The Disciples Together Express
September/October 2020 - News from the Christian Church in the Upper Midwest (Disciples of Christ)
Seeing Through the Storms
Rev. John Richardson,
Interim Regional Minister and President
Dear Upper Midwest Disciples:
With the calling of the Rev. Joshua Patty as your next regional minister, I will complete my 14-month interim regional ministry with you—half of it socially distant during the COVID-19 pandemic time in which we live and do ministry.
On March 9 of this year, I drove home to Louisville. Jeannine and I planned to go out to dinner the following evening to celebrate our 47th anniversary. That did not happen. The world began to shut down that week because of the global pandemic. And, although, out of necessity, many businesses have reopened, we have not returned to the “normal” way of life. The answer to this question is still open-ended.
Over the same 7-month period, we have experienced a long overdue racial reckoning. The killing of African Americans by police officers and citizen vigilantes, coupled with our unequal heath care system and the unjust way our polices and legal system treat people of color and immigrants, has boiled over into the vacuum left by the pandemic. Protest marches and demonstrations have been a daily occurrence for over three months in multiple cities across our country. We must rethink who we are as a people and closely examine the laws and policies that govern us as a nation.
In his Wall Street Journal essay today, Eric Weiner writes: “…today’s lockdowns (partial or full) force us to pause and question assumptions so deeply ingrained that we didn’t know we had them….We crave to return to ‘normal,’ but have we stopped to define normal? We know these times demand courage, but what does courage look like? Already, we’ve expanded our notion of ‘hero’ to include not only doctors and nurses but grocery clerks and Grubhub couriers.”
For all reading this article, the church is of great importance. We all miss the regular gathering in person of a community of faith. To worship, pray, sing, and share in the Lord’s Supper—together.
We have learned that church can be, and is, church—with, or without, a building. Whatever it means to return to “normal” for being church in the future, I pray it will be ministry and people focused, and not building focused.
In his essay, Mr. Weiner also reminds of the wisdom of Henry David Thoreau, as he “gazed at Walden Pond one calm September afternoon…”:
If you can’t change the world, Thoreau counsels,
change how you see it—
even if that means contorting yourself.
Viewed at the right angle, said
Thoreau, every storm and every drop in it is a rainbow.
I believe with all my heart and soul that we have been given the opportunity to look into the storm of life and begin to see, even if we have to contort our way of seeing, that every color of humanity is a loved, cherished and a valued child of God—our sisters and brothers. Anything less is sin.
On October 1, as you begin your journey together with Josh as your regional minister, I pray the blessing of God embraces you as regional church. I have been richly blessed to have traveled with you for a part of your journey.
The Anti-Racism/Pro-Reconciling Team of the Christian Church (DOC) in the Upper Midwest invites you to join in a hour long Zoom Open House to learn about the Team (laity and clergy) and how you can be a part of this important work. Please come join us!
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Marshalltown Expresses Gratitude
Thirteen members of Ankeny Christian Church came to Marshalltown on Sunday, August 16 and spent the day working in the backyard of a member of Central Christian Church. They cut and hauled lots and lots of trees and brush to the compost center. Central Christian Church sends a big thank you to Matt Porath and his group. Jim was really pleased with all the help they provided!
Christian Conference Center Closed
2020 Regional Calendar
Things We Do Together
Below, @CCC = held at the Christian Conference Center
Sept. 11-12 Regional Committee on Ministry
Sept. 24 Regional Operations Council Online
Oct. 1 New Regional Minister and President, Rev.
Joshua Patty Begins
Oct. 3 All Congregational Gathering Online
Oct. 22 Regional Operations Council Online
Christian Conference Center Provides Relief
The Christian Conference Center was able to provide the following aid to the Newton community following the derecho storm:
Complimentary overnight stays in Lodge rooms for vulnerable populations
Free laundry facilities for displaced residents
Free hot showers for those without power
Cooling station in the College Avenue Worship Center
Borrowed chainsaws and generators
Volunteer labor to welcome and assist neighbors
Staff presence at Jasper County Emergency Management gatherings
Hosting FCC Newton for Sunday worship while heir building is being repaired (ongoing)
The CCC had no permanent damage to buildings during the storm. Several downed trees are now cleaned up thanks to staff and volunteers. Your ongoing support made this possible. Thank you!
We write to you in unprecedented times to share some unprecedented news: In a special called meeting of the General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) via Zoom on Sunday, July 19, 2020, the board voted to cancel the 2021 General Assembly originally scheduled for July 31-Aug. 4, 2021, in Louisville, KY.
This was not a decision that was made lightly. After many weeks of prayer, investigation and long discussion, it became obvious to us that we needed to act in the best interests of the Church going forward. The COVID-19 pandemic has made travel and large gatherings ill-advised until the situation becomes more stable.
We have worked closely with staff to explore all our options. Regional ministers and presidents of the general ministries were consulted as well. All of us were united in our desire to keep our members safe. When we took the situation to the administrative committee, they, too, were in agreement it would be best to not gather in person next summer. The health and safety of our church family is far too important to risk meeting in an environment when we can’t be sure that everyone will be safe.
Deciding now to cancel the event, even as we don’t know yet know what next summer will bring, is also an act of stewardship for the Church. There will be financial implications to cancelling, but had we proceeded in planning an event which needed to be cancelled at a later date, or one which was only sparsely attended, we might have incurred even great expense.
We join you in grieving the loss of this beloved event. We have some mourning to do before we can begin to find a way forward.
Even in these difficult days, and maybe more so in these difficult days, we are united in our conviction that God is with us. Over these past several months, we have often prayed together using the words of Romans 8:38-39, which would have been our theme scripture at the General Assembly: There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
We know this to be true.
Rev. Terri Hord Owens, General Minister and President
Rev. Belva Brown Jordan, Moderator
Rev. Stephanie Kendell, First Vice Moderator
Rev. Dr. Nestor Gomez, Second Vice Moderator
Clyde Hunt, Moderator Elect
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As an added bonus, 10% of all sales are donated to the Disciples Mission Fund!
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