Disciples News Service

Disciples speaking out this spring

Disciples have been getting up and out into their communities a lot in the last few weeks. Issues including gun violence, racism, poverty, and education have all motivated action from congregations coast to coast. Here is just a sample of activities to show the breadth of Disciples responses.

March for Our Lives  |  Act to End Racism  |  MLK 50  |  Oklahoma Teachers’ Strike  |  Poor People’s Campaign

March for Our Lives

Throughout the Disciples Public Presence Facebook group, there is evidence via picture and post of Disciples participating in  March for Our Lives events to advocate against gun violence at all the points of the compass on March 24, 2018 Capital Area Regional Minister Allen Harris worked to extend hospitality on behalf of the Washington D.C. area for the main event, organized and led by student activists who survived the recent school shooting in Parkland, FL. These Disciples have taken to heart the 2015 General Assembly resolution (GA-1521) to work against gun violence.

Some of the locations with a Disciples presence included:

  • Albuquerque, NM
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Bentonville, AR
  • Chattanooga, TN
  • Colorado Springs, CO
  • Corvallis, OR
  • Dallas, TX
  • Davenport, IA
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Worth, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Iowa City, IA
  • Irving, TX
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Kansas City
  • Lee’s Summit, MO
  • Lincoln, NE
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  • New York, NY
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Pueblo, CO
  • Rochester, MN
  • San Diego, CA
  • Springfield, MO
  • St. Louis, MO, both adults and the Christian Regional Youth Cabinet meeting at Compton Heights
  • Topeka, KS
  • Traverse City, MI
  • Tulsa, OK
  • Wichita, KS
  • Coral Springs, FL

ACT to End Racism kickoff rally

Though weather prevented her from speaking, General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens attended the April 4 kickoff for the National Council of Churches’ ACT Now anti-racism effort. Disciples were visible everywhere from the chair of the effort, former GMP Sharon Watkins; to emcee Julian DeShazier, pastor of University Christian Church in Chicago; to active participants, which included general ministry presidents, regional ministers, and other concerned Disciples. The Disciples Center for Public Witness and Disciples Home Missions’ Refugee & Immigration Ministries coordinated a hospitality tent on the National Mall for the event (which was live streamed). Disciples have a long history of yearning to become a pro-reconciling/anti-racist Church – from the merger 50 years ago of the International Christian Church Convention and the National Christian Missionary Convention (now the National Convocation) to our four priorities and numerous efforts to dismantle internal racist systems.

Among the regions and ministries represented were:

  • Upper Midwest region
  • Office of General Minister and President
  • Capital Area region
  • National Benevolent Association
  • Council on Christian Unity
  • Northern California-Nevada region
  • Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation
  • Oregon-Southwest Idaho region
  • Southwest region
  • Higher Education & Leadership Ministries
  • Kentucky region
  • West Virginia region – included Bethany College students

MLK 50

Also on April 4, many Disciples were among those that converged in Memphis, TN to honor the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated 50 years ago on April 4, 1968. Included in those ceremonies was a speech by North Carolina pastor and leader of the Poor People’s Campaign Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II from the balcony of the Lorraine Motel (the site of King’s assassination). Dr. Stacy L. Spencer from New Direction Christian Church and the Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope spoke as well. Retired Disciples minister Alvin Jackson was one of the organizers. Disciples participants included individuals and groups from:

  • Illinois/Wisconsin region
  • Great River region
  • National Convocation
  • Reconciliation Ministry
  • Tennessee region
  • South Carolina region

Teacher strikes

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, there are Disciples supporting the children left without school lunches due to statewide teacher strikes protesting insufficient education funding. In addition, some churches are offering a “Shutdown VBS” and other child care programs to keep young minds active. Among the congregations providing services for kids are:

  • Eastside Christian Church, Tulsa – child care and meals
  • Bethany Christian Church, Tulsa – partnering ecumenically for VBS activities
  • First Christian Church, Lawton – electronic sign supporting teachers
  • Harvard Avenue Christian Church, Tulsa – open community space, breakfast, lunch; teacher support through prayer walk and dinner for marchers
  • Community Christian Church, Ponca City – lunches
  • First Christian Church, Stillwater – youth march to support teachers
  • First Christian Church, Claremore – Operation Lunchbox
  • First Christian Church, Healdton – open doors as community center with 10 volunteers to welcome students
  • Forest Park Christian Church, Tulsa – open doors for free elementary age activities, breakfast and lunch

Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival

Disciples are just getting started in speaking up on issues that matter to them. Disciples pastor Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is expanding his Moral Mondays in South Carolina to a call for a new iteration of the Poor People’s Campaign, originally conceived by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago. The 2017 General Assembly pledged support with a resolution (GA 1740).

Approximately 30 state committees are organizing in the areas that have the most severe issues for the poor. They are beginning training in April for the 40 Days of Moral Action campaign, to begin the Monday after Mother’s Day and continue every Monday (except Memorial Day) through late June. Actions will be at both state capitals and Washington D.C., to advocate for poverty-alleviating policies at both the state and federal level. To get on the mailing list for your state, go to the Poor People’s Campaign website and sign up. You can also follow the campaign on their Facebook page.

New York City

Jacksonville, FL

Fort Worth, TX young Disciple

Des Moines, Iowa

General Minister and President Terri Hord Owens

Upper Midwest region “in the house”

Sharon Watkins, National Council of Churches ACT coordinator

Allen Harris, regional minister for the Capital Area

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II speaks at Lorraine Motel in Memphis

Stillwater youth in Oklahoma City

Claremore, OK Operation Lunch

Clergy in Oklahoma state capitol


2 Responses to “Disciples speaking out this spring”

  1. Bill Blue Eagle McCutchen:

    It warms my heart to witness so many Disciples working to be of good service to ALL people. Truly, ALL MEANS ALL!

  2. Joe Hodges:

    Today my heart is a little sad.
    There is so much on the news and in our face about rights these days.
    Who has them and who doesn’t.
    Who should and who should have some taken away.
    Who should get to protest and who shouldn’t.
    Who should be proactive and who should be reactive,
    Who should get politically involved with a community voice and who should let what they do be their voice.
    The right to…
    There is so much on the news and in our face about rights these days. In a way, it makes my heart a little sad.

    It seems that as all of these issues clash and stir in a pot of antagonistic rhetoric, Jesus may be getting lost.
    It seems that as all of these issues clash and stir in a pot of antagonistic rhetoric, salvation for the lost may be getting lost.
    It seems that as all of these issues clash and stir in a pot of antagonistic rhetoric, compassion for the other side of the issue, whatever your issue, may be getting lost.
    It seems that as all of these issues clash and stir in a pot of antagonistic rhetoric it is becoming more about gathering and learning how to protest than gathering and learning to resolve.

    So my heart is a little sad this morning. Sad that there is more effort in protesting than sharing Romans 10:9-10. – 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
    10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

    Will we spend as much effort protesting and teaching protesting and supporting the efforts of those who are, instead of sharing Romans 10: 9-10?

    Revelation 22:17 – 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hear say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life come.

    Are we spending as much time inviting and leading people to living water as we are in protesting activities?

    So today my heart is sad. Sad that as I walk with my wife through the grind of brain cancer, through treatments, through trail meds taking their toll, through the witness of her not being able to……. and see more protesting than witnessing so that people might know Jesus and have life, everlasting life, life more abundant life through Jesus, my heart is sad.

    So to all you really good people, young people, teachers, kitchen workers, volunteers looking after children, general church, regional staff, good church folks, clergy and ME… may we spend more time sharing Jesus with words than deeds. May we tell about Jesus in strong and bold ways, as much as showing it in soft ways.
    My fear is we won’t
    My fear is don’t
    My fear is we’ve forgotten how
    My fear is it’s just easier to get a sign, skip work or school, open church doors for those who are, and rally and protest. But…….. but where is the rally for Jesus at state capitals?
    Today my heart is a little sad.