Building a Just & Inclusive Community

If your heart beats for a just and inclusive community that celebrates the dignity and equality at the center of Christ’s love, then you’ll want to know about some wonderful opportunities taking place in Springfield October 6-10.

Oct. 6, 1:00 p.m.
Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Racism Workshop

layout.header.leftDrury University is offering a special half-day workshop on the critical issues of racism and systemic injustice, in partnership with the Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Reconciliation Team. The afternoon will include speakers, video, interactive experiences and conversation. Attendees will learn to

  • Name and understand key terms/concepts related to racism
  • Describe contemporary and historic examples of institutional racism, white privilege, civil and human rights in the U.S.
  • Articulate a biblical foundation for justice ministry
  • Engage in informed dialogue about current issues of racism and reconciliation in the U.S. and in local communities
  • Begin to develop personal and community-based “Next Steps” to address systemic racism in participants’ own communities.
  • Participants in this workshop will likely be interested in the conversations on race in America that Lyle Foster is currently facilitating on Thursday evenings at Big Momma’s.

Location:
Drury University
900 N. Benton
Springfield, MO 65802

Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m.
sharonwatkins-small-225x300The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), will speak on understanding the role of church as being a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. She is the author of Whole: A call for unity in our fragmented world. In the book, Dr. Watkins brings stories from her wide experience in Christian and interfaith circles, and she shares an invitation to live out God’s unconditional love that heals divisions and divisiveness in both North America and the global community. At the invitation of then President-Elect Barack Obama, Dr. Watkins preached at the National Prayer Service in Washington, D.C. on January 21, 2009, the day after his inauguration. She also served a term on President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and offered the call to worship at the President’s second National Prayer Service in 2013.

Location:
Central Christian Church
1475 N. Washington
Springfield, MO 65802

Oct. 9, 10:00 a.m.
mjRev. Dr. Mark Johnston, Executive Director of the GLAD Alliance (Gay, Lesbian, and Affirming Disciples), will speak on the importance of providing inclusive places of welcome and hospitality for LGBTQ people. Dr. Johnston earned his Ph.D. in Pastoral Psychology from Boston University in 1993, and is a licensed psychologist in Massachusetts. He worked as a therapist with LGBT clients and their families for over 25 years before accepting the call as Executive Director of the Open & Affirming Ministry program in July of 2013. He now lives in San Francisco with his partner Shannon Halkyard and their stubborn and energetic Jack Russell Terrier Fannie Mae. He is an avid sailor, cyclist, and scuba diver, and wannabe linguist.

Location:
Brentwood Christian Church
1900 E. Barataria
Springfield, MO 65804

Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m.

© Jim Mayfield 2007

© Jim Mayfield 2007

Dr. Teresa Hornsby, professor at Drury University, will lead a conversation on her new book, Transgender, Intersex & Biblical Interpretation. Dr. Hornsby received her Masters of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, as well as a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Vanderbilt University. Her research centers primarily on the topics of sexuality and gender in the Bible. When not teaching, researching and writing, she brews beer and plays drums in a Riot Grrrl band.

Location:
Brentwood Christian Church
1900 E. Barataria
Springfield, MO 65804

General Assembly Wrap-Up: Ranging from the Civil Rights Voting Act to Trayvon Martin to Becoming a Church of Grace & Welcome to All

Last week representatives from Disciples of Christ churches in the United States and Canada gathered in Orlando, Florida for the denomination’s biennial General Assembly (for those of you who may not know, Brentwood shares a covenantal relationship with the Disciples). We gathered for continuing education, workshops, worship, and, yes, business items — namely “sense of the assembly” resolutions. While resolutions may sound boring, they are actually quite lively and important. In large part, they provide congregations an opportunity to faithfully think through incredibly important and timely topics. While none of the resolutions are binding for Disciples congregations (they speak to the church but not for the church), they do provide a sense of the denomination’s direction and thought on a variety of matters.

While a full recap of all of the Assembly resolutions can be found here, the resolutions that received most of the attention were two emergency resolutions (#1337 & #1338) as well as resolution #1237, which encourages the church to become a people of grace and welcome to all (all of the resolutions before the assembly were adopted):

  • Emergency Resolution #1337, “Concerning the Decision of the United States Supreme Court to Dismantle the Voting Rights Act”: This resolution calls on “members of the church and our ecumenical partners to work for legislation that ensures equal access to the right to vote for all United States citizens” and that “the members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) stand in solidarity with groups and organizations who are seeking justice and equal voice for all persons in order that all may participate with equal opportunity in the decision making processes of the United States.”
  • Emergency Resolution #1338, “Concerning the State of Florida vs. George Zimmerman”: This resolution called on the General Minister and President of the Disciples of Christ, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, “to work ecumenically with her colleagues in supporting the Justice Department’s inquiry” into the Zimmerman verdict, and that “the words of our General Minister and President, shared in worship pertaining to this case on Sunday evening July 14, 2013, be broadly distributed to the church.” As you can imagine, Dr. Watkins’ words on Sunday evening’s worship were very moving. We will obtain a DVD of her talk and find a time to share it with the Brentwood community. In the meantime, you can click here for an MSNBC interview with Dr. Watkins as she reflects on the racial justice in relationship to Trayvon Martin.
  • Resolution #1327, “Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All,” encourages the 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 “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.”

Resolution #1327 was passed by an overwhelming majority. Here are a couple of blog posts that describe its implications more fully:

As Disciples of Christ, our identity statement says we are “A movement for wholeness in a fragmented world,” and the General Assembly encouraged us to live out this statement more fully. For all of the frustrations that one sometimes feels toward the institutional church, during this assembly I found myself very proud to be associated with it.

– Phil