I've returned home from the General Assembly in Orlando. We left a little early (Wednesday evening flight). It was good to be together as Church in Orlando. I always connecting with new friends and reconnecting with old friends. I got to spend time with classmates from Northwest Christian College (now University), including the new Moderator of the General Church -- +Glen Miles. I watched with joy and with pride as my classmate and friend of many years preached opening night. As I was reminded -- we are now among the Grown Ups. It is our time to take our place among the leaders. I'll be praying for Glen and for Sharon Watkins and the other leaders of the Church.
Once again my denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will be gathering for its biennial General Assembly. We're gathering in Orlando, FL, with an estimated crowd of about 4500 people from across the nation and the world. We'll gather for worship, for educational events, for fellowship, and for business. Yes, one aspect of our time together will be business sessions where we hear reports from agencies and constituency groups, along with the General Minister and President, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins. We'll vote on some rather mundane items of business and some rather controversial items as well. There is a resolution supporting immigration reform and one that calls for our churches to be welcoming and gracious, especially to persons whose sexual orientation is other than heterosexual. The latter appears to be rather divisive. I'm praying that we can deal with the question of welcome in a way that is gracious. From what I've seen so far, the rhetoric is anything but gracious -- but more about that in a later post.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly meeting in Orlando, Florida, July 13-17, 2013, calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to recognize itself as striving to become a people of grace and welcome to all God’s children though differing in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, physical or mental ability, political stance or theological perspective; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Assembly calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to affirm the faith, baptism and spiritual gifts of all Christians regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that neither is grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church, but we celebrate that all are part of God’s good creation; and
FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly calls upon all expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as a people of grace and welcome, to acknowledge their support for the welcome of and hospitality to all.
The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, the General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offers a brief but helpful word of wisdom concerning this resolution, helping us understand why it is important that we pass it. I invite you to watch and offer your thoughts:
The General Assembly is on the near horizon. As is true of any General Assembly there will be items placed before the delegates for vote. Often the issues are focused on logistics and operations. There are often resolutions focused on matters of Social Justice and Christian living in our world. At the upcoming General Assembly, we will be asked to vote on a Sense of the Assembly Resolution that in part addresses the inclusion of those who are considered by themselves and others to be LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender).