups in the region, including the Dalits or so-called ‘untouchables, indigenous and tribal groups, religious and ethnic minorities, and migrants. For the April 2016 Advocacy Days conference, Global Ministries hosted a workshop. From December 4-14, 2016 Global Ministries staff participated in a conference on Migration and Human Trafficking and made partner visits in Bangladesh and India.

MISSION ENGAGEMENT
Tom Morse, Executive, Division of Overseas Ministries
Marcy Dory, Executive, Wider Church Ministries

Middle East Initiative

The Middle East Initiative concluded in December 2016. The office of Mission Engagement carefully tracked participation throughout the initiative revealing broad use of the materials throughout the life of the church. The Children’s Advent and Vacation Bible School curricula were downloaded by over 1,000 individuals; the 18 Bible Studies created by Global Ministries partners were viewed over 3,000 times along with nearly 30,000 page views for the other resources of the Initiative; and the 21 webinars featuring partners and former mission personnel attracted 1,300 viewers for the live events as well as 2,400 views of the archived events. These resources were heavily promoted in Global Ministries’ communications as well as in other denominational channels. The office of Mission Engagement was encouraged in the significant growth of congregational participation compared to the previous Global Ministries Initiative.

¡Missionworks!

Global Ministries hosted ¡Missionworks! at the Marten House in Indianapolis, Indiana August 26-28, 2016. 123 individuals attended the event along with 24 regional ministers and moderators. The event featured two international partners – Bishop Munib Younan of the Evangelical Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and Rev. Dr. Johnson Mbillah of the Programme for Christian Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA). Global Ministries was pleased to introduce participants to the critical work of partners, mission personnel, and home-based staff.

Global Ministries Book

Restoring Dignity, Nourishing Hope: Developing Mutuality in Mission was released by Pilgrim Press mid-2016. The chapters relate to Global Ministries’ five core values, and feature contributions from international partners, home-based staff, mission personnel, and individuals who have participated in Global Ministries’ programs. The book has been very well received by regions and congregations, contributing to a broader understanding of Global Ministries’ unique lens of how the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) participates in God’s mission in the world. The first printing sold out in November, and a second printing was released by the end of November.

National Youth Event

The National Youth Event was held in Orlando, Florida July 26-30, 2016. The event was well attended, with thousands of youth from the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Global Ministries had a strong presence at the event through workshops, after hours events, exhibits, special guests, and mission personnel. Global Ministries’ booth focused on the Syrian Refugee Crisis and was effective in encouraging youth to think deeply about the individuals being affected by the ongoing war.

Be a Global Mission Church

The Be a Global Mission Church program continues to grow and the office of Mission Engagement has taken steps to improve the program for participating congregations. This includes the launch of a new monthly newsletter that highlights resources and opportunities for mission committees and a revised Be a Global Mission Church handbook. Efforts have also been made to reach out to perspective congregations and the webpages related to the program were revised to invite additional participation in the program.

GLOBAL MINISTRIES CHILD AND ELDER SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM

Linda Lawrence, Program Manager

The Global Ministries Child and Elder Sponsorship Program works with partners to assist with providing the basic needs and education of impoverished children and destitute elders in their own communities and cultures.  Sponsorship funds supplement partners funding to operate and provide services to their children and elder constituents and programs.  The sponsorship program is a way for Disciples and UCC local churches and church members to provide direct assistance to children and elders.  Sponsored elders are given the opportunity to live out their lives in dignity in an environment where they feel loved and cared for. Children are given an opportunity to receive basic healthcare, meals and to attend school as well as opportunities to participate in programs that will provide them skills to succeed in achieving a better life and an inspiration to achieve more in life.  Donors and program directors over the years have praised the Global Ministries Sponsorship Program as one that serves God’s children when in need. Others state they are thankful to all the sponsors who made things possible for them and they are happy and feel blessed by the partnerships.

