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Missional Dispatches

Thursday
Jul182013

The General Assembly and its Word to the Church -- A Reflection 

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.

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Thursday
Jul112013

Lord Teach Us to Pray -- Reflections for the Disciples of Christ General Assembly

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.

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Thursday
Jun132013

Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All

When my denomination -- the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) -- gathers for its General Assembly a month from now, we will have before us a Sense of the Assembly Resolution that speaks to the current debate over inclusion of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Persons.  Our churches are not of one mind.  In fact, in many of our congregations there is more than one view on this topic.  Indeed, our culture is in the middle of a major transition on the topic as well.  We await with somewhat bated breath for a Supreme Court ruling that could in principle invalidate all legal prohibitions to marriage equality.  We'll have to wait to see how the Court decides these increasingly important questions.  In the mean time, what about the church?  
Into this conversation some in the church have offered this resolution to get the conversation moving once again (we've been in a holding pattern for more than a decade).  GA-1327 is a Sense of the Assembly resolution, which is not an official ruling or test of fellowship, but a word to the local churches, the Regions and the various dimensions of the General Church where the Assembly stands on the issue.  There will be vigorous debate and there will be opposition.  My expectation is that the resolution, will pass, but by no means will it be unanimous.
Like most resolutions of this type, there are a number of Whereas clauses that you can read for yourself, but I want to provide here the manner in which the issue would be resolved:

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:

Saturday
Apr272013

Missional Dispatch for April 2013

The April edition of my Missional Dispatches, featuring updates on the fall Sabbatical.

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Thursday
Apr252013

Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All

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).  

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