GA-1935

EMERGENCY RESOLUTION

GA-1935

Sense-of-the-Assembly

CONCERNING STEEP REDUCTIONS IN OVERALL REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT ARRIVALS TO THE UNITED STATES

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WHEREAS, we are called by our sacred scriptures to love our neighbor, accompany the vulnerable, and welcome the sojourner, remembering the words of Jesus that “inasmuch as you did unto one of the least of these…, you did it unto Me” (Matthew 25:40); and

WHEREAS, a refugee is defined as someone outside of his or her country who is unable or unwilling to return to that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group[1]; and

WHEREAS, the number of refugees worldwide has hit an unprecedented high of 70.8 million people as of the January 2019 United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) report, an increase of nearly 2 million from the previous report[2]; and

WHEREAS, while the number of refugees allowed into the United States (U.S.) currently is at an unprecedented low of 30,000, down from an annual average of 95,000 through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program since its inception in 1980[3]; and

WHEREAS, low resettlement ceilings are dismantling the refugee resettlement infrastructure created by our historical ecumenical partners, including Church World Service[4]; and

WHEREAS, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has engaged in refugee resettlement for over 75 years, resettling tens of thousands of refugees in the U.S. and Canada[5]; and

WHEREAS, a diversity of Christian communions across traditions support the ministry of resettlement; and

WHEREAS, refugee resettlement plays a critical role in U.S. diplomacy and foreign policy, and demonstrates commitment to U.S. global allies that already host the largest number of refugees; and

WHEREAS, officials within the current U.S. Administration will soon recommend a refugee resettlement ceiling for Fiscal Year 2020[6]; and

WHEREAS, as of July 2, 2019, 8,818 refugees have been approved for travel to the U.S. and an additional 29,362 have passed required Department of Homeland Security (DHS) interviews, and may face danger if they are not allowed to enter the U.S. for resettlement;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, meeting in Des Moines, Iowa on July 20-24, 2019, calls on members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to urge their congregations to engage in refugee resettlement among those who are arriving to their area; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2019 General Assembly calls on members and congregations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to share their faith values of hospitality for refugees, in both private and public statements, through all forms of media, to deepen awareness of vastly reduced refugee resettlement numbers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that organizations such as Refugee & Immigration Ministries of Disciples Home Missions, Week of Compassion, and other ministries, provide communications and information to congregations to encourage their support for heightened U.S. refugee resettlement numbers; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) make a formal public statement denouncing cuts to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and work with ecumenical partners to support a return to at least the historic U.S. average of 95,000 refugees resettled annually; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are encouraged to contact the Office of the U.S. President and their legislators to reaffirm the long commitment of Disciples to refugee resettlement and urge the administration to protect the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement Program and restore the resettlement ceiling to at least the U.S. historic average.[7]

Rev. Dr Ike Nicholson, Senior Minister, South Suburban Christian Church, Littleton, CO
Rev. Jackie Twedell, Senior Minister, Bethany Christian Church, Richmond, VA
Rev. Virzola Law, Senior Minister, Northway Christian Church, Dallas, TX
Rev. Jake Caldwell, Senior Minister, FCC Hagerstown, MD
Rev. Rebekah Krevens, Foothills Christian Church, Glendale, Az
Rev. Jason Grow, Senior Minister, Bondurant Christian Church, Bondurant, IA
Kandice Williams, First Christian Church, Danville KY
Rev. Jeff Gill, Senior Minister, Central Christian Church, Newark OH
Rev. Megan Huston, Senior Minister, First Christian Church Bowling Green, KY
Rev. Evan M. Dolive, First Christian Church (DOC), Longview, TX
Rev. Caleb Lines, University Christian Church, Senior Minister, San Diego, CA
Rev. Steve Sherman, Senior Minister, First Christian Church Oak Ridge, TN
Milca Rivera, Co-Pastor, Iglesia Cristiana de Deltona, Deltona, FL

 

[1] https://www.unrefugees.org/refugee-facts/what-is-a-refugee/
[2] UNHCR 2018 Report, January 2019  https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/5d08d7ee7.pdf  UNHCR 2017 Report, January 2018  https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/5b27be547.pdf
[3] https://cwsglobal.org/cws-denounces-trump-administrations-unwillingness-to-meet-its-refugee-resettlement-goal/
[4] https://cwsglobal.org/cws-responds-with-outrage-to-reports-that-administration-officials-have-proposed-ending-refugee-resettlement/ and page 20 of Refugee Council USA Report http://www.rcusa.org/report
[5] Previous General Assembly Resolutions: GA7127; GA7574; GA7945; GA7951; GA8330; GA8549; GA8775; GA9138; GA9720
[6] https://www.archivesfoundation.org/documents/refugee-act-1980/
[7]https://greateras1.org/time-is-now-save-the-life-saving-refugee-resettlement-program/?utm_source=cwsglobal&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=alert190718

GA-1908

GA-1908

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

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

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

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

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

Becoming a Pro-Reconciling/Anti-Racist Church

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

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

The Formation of 1,000 New Congregations by 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The objectives of LIT are to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel – Tana Liu Beers

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

 Numbers for April – September 2018

New cases opened: 52      Total open cases: 63

Regions served: 19

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

Countries of origin of clients: 23

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

The “Invisible Wall”

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

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

Consultations

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

Travel

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

Community Education

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

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

Disciples Volunteering

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

Sending Teams in Mission

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

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

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

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

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

Shaping Servant Leaders

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

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

Supporting Local Missions

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

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

Josh Baird, Director, Disciples Volunteering

Disciples Refugee & Immigration Ministries

 Responding with Hope Amid Threats & Challenges

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

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

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

Immigrant and Asylee Restrictions and Growing Enforcement

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

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

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

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

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

Rule Changes That Need Our Help for Children and Families

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

Disciples Border Evaluations & Actions

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

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

Partnership Building/Resources:

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

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

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

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

A few bright spots on the horizon are:

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

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

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

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

 

MINISTER TO AGENCIES SERVING YOUTH MINISTRIES

REV. SCOTT THAYER

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

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

WORLD SCOUT JAMBOREE 24

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

GIRL SCOUTS IN THE U.S.

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

SCOUTS FOR EQUALITY

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

GOALS AND DIRECTION FOR THE FUTURE

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

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

 

Office of Chaplaincy and Specialized Ministry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully submitted,

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

 

Christian Vocations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senior Regional Ministry Staff positions continue to turnover, and we have done a good job of facilitating regional search committees seeking candidate profiles, as well as clergy seeking to be considered for such.  In this process, we continue to help new regional leaders build technical and ecclesiastical capacity in areas of ministry data and clergy records, Search And Call, and policies that bind our mutual ministries in areas for the support of local clergy.

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

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

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

-Warren Lynn

 

The Disciples Center for Public Witness
Rev. Dr. Ken Brooker Langston
Executive Director

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel

Tana Liu-Beers

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

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

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

Peace,

Numbers for the Past 6 Months

New cases opened: 52

Total open cases: 63

Regions served: 19

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

Countries of origin of clients: 23

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

The “Invisible Wall”

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

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

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

Consultations

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

Travel

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

Community Education

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully,

Patricia A. Donahoo

Executive Director, Disciples Women

 

Disciples Volunteering

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

Sending Teams in Mission

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

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

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

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

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

Shaping Servant Leaders 

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

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

Supporting Local Missions

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

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

Josh Baird
Director, Disciples Volunteering

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gracefully submitted,

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

 

Family and Children’s Ministry

Olivia Updegrove

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

Highlights:

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

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

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

 

GENERAL YOUTH COUNCIL

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

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

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

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

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

Respectfully submitted,

Rev. Trayce Stewart

Green Chalice 2018

Carol Devine

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

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

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

Administrative Work Summary

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

9 – Certified Green Chalice Congregations

  • Green Chalice Regional Teams in KY, OH, IN, and OR/ID, Pacific Southwest Region
  • Green Chalice Covenant – Individuals, creation care teams and congregations continue to sign.
  • Aqua-Marine Certified Chalice Congregation – Pacific Grove Christian Church has the Blue Theology Mission Station and earned the first Aqua-Marine Chalice.
  • Community Gardens –updates to the map with Disciple’s community gardens regularly.
  • Numerous phone calls, emails, meetings and workshops about creation care every month.
  • Website – updates every few months
  • Social Media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – new posts, almost daily.
  • Numerous Writings including: Disciples Advocate, E-publication articles, Patheos Blog
  • Eco-Challenge– Green Chalice is using the North West Institute to help support more participation in climate solutions and action. The 21-day challenge begins Oct. 3.
  • Climate Data and denominational Leaders:C. is exploring opportunities for DOC financial and property influencers to work with Climate Scientists for adaptation and mitigation behavior. Leadership would include insurance boards, pension funds, church loan officers, new church start ministers, and disaster relief leaders. Preparing a faith/spirituality track of the Climate City Expo offered in April 2019.   

Partnerships

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

Blessed Tomorrow

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

General Assembly 2019

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

CCK Regional Assembly 2018

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

 

Justice and Advocacy for Families and Children

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

In addition I have participated in:

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

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

——————————————————-

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

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

 

Leadership Initiative Team (LIT)

Lonnie Graves, Ministry Liaison

Greetings in the matchless name of Jesus Christ,

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

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

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

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

The objectives of LIT are to:

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

The opening and current team are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faithfully submitted,

Lonnie Graves

 

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

Sharon Stanley-Rea

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

Recent highlights include:

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

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

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

Immigrant and Asylee Restrictions and Growing Enforcement

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

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

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

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

 

Yakama Christian Mission

Report of Activities

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

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Reservation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Off Reservation / United States and Canada

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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-1906

GA-1906

COUNCIL ON CHRISTIAN UNITY

Rev. Paul S. Tché, President

Download PDF

 

8I will listen to what God the Lord says;
he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—
but let them not turn to folly.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Love and faithfulness meet together;
righteousness and peace kiss each other. (Psalm 85:8-10, NRSV)

 

Reflection on Today’s Ecumenical and Multifaith Landscape

Early in November, I was invited to be a panel member for the workshop “At the Intersection of Ecumenical and Inter-Religious Relations,” along with my colleagues from the United States and Canada at the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto, Canada. Amidst the rapid social and cultural changes in this global religious landscape, Christian communions, churches, denominations, and councils of churches are increasingly exploring what it means to be a Christian, and, more important, what it means to seek Christian unity in this multifaith world. It seems to me that surely, considering today’s religious landscape, it is time for us to take this question seriously!

For almost ten years, I served in Kentucky at various local churches, big and small, urban and small-town. While I was serving as a solo pastor at a historic church in a small town in Kentucky, I had about ten new members who joined my congregation, and interestingly, none of them were from the faith tradition called the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Not a single person! What did my new members look for when they consider joining the church? Simply put, it was who the church members were as a collective body and what they were becoming as a group of Christians.

To live in this post-denominational era, however, does not mean that we need no longer seek Christian unity. Rather, we must sit down together as one body of Christ; then, we must ask what it means to engage, as Christians, with our neighbors of different faiths and how we will work together for the world that God so loves.

The most distinctive feature of Christianity is, in my understanding, its mandate to care for the marginalized and to value every person as we value ourselves: that is, to treat others as humans Created in the image of God. I do not believe that such a minority group as Christians in the early first century would see only those who joined this new faith movement as God’s children. No matter who they encountered, they simply treated one another as if they had seen God in them. Everyone was equally a divine being in the eyes of these newly converted religious “zealots” in the Roman Empire.

Those who were treated as God’s children for the first time in their lives probably wanted to know why these followers of the guy named Jesus—a very common name in Judea at that time—valued and cared for them in such a way that was suspicious and strange. When disciples of Jesus explained how they had been treated by other Christians and how transformative these encounters and new relationships were, people also wanted to join this “Jesus movement.”

Christianity is all about relationship: relationship with God, relationship with neighbors, relationship with power and with oppressors, and relationship with the marginalized and the oppressed. Likewise, the ecumenical movement is all about relationship: relationship among churches, communions, denominations, institutions, parachurch organizations, and Christian movements, and now, most important, relationship with people of other faith traditions.

I believe that our multifaith engagements are all about relationship. The more we meet with our interfaith neighbors, the better we understand each other. The more we understand each other in deep relationships, the more we will speak of each other with high regard. The world will then be transformed, I am certain. Isn’t this what Jesus envisioned as he prayed for the unity of his followers in chapter 17 of the Gospel according to John?

We should not listen to what people in the world—including, of course, many Christians—say about one another. If Christians do not see God in every human being in this world, regardless of their religious or life convictions, God’s glory would not dwell in our land.

When I was given a moment for my last comments at the workshop of the Parliament of the World’s Religion, I finally had to say who I think I am as an ecumenist. I regard myself an “ecumenical Don Quixote.” My biggest challenge now is that I do not have Sancho Panza at my side while charging windmills. I do not know whether I am fighting what I am supposed to fight. No one has told me how I, once again as an ecumenist, could participate in the good fight for the right causes in this rapidly changing religious landscape.

I do not believe that I am alone in this sentiment. As a matter of fact, we, as an ecumenical movement, do not know whether we are fighting for what we are supposed to fight for. Now, God is calling us to listen to a wise Sancho, and I believe that we’d better listen to him well. Who is our “Sancho”? Our interfaith friends!

Now, let me share some highlights of the ministry of the CCU—Christian Unity and Multifaith Relations.

 

Multifaith Endeavors

Last summer, the CCU published a curriculum for a group study, Disciples of Christ in a Multifaith World. In the lesson plan for the first session, Rev. Daniel E. H. Bryant, pastor of First Christian Church, Eugene, Oregon, describes the purpose of this study guide:

This study is not a study of world religions; rather, our goal is to understand why we, in the tradition we call the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), should engage in interfaith relations, how those relations intersect with our Christian witness, and what gifts we as Disciples have to bring to such relationships (page 4).

When we engage in any multifaith activity, we do so as “disciples.” But who do we say we are as a collective body? This study guide will help our congregations reflect on our tradition and the gifts we can offer to other multifaith neighbors as one of our countless Christian traditions.

This study guide was published thanks to the generous support of the Oregon E. Scott Foundation. You can download this study guide with other resources on our ministry website: https://councilonchristianunity.org/

Currently, the CCU is planning another study series in the coming years. The purpose of the next study guide will be to listen to voices from a multifaith world. Basically, we will invite people of other faiths and ask them why they believe it is important to have a relationship with other people of faith. For example, why do Muslims in an Islam-dominant country think it is important to establish and maintain a relationship with and protect their Christian friends who are a minority? In the same way, we will listen to Christians in the land of Islam, Hindu, or Buddhism. We will try to understand the religious and cultural contexts in which a religious minority is living under a dominant religious hegemony. Also, if we go to Latin America, especially, a dominantly Catholic country, we had better listen to Catholics tell us why they value relationships with Protestants and how Protestants feel and live in a Catholic culture.

I am thrilled that the CCU makes this study guide more accessible using new media, such as video clips and multimedia tools, along with a hard-copy study guide. Please note that you can make this project possible by praying or providing intellectual gifts or financial support.

The CCU has also been engaged in various interreligious conversations through the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCUSA): Jewish–Christian Conversations, Christian–Buddhists Dialogue, Christian–Hindu Dialogue, and Muslim–Christian Dialogue.

I personally continue to work closely in various areas with Rev. Dr. Peniel Jesudason Rufus Rajkumar, Program Executive of the Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches (WCC).

 Central Committee Meeting and 70th Anniversary of the World Council of Churches

The Central Committee of the WCC met in Geneva, Switzerland, in June 2018. One highlight of the meeting was Pope Francis’ visit to the WCC to celebrate this historic ecumenical institution and to urge us to go further as one body of Christ for the sake of Christ and the world. Also, the Ecumenical Patriarch, His All Holiness Bartholomew I, delivered a sermon to the Central Committee members congratulating us on this historical milepost. In 2018, the WCC, with its member communions and partners, offered various opportunities to celebrate the birth of ecumenism and to focus on “envisioning our common future: united in faith, eager for witness, and fearless in the quest for justice and peace” (WCC Brochure, 70 Years of the World Council of Churches: Walking Together, Serving Justice and Peace). You can learn more about this celebration at www.oikoumene.org/wcc70.

One important agenda item for this Central Committee meeting was the location for the 11th General Assembly of the WCC, and Karlsruhe, Germany, was chosen for the 2021 General Assembly. In 2020, the WCC will welcome a new General Secretary as Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit exits.

For me, personally, the highlight of the Central Committee meeting was to sing a hymn and a traditional Korean folksong with the delegates of the Korean Christian Federation of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea. Impressively, the four-person delegation included two young female leaders of North Korean churches for the first time since they have been engaged in this ecumenical movement.

In the declination of the Disciples Mission Fund, the Disciples do not contribute to the WCC financially as much as we used to. However, the Division of the Overseas Ministries and the Week of Compassion also supports WCC programs, and I have been serving on the Central Committee on behalf of the Disciples since the retirement of Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins.

Toward a Full Communion Relationship with The United Church of Canada

In July 2018, Rev. Teresa Hord Owens and other representatives of the Disciples in the US and Canada attended and participated in the 43rd General Council of The United Church of Canada, Oshawa, Ontario, where they were introduced and welcomed along with other ecumenical partners. At one morning session, the Council passed the resolution to endorse the full communion relationship with the Disciples. The resolution was passed by 98 percent of the voters.

The Disciples are looking forward to ratifying this relationship in July 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. Meanwhile, the Disciples and The United Church of Canada are in conversations about the reconciliation of the ordered (or ordained) ministries, local and regional cooperation, and opportunities to celebrate our full communion relationship. This is for the first time since 1989 that the Disciples has entered into full communion with the United Church of Christ.

I was deeply impressed by the efforts of our United sisters and brothers to respect and preserve indigenous groups and culture in Canada. They officially apologized to the indigenous people, especially for the boarding schools that the United Church opened to assimilate indigenous children into Western culture and languages, which has been regarded as “cultural genocide.” They have acknowledged their sin and faults toward the First Nation people, and now they are working together to promote the rights of indigenous people.

Christian Churches Together in the USA

The Christian Churches Together in the USA had its annual convocation in October 2018 in Wichita, Kansas, under the theme of “Let’s Talk About Life.” At the gathering, participants discussed the document “Unity Statement on Poverty and Racism.” You can read a full report from Rev. Carlos Malavé, director, as well as the statement, at http://christianchurchestogether.org/cct-annual-convocation-2018/.

 National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA

The annual Christian Unity Gathering (CUG) and the Governing Board meeting of the National Council of Churches took place in the US in November 2018 in College Park, Maryland. These events were dedicated to searching for the next steps in the NCC’s main campaign, “A.C.T. to End Racism.” Our own Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins now serves as a staff member for this initiative.

With the theme “A.C.T. Now to End Racism: Hard Truths in Beloved Community,” Rev. Dr. David Anderson Booker led the plenary sessions focusing on anti-racism. He pointed out that, to end racism, its costs would include 1) institutional structure; 2) theology; 3) personal privilege, power, prestige, and identity; and 4) financial commitments. He also pointed out that the church is not yet willing to pay these costs.

Two Disciples seminarians from the Claremont School of Theology, Eula Nicola Pagdilao, and Taulau Tupua, were present for the seminarian program at the CUG, and other Disciples attended these events.

The four Convening Tables also met during the CUG and discussed whether this new structure of the NCC is suitable for the tasks that the Convening Tables have undertaken in replacing commissions. The Governing Board had an opportunity to hear what was discussed during the CUG and reflected upon the mission and the stewardship of the institution.

Canadian Council of Churches

I was invited to be a presenter at the Canadian Forum on Inter-Church Dialogues of the Canadian Council of Churches. Along with Canadian colleagues Rev. Dr. André Lavergne of the Lutheran Church in Canada, Dr. Gail Allan of the United Church, and Rev. Canon Dr. Scott Sharman of the Canadian Anglican Church, I shared what it means to be in full communion with one another and its challenges and promises.

Ministries of the Disciples Ecumenical Consultative Council [DECC] (i.e., Disciples of Christ World Communion)

The meaningful mile marker for the DECC was that it concluded the fifth phase of the International Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church in June 2018 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The current phase began in 2013 on the theme, “Christians Formed and Transformed by the Eucharist.” At this point, each communion is carefully reviewing the final report of the fifth phase. I anticipate that the report will be published in early 2019. You can learn more about the history of the International Dialogue between the Disciples and the Roman Catholic Church here: https://councilonchristianunity.org/disciples-roman-catholic-dialogue/

As General Secretary of the DECC, I attended the Executive Committee meeting of the World Communion of the Reformed Church (WCRC) in May 2018 in Seoul, South Korea. The DECC urged the Executive members of the WCRC to find ways to strengthen the relationship between the WCRC and the DECC, two world communion bodies, in mission and ministries as they presented the new organizational strategy.

The journey toward becoming a world communion as a global body continues. The first step has been to change the name to the Disciples of Christ World Communion (DCWC) because the name DECC is no longer relevant to its own members and the ecumenical community. In relation to the World Convention of Churches of Christ (WCCC), the DECC represents only national bodies of the Disciples Churches and the United Churches into which the Disciples merged, while the WCCC represents individuals, local churches, and global partners of the Stone Campbell movement. The evangelical and missional zeal of the Puerto Rican Disciples and other member churches in the Global South have expanded the global presence of the Disciples, and these newly established national churches are firmly rooted in their identity as Disciples of Christ—not as the Stone-Campbell tradition. As historical Disciples churches struggle with membership and finance challenges, those churches are vibrant and evangelical. It is my strong conviction that the Disciples of Christ, as a world communion—that is, a distinctive global Protestant tradition—will together fulfill God’s calling for us in this world: praying for, promoting, and bringing unity to Christians.

I have contacted our current members about this change. With the exception of one member communion, most churches have welcomed this direction. I also visited and contacted new potential member communions, and so far, the Disciples of Christ in Colombia and the United Church of the Philippines have expressed their intention to join the DECC.

Becoming a Just, Peacemaking Church

The CCU—Christian Unity and Multifaith Relations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) remains to urge our churches to be engaged in actions for peace that entail justice. With ecumenical partners, the CCU and the DECC work with the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification, and Development Cooperation on the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Ecumenical Forum for Justice and Peace.

The Ecumenical Forum for Korea had a meeting in Geneva last June 2018; and, as I shared above, the KCF of North Korea fully participated in the meeting.

I was also invited to the Roundtable for Peace on the Korean Peninsula, organized by the Korean Methodist Church, World Methodist Council, and the United Methodist Church in November 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Jimmy Carter, former US President, and Rev. Dr. James Laney, former US Ambassador to South Korea, welcomed participants to the Jimmy Carter Center and shared their insights on the Korean Peninsula. The NCC Korea, the NCC Japan, the WCC, the NCCCUSA, and the WCRC also participated in this event.

As a Korean American, I have fully endeavored to bring our ecumenical efforts together for peace in northeast Asia. Japan is about to pass the amendment to the so-called Peace Constitution, which will allow Japan to engage fully in military actions and warfare. Taiwan is caught in a struggle between two global superpowers, the US and China. North Koreans are dying of hunger mostly because of economic sanctions imposed by the UN. Many traces of colonialism remain in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Indigenous peoples in Taiwan and the Philippines are struggling to be heard and recognized And, as you can imagine, many issues require ecumenical responses in Northeast Asia. I believe this is time for the ecumenical community to act together to bring peace to this region. And my role is to point out the intersectionality of these regional issues—how they affect one another.

Let me conclude my report by reminding us of our calling: Christ urges us to live life in unity not for ourselves but for the world that God so loved that God gave Her only begotten son!

 

GA-1925

GA-1925

 ADRESSING THE STATE OF GLOBAL FORCED MIGRATION

(Sense-of-the-Assembly)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Board of Directors of the Division of Overseas Ministries

 

_____________________________________________________________________

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

 

BACKGROUND:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 References:

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

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

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

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

  • UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (1948),

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

 

 

GA-1724

(Sense-of-the Assembly)

RESOLUTION CONCERNING CARBON NEUTRALITY

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WHEREAS, scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, refers to the entire cosmos as God’s sacred creation and calls followers of Christ to love our neighbors and to care for creation;[i] and

WHEREAS, resource extraction and overconsumption are putting unprecedented pressure on ecosystems, global climate, vital natural resources and communities,[ii] and

WHEREAS, there has been a long-term shift in the earth’s climate,[iii] with the beginning of the 21st century being the warmest period on record globally,[iv] resulting in unpredictable, extreme, and dangerous weather events,[v] species extinction, rapidly changing habitats,[vi] water scarcity,[vii] more frequent flooding[viii] and fires,[ix] shifting seasons,[x] and species migration;[xi] and

WHEREAS, climate change puts all of our health at risk,[xii] especially threatening the wellbeing of children, elderly, and those with chronic illnesses[xiii] such as asthma;[xiv] and

WHEREAS, the rate and severity of disasters such as floods, droughts, storms, and fires have seen a marked increase, directly affecting the work of Disciples Volunteering, Disciples Church Extension Fund and Week of Compassion, and threatening to undo decades of collaborative work by Global Ministries[xv] and international partners around the world;[xvi] and

WHEREAS, the effects of climate change, such as drought and rising sea levels,[xvii] contribute to the current crisis of displacement of people through mass migrations and exacerbated conflicts;[xviii] and

WHEREAS, our sisters and brothers, including many indigenous communities,[xix] in low-lying areas, especially island nations[xx] and coastal cities,[xxi] are most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, including superstorms, flooding, rising sea levels, severe drought, and the mass migrations that follow; and

WHEREAS, in support of carbon neutrality, Green Chalice, working with the Blessed Tomorrow group of ecoAmerica, distributed a toolkit to every Disciples congregation and regions that included an action sheet, introduction to Green Chalice Certification, a poster including areas of environmental concern, sample sermons, a communication guide, and video, presentation and webinar resources;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, July 8-12, 2017 urges all Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations, organizations, ministries, and institutions, as children of God and followers of Christ Jesus, to address climate change through action and covenant to:

Worship God with all creation and pray for the healing of the earth;
Study the climate crisis and engage others in climate solutions;
Repent and ask forgiveness for the harm we have inflicted on the earth that sustains life;
Advocate for ecojustice public policies and witness by living sustainable lifestyles; and
Rest in God’s good creation and invite others to delight in nature[xxii]; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that General Assembly 2017 calls upon all members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada to support national, state, or provincial legislation which protects, supports, and empowers communities including those who are oppressed as well as those communities who are currently dependent on an extractive energy economy; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that General Assembly 2017 calls all congregations, regions, ministries, organizations and institutions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to diligently strive to faithfully care for all of God’s creation by becoming climate-literate,[xxiii] intentionally engaging in collaborative dialogue and education that serves to advance the discussion, offering support for solutions through means of best practices and resources within the context of worship, committee meetings, community organizations, and national gatherings;[xxiv] and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that General Assembly 2017 stands with our ecumenical partners[xxv] and people of many faith traditions[xxvi] to care for our neighbors, God’s creation, and future generations in calling for immediate action on climate change; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that General Assembly 2017 calls individuals, congregations, and ministries to work to reduce our carbon output with our goal to become carbon neutral by the year 2030 and climate positive by 2035, and to do this by:

  • conserving and using energy wisely;
  • substituting clean, renewable energy for polluting fossil fuels;
  • offsetting any energy source we cannot reduce or replace;
  • urging our policy makers to provide clean energy choices;
  • guiding and supporting our churches and our sisters and brothers as they do the same; and

FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that General Assembly 2017 calls upon Disciples to stand together in Christ’s name studying, planning, and acting to accomplish these goals, with faith that we will overcome.

Christmount National Camp and Conference Center of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Black Mountain, North Carolina
Green Chalice, A Partnership Ministry of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky and Disciples Home Missions
Week of Compassion, The relief, refugee and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
Disciples Volunteering, Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
General Youth Council, Disciples Home Missions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Supported by:
Global Ministries/ Division of Overseas Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Background Information

We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world, called to “do justice” which includes caring for God’s good earth. But we are experiencing crises of unprecedented proportions due to global climate change. Our planet struggles to sustain all life and the first people affected are those among us with the least resources, including indigenous, poor, and marginalized peoples.

The earth is warmed by the sun and gases are released into the atmosphere through natural and human activities creating a blanket around the earth. The primary emitted gas, carbon dioxide, is constantly being exchanged among the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface as it is both produced and absorbed by many microorganisms, plants, and animals, in a carbon cycle. Since the Industrial Revolution, human activities have contributed CO2 to the atmosphere in greater and greater amounts from the burning of fossil fuels, solid waste, and wood throwing off the balance of the carbon cycle.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is a founding partner of Blessed Tomorrow, a coalition of diverse religious partners united as faithful stewards of God’s creation. With churches like ours, they inspire communities to take action on one of the greatest moral challenges of our era — protecting our shared home. The Blessed Tomorrow is a program coordinated by ecoAmerica, a nonprofit that creates engagement programs to build awareness and action for climate solutions. In order to act with the speed and impact that effective climate solutions require, ecoAmerica has an organizational commitment to go climate positive by 2025 and encourages its partners to do the same.

Striving to balance the carbon cycle, we advocate for all Disciples to live sustainable lifestyles with the goal of being carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon positive by 2035. Climate Neutrality is achieved when there is no net climate impact that results from carbon or other greenhouse gases. This can be accomplished through a hierarchy of actions that include aggressive reduction of energy consumption, a conversion to low or no impact energy sources, and through carbon offsets.  Climate Positive requires taking the additional steps to offset more carbon than is emitted into the atmosphere. Striving toward becoming Climate Positive, while difficult, will help us lead and support our neighbors, particularly “the least of these.”

We join hands as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to address the urgent issues of overconsumption in the United States and Canada and the inequality of distribution and use of the earth’s resources. Starting with ourselves, we lead by example and empower and educate our congregations and communities about how to walk more gently on the earth. We will pursue energy conservation and renewable energy toward carbon neutrality. We will help guide and support one another as others do the same.  We don’t know how we’ll accomplish this, but with God’s help we will study, plan, and act in faith that we will succeed. Finally, we seek to be in awe as we rest in God’s good creation and invite others to delight in nature as well.

Steps toward Carbon Neutrality[xxvii]

Carbon: calculate the carbon footprint of your family and congregation,[xxviii] conduct an energy audit of your home and church building, try a carbon fast, or support and purchase carbon offsets.[xxix]

Buildings: install programmable thermostats (set for lower or higher temperatures in the winter/summer), insulate and weather-strip, purchase only the energy efficient appliances you need, lower temperature on water heaters, use less heated water, maintain HVAC and boiler systems, buy or rent a smaller home or apartment, close off areas not in use, shade your windows, replace indoor and outdoor incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs, dry clothes on a line, turn off unused equipment and computers, install solar panels or geothermal or connect to a solar or wind farm.

Transportation: ride a bike or walk more and drive less, reduce speed while driving, purchase fuel-efficient and smaller vehicles, commute by public transportation, limit flying.

Food: grow a garden for fruit, vegetables, and herbs; purchase local, seasonal foods through a CSA, farmers’ markets, and grocery store; limit packaging and waste’ eat fewer animal products; compost food scraps; and stop using bottled water.

Yard and Fields: plant native perennials rather than grass to limit mowing, use manual mower or an electric mower, install rain barrels, mulch leaves and yard waste, plant bird and insect friendly trees and plants, create a rain garden, start a worm farm, compost for soil enrichment, plant trees and support organizations that plant trees.

Education: read, explore websites,[xxx] attend community events, host green events.[xxxi]

Advocacy: become informed on energy issues, write or call your elected officials at every level about ecojustice issues, become a Green

[i] Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:15, John 1:3, Mark 12:30-31

[ii] http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg2/index.php?idp=671

[iii] https://climate.nasa.gov/

[iv] https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-noaa-data-show-2016-warmest-year-on-record-globally

[v]https://www.epa.gov/climate-change-science/understanding-link-between-climate-change-and-extreme-weather

[vi] http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/

[vii] http://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/water

[viii] https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-coastal-flooding

[ix] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/11/science/climate-change-forest-fires.html?_r=0

[x] http://www.chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/sns-green-climate-change-shift-story.html

[xi]http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140331-global-warming-climate-change-ipcc-animals-science-environment/

[xii] https://health2016.globalchange.gov/

[xiii] http://www.who.int/kobe_centre/publications/climate_change_work_ability_2009/en/

[xiv] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/climate-change-may-speed-asthma-spread/

[xv] Global Ministry partners in the Pacific islands of Fiji, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, etc. have documented rising seawater and increasingly brackish groundwater due to climate change. This has contributed to increased emigration from the islands. Both drought and flooding rivers have been a problem in the Congo River basin in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and flooding and problems with sedimentation in the Ganges river system in Bangladesh—the Bangladesh case due to melting glaciers from the Himalayas. Droughts and changing monsoon patterns in India have negatively affected agriculture and contributed to social problems as populations—especially men – leave rural areas and swell urban areas (pollution, lack of housing and sanitation, HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, etc.). In Hong Kong partners, have addressed urban environmental concerns as well as the damaging effects of warming waters on coral reefs and sufficient fish stocks. Finally, water shortages are alleged to be partial causes of some conflicts in the Middle East.

