Mid-America Men Solarized as Souls Arise in New Mexico

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The warm Southwest sun basked 300 men from across the nation and world at Soularize, an annual spiritual transformation retreat sponsored by Illuman, a ministry of the Center for Action & Contemplation and founded by Richard Rohr - a preeminent theologian, groundbreaking author, friend of Disciples, and contemplative Franciscan priest. Depth psychologist, Bill Plotkin, an equally respected leader in his field and founder of the Animas Valley Institute of Boulder, Colorado, presented and unpacked his theme, “Soul Purpose: Inhabiting Our Unique Psycho-Ecological Niche.”

By opening participants to exploring encounters of the Wilderness and mind, Dr. Plotkin was able to help men listen to ancient voices of the host Santa Ana Pueblo reservation, the cottonwood Bosque forest along the Rio Grande, the Sandia Mountains in clear view, and the importance of claiming sacred ground to find our inner sacred space. He led men through his life-changing/saving ritual of “Dismissing the Loyal Soldier” and pressed them to find repressed longings or obstacles recurring in dreams. Heavy stuff and hard work! – but so important to the people who traveled to Bernalillo, NM to grow seriously in their faith, their trust in other loving men, and to find resiliency despite obstacles in life and ministry.

Eight men from Missouri were able to ride to together to the retreat thanks to the generosity of First CC in Bolivar and Pastor Bill Nichols in lending their van. While half-a-dozen other Missouri men found their way west by other means, the shared van-ride enabled valuable processing time for the intense but joyous spiritual work. Regional Minister Dr. Paul Koch, and Reed Dressler, seminarian and youth pastor of Brentwood CC in Springfield who both attended, gladly offer themselves to share their experiences with your church men’s group.  An invitation is extended to all Mid-America Men to attend our next regional bi-monthly gathering with Illuman men at Rockhaven Ecozoic Center in House Springs, MO, Nov. 17 from 10-3.  Please rsvp to Paul at paul.ccma@sbcglobal.net or 636-221-7065 if you may be interested or want more information.  Paul will gladly transport any men from the Columbia/Moberly area to the St. Louis area for the gathering.  Dr. Koch will also share his Soularize experience at the Capital Cluster Clergy group on Nov. 8 at Community CC in Jefferson City at 10:00. 

Among Paul’s cherished moments was being able to meet Richard Rohr and to thank him for his teachings and retreats that have transformed his faith and enabled his ministry to grow.  Upon explaining to Rohr that he is a Disciples pastor, Rohr exclaimed, “Oh, the Disciples!  That’s the church that works for justice!” Rohr’s personal assistant is a Disciples layman who arranged for Fr. Rohr to preach soon at Monte Vista CC in Albuquerque.  Richard Rohr also worked alongside former GMP’s Dick Hamm and Sharon Watkins in the landmark “Reclaiming Jesus” document. 

More personally, a Hispanic man from California named Sergio, went out of his way to speak to our Mid-America delegation at a party we were hosting for a friend returning to Mexico.  Though we humbly tried to deflect his praise to us, he went out of way and made sure that we heard him. Though he served his nation proudly in the US military, Sergio has found himself not welcome in many places throughout his country. He insisted that we understood how grateful he was to be in the company of people who welcome all and who work to tear down barriers and eradicate racism. “This is what Christians are supposed to do, we are not special,” I told him. “No!” he insisted, “What you and your churches are doing is revolutionary and makes all the difference to me and my people. Thank you!” Wow! Imagine all the tears at a party.

Plans are underway for the Mid-America Regional Men’s Return to Nature Retreat (in collaboration with the Missouri Mid-South United Church of Christ) to be held May 3-5, 2019 at Shannondale Retreat Center in Shannon County, MO alongside the Current River and the Ozarks National Scenic Riverway. We will also send a delegation to the Men’s Rites of Passage held in Sandstone, MN June 19-23 at the Audubon Center of the North Woods. Soularize 2019 is already scheduled for Oct. 24-28, 2019 at the Tamaya Resort in Bernalillo, NM. Please let Paul know of your interest and we’ll work on securing transportation and financial assistance if necessary.

Thank you to Regional Minister Paul Koch for this information and photo.

Circuit Riding Preacher at New Harmony CC

Sunday, October 14, 2018 found New Harmony Christian Church of Curryville, MO worshiping in the form of an 1801 Camp Meeting Worship Service. Our morning began with member, Dennis Noel arriving on horseback as a Circuit Riding Preacher. The congregation had moved outside to witness his arrival and hear what he had to share as he explained the work and responsibilities of the early Circuit Riding Preachers. Dennis was dressed in protective coat and hat of that time period explaining why they wore such garments. Once all had heard his stories, Dennis and his dog made their way back up the gravel road to their home.

Our congregation then moved inside into the original sanctuary of this church built in 1863 to experience an 1801 Camp Meeting Worship service. Marion Branstetter started the service by singing “Circuit Riding Preacher” which told the story of that work. Pastor Laura Beth Zeh then introduced some special guests who had come to share in the Camp Meeting Worship - characters Thomas and Alexander Campbell and Mrs. Campbell, Walter Scott and “Raccoon” John Smith. They told of their journeys on the circuit and shared what had been taking place as the planning of the start of the Disciples denomination to come.  

The congregation then joined in singing “The Old Rugged Cross” a cappella. Pastor Laura Beth preached from John 15 speaking about the importance as the people come and gather to create the new Disciples movement how important it is to become friends as each binds together as sisters and brothers in Christ, the importance of prayer and lifting one another to the Lord, and communicating to learn about one another and the works to be done for the Lord.

“Jesus Loves Me” was sung for the Invitation and the service closed after The Holy Meal was shared and a love offering collected, by singing “Amazing Grace”, once again a cappella. The folks gathered then moved into the gathering room for a banquet of homemade goods that the folk had brought to share.

One of the remarks heard over and over again from various congregation members was how much they enjoyed the quiet of the service, and the focus on prayer and The Word. They embraced this experience to the depth that they have asked Pastor Laura Beth if this can become a quarterly practice and having the service outside when weather permits to be even more realistic in experience. We walk away from this experience by having more compassion and understanding what our founding families and leaders faced when coming together to worship in abundance.

Thank you to Pastor Laura Beth Zeh
for this story and photo.

Meet Our Newest Regional Minister - Rev. Ronald Routledge

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In January 2018 the Mid-America Board authorized the search for a Regional Minister to serve in the Northwest portion of the Region. A committee of seven people was established, chaired by Rev. Dr. Patrick Overton of Arrow Rock Federated Church. Group members hailed from around the Region and were charged with the task of identifying a Regional Minister utilizing the Disciples Executive Search Model. Rev. Dr. Teresa Dulyea-Parker, Regional Minister of the Illinois-Wisconsin Region, served as Regional Search Consultant. After months of work, the group presented Rev. Ronald (Ron) Routledge as their recommendation to the Regional Board, at their meeting on September 8. He was approved unanimously and will begin this new ministry with us on November 1. Below is the biographical information that was shared at that meeting.

Born and raised in Missouri, Ron married his high school sweetheart, Louise Ann and together they have four children and two grandchildren and enjoy life on a small farm in NW MO. Ron has lived in Brookfield since 2009 and loves the culture of close-knit rural communities and their unique sense of place.

Ron holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Education with a minor in Religious Studies from MU-Columbia. After beginning a career in business, he followed a call to ministry. Deciding to go back to school, he attended Lexington Theological Seminary where he obtained his Master of Divinity with an emphasis in congregational transformation. Since his ordination, he has served four congregations as Senior Minister and five congregