Thoughts from 2017 General Assembly of the Christian Church – Disciples of Christ
By David Tietsort
The big event of this assembly was the election of Rev. Teresa Hord Owens as our new General Minister and President. This happened on Sunday evening, July 9th. An open forum was held on Sunday afternoon to introduce her to the assembly and allowed her to answer questions. I attended that forum and was very impressed with her answers and the way that she conducted herself. She talked about her vision for the church and the need for unity among all Christians which was the theme of this General Assembly: “ONE.”
I had a chance to speak with her on Monday evening about the possibility of sharing a future general assembly with our independent Christian Church brethren and she was receptive to the idea. I also mentioned this to John Imbler of the Historical Society and he had had the same thought. I plan to follow up on this.
On Saturday evening, there was a dinner to honor Sharon Watkins, thanking her for her 12 years of service as our outgoing General Minister and President.
The normal reports and resolutions were presented during business sessions on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday afternoon. A couple of resolutions were passed in regard to immigration. One was encouraging churches to become “Immigrant Welcoming Congregations.” A second was an emergency resolution in opposition to the President’s recent travel ban for refugees from selected Middle East countries.
Four learning track opportunities were available at this assembly covering (1) Justice, (2) Stewardship & Resources, (3) Worship and (4) Trans-formative Leadership & Innovation. I chose the trans-formative track and found it very informative. They generally talked about what trans-formative churches were and were not doing and told stories about the kind of activities successful churches were participating in.
In general, trans-formative churches need to connect in three ways. We need to connect with the Holy Spirit, God’s purpose, and our neighbor. These are all interconnected. We need to identify what the spirit is doing in our communities and ask how can we participate in that work.
As to God’s purpose, we need to stop focusing on worship styles or attendance or offering and focus on showing God’s love to the world.
That brings us to the third connection which is our neighbor or our community. We need to identify what needs exist in our community that we can help meet. Lots of ideas were presented of things churches were doing, such as a food pantry (which we do), prison support, recovery cafe for ex-cons, opening church doors for community service, and one I found interesting – a drive-thru prayer booth. These ideas may or may not work for us, but the point is to be creative in looking for how the Spirit wants to use us in serving our community. The objective should not be to get people to come to church but to actually meet their needs. If we do that, then we will be serving God and fulfilling our mission as Disciples of Christ. , Dave
Know Your Neighbor (KYN) Overview:
1) To strengthen internal relationships among nearby church neighbors through faith sharing;
2) To develop external awareness of the nearby neighborhoods to understand what God’s up to and how we might join in that work.
6 sessions over the next 3 months, in homes and local gathering places.
Nucleus of Open Table graduates facilitating discussion with nearby church neighbors.
Appreciative Inquiry questions to strengthen internal relationships and faith sharing.
Appreciative Inquiry questions to develop awareness of nearby neighborhoods to understand what God’s up to and how we might join in that work.
KYN groups to share what they’re learning about each other & their respective neighborhoods. Share in worship, newsletter, online, etc.
The “Big Question” is how do the KYN groups live their faith together in their respective neighborhoods?
We are proud to be one of 20 church partners in Faith Alliance, one of our joint missions is to eliminate poverty in our community and by our actions demonstrate true Christian love.
Sing Out Against Poverty ! Saturday September 30, 2017
Noon – 5 PM
A family-friendly Christian Rock Festival to raise awareness for Faith Alliance outreach programs benefiting our neighbors living in poverty.
Bring a lawn chair and come join the fun at the Square at Union Centre!
¨ Open to the public
¨ Four local Christian bands
¨ STAR 93.3 & DJ Julie Pierce
¨ Freefood & beverages
¨ Door prizes & raffle
¨ Hauser Air Kid Zone featuring games, prizes & Cool Zone
¨ FUE-LD Christian Line Dancers
¨ Special appearance by The Mobile Cone!
Faith Alliance would like to give thanks and recognize our generous sponsors who have made this event possible:
The Tate family
Hillandale Family of Communities
Mueller Roofing Distributors
Terry Schneeman – Century 21 Homestar
West Chester Liberty Lifestyle Magazine
93.3 Star Christian Radio
Jimmy Johns – Union Centre
Please watch the following video to see how much fun was had last year and information about this year:
The Faith Alliance, a network of churches and volunteers in Lakota, served in 3 outreach ministries this summer helping low-income, at-risk local children to be nourished, mentored, and properly ready for school.
The 4th Annual Faith Alliance Help a Child in Need Succeed Backpack Ministry supporting Reach out Lakota’s Back to School Program was another wonderful success! Nine Faith Alliance churches partnered to collect backpacks and school supplies for low-income children registered at Reach Out Lakota. Churches sponsored more than 450 Lakota children with backpacks and school supplies, including more than $24,000 worth of donations.
Andrea Subler, ROL Back to School Coordinator commented:
“Your (Faith Alliance) collaboration played a vital role in helping us to meet our goal to ensure that all children in the Lakota School District begin the school year with the tools needed to succeed. The majority of our distributed items (well over 90%) came from members of the Faith Alliance!We certainly couldn’t succeed without the many hands and hearts like yours that are dedicated to helping our community.”
The Summer Lunch Ministry, led by Faith Alliance churches and Butler County Success for about 10 years, has blossomed into a partnership with Lakota Child Nutrition and their new Food Bus the past two years. Through this partnership, more low-income children than ever were served lunch this year at six local residential sites plus Liberty Junior School. 13,533 meals were served to almost 300 children each day, Monday through Friday all summer.
Hundreds of volunteers from 22 churches, 26 schools, 3 companies and 3 non-profits, showed up to help with lunch, read, mentor and do fun activities with these children through-out the summer. Many churches organized field trips for example, to the zoo, library, fire and police stations, and some provided adult lunches and groceries to take home. Faith Alliance volunteers organized Book Fairs and the MidPointe Outreach Librarian also led reading activities at various sites.
29 students registered for the free Faith Alliance Summer Lunch Literacy 6 week Program at Union and Woodland Elementary Schools. Led by two veteran Lakota teachers, the program targeted 1st and 2nd grade struggling readers from low-income homes. Four college interns and one high school volunteer assisted with the program. Faith Alliance, in cooperation with Butler County Success and Lakota Schools, has administered the Summer Lunch Literacy Program for the past 3 years under the leadership of Denise Chambers, Volunteer Literacy Advocate.
The students and staff celebrated the end of their program by visiting Fiona, the newest addition at the Cincinnati Zoo! One little girl was reported as telling her teacher, “This is the best day of my life!”
Faith Alliance is grateful for their many partners in service including: the churches, Lakota Schools & Child Nutrition, Butler County Success, the Lunch of Love, Mission Possible, Reach Out Lakota, Hillandale Family of Communities and all the community volunteers who collectively made a difference in the lives of these children and families. Funding for all or part of this outreach has been generously provided by The Community Foundation of West Chester/Liberty, the Caring Community Collaborative (C3), The Cincinnati Presbytery, The Rotary Club of West Chester/Liberty, Walmart, our churches and private donors.
September = School
Do you remember or have a favorite teacher? This month let’s focus on the best teacher – Jesus.
The Leadership Lessons of Jesus by Bob Briner & Ray Pritchard “The book is composed of 51 short reflections on verses of the Gospel of Mark that demonstrate the principles of Jesus’s style of leadership. Each chapter opens with a long passage from Mark and then focuses on one key verse from that longer passage. The remainder of each chapter is a mini-devotion on the particular leadership quality illustrated by each passage.” (from Publisher’s Weekly)
The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey is a Bible study that can easily be used for personal devotions. We have 3 copies (2 on the shelf & 1 on display) so several can take advantage of learning from the Master.
Show Me! Devotions for Kids by Susan L. Lingo will help parents help their kiddos learn the joy of Bible study. This book is filled with entertaining activities to make learning fun.
It’s easy to check out a book. Keep it as long as you need to, then bring it back for someone else to enjoy. Let me know what you’re interested in so I can purchase new books for our shelves.
Your Friendly CCC Librarian
Local ~ Unity among the body of Christ to welcome and be more hospitable to strangers (however defined).
Regional ~ Healing and hope for the opioid crisis and other addictions plaguing our area.
Global ~ Strength to address and prevention to prepare for crises such as natural disasters.
Merry Christmas ?
To all Disciples in the Ohio Region
Upon the separation of our former Regional Minister, the Regional Church Council and Executive Committee began conversations about conducting investigations to address issues that had arisen. Among these was the need to investigate our regional finances. Originally, we/I used the language of ‘audit’ but in our engagement with several firms during the bid process we were instructed that what we were actually in need of was a focused investigation that addressed the targeted areas in question in relation to the region’s fiscal policies.
As promised, we now share [what we have learned] with the whole of the Christian Church in Ohio. In turn please share [these reports] (contact Donne for an electronic copy) with your congregations, clergy groups, etc. that everyone might know that this part of our investigations has been completed.
The ‘narrative’ provides a brief overview of what was discerned in the investigation. The ‘report’ provides more detail in terms of what the investigators found, didn’t find, as well as their recommendations for the region to get its financial house in order. I will remind you that we have taken great strides in doing just that when we began working with the Office of the General Minister, Treasury Services on August 1, 2017, to provide oversight and accountability for our regional finances moving forward.
I entreat you to continue in prayer for the region, its leadership, and the ongoing work of responding faithfully to the call of God which includes the critiques of our shared life and ministry. As always, please feel free to respond with any questions or thoughts you may have that will further strengthen our shared ministries.
Thank you for engaging Wells, CPA to perform an agreed-upon procedure engagement. The report associated with the engagement has been issued. The purpose of this letter is to provide a high-level summary of the findings and recommendations as a result of the engagement. These items are listed below:
Christian Church in Ohio does not have formal policies and procedures that would determine when an action is poor judgement versus malice intention. For example, there is no formal policy or procedures regarding the following items:
o Withdrawals from investment accounts
o Authorization and approval of cash disbursements
o The recording of encumbered (committed) funds
The fiscal use of CDM could be improved. More information could be maintained within CDM, such as unpaid invoices.
The annual budget and monthly budget versus actual reporting reviewed by the Finance Committee could be more useful with a narrative. In addition, the annual budget should be a formal rollup of individual ministry budgets with narratives. The narrative would allow the management team and ministries to discuss the plan and anticipated projects that would be completed within the budget cycle.
Christian Church in Ohio should review their current investment policy. Currently, there is a policy that allows for an annual withdrawal of the investment balance. The financial statements indicate that Christian Church in Ohio does not have the resources to fulfill the donor restrictions. Unless the investments perform at a percentage greater than the withdrawal, the annual withdrawal continues to create a deficit when compared to donor restricted gifts.
Thank you for the opportunity to be your service provider. The formal report for the agreed upon procedure engagement has been delivered to the Regional Church Council.
Author C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity has a section on Social Morality whose words speak to us today:
Christianity has not, and does not profess to have, a detailed political program for applying “Do as you would be done by” to a particular society at a particular moment. All the same, the New Testament gives us a pretty clear hint of what a fully Christian society would be like. Perhaps it gives us more than we can take. It tells us that there are to be no passengers or parasites: if man does not work, he ought not to eat. Every one is to work with his own hands, and what is more, every one’s work is to produce something good: there will be no manufacture of silly luxuries and then of sillier advertisements to persuade us to buy them. And there is to be no “swank” or “side,” no putting on airs.