[xvi]http://www.weekofcompassion.org/our-impact/2010/9/28/caring-for-our-world-working-with-its-people.html?rq=climate%20change , http://www.weekofcompassion.org/our-impact/2016/4/26/fighting-climate-change-and-poverty-in-the-republic-of-georgia?rq=climate%20change

[xvii]https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/12/02/world/The-Marshall-Islands-Are-Disappearing.html?_r=0

[xviii] https://climateandsecurity.org/2016/07/07/general-keys-the-military-thinks-climate-change-is-serious/, http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/climate-change-and-disasters.html

[xix] http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg2/index.php?idp=671

[xx] http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/5/054011

[xxi] https://www.epa.gov/climate-impacts/climate-impacts-coastal-areas

[xxii] https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/green-chalice/green-chalice-covenant-2/

[xxiii]  http://blessedtomorrow.org/impact

[xxiv] https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/green-chalice/green-chalice-covenant-2/

[xxv]http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

[xxvi]  http://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/religious-statements-on-climate-change/ , http://www.greenfaith.org/media

[xxvii] “Climate Change and Global Warming”, United Church of Christ

http://www.ucc.org/environmental-ministries_climate-change-and-global,  “Energy Conservation,” Green Faith http://www.greenfaith.org/resource-center/stewardship/energy-conservation, “Carbon Fast Resources,” Interfaith, Power and Light http://www.interfaithpowerandlight.org/carbon-fast-resources/  and “Campaigns,” Creation Justice Ministries http://www.creationjustice.org/campaigns.html

[xxviii] https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/household-carbon-footprint-calculator

[xxix] http://www.communitycarbontrees.org/, https://carbonfund.org/individuals/

[xxx] https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/green-chalice/resources/

[xxxi] https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/missions-advocacy/green-chalice/resources/green-events-resources/

GA-1701 General Assembly including Office of General Minister and President

GA-1701

General Assembly
of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Including the Office of General Minister and President

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Antonio Rodriguez, Moderator
Tom Perring, First Vice Moderator; Mary Lou Kegler, Second Vice Moderator
Sue Morris, Moderator-Elect
Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
PO Box 1986, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206-1986
Telephone (317) 635-3100

~~~~

We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.
As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to the Lord’s Table
as God has welcomed us.

Our Vision is to be a faithful and growing church that demonstrates
true community, deep Christian spirituality and a passion for justice. Micah 6:8

Our Mission is to be and share the good news of Jesus Christ,witnessing, loving and serving from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth. Acts 2:8

Our Imperative is to strengthen congregations for this mission

~~~~

Called by God’s covenant of love, the Office of the General Minister and President (OGMP) convenes the church in mutual accountability for witness and service.

~~~~~

General Minister and President

Mission First

Mission First is a collaborative effort across the life of the church involving members of congregations, regions and general ministries. It seeks a shared mission priority and shared engagement in God’s mission.

Over eighty Mission Gatherings took place in 2016 in all but four regions in regional assemblies and clusters, among Disciples Women, youth, college students, National Convocation, NAPAD and Hispanic and Bilingual Fellowship. Nearly 3000 Disciples participated in the small group experience and responded to three questions in discussion and writing.

Analysis of the responses by a contract researcher and others, including Chapman College students, used the following methodology: Three hundred representative early responses were read closely to identify frequently occurring words, phrases and ideas which were organized into a framework of categories and sub-categories. All remaining responses were read and coded according to the sub-categories. In a final report, frequencies of responses were presented for all respondents and for various demographic groups such as gender, race, or age.

The report of Mission Gatherings was presented to the Mission Council, December 2-4, 2016. With keynote inspiration from the Rev. Dr. Moiseraele Prince Dibeela of Botswana, South Africa, the Mission Council discerned a shared mission priority for our Church working with and for children, youth, and young adults. The Mission Council also urged the church to continue to provide protection and care for the vulnerable, create communities of healing, learning and transformation; and resist racism and other forms of injustice.

The Mission First pilot now calls for the Mission Council to facilitate strategic planning across ministry lines for implementing and resourcing the church’s shared mission priority together.

Evaluation of the Mission First! initiative, both as church-wide mission discernment and as a governance model, will include review of the Mission Gatherings, the experience of the Administrative Committee functioning as General Board (or Governance Board in the new model) and the effectiveness of the Mission Council in determining mission and charting a direction for implementing mission together. The OGMP and Moderator team propose that another biennium of experience with the model is needed in order to write the proper new rules and Design changes.

Thanks to the Mission First Implementation Team (Lonora Graves, chair, Mark Anderson, Denise Bell, Lynnette Li, John Mobley, Cathy Nichols, Bernice Rivera, Tony Rodriguez) for their creativity and guidance in the Mission Gathering process. Thanks to the Mission Council Planning Group (LaTaunya Bynum, Gilberto Collazo, Ron Degges, Rebecca Hale, Bill Spangler-Dunning, Paul Tche, Cathy Myers Wirt) for planning a truly inspirational Mission Council.

Racist Language Audit

The report of the Racist Language Audit Task Force, Sandhya Jha, chair, is one of the most significant documents of the Church in recent years. OGMP senior staff has reviewed the report and proposed a timeline of response. Communication is ongoing with the various ministries who will have the opportunity to respond to recommendations in the report. (GB-16-0977)

Governance Committee of the General Board

The Governance Committee is working on three major issues: Removing Congregations from the Yearbook for Cause or Inactivity (forwarded by the College of Regional Ministers), issues arising from the Racist Language Audit of Governance Documents (resulting from General Assembly resolution GA-1328), concerns of the Hispanic Ministries Board (raised in a letter to the General Board in January 2015). Changes to the Design or other governance documents resulting from the Mission First! initiative will be their focus in the next period.

Transitions and Travel

The GMP’s role with regional transitions was particularly active in this period as one fourth of the regions are in some phase of leadership transition, including four regional ministers retiring at once – the most anyone can remember at one time. Attendance at the National Convocation Biennial Session, the Hispanic Assembly and the NAPAD Convocation along with the National Youth Event and the World Council of Churches Central Committee in Trondheim, Norway, made for a busy summer 2016, followed by the fall regional assembly season.

General Assembly

The OGMP General Assembly team meets regularly to plan for all areas of the assembly.  Planning for worship, education, communications and logistics are all on schedule. The local arrangements committee, led by Dale Pellman is well staffed and ready to welcome visitors from around the world to the Indiana region.

We are pleased to share that our early registration numbers are outpacing the last three assemblies.  The new registration system is helping to make registration less cumbersome and requires less staff time to manage. We currently have 433 registrations.  Here are some of the demographics of those registered:

Total Registered as of 1/17/17          433
Adult                                               403
Seminarian                                       12
School Age                                        7
Young Adult                                       6
Youth                                                 4
Pre-School                                         1

Race:
African American                            19
Asian American                                2
Caucasian                                    364
Hispanic                                           3
Multi-racial                                        8
Native American                               1
Other Ethnicities                             36

Ministerial Status:
Commissioned                               18
Lay / Non-Clergy                          188
Ordained                                      223
Visiting Clergy                                  4

Age:
Under 40                                        56 registrants
40 – 49                                           73 registrants
50 – 59                                           87 registrants
60+                                               218 registrants (oldest registrant is 95)

Various task forces created by business items at the 2015 General Assembly have been meeting and will present business items to the 2017 general assembly.

Communication Ministries

Over the last year, Communication Ministries was engaged in the following activities most often partnering with or facilitating collaboration among ministries – especially the general ministries of the church:

Mission First! Furthering the priority of the Church “to be … the Good News” with a passion for justice.

  • managing communication: weekly prayer prompts, monthly updates, Mission Gathering reports including some translation,
  • social media and special reporting after Mission Council meeting;
  • serving on implementation team to assist with data gathering, etc. Production of video.

GMP Search Committee Furthering the priority of the Church to be pro-reconciling and build true community

  • Assisting with distribution of communications and translations including survey material
  • Drafting an introduction plan for nominee in coordination with search committee

Websites Furthering the priority of the Church to build true community and share in justice

  • Completed in-house facelift of disciplesmissionfund.org and centerforfaithandgiving.org
  • Ga.disciples.org 2017 theme launched in June 2016; registration live July 2016
  • Continued support for missionfirst.disciples.org and other ministry websites

Reconciliation Ministry Furthering community and sharing of resources

  • Assisted with communication during absence of Reconciliation Ministry executive
  • Collaboratively managed production of Reconciliation Ministry special offering materials

Communicator Forum Furthering community and sharing of resources across ministries

  • Collaboration on new introductory videos for 15 ministries for disciples.org and for use at the 2017 General Assembly;
  • Collaborate with Chalice Press and other ministries for Annual Planning Guide and online calendar

General Assembly Furthering the Church’s priority of true community and a passion for justice

  • Implementation of communication plan: social media, paper mailings, electronic newsletters and advertising
  • Promotional materials on the website include video, PowerPoint, worship materials and logos for download

Other activities

  • Monitoring and posting in social media
  • Producing the Disciples News Service (weekly, general audience) and Disciples Together (pastors, twice a month) e-letters
  • Quarterly meetings in support of National Council of Churches communication staff
  • Received funding from Oreon E. Scott Foundation for translations of The Design and Standing Rules of the General Assembly are up to date in Spanish, French and Korean.

Disciples Mission Fund Furthering community through shared mission

  • Sent thank-you letters to top givers to Disciples Mission Fund and collaborated on letters enclosed with quarterly reports to congregations
  • Managed production and distribution of special day offering web presence and printed materials – Easter, Pentecost, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Convened group of recipients to discuss trends in electronic offering promotions
  • Attended Christian Church Foundation Development Conference for strategic approaches and networking; met with Center for Faith and Giving to discuss strategy.

Treasury Services

OGMP Treasury Services’ team has expanded to 7 ½ members. We have partnerships in providing integrated accounting with: (9) entities of OGMP, (6) 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 (15) regions: Florida, Greater Kansas City, Upper Midwest, Illinois-Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Northwest, Mid-America, Capital Area, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Central Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Oklahoma, and Great River.  The team completed the 2015 audit with new auditors for the first time in 11 years. OGMP TS continues the challenge of fully implementing several pieces of integrated software such as contribution/distribution, credit card/expense/travel, paperless and accounting that started in late 2015.

 

Year Book and Directory
Office of General Minister and President
1099 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
Howard E. Bowers, Editor
hbowers@disciples.org

The Year Book and Directory provides the annual listing of ministries recognized as part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The Year Book also maintains a listing of those congregations, regions, general ministries, and Disciples’ related organizations and institutions and certifies to the Internal Revenue Service that they are capable of receiving tax deductible contributions.

Each year, the Disciples are augmented by new congregations recognized by their respective regions.  In 2016, 17 new congregations were officially recognized. The following are the number of new congregations per region:

California-Nevada, North              2                   Mid America                       1

Canada                                        2                   Nebraska                           1

Central Rocky Mountain               1                   Northeastern                      1

Indiana                                        1                   Southwest                          5

Kansas City, Greater                    1                   Upper Midwest                     1

Kentucky                                     1

The Year Book also works with regions to maintain an accurate listing of congregations by acknowledging congregational losses in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  In 2016, 74 congregations were removed from the official list of congregations:   51 congregations were listed as closed, 20 congregations withdrew, 2 congregations had the region withdraw recognition of their status, 1 congregation were removed through the process outlined in GA 9516.

Of the number listed above, 17 were formation congregations.  Those congregations were removed from the listing because:  12 closed, 3 withdrew, 2 were removed from regional under care status.

The Year Book also lists ministers with standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  This listing is provided by the Office of Search and Call in Disciples Home Missions.  6,642 ministers were listed with denominational standing.

 

Christian Church Services, Inc.
PO Box 1986
Indianapolis, IN 46206
317-713-2405
Sharon E. Watkins, President
Todd Adams, Board Chair
Sharon Coleman, Staff

Christian Church Services (CCS) is the umbrella corporation that coordinates the shared services of the Disciples Center. Since the last assembly, the ministries housed in Disciples Center have settled into their new offices. CCS oversaw the negotiations, build out and relocation of the Disciples Center. Management of the building is now handled by Cushman & Wakefield – a global real estate company. Cushman & Wakefield have dedicated staff with offices in our building to address any questions or concerns. A representative from their staff, typically the Vice President, meets annually with the CCS board to discuss improvements and ongoing projects.

The CCS board is comprised of the general ministry presidents from each ministry housed in the building.  The board meets 1-2 times annually to review finances, set and approve budgets, approve holidays and closing dates, and evaluate the management of the building.  Rick Reisinger served as board chair for 2015-2016. Todd Adams was elected chair at the December 2016 meeting. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President continues as President.

The Office of the General Minister and President renewed its contract with CCS for two years. Key leadership is provided by Sharon Coleman for management of the building operations and John Goebel for management of the finances.

 

 Center for Faith and Giving
Standing Committee
Spring 2017 Report

Our Members: Robin Hedgeman (BFC), Erin Wathen (WFC) [Vice Chair], Eric Farris (WML) [Chair], Sam Ramirez (HMC), Denise Bell (BFC), Ron Degges* (WMC), Gary Kidwell* (WMC), Sharon Watkins* (WFC), Bruce Barkhauer (WMC) [Director]. *Denotes Ex-officio member.

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

Our Mission: To encourage and promote the understanding of stewardship as a faith discipline and life practice in response to a generous God.

Our Work: Involves the creation and curation of stewardship related resources for and by the church.  This includes educational materials on the biblical and theological underpinnings of stewardship, the teaching of “best practices” relating to congregational and personal financial wellness, the coaching and encouraging of pastors and lay leaders, and the joint sharing of the latest stewardship trends and understandings with our ecumenical partners.  Simply put, we teach generosity and the conditions that allow it to flourish.

Notable activity in the last year includes the publication of Community of Prayer (Christian Board of Publication) authored by our Director, Bruce Barkhauer.  This book is a 29-day stewardship devotional, designed to accompany readers on a journey toward generosity utilizing a daily encounter with scripture, meditation, and prayer.  It will find its most effective use in congregations who use it as a preparation for either an annual or capital financial campaign.

Our annual campaign material “Go and Do the Same” was widely used across the church and new material for 2017 “The Journey to Generosity” is now available.  In 2016, the United Church of Christ Office on Stewardship and Philanthropy commissioned an adapted version of “Go and Do the Same”.  Sales were brisk and we are negotiating a similar arrangement for 2017.

Stepping Into Stewardship was a joint event with the United Church of Christ in 2016, that brought a tremendous group of stewardship leaders from across the country together for a three-day seminar in Orlando, FL.   While the event suffered financially (see our financial report), it was incredibly valuable to those in attendance and significant toward strengthening our partnership with the UCC.  A similar event is being planned for Dallas, TX in 2018 under the umbrella of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center. This arrangement should protect us better financially, while furthering our UCC partnership.  More events with the UCC are being planned for 2017 with the CFG as a paid contract resource.

With the awarding of an Oreon E. Scott Grant, the Center for Faith and Giving was able to begin the “Generosity Network” a cadre of leaders who will provide an extension of the Center’s ministry within participating Regions.  In 2016 we began the training of 15 leaders from 15 Regions who will comprise the first class of trained stewardship resource agents.  We look forward to expanding in the number of participants in 2018 for which we are seeking an additional grant.

The Center is serving as a resource in the execution of several of the national Lilly Grants on Clergy and Finance.  Our Director serves as a mentor in the Indiana Region’s Flourish program, and as a presenter for the Pension Fund’s grant in its Lexington Theological Seminary venue. CFG will also resource the Ohio Region’s Lilly Grant, (details pending). This means both exposure for the Center as well as income.  The Director also serves on a team engaged with a Lilly funded study on bi-vocational ministry, housed at Lexington Theological Seminary. (This position is without remuneration.)

