More than 6,000 people packed into three cavernous exhibit halls at the Indianapolis Convention Center for an evening worship service July 29 as part of a rousing start to the 2009 General Assembly. They were not disappointed.
Empty seats in the plenary hall were scarce as the service began with musical and artistic performances arranged by producer, actor and musician Bill Thomas, an associate minister at Church of the Valley in Van Nuys, Calif. Thomas has appeared in a number of television shows, including The Cosby Show and The West Wing.
A processional started the evening with song and dance. Samoan-American drummers from Seattle, Wash., and members of the Ray of Hope Christian Church Mass Choir marched in with youth, general and regional ministers, and overseas visitors.
Hale, who leads one of Disciples’ largest congregations, wove her address around the night’s theme: “Created Whole.” (Gen. 2:4ff); along with Ephesians 2:10.
She urged the crowd to tell their neighbors “You are a piece of work,” and then told them, “The creation story talks about something that was made out of nothing. ‘God said it and it was so,’ ” declared Hale, paraphrasing Psalm 33:6.
Hale added that because man and woman had been created in the very image of God, their intrinsic value as human beings was more than most people can imagine. “As awesome as the cosmos is it was not God’s greatest work,” she preached. “All of creation, though absolutely breathtaking, was not God’s best work. God saved the best for last. We are His best.”
Hale, who accepted a call by the Church Advance Now program of the Board of Church Extension, and the Christian Church in Georgia to go to the Atlanta suburb and found Ray of Hope in 1986, believes that the denomination is moving in the right direction but must continue to draw closer together through expressions of for one another.
“I think we want to love each other, but our sinfulness causes us to do otherwise,” she said in an interview several weeks before coming to Indianapolis. “One of the things we try to do is establish policies and pass resolutions. But you can’t resolve to just be a loving Church. I don’t know that you can legislate the love we ought to show for one another.”
Knowing that although you were made from the dust of the ground yet were made in the image of the one who created you is quite a word to hear when you are wondering if your life even matters, said Hale. “When we think about how God made us we have reason to not only praise him with our words but with our lives,” she said. Her address concluded to loud applause and was followed by the serving of communion.
By: James Patterson