When the whole church gathers in an event like General Assembly, it is an interesting combination of family reunion, new ideas and experiences, redundancy desperately seeking innovation, inspired teaching, relaxed time sharing memories with ol’ friends and meeting new colleagues and friends.
Disciples gather as the whole church every two years. I learn things at each assembly – some of them in workshops, some in worship, some in passing conversation and some just – in the air.
This year some of the things I learned included:
- Some of Barton Stone’s sermons were in Cherokee, “to bring the message to people, you
must learn their language.”
- I learned the term ‘safe unity’. Unity that keeps us from disagreeing or addressing issues
is not true unity.
- Using the imagery of the Gospel of John, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, he was
teaching us that ministry happens at foot level. There, too, is where true unity happens.
Unity is challenging. We call ourselves the Christian Church (DOC) of the United States and Canada, yet our Canadian family experiences being on the outside. I knew there were very few Canadian DOC churches and this assembly brought some interesting things to my awareness. For example, as we utilize technology (like the apps on our phones or donating online – big items at this Assembly), those things don’t work in Canada. I heard questions like: Do we have curriculum in French as well as English, Spanish and ?” Or when we pass Sense of Assembly resolutions that speak to relationships with other countries or concerns about govt. involvement, why are they written with the assumption that all congregations are in the same country, the United States?
There were other things I learned as well- like that of the 3300 congregations in the DOC, only 800 have fulltime clergy. I continue to be grateful for our part-time and bi-vocational clergy and the gifts they bring to the church.
There is so much more to share. We will have a time for all who attended General Assembly to share their experiences and also have some information for study and re ection on the decisions made. I encourage you to visit the Disciples website for more information about all these things. And I especially encourage you to see and hear our new General Minister and President Rev. Teresa Hord Owens! She preached an amazing sermon which is available to everyone thanks to the internet. Church happens in all kinds of ways and in all kinds of places.
Thanks be to God! Amen
Grace and Peace,