Director Barkhauer continues to teach graduate studies in stewardship as an adjunct faculty member for Claremont School of Theology, Disciples Seminary Foundation, and Lexington Theological Seminary as well as having been a guest lecturer at Christian Theological Seminary.

The most important work continues to be maintaining a central point of resource curation and access through our website, and via our Director, the building of relationships across the church by providing a workshop leader, preacher, and resource person for stewardship and generosity within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). We have active partnerships with the Christian Church Foundation, Church Extension, Hope Partnership, The Pension Fund, Homeland Ministries, Higher Education and Leadership Ministries, and most of our 32 Regions.

 

College of Regional Ministers
Report to the Administrative Committee

President Cathy Myers Wirt, Oregon and SW Idaho
President Elect, Greg Alexander, Kentucky
First Vice President, Bill Spangler-Dunning, Upper Midwest
Second Vice President, Susan Gonzales-Dewey, Pacific SW
Secretary, Pamela Holt, Oklahoma

The College of Regional Ministers is made up of the lead staff members of each of the 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 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.  Six members have served between 21-12 years; eight of the members have served between 9-4 years; ten of the members have served 2 years or less; and seven regions are served by interim ministries.  This translates into the reality that half of the CRM has been in position 2 years or less.

Highlights of 2016-2017

  • CRM met in April and in August of 2016. Guests from the General Ministries Cabinet were in attendance for a portion of the April meeting.  The CRM will meet in 2017 following the General Board meeting February 28-March 2 and again in November for 3 days in Indianapolis.  Meetings for 2018 will be set following the March 2017 CRM meeting.
  • Approximately half to the CRM attended the Developer’s Conference hosted by Christian Church Foundation in January in California. CCF hosted a track through the conference specifically for the needs of the CRM.  Effort was made through scholarship funding to encourage the newer half of the CRM to be in attendance to receive this valuable information.
  • John Mobley (Alabama NW Florida) assists in the assigning of CRM senior members to assist Regional Churches in transition of staff. Currently the following regions are in transition:  Nebraska, Kansas, Southwest, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia.  Great Rivers Region and Central Rocky were in transition during 2016 and called new Regional Ministers in the past few months.  This leaves six regions in interim and one region (Pennsylvania) in a partnership with West Virginia.  Coaches for the regions assist General Minister and President, Sharon Watkins, to move through interim and permanent staff selection.
  • Ten Regional Ministers represent the CRM on the Mission Council. Eight of the ten attended the December Mission Council meeting in Texas and offered leadership in planning, facilitating, and follow up work from the meeting.
  • Ruth Fletcher (Montana) and John Mobley (Alabama NW Florida) 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) attended the Moderators August meeting (Forum of Regional Moderators) planned and led by Sotello Long (South Carolina) in order to prepare to lead the 2018 meeting. Susan has initiated, and is encouraging, the networking of the Regional Moderators.  The Moderators have elected officers and plan to gather at the 2017 General Assembly.
  • LaTaunya Bynum (Northern California Nevada) is conducting a survey among the CRM membership to learn the level of training of each member in the Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciliation work of the whole church. She will also learn about the structures within the regions that move this work forward.  Anti-Racism Training appropriate to the soon to be assessed actual need of the CRM will be offered at the November 2017 meeting and an Anti-Racism Team of the CRM will create a plan for this work moving forward.  With so much transition in the CRM in the past 3 years, this work needed to be reframed for the future.
  • 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.

Goals moving into 2017-2018 include forming a deep and collegial relationship with the new GMP; increasing skill building opportunities for our membership; reengaging at a deeper level our anti-racism work; 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.

 

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

The Disciples Center for Public Witness is doing very well.  Our advocacy team is effective, our leadership is engaged, our partnerships are strong, our supporters are invested and generous, our volunteers are talented and committed, and our finances are sufficient to support our two-fold mission:  informing, connecting, and empowering Disciples and other people of faith for ecumenical and interfaith justice advocacy in the United States and Canada; and applying to public policy issues and concerns our denomination’s passion for justice, our vision of true community, and our commitment to wholeness in a fragmented world.

Partnership Ministries:  Much of the work of the Center is carried out in partnerships, networks, and coalitions.  One of our main partnership ministries is Refugee and Immigration Ministries (RIM), a ministry of Disciples Home Missions (DHM) in partnership with the Center and the Christian Church Capital Area (CCCA).  RIM is actively involved in education, action, and advocacy on issues related to the rights of immigrants, refugees, and farm workers.  Highlights include:  protecting refugee rights in the face of many anti-refugee bills, especially those that seek restrictions based on religion and/or locations from which refugees have come; responding to the crisis of unaccompanied minor children from Central America with, among other things, a prayer vigil outside the White House and a “Shadow Summit” at the same time as the President’s official Refugee Summit; supporting the New Sanctuary Movement, highlighting as an example the reception by University Church of Hyde Park (Chicago, IL) of an immigrant facing possible deportation;  standing in solidarity with farm workers who seek fairer pay, better working conditions, humane treatment, and recognized representation, primarily those working on farms related to companies that buy and use such products as tomatoes, berries, and tobacco; and working with churches and various faith-based organizations to advocate for more humane and just immigration policies and, especially, to advocate against those policies that tear families apart.

Another partnership ministry is the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative (EPI), a ministry the Center shares with national, state, regional, and local ecumenical groups and various faith-based organizations in the United States.  Recent EPI activities include:  successfully working with other faith-based organizations to urge all candidates seeking their party’s nomination for President of the United States to produce a video sharing with people of faith and the general  public their views on poverty; helping shape the “We Say Enough” campaign in which religious and other community leaders were brought together in virtual mass meetings to discuss the intersection of race and economic justice; engaging churches, clergy, and faith-based advocates in states across the country to take action against payday lending; participating in meetings on Capitol Hill dealing with the potential negative effects on economically vulnerable families and persons by the repeal of the American Care Act; and initiating a sign-on letter about the serious questions and concerns shared by many people of faith about the positions of the incoming Administration on issues of race, poverty, and health care.

Still another example of our partnership ministries is Human Rights Ministries (HRM), a partnership with Disciples Home Missions which focuses on such issues as criminal justice reform, torture, the death penalty, human trafficking, gun violence, and the rights of Native Americans (United States) and First Nations (Canada).  Before the 2016 elections, criminal justice reform was making a good deal of progress as a bipartisan effort; but now, with new leadership in the White House and at the Department of Justice, the future of this effort is uncertain.  On another front, public and federal government support for the land rights of indigenous peoples has been slowly but surely increasing in both the United States and Canada, often with people of faith taking the lead in promoting this support.

A final example of our partnership ministries is Racial Justice Advocacy, a partnership with Disciples Home Missions and Reconciliation Ministries that works with our ecumenical and interfaith partners to identify, analyze, and eradicate racism, primarily in the United States.  One of the projects of this partnership ministry is the formation and staffing of a task force that evaluates and responds to both U.S. public policy and the social witness of our church in light of racial justice as understood in relation to the emphases of Black Lives Matter.  This work has become especially crucial in light of the number of persons of color whose deaths have resulted from police action and the increase in the instances of racially motivated intimidation and violence during and since the 2016 elections.

Partners in Ministry:  Within the denomination, the Center works closely not only with the Office of the General Minister and President, Disciples Home Missions, Reconciliation Ministries, Week of Compassion, and the National Benevolent Association, but also with a number of ministries that deal with specific issue areas that have strong justice advocacy components or implications:  these include Disciples Women (human trafficking, violence against women, and paycheck fairness), Family and Children’s Ministries (Family Medical Leave, day care, public education, and children’s nutrition programs), Green Chalice (global warming, wildlife preservation, clean air and water, and national parks and monuments), and the Yakama Mission (the political rights of indigenous persons, the protection of the lands of indigenous peoples, and exposing and countering the harmful effects of the Doctrine of Discovery on our laws and public policies).

Coalitions:  The Center also provides Disciples presence at, participation in, and leadership to a large number of coalitions, the main ones being Creation Justice Ministries (climate change, endangered species, public lands, water justice, clean air), Interfaith Worker Justice (wage theft, minimum wage, worker safety, and the right to organize unions), the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (Guantanamo, solitary confinement, violence against Muslims, and torture sanctioned and/or practiced by the United States), the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (the rights of women to full knowledge about and full access to the full range of options and procedures related to reproductive health care), the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (religious liberty in workplaces and prisons, religion in public schools, and vouchers for religious schools), Kairos Canada (First Nations, migrant justice, gender justice, and creation care), and Citizens for Public Justice (poverty, refugees, and climate change in Canada).

With and through Refugee and Immigration Ministries, the Center also participates in the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (immigration reform and welcome for refugees) and the National Farm Worker Ministry (fairer pay, better working conditions, humane treatment and officially recognized representation for farm workers, primarily on farms producing tomatoes, berries, and tobacco).  The Center also participates in and provides leadership to several groups associated with the Washington Interreligious Staff Community:  the Health Care Working Group, Domestic Human Needs, the Religious Advocates Working Group on Reproductive Healthcare, and the Heads of Washington Offices.

Ecumenical Gatherings:  The Center is a regular participant in two annual ecumenical justice advocacy conferences:  the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference, which is becoming the primary social justice network for African American religious leaders and faith-based advocates from communities of color in the US; and Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice, which brings to Washington, DC, about a thousand Christian advocates from around the US to worship together, share information through workshops, and advocate about specific justice issues and concerns to their elected representatives on Capitol Hill.  At the latter gathering, the Center usually invites other interested Disciples ministries to join with it in planning a special event for Disciples.  The Washington office of the United Church of Christ’s Justice and Witness Ministries is usually a partner in this planning, and members of the United Church of Christ are invited and encouraged to join with Disciples in this event.

Choosing Issues:  In terms of its work on particular issues, the Center works on (1) justice issues and concerns that are grounded in the sense-of-the-assembly resolutions through which the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada speaks to (not for) all Disciples, instructs staff, and allows the world to know which issues concern the Assembly; (2) justice issue areas prioritized by the Justice Table and/or the Center’s Board of Governors; and (3) justice issues and concerns authorized by commitments made to ecumenical and interfaith partners by one or all of the general ministries authorized by the General Assembly officially to carry out and oversee the justice advocacy and social witness of the church:  the Office of the General Minister and President, Disciples Home Missions, and the Division of Overseas Ministries.

Location:  Located primarily at National City Christian Church in Washington, DC, the Center also has space available to it at the regional office of the Christian Church Capital Area in Chevy Chase, MD, Twelfth Street Christian Church in Washington, DC, Park Avenue Christian Church in New York, NY, and the Disciples Center in Indianapolis, IN; and recently, the Center was given office space on the West Coast of the US by the Oakland Peace Center in Oakland, CA.  The Center has a presence in Canada through the Disciples Centre for Public Witness in London, Ontario.

Funding:  The Center is funded by grants from foundations, project grants from other Disciples ministries, financial gifts from congregational partners, and contributions from individual donors.  Special funds to provide scholarships for young adults to attend justice advocacy gatherings and events are provided through the Center’s Brian P. Adams Justice Education Fund.  Financial oversight is provided by both the Center’s Board of Governors and the Christian Church Capital Area.  Donations to the Disciples Center for Public Witness are received at 8814 Kensington Parkway #208, Chevy Chase, MD, 20815, and online at www.centersupport.org.

 

EUROPEAN EVANGELISTIC SOCIETY
PO Box 24560
Indianapolis, Indiana
www.eesinc.org
317-299-0333
Tony Twist, President
2017 General Board Report

The European Evangelistic Society (EES), incorporated in 1946, has now been in existence for 71 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.

The mission of EES in its 71 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, 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 for significant service 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.

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 maintains its 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.

Courses in Theological German and Theological English are taught at the University with some translation and logistical 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.  The 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 students as well.  The position that the Institute has by being part of the University officially gives us a great advantage and status as we- 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 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, Africa, 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.

Three events sponsored by the European Evangelistic Society 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.

  • On the basis of the respect earned by EES, the Institute was able in 2016 to sponsor the first Tübingen Institute International Lectureship series which took place in Ukraine during March. Dr. Bruce Little, who is a Senior Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, traveled 800 miles, had two TV interviews, one newspaper interview, addressed a group of Christian elementary school teachers, and gave lectures at six universities. The lectures were well received and Dr. Little was invited back to every university at which he lectured and he received invitations from other universities that heard he was conducting the lectureship tour.  Each lecture was introduced as sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Christian Origins at Tübingen.  Lecture topics included: Between Anarchy and Tyranny, The Plausibility of God and Scientific Naturalism, Life and Meaning, The Emergence of the Postmodern Mind, Personal Responsibility as the Guardian of Freedom, The Conflict of Worldviews, and The Foundation of Law and Social Justice

The 2016 lectureship tour was an excellent beginning for the lectureship series and opened doors for future opportunities.  The lectureship series will result in the advancement of the Gospel of Christ through collaborative efforts to expanded regions of the world.

  • With the help of Tübingen’s New Testament faculty and that of the University of Munich, two symposia with scholars from around the world have been held. A third symposium is planned for 2018. These international gatherings, focusing on our work of developing leaders, serve to encourage us all to take seriously the Great Commission of our Lord and to support with prayers and resources those who are engaged in the work around the world. Our hope is that God will use the symposia to stimulate and encourage His servants everywhere.
  • The Dean E. Walker Lecture, sponsored by EES, provides an opportunity for thoughtful leaders in the Kingdom of God to present their ideas about what the church ought to be, especially in regard to the idea that Christ prayed that the church might be one. The lectures are given in honor of the life and work of Dean E. Walker and through the years have taken place at the North American Christian Convention, the General Assembly of the Christian Church, and at the World Convention of Churches of Christ. The ideas presented have always been anchored to the idea that in the person of Christ and the record of God’s self-disclosure in Scripture, the church can discover the will of God for the people of God. At times these lectures have been historical reviews of where the Stone-Campbell churches have been and are headed. They regularly have sought to look at those kinds of questions in the context of the consistent witness of God in Scripture and the ever-changing nature of modern culture.

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. During 2015, about 1.1 million migrants (2/3 of these were refugees from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan) arrived in Germany, most crossing by sea from Turkey – a perilous journey. Almost half a million have applied for asylum. The influx and assimilation of so many refugees have not been easy.

At the same time, the arrival of these refugees is bringing EES staff into direct contact with people from many different backgrounds and from other faiths. A few recent contacts: a conversation with a Syrian Muslim who was observing Ramadan and fasting until sunset; talking in simple German about prayer and fasting in Islam and in Christianity; a conversation with a Syrian refugee who shared photos of his home reduced to rubble and the family members he had left behind; sorting out clothing and shoes for a family of ten; worshiping on Sunday morning with an Afghan family who have been attending the local church.

Here at the Institute in Tübingen, we are praying and considering how we might use our resources to help these refugees and to work together with Tübingen churches to minister to those affected by the violence, and for those who are seeking refuge here.

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 affect 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 an unchanging focus of our mission.

THE GENERAL COMMISSION ON MINISTRY
Paxton Jones, Chairperson

The General Commission on Ministry [GCOM] of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is composed of up to sixteen members appointed by the General Minister & 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 2016, the following persons served on the General Commission on Ministry:  Cynthia Adcock, pastor, Northwest Christian Church, Columbus, OH; William Almodovar, Interim National Hispanic Pastor; Greg Alexander, Regional Minister, Christian Church in Kentucky; Howard Bowers, Office of General Minister & President, administrative staff; Jinsuk Chun, Executive Pastor of the North American Pacific/Asian Disciples; Ron Degges, DHM President; Ann Dotson,  Pastor, First Christian Church, Rowlett, TX; Pam Holt, Regional Minister, Christian Church in Oklahoma; Eugene James, Regional Minister, Christian Church in Michigan; Timothy James, Associate General Minister & Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation; Paxton Jones, Regional Minister, Christian Church in Kansas;[1] Belva Brown Jordan, Assistant Dean, Claremont School of Theology; Sandy Messick, Regional Minister, Northwest Regional Christian Church; Saundra Michael-Bowers, Pension Fund Representative; Holly Miller-Shank, UCC Representative; Rossy Ricart, laywoman, Iglesia Hermandad Cristiana, Indianapolis; Glen Stewart, retired Regional Minister, Nashville, TN; Newell Williams, Seminary Representative [President, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, TX]; Tom Yang, pastor, Glenview (IL) Christian Church; and Sharon Watkins, General Minister & President, ex-officio.  In addition, Warren Lynn, Director, Office of Christian Vocation, met by invitation with the Search & Call Committee to share information directly related to his work.

During our August 2016 meeting, Rachel Hackenberg represented the UCCs in place of Holly Miller-Shank, who was on sabbatical; Chung Kim, Interim Executive Pastor, represented NAPAD; and Lori Tapia, newly named National Hispanic Pastor, represented the Central Pastoral Office of Hispanic Ministries.  New to GCOM this year will be Gene Fisher, representing the Pension Fund, as Saundra Michael-Bowers has retired.

GCOM meets twice per year.  In 2016, we met in Indianapolis on February 22-23 and on August 15-16 we met via a series of video conferences. By the time this General Board gathers, GCOM’s first meeting of 2017, January 23-25 in Indianapolis, will have concluded.  Although for the past two years our second meeting has been conducted electronically, this year we will meet on August 21-23 in Indianapolis to welcome the new General Minister & President into our midst and orient her/him into our work.

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

  • REPORT OF THE TASK FORCE ON ELIMINATING RACIST LANGUAGE FROM GOVERNING DOCUMENTS (GB-16-0977): Created by General Assembly action in 2013[2], the task force made two observations regarding our Policies and Criteria:
  • For most clergy, ordained or commissioned, there are parallel regional documents that are more specifically pertinent to what happens to those persons. We recommend Regions engage in an audit of their own documents on policies and criteria, looking for ways in which their policies might need to be made more inclusive.
  • In order to be a fully inclusive church, we recommended provision of translation services for those clergy for whom the English language may be challenging. This seems especially important in experiences dealing with Committees on Ministry and questions of ordination or maintenance of standing, both at the regional and general expressions.

GCOM affirmed these recommendations and will work with OGMP and Reconciliation Ministry to provide CRM with resources and criteria by which to audit their regional documents and with CRM, NAPAD and the Central Pastoral Office of Hispanic Ministries to help provide translation services for those clergy and committees who need them.[3]

  • CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS: Our UCC counterpart negotiated a renewed contract for Criminal Background Checks with Oxford Document Management on behalf of both denominations.  The new contract reflects a minimal increase in cost.
  • AMENDMENTS TO TFPCOM: After the Theological Foundations and Policy and Criteria for the Ordering of the Ministry was approved by the 2009 General Assembly, some regions believed that in adopting it as their regional policy it was permissible to amend TFPCOM so long as those amendments did not contradict the original document. This is incorrect. GCOM affirmed that TFPCOM can only be amended by the General Board or General Assembly. Regions may, however, establish additional policies as long as they do not conflict with TFPCOM.
  • COLLABORATION WITH CRM: A policy was approved allowing Regional Ministries to use their discretion in submitting Regional Directives for potential candidates from other regions who have never had Standing.
  • STANDING FOR CLERGY WHOSE STANDING IS LODGED WITH THE GENERAL COMMISSION ON MINISTRY: Standing was granted in 2016 to 170 clergy serving in general, senior regional, chaplaincy and missionary situations; this number includes 4 UCC General Staff members.  
  • VETTING OF FILES PERTAINING TO DECEASED CLERGY: The question of whether the permanent files in OCV and Regions of clergy who die should be vetted before being sent to the Disciples of Christ Historical Society was sent to the Disciples general counsel, especially as it pertains to uncensored names and possible liability.  Upon advice of Counsel, a policy was approved and will be sent to CRM with the recommendation that each Region adopt and implement it.
  • Completed updates/reviews on:
  1. GCOM Standing Request Form and letter for 2017
  2. Appeal Process and Misconduct Policies (reviewed annually) —and reattached the Guidelines for Inter-Regional Cooperation on Matters of Fitness for Ministry to the latter.

Future projects:

  1. Review the Letter of Call in the light of UCC’s Covenant and Call documents and the end of Churchwide Health Care
  2. Reiterate where Standing should be lodged for clergy serving both a congregation and a general ministry part-time
  3. Explore ways in which the Core Competency list developed by the Ministry Development Council may be used

As always, we welcome your input, comments, questions, ideas, and concerns.

Respectfully submitted, Paxton Jones, Chairperson

 

NATIONAL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY CONVENTION, INC.
Patricia Penelton, President
Timothy M. James, Corporate Secretary
And its Subsidiary
GREENWOOD CEMETERY OF NASHVILLE, TENN., INC.
William L. 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 assets willed to the National Christian Missionary Convention by Preston Taylor, funds contributed to the Black Disciples Endowment Fund and to offer continued guidance to the Greenwood Cemetery of Nashville, Inc.

NATIONAL CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY CONVENTION:

National Christian Missionary funds are held in investments with the Church Extension Fund and Christian Church Foundation. Expenses related to NCMC operations are paid by the National Convocation which makes NCMC primarily an investment-holding corporation.

The Black Disciples Endowment Fund is owned by the National Christian Missionary Convention. BDEF is purposed to strengthen the ministry of Black Disciples.  The BDEF assists in sponsoring the School of Faith and life during the Biennial Session, scholarship funds for Black Disciples and programs for the recruitment and development of leaders.

A portion of the Lillian Merchant Fund held by Christian church Foundation is allocated to the Black Disciples Endowment Fund for the purpose of ministerial recruitment and nurture. The Office of African American Clergy Leadership and Development functions to recruit and nurture prospective ministers and to continue the legacy of training clergy through the Preston Taylor Institute. William L. Lee is director of this office.

Trustees of the National Christian Missionary Convention are: Patricia Penelton, President; Donald K. Gillett, Vice President; Edward Cushingberry, Secretary; Gloria Gilliard, Treasurer; Preston T. Adams, Valildra Berry, Irvin Green, Shannon Dycus, Milton Bowens, Delesslyn Kennebrew and Ken Brooker Langston. Ex-officio trustees are: Sharon E. Watkins, Ronald Degges and Timothy James.

GREENWOOD CEMETERY:

The Greenwood Cemetery of Nashville, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation organized to manage the Greenwood Cemeteries, which are owned by the National Christian Missionary Convention. Under the able leadership of General Manager, Dwayne Bell the cemetery has grown and become more attractive to the citizens of Nashville. The cemetery operates on three sites and efforts are being made to make these settings beautiful and serene, for families to regard these grounds as a comfortable final resting place for loved ones.

Members of the Greenwood Cemetery Board of Directors are: William L. Lee, Chairman; Freddie Lawton, Vice Chairman; Juanita Greene, Treasurer; John Foulkes, Investment Comm. Chair; Dale Braxton, Patricia Penelton, John Tiggle, Beverly Dickason, Jesse Jackson, Ahmed White, Norman Reed and Marvin Owens. Ex-officio officers: Timothy James, Corporate Secretary; Dwayne Bell, General Manager.

 

NATIONAL CITY CHRISTIAN CHURCH FOUNDATION
Richard L. Hamm, Chairperson
Stephen W. Gentle, Senior Minister
5 Thomas Circle, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Telephone: (202) 232-0323; Fax: (202) 797-0111
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.

National City Christian Church 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.

Richard L. Hamm leads the Foundation as the chairperson of the Board of Trustees. For Dr. Hamm’s institutional knowledge and bold leadership, the Foundation is very grateful. National City Christian Church is appreciative and truly humbled by the remarkable leadership and generous support of the Foundation trustees, congregational leadership, and Disciples from around the world.

The National City Christian Church Foundation, in partnership with the congregation, launched 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 overwhelming supported and presently $1,025,134 has been 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 Foundation relaunched the Ambassador program led by Thomas and Kay Jewell of Oklahoma. The 12 Ambassadors have been commissioned to share with other Disciples information about this unique national witness in the U.S. capital.

Presently the Board of Trustees is in the midst of a discernment process concerning the 63-year-old education building that was formerly occupied by a public charter school. The Board is presently working with a developer and hopes to complete the sale in 2017.

The Foundation is grateful to Senior Minister Stephen W. Gentle, the staff, and congregational leadership that is engaged in ministry and mission in the Washington, D.C. area. The congregation has completed its five-year strategic plan. In the last five years, 110 new members have joined the congregation. Over 550 new individuals have come to one of the worship services for the very first time, with a majority of those guests returning for worship. A Disciples 101 class was launched for new members, along with the classes called Spiritual Practices 101 and Disciples Church History 101. Significant connections were made each week with young professionals, persons within the LGBT communities, and multicultural families – the congregation’s three top demographics for outreach. The new congregational bylaws are in place as it right-sized the congregational governance board and established the ministry partnership for coordinated congregational program planning. Many lay persons have invested themselves in the volunteerism of the congregation, donating significant portions of their time to staffing the front desk, the food pantry, yard work and gardening, cleaning the sanctuary, counting money and maintaining financial records, development work, and hospitality at music events, to name just a few areas.

In addition, the facilities of National City Christian Church continued to be a gathering place in the U.S. capital for Disciples of Christ and ecumenical partners. Some gatherings and events in the past two years have included:

  • Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (HELM) Fellows annual training; Disciples Home Missions Board of Directors meeting; United Nations Youth Conference of the Ohio region, Moral Revival 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.
  • Partnering with the Christian Church Capital Area, National City hosted a region-wide leadership training event called “Salt and Light” and the 2017 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worship service with CTS Professor Frank Thomas preaching.
  • Hundreds of young people “bunked” down at National City to experience a life-changing trip to Washington, D.C., including 475 youth from the summer program called Team Effort, the Christian Church in Kansas, the University of Massachusetts spring break, First Christian Church of Salem, Pfeiffer University fall break, Trinity United Methodist Church, and Howard University.
  • Offices and meeting spaces are provided by the Foundation for Disciples Center for Public Witness, Disciples Home Missions’ Refugee and Immigration Ministries, and the Ecumenical Poverty Initiative. The Oscar Haynes exhibit of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society will be dedicated in November, 2017, as a display that is shared between National City and the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Bethany, West Virginia.
  • 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. Music groups from around the District also performed in the sanctuary: the 120-voice Congressional Chorus, Washington Sinfonietta, Fessenden Chamber Ensemble, Heritage Signature Chorale, Thomas Circle Singers, and the newly formed National Children’s Chorus, which is also housed at National City.