To that extent a Christian society would be what we now call Leftist. On the other hand, it is always insisting on obedience—obedience (and outward marks of respect) from all of us to properly appointed magistrates, from children to parents, and (I am afraid this is going to be very unpopular) from wives to husbands. Thirdly, it is to be a cheerful society: full of singing and rejoicing, and regarding worry or anxiety as wrong. Courtesy is one of the Christian virtues; and the New Testament hates what it calls “busybodies.”
If there were such a society in existence and you or I visited it, I think we should come away with a curious impression. We should feel that its economic life was very socialistic and, in that sense, “advanced,” but that its family life and its code of manners were rather old-fashioned—perhaps even ceremonious and aristocratic. Each of us would like some bits of it, but I am afraid very few of us would like the whole thing. That is just what one would expect if Christianity is the total plan for the human machine.
We have all departed from that total plan in different ways, and each of us wants to make out that his own modification of the original plan is the plan itself. You will find this again and again about anything that is really Christian: everyone is attracted by bits of it and wants to pick out those bits and leave the rest. That is why we do not get much further: and that is why people who are fighting for quite opposite things can both say they are fighting for Christianity.
I am going to venture on a guess as to how this section has affected any who have read it. My guess is that there are some Leftist people among them who are very angry that it has not gone further in that direction, and some people of an opposite sort who are angry because they think it has gone much too far. If so, that brings us right up against the real snag in all this drawing up of blueprints for a Christian society. Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity says: we are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for the views of our own party.
We are looking for an ally where we are offered either a Master or—a Judge. I am just the same. There are bits in this section that I wanted to leave out. And that is why nothing whatever is going to come of such talks unless we go a much longer way round. A Christian society is not going to arrive until most of us really want it: and we are not going to want it until we become fully Christian. I may repeat “Do as you would be done by” till I am black in the face, but I cannot really carry it out till I love my neighbor as myself: and I cannot learn to love my neighbor as myself till I learn to love God: and I cannot learn to love God except by learning to obey Him.
Our first reading comes from the prophet Habakkuk.
1I will stand at my watchpost, and station myself on the rampart; I will keep watch to see what he will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint.
2Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it.
3For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.
Our second reading comes from the book of Proverbs.
1The plans of the mind belong to mortals, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
6By loyalty and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one avoids evil.
9The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.
Our third reading comes from the book of Hebrews.
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
2looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
3Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
Here ends our readings. May God bless our understanding.
“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it.” – Song of Solomon 8:7 (NRSV)
In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, congregations across the United States are answering the call to assemble CWS Emergency Cleanup Buckets and Hygiene Kits, both of which are urgently needed. We are so grateful for everyone congregation who is letting their generosity overflow into this ministry of compassion. Below are resources to help you promote and celebrate this channel through which you are sharing your love.
Urgent Need for Cleanup Buckets and Hygiene Kits ~ DEADLINE 9/21
AS Of August 29 Church World Services (CWS) had just over 1,800 Emergency Cleanup Buckets in stock and anticipates running out. There is an urgent need for additional buckets to assist in this response.
CWS is also preparing to commit most or all of the roughly 140,000 CWS Hygiene Kits that are in Butler County stock in response to the Hurricanes.
There fire several Drop Off’ sites around Ohio over the next week or so, if you or your Congregation would like to assemble buckets and/or kits and drop them off; [See below for the locations and dates for drop-offs in Cincinnati.]
If you don‘t see one near you please consider making a monetary donation to Church World Service instead to help cover shipping costs and support for long-term recovery. Donate Monies go to the website: https://cws.global/38
Free admission and open to the public! Four local Christian bands will play with STAR 93.3 and DJ Julie Pierce kicking off the festivities! Free food and beverages offered along with door prizes and the Hauser Air Kid Zone featuring games & prizes, corn hole, face painting, coloring contest, and a Cool Zone tent!
Sing Out Against Poverty is a family-friendly, Christian Rock Festival which seeks to raise awareness for Faith Alliance outreach programs benefiting our neighbors living in poverty.