“We need connection,” said General Minister and President Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens. “We need connection to God, to who we are as Disciples, and to our community.”
Hord Owens laid out her vision for the Church to renew its connection to God with an emphasis on the foundation of Biblical literacy. “We just don’t know the Book like we should,” she said. “Spiritual disciplines, theological grounding in mission and justice and that deep spirituality that undergirds the commitment to justice are all essential to the life of our Church together. “
“For me, the Gospel and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ is deeply intertwined with the work of justice and advocating for the vulnerable. The Gospel is what compels us to do the work of justice. Love is shown by treating me the way God treats me.”
The 2019 General Assembly theme, “Abide in Me”, (John 15:1-5) is a first step to calling the whole Church to deeper spirituality, Biblical literacy, and a deep commitment to live out justice. Owens says, “Jesus is clear in this text: ‘apart from me, you can do nothing.’”
Connection to who we are as Disciples is also essential. “Disciples are a unique expression of God’s Church and we have much to share with the world,” she said. “We can set the example through our mission, our engagement in covenantal accountability and the way we live into the gift of unity, respectfully engaging one another despite differences and disagreements.”
And that connection to God and one another extends to the communities where we live and work. We are called to evangelism (sharing the Gospel), mission (living the Gospel) and justice (transformation according to the Gospel.)
One way this connection is already being given form is by her support of several ecumenical and interfaith initiatives including the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call to Moral Revival which was lifted up at the 2017 General Assembly and the National Council of Churches’ Act Against Racism initiative launched in April.
In addition to these tenets of connection, Hord Owens has some administrative objectives she will be tackling over the next few years. These include consistent human resources policies across the life of the Church, ensuring that we are a “safe and just employer of both clergy and laity.” A new communications strategy will enable the Church to leverage current and emerging technologies, and be in touch with how younger generations now communicate. A data warehouse initiative is planned to make year book data available online, along with a new clergy and lay leadership database to identify, connect and help develop leaders throughout the life of the Church.
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