The 2017 assembly will be held in Indianapolis.
Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) 2015
General Board chooses city for 2017 General Assembly
April 13, 2015
The General Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), meeting in Kansas City, MO, on April 13, has selected Indianapolis for the 2017 General Assembly.
The board had determined on March 31 to seek a new venue after the March 25 signing of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the State of Indiana. The passing of the act brought a groundswell of protest by community leaders, businesses, the Disciples of Christ and many individuals from across the state of Indiana and the entire country. As a result, amendments were signed into law by Governor Mike Pence on April 2 clarifying that the law cannot be used to open the door to discrimination. It cannot supersede local human rights ordinances as was feared. The Disciples General Board determined that initial concerns with the act were addressed by the amendments, and made a new decision to place the 2017 General Assembly in Indianapolis.
“We did the right thing in response to the RFRA by voting to move our assembly. We acted against discrimination in the name of religious freedom and for civil rights for all,” said General Minister and President Sharon Watkins. “Deciding to move our assembly helped get Indiana on the road to full protection for all people. Now it’s time to finish the journey.”
“I am glad that circumstances now allow our church to come to Indianapolis in 2017,” said Indiana Regional Minister Rick Spleth.
“We can be a bigger voice if we are at the table. Bringing our assembly to Indianapolis gives us a voice in advocating for full protection under the law for all people in Indiana and elsewhere in the United States,” said Moderator Glen Miles. “It will give us an opportunity to witness to wholeness and dignity for all in a city where many of our offices have been located for nearly 100 years.”
The decision to relocate the General Assembly was an important witness. By voting to take the General Assembly to Indianapolis in 2017, the board believes another powerful witness can be made. With a newly invigorated statewide understanding of the need for laws and ordinances which protect all people from discrimination, and with the moral voice Disciples provided in the amending of SEA101, the board believes Disciples can now be part of a movement for wholeness by locating the assembly there.
On March 24, Disciples Home Missions President Ronald Degges, Division of Overseas Ministries President Julia Brown Karimu and General Minister and President Sharon Watkins sent an open letter to Indiana Governor Mike Pence requesting he not sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act SB 101 into law. They notified the governor that the 2017 General Assembly scheduled for Indianapolis would be moved elsewhere.
On March 25, Governor Pence signed the RFRA into law (SEA 101).
Between March 26 and 31, the moderators, the Administrative Committee and the General Board met by conference call and, in the General Board call on March 31, unanimously voted to seek another venue for the 2017 General Assembly. Message to the Church | Press release | GB-15-0930 Change in Location of 2017 General Assembly-Adopted
On April 2, members of the Indiana legislative bodies announced amendments to the original act that specifically named groups that would be protected from discrimination on religious grounds. On April 3, Governor Pence signed those amendments into law. Press release
On April 13, the General Board chose Indianapolis as host city for the 2017 General Assembly.
On April 24 a follow-up letter from Ron Degges, president, Disciples Home Missions; Julia Brown Karimu, president, Division of Overseas Ministries; and Sharon Watkins, general minister and president was sent to Gov. Pence.
Why I Hope My Church and Others Come to Indiana Now That RFRA Is Changed – Rick Lowery, 4/9/15 Huffington Post blog
Why I Think My Church is Upset about RFRA – Rick Lowery, 4/1/15 Huffington Post blog
1999 Sense of the Assembly Resolution – In Support of Religious Freedom (9919)