  • National City opened its doors to share with many of its 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. Several of National City’s unique ministries continued to thrive and grow, including the Hispanic congregation, the young adult ministry (YADA), the LGBTQ Fellowship, and the community children’s playgroup.
  • Minister of Music J. Michael McMahon prepared worship materials for the Sunday before the 2017 U.S. Presidential Inauguration and were made available to Disciples congregations and ecumenical partners for their worship experiences in January.
  • Church Historian Peter M. Morgan and Videographer John Scott Williams 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 Office Manager 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 every Sunday. 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 by browsing to www.nationalcitycc.org or visiting in person your Disciples facility in the U.S. capital.

 

Reconciliation Ministry

2017 General Board Report April G. Johnson
Minister of Reconciliation

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:

The United States continues to grapple with the tragic killings of unarmed men of color by police officers since our last reporting period in 2015.  As well, the end of this year was marked by divisive rhetoric during the 2016 election cycle effecting an uptick in hate crimes and religious intolerance.  The months of July and September of 2016 were particularly egregious due to the frequency in which events were occurring. Protesters took to the streets, again which helped raise awareness of the need for intentional and transparent efforts toward racial justice for families and the communities we serve.  Disciples offered responses through statements from the College of Regional Ministers and Moderators to the Church.  Reconciliation Ministry responded faithfully through the following highlights:

Ministry Highlights

  • New guidelines for grants to Reconciliation Ministry were approved and distributed via the Reconciliation Ministry web page. The changes to the guidelines include incentives for Regions with multiple congregations working together to address structural racism through community organizing are now eligible to submit proposals to General Reconciliation Ministry.
  • The Minister of Reconciliation served as consultant to two Regional Boards in their efforts to draft resolutions that called for Anti-Racism training as a requirement for clergy standing as well as promote regional leadership participation in the regularized anti-racism training events. Both, Georgia and Indiana Regions approved their resolutions.
  • In collaboration with ministry partners of Week of Compassion, National Benevolent Association and Disciple Justice Action Network, Reconciliation Ministry accompanied the Regions of North Carolina and Oklahoma in their responses to the recent shooting deaths and associated demonstrations to listen as well as to provide pastoral and mental health presence in Charlotte, North Carolina and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
  • Final recommendations from the Task Force on Eliminating Racist Language from Governing Documents were received in April of this year. The findings of the Task Force rendered the conclusion that the language used in our documents was not overtly racist or exclusionary.  When viewed as behavioral documents, however, evidence of perpetuating racism became evident. From the recommendation document: “Most importantly, it is important to remember that our choices as a church are not between being racist and being non-racist. On their face, our foundational documents do not by and large include explicit and obvious racism. Our choices are between being racist and being anti-racist. Insofar as our documents are not explicit in their commitment to anti-racism, they uphold racism (race prejudice + misuse of power by systems and institutions). Insofar as our documents center whiteness or treat whiteness as normative and treat communities of color as additional to the rest of the church, they uphold racism. Insofar as our documents are not explicit in their accountability to anti-racist communities of color, they uphold racism. As a church committed to serving all of God’s children, this is the project our task force set out to address.”
  • Training in the introduction and the analysis of racism continues to increase in capacity and demand. As the Church navigates significant transition in Executive leadership in the College as well as the General Cabinet, new trainers have been recruited and cultivated in the regions of Pacific Southwest as well as Oregon and Southwest Idaho.  To meet the continual needs for contextualization as well as increased Regional needs for leader development, our Core Trainers have shifted their roles to coaching and training new facilitators of the one-day introductory module of anti-racism training.

January 2017

THE UNITED CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY SOCIETY
Julia Brown Karimu, President
1099 North Meridian Street,Suite 700
Indianapolis, IN 46204-1036
P.O. Box 1986
Indianapolis, IN 46206-1986
Email: shansen@ccf.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 2016, there was no gift annuity released. There was no life income agreement income to report. 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 did not receive any restricted bequests.

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: Julia Brown Karimu, President; Ronald J. Degges, 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 2015:

DHM – $674,139; DOM – $953,277; other entities – $53,872.

The Society distributed the following from the investment pool in 2016:

DHM – $725,604; DOM – $1,024,104; other entities – $57,924.

 

WEEK OF COMPASSION COMMITTEE
Judith Frost, Co-Chair
Cindy Kim-Hengst, Co-Chair
Vy Nguyen, Executive Director
P.O. Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206
317-713-2442
www.weekofcompassion.org

Week of Compassion—the relief, refugee, and development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)—continues to serve and respond faithfully to human need and suffering in North America and around the world.  By offering hope, compassion, and healing to individuals and communities in need on behalf of the entire church, Week of Compassion’s ministry is one of the expressions of wholeness in a fragmented world.

Through Week of Compassion, the church is present with families and communities when they are affected by natural or human made disasters.  Many of these disasters range in scale, from small floods to an entire country devastated by a major hurricane, such as we saw in Haiti last year.  No matter what the disaster is and no matter which communities are affected, Week of Compassion is well positioned to respond quickly and compassionately through our church and ecumenical partners to meet the immediate and long-term needs of the people and their communities.

In recent years, we have witnessed unprecedented levels of global displacement generating more frequent and drastic crises, especially as the civil war in Syria continues to worsen.  In this past year alone, the world witnessed the tremendous rise in the global migration and refugee crisis, where the number of displaced people worldwide in 2016 reached the highest level in human history, surpassing the number of displaced people after World War II. The international community’s response is becoming increasingly inadequate, as there does not seem to be a foreseeable end in sight to these conflicts and wars.  The crises we face today represent a challenge to both the human rights of displaced people, migrants and refugees, and to international norms and standards.  As such, Week of Compassion focused our tremendous resources on three geographical areas of refugee conflict in 2016: The Middle East, especially inside Syria and the surrounding refugee camps in Jordan, Iraq, and Syria; Tanzania, where Burundian refugees are fleeing conflict and facing increasingly dire living conditions due to inadequate facilities to host the refugee families; and Eastern Europe, through which refugees from the Middle East are migrating.  Together with Global Ministries and Disciples Home Mission’s Refugee and Immigration Ministries, and our partners at Church World Service and ACT Alliance, we have prioritized our efforts to reduce vulnerability at all stages of movement, including emigration from a conflict area, entry into asylum countries and resettlement in safe countries.

While migration is not a new occurrence in the world, at this particular moment in time more people than ever before are leaving their homes under severe circumstances, compelled by the destruction and severity of drought, floods, famine, and extreme violence.  All hoping to find refuge elsewhere.   As Christians, our calling has always been to welcome strangers and to offer a place of refuge and a safe haven. Week of Compassion accompanies many of our displaced sisters and brothers through our partners for the long journey.

In North America, many floods and storms affected communities across the United States and Canada.   In May of 2016, a wildfire began southwest of Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, and destroyed close to 2,500 homes and buildings, forcing the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta’s history.  Week of Compassion partnered with the United Church of Canada to meet the long-term recovery needs for individuals and families impacted by the wildfire.

Week of Compassion was also present in Louisiana, West Virginia, the Carolinas, and many other communities when major floods took place this past year.  We continue to work with local congregations to provide solidarity grants to families impacted by the floods and remain partnered with Disciples Volunteering at Disciples Home Missions for long term recovery efforts.  By working with Church of the Brethren, we are also able to provide spiritual and emotional support to children through the Children Disaster’s Services.  In addition, we continue to work closely with the United Church of Christ and the Church of the Brethren to support the Disciples Response Support Initiative (DRSI) to assist local communities in holistic recovery after a disaster. The DRSI models support, mentor, and encourage the development of local Long Term Recovery Groups through the sustained on-site presence of a Disaster Recovery Support Team (DRST), consisting of a Case Management Specialist, a Volunteer Construction Specialist, and a LTRG Group Formation Specialist.

Week of Compassion is committed to walking with communities through sustainable development programs to help communities become resilient and sustainable.  Our partner at Prosperity Catalyst has been implementing income-generating business for women in Haiti, and particularly in Iraq where the cultural tradition does not allow women to work.  These businesses, such as bread baking and high-end candle making, are a way to help women support their families and community, giving them more protection and a powerful voice within their daily living to make impactful change.

As of the end of November 2016, Week of Compassion’s undesignated giving totaled $1,725,061—a slight increase of 0.3% from the prior year.  Designated giving remained strong at $540,237—an increase of 23.8% from prior year.   Income from Week of Compassion’s endowment program and other funds in the Christian Church Foundation equaled $116,847 at the end of November 2016, an increase from $87,692 from November 2015.

Week of Compassion is able to respond locally and globally on behalf of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada because of the generous support that comes from our congregations and individuals.  Such generosity puts our compassion into action throughout the year around the globe. 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/Fax: +1 (615) 298-1824 Email:  office@worldconvention.org
Home Page:  http://www.worldconvention.org
2016 REPORT

In 2016, God blessed the two-fold mission of World Convention—to encourage fellowship, understanding, and common purpose within the Christian-Churches of Christ-Disciples of Christ global family of churches and to relate them to the whole Church for the sake of unity in Christ Jesus.

This two-fold global mission supports the mission of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) “to be and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, witnessing, loving and serving from our doorsteps “to the ends of the earth.”

World Convention related our churches to other Christians in many ways in 2016. The most notable was participation in Joint Catholic-Lutheran Commemoration of the Reformation, held in Lund, Sweden on October 31. This joint worship service begins a year of remembrance leading to the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation on October 31, 2017. In this anniversary year, Catholics and Lutherans hope this common commemoration under the theme of “From Conflict to Communion” will “affirm the common conviction that there is more that unites than that which divides us.”

World Convention represented the Stone-Campbell Movement at this historic service since its theme of Christian unity is at the heart of the mission statement of World Convention:

In Christ, all are reconciled to God and to each other, and in the Spirit, God calls us to proclaim this good news throughout the world. World Convention (Christian-Churches of Christ-Disciples of Christ) embodies and encourages fellowship, understanding, and common purpose within this global family of churches and relates them to the whole Church for the sake of unity in Christ Jesus.

In relating World Convention to the whole Church at the Lund meeting, we also were living out our heritage as Stone-Campbell Christians, since both Campbell and Stone saw their work as continuing and enhancing the Reformation with its emphasis on Scripture. They also often spoke of their work as “catholic,” that is, reflecting what the whole church has always believed.

For more on the meeting in Lund, see https://www.lutheranworld.org/news/press-release-rediscovering-who-we-are-christ or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plkK6zNHP_0

However, most of the work of World Convention in 2016 was in encouraging fellowship, understanding, and common purpose within the Christian-Churches of Christ-Disciples of Christ global family of churches, connecting these churches everywhere every day.

Every few years World Convention holds a Global Gathering. Gatherings bring together people from the ‘Stone-Campbell’ family of Churches (Christian – Churches of Christ – Disciples) from around the world. The Gatherings focus on meaningful worship (including outstanding preaching and inspirational music), learning (with study of significant themes), contemporary evangelism (Bader Lectures) and global fellowship. Our New Delhi Gathering, January 12-15, 2017, will be our first in Asia. In 2016, much of the work of World Convention was in preparing for the Gathering in India.

________________________

The General Board has reviewed GA-1701 from the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Including the Office of General Minister and President. The report is submitted to the General Assembly for presentation and discussion. No action is required. (Discussion time: 12 minutes)

 

[1] Although I retired as Regional Minister at the end of 2016, Sharon Watkins asked me to continue as Chairperson until my term ends on 12/31/17 to help with the transition of the new GMP.

[2] GA1328.

[3] GCOM applied for a grant from the Oreon E. Scott Foundation in order to begin this process for Search & Call documents, but the application was regretfully denied.  Other funding options will be sought.

Week of Compassion, Reconciliation Ministry events

Reconciliation Ministry

The sold-out Reconciliation Ministry breakfast featured the Rev. Dietra Wise Baker of Liberation Christian Church in St. Louis, MO. Baker is the co-leader of the Clergy Caucus of Metropolitan Congregation’s United (MCU). In this capacity she collaborates with over 40 diverse member congregations, leading in mission and conversations on race following the unrest in Ferguson.

Reconciliation also launched the Be One in 1000 fundraising campaign to support immediate needs for education and awareness for racial justice and equity within our church. Your support through this campaign will promote relationship-building across difference, youth programs and educational programs that heighten awareness toward healing the wounds of separation caused by the sin of racism. Go to http://teespring.com/be-one-in-a-thousand to purchase a T-shirt for $25.

Baker is ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ and has spent over a decade serving adolescent youth in chaplaincy, churches, and community organizations across the country.

She is a bi-vocational planter and has been the Chaplain at Lakeside Residential Center since July 2005, and St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center Chaplain since 2009. She planted Liberation Christian Church (DOC) in April 2009 seeking to create a church that frees lives and communities through the power of Jesus Christ.

Week of Compassion

GA News- page WoC speaker#CompassionInAction: At the Week of Compassion breakfast, CEO of International Orthodox Christian Charities, Dean Triantafilou, speaking on the crises in Syria and how Week of Compassion is responding. Executive Vice President at Church World Service, Maurice Bloem, speaking about water programs around the world at the Wine to Share: Water for All event. WOC also hosted Equal Exchange, Society of Saint Andrew and other partner organizations in their booth in the exhibit hall.

GA News page  WoCWaterSpeaker