The program continues to grow in the number of sponsorships and contributions.  New patterns have emerged to support and sustain the children and elders in the program by faithful constituents.  Sponsorship funds are not always sufficient to fully sustain a program’s operation and in some cases, individual sponsors have gone beyond their sponsorships by supporting mission endeavors of our partner agencies.  The Child Sponsorship Program in cooperation with the Resource Development staff raised more than $40,000 for a new building in a new location for the Dumaguete Kalauman Center for Development in the Philippines.  Kalauman needed to relocate because Silliman University was expanding and needed the space Kalauman occupied.  Along with the Middle East office, unrestricted donations were collected for Rawdat El Zuhur in East Jerusalem during the year.  The contributions were in addition to collected funds to support sponsored children.  We have been asked to participate in a fund raising program for the Family Village Farm in India in 2017.

The Global Ministries Child and Elder Sponsorship program is committed to providing quality service and personal attention to the children, elders and sponsors in this ministry.  Both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ affirm the unity to which we are called to do as part of the whole body of Christ, sharing in God’s one world for everyone.

The following are recognized ministry partners of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) through the Division of Overseas Ministries:

RAMBO COMMITTEE
Steve Minson, President
Rambo Committee, Inc.
1648 River Ridge
Williamsburg, VA  23185-7546

The Rambo Committee, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation that has as its sole purpose the support of the work of Christian Hospital Mungeli, India, including its School of Nursing, the Rambo Memorial English Medium School, and the Springer Community College.  During 2016, this support focused on three areas: seeking additional funds for capital construction to assist the Hospital deliver critically-needed services to the people of Mungeli, administering existing financial awards from United States Agency for International Development, and facilitating the travel to Mungeli of persons interested in its witness.

We are delighted to report significant success in raising funds. In October 2016, the Rambo Committee received preliminary notice of a $600,000 award from the American Schools and Hospitals Abroad program (ASHA) of the United States Agency for International Development.  This sum, together with $49,000, from the Rambo Committee, will be used to construct a new dormitory to house 217 nursing students and graduate staff nurses, thereby expanding critically-needed staff and student housing on campus.

Also, over the past year, we have overseen the administration of two prior ASHA awards. In 2014, ASHA awarded the Rambo Committee $600,000 to purchase essential healthcare equipment for Christian Hospital Mungeli, especially for its maternity ward and NICU, and for the construction of a mobile health clinic.  The custom-built mobile health clinic is now complete and bringing critical heath care to people remote villages around Mungeli.  Also, last year, we received a $720,00 ASHA award that, with the Rambo Committee’s $64,000 cost share, is funding construction of a new maternal and child health wing. This new wing will consist of one neo-natal intensive care unit with 25 beds, one maternal ward with 45 beds, two labor rooms that can hold up to six women each, three intensive care units, and six operating rooms, and one classroom for post-delivery education for mothers.  Construction of the new hospital wing is now in progress.

Also, during 2016, through the efforts of the Rambo Committee’s Executive Director, Landa Simmons, more than four dozen people visited Mungeli, each bringing unique talents and perspectives.  Visitors to Mungeli in 2016 included five students from Denison University; one fourth-year medical student from Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; one graduate of the Harris School of Nursing at Texas Christian University; three students from Butler University; and five students from Eureka University.

 

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. A team from DARF traveled in 2010 to the DRC to conduct a seminar for church leaders on the process of installing the stations. During his 2016 visit to the United States, DARF leadership met with the Reverend Iliki Bonanga, President and Legal Representative of the Disciples Community of the Church of Christ in Congo (CDCC). The CDCC is requesting 10 additional HF stations for the 10 new Supervisory Posts that are being established as part of their evangelistic goal of having one million members by the end of the decade. DARF is exploring ways to enable those additional stations.

Over the years, equipment has been provided in Paraguay, the Philippines, Lesotho, DRC, and Guatemala.

DARF has regular daily and weekly communications among its membership using networks on the 20 and 75 meter Amateur radio bands and using Skype.

John Park Winkler, Jr, (W5JPW) President
7201 Astoria Ct, Watauga, TX 76148
(660)464-271

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
1550 Fernwood Dr
Hallsville, MD 65255
(573) 696-3715

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The General Board has reviewed GA-1710 from Division of Overseas Ministries/Global Ministries. The report is submitted to the General Assembly for presentation and discussion. No action is required. (Discussion time: 12 minutes)