Disciples News Service

Christian Church leaders hopeful with possible changes to Indiana law

Update: Governor Mike Pence signed into law amendments to the RFRA on Thursday, April 2. The General Board will discuss the 2017 assembly at its regular meeting next week. After conferring with leaders, there will be a recommendation to hold the 2017 assembly in Indianapolis.


Listen to NPR interview of Sharon Watkins from April 3 Morning Edition re: objections to the original law


Contact: Cherilyn Williams, assistant vice president of marketing and communication  |  cwilliams@disciples.org

April 2, 2015, 3 p.m. EDT

Christian Church leaders hopeful with possible changes to Indiana law

“We are hopeful,” said General Minister and President Sharon Watkins. “After a painful week of hard decisions, we are hopeful that the proposed changes to SEA 101 announced in this morning’s press conference will be enacted in order to ensure the promised protections for both Hoosiers and their guests.”

Watkins conferred with other church leaders by phone this morning with the result that, should the law be enacted quickly, Moderator Glen Miles and Watkins will recommend that the General Board revisit its earlier decision regarding the 2017 General Assembly.

The General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) voted unanimously on Tuesday night, March 31, to seek a new venue for the 2017 General Assembly previously scheduled for Indianapolis. The vote was in response to the new Indiana law, SEA 101, commonly known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The board is comprised of leaders from across the United States and Canada.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) affirms and supports religious freedom. It is, in fact, a core principle of its heritage. The Church is strongly committed to fairness and equality. The board has concern that there is a risk of having members and others experience discrimination under the original law. Frequently asked questions

“This city has been home to our headquarters for at least eight decades so our roots here are deep,” said Watkins. “We want to be able to welcome our members here.” Full statement to the Church following General Board meeting


  • On March 25, leaders of the Christian Church sent a letter, signed by Disciple Home Missions President Ron Degges, Division of Overseas Ministries Julia Brown Karimu, and General Minister and President Sharon Watkins, to Governor Mike Pence that the Disciples would consider changing the venue of the 2017 General Assembly away from Indianapolis.
  • On March 26, Governor Pence signed SEA 101 into law.
  • In a series of conference calls March 28 through 31, elected leaders of the denomination met by conference call to discuss options.
  • On March 31, the General Board unanimously voted to seek another venue since the law had not yet been repealed or remediated.
  • On April 2, the Indiana House and Senate leaders held a press conference at the State House to announce potential changes to clarify Indiana laws re: discrimination.

For more information about the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) please see the Disciples.org website.