Disciples News Service

General Assembly task forces working through the biennium

Most folks recognize that the staff of the general Church continues working beyond each general assembly, but there are also dozens of volunteers who are working behind the scenes. Moderators, board members and task force members are meeting now to bring proposals forward that will affect the life and work of the Church for years to come. Three task forces directly addressing meetings of the General Assembly have begun their work.

Just and Ethical Meeting Locations  GA 1537
This task force was called for during the 2015 General Assembly in Columbus. Its  charge is to outline justice-related parameters for locating Church-sponsored meetings of more than 25 individuals. While there has always been a preference for “green” facilities, etc., the issue came in stark relief when, in 2015, the General Board voted to move the 2017 General Assembly in response to a discriminatory bill passed by the Indiana legislature. When the legislature “fixed” the legislation, the General Board decided to re-choose Indianapolis for the 2017 meeting.

The task force has met by conference call and will continue to work. Some of the ideas they discussed include stronger language in the requests for proposals to indicate our preference for “green” facilities and local laws that align with stated priorities of the General Assembly. The group also is discussing ways to use the Justice Table to respond to issues that occur after contracts are signed. (The Justice Table meets six times a year or more often when needed and includes members from ministries particularly concerned with justice issues.)

Committee membership includes: Irie Session, chair, Ron Degges, Norma Ellington-Twitty, Scott Hardin-Nieri, Linda McCrae and Sharon Coleman (staff).

Future of the General Assembly GA 1532
Changing cultural patterns and technology, cost considerations and the need for face-to-face connections – these issues and more have bubbled to the surface during the last several years, particularly related to the General Assembly. How can Disciples effectively maintain relationship and steward our resources well while doing God’s work in the world?

A group tasked with taking a macro look at the General Assembly began their work together by looking at data – surveys of churches and attendees, numbers and demographics, comments and costs. They will continue to meet to discuss the broad questions of how and why we meet with an eye to paragraphs 37- 46 of The Design for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Committee membership includes: Glen Miles, chair, Rachel Bell, Julia Brown-Karimu, Gary Kidwell, Stacy Shelton, Bill Spangler-Dunning and Sharon Coleman (staff).

Social Witness (resolutions) GA 1524
How can we impact the culture around us on matters of  faith with statements and action without causing pain and division within our congregations? Since the inception of The Design about 50 years ago (and before) the Church has used “resolutions” from the General Assembly to speak to the issues of the day. Efforts to move issues into study and reflection have had mixed results. Current parameters are included in the Special Rules of Procedure for the General Assembly.

The task force is formed of representatives from general ministries and representatives from congregations. The group, tasked with re-examining the way we talk about current affairs both within and outside our Church, will be meeting over the next biennium with a goal of bringing a proposal to the General Board’s February 2017 meeting. Their first meeting was the first weekend in February.

Committee membership includes: from ministries – Paul Tche, Vangie Perez, Ken Brooker-Langston, Ron Degges, Sekinah Hamlin Sullivan, Julia Brown Karimu, Rebecca Littlejohn, Mark Johnston and Shannon Dycus; from congregations – Stephanie Crowder, Robert Cayton, Scott Kinnaird, Katherine Raley, Jeff Goodier, Twanda Wilson, Fiyori Kadane, Charisse Gillett, William Bauzo, Richelle Himaya; from the regions – Pamela Holt, Dean Phelps; Sharon Watkins (staff).