INDIANAPOLIS (9/2/09) – On Sunday, October 4, all congregations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have been invited to join in a special celebration of our history, our identity and our calling as a people of unity and community of reconciliation.
First, this Sunday has been identified as the date to observe the “Great Communion Celebration” of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address. It is hoped that congregations from the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the Churches of Christ will join together in local communities all across North America to celebrate the Lord’s Supper in marking this anniversary and lifting up our common identity in Jesus Christ. But, we know and we acknowledge that the Church is larger than these three branches of the life of the Church, and so…
Second, this Sunday was selected, in part, because it is also the historic occasion identified as “World Communion Sunday” when churches and traditions around the world celebrate our oneness at the Table. Disciples’ leaders helped to shape this event that is observed annually by Christians throughout the world. But, we know and we acknowledge that simply sharing the Lord’s Supper on a common date is not the goal of our unity in Christ, and so…
Third, this Sunday is also one of two Sundays each year that Disciples congregations are urged to focus on the issues of racial justice as we receive the Reconciliation Offering. This year the theme chosen for our Reconciliation Offering is “Many Members, One Table.” Laura Evans Mahn, a Disciples minister, prepared a brief reflection on this theme that brings together the themes of our calling to unity and to overcoming racism. She wrote, “Why is it so easy to accept the bread and the cup and set aside the rest of what it is we are accepting at the Table: the relationship, the forgiveness, the remembering, the reconciliation?”
These three observances – each coming this year on the same Sunday – are not meant to be competing celebrations, but a “three-in-one” opportunity for Disciples to name and claim both our history as a people of unity and our identity as a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world. On Sunday, October 4th, we acknowledge the One who calls each of us to remembrance, reconciliation and life-giving relationship. May it be so this Sunday!
Each and every congregation is encouraged to celebrate these values of our life as they make use of the following resources:
- Reconciliation: http://www.reconciliationministry.org/offerings/
- World Communion Sunday (from 2007, can be used for 2009): http://www.ncccusa.org/unity/worldcommunionsunday.html
- Great Communion Celebration: http://www.greatcommunion.org/
By Robert Welsh, president, Council on Christian Unity