When the congregation of South Hills Christian Church in Fort Worth, TX, heard about the cancellation of the 2021 General Assembly due to the pandemic, they were disappointed. When they heard about the financial implications of cancelling, they knew they could help.
“This is a congregation that has been deeply connected to the denomination,” said South Hills senior minister Rev. Dottie Cook. “We have church members who have been attending General Assembly for years. We would have dedicated funding to send people to Louisville in 2021. Since we can’t, this seemed like a way we could do something.”
Last fall, the congregation’s outreach team met and agreed to send a contribution from their outreach ministries to help offset the costs of cancellation fees. “It wasn’t a hard decision,” Rev. Cook said. “This is a generous congregation who values the General Assembly and understands the upfront costs of putting on such an event.”
Giving is a regular practice of the South Hills congregation. The church supports a number of local missions, as well as being active supporters of the Southwest region, Disciples Mission Fund, and other mission opportunities of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). “Our giving and our involvement in the community and the broader church go hand in hand,” explained Rev. Cook. “We live within our means, have a generous community and believe in sharing resources as a way of embodying our faith.”
Cancelling the 2021 General Assembly meant cancelling contracts with hotels and convention centers, which carried heavy cancellation fees and penalties, a liability carried by the Office of the General Minister and President on behalf of the whole church. Rescheduling the 2023 General Assembly to Louisville, as announced last week, will mitigate some of the losses, though cancelling contracts in Memphis – where the 2023 Assembly was originally to be held – still carries significant financial implications.
Contributions like the one from South Hills help. But the real gift is the expression of connectedness. Even when we can’t gather, we can still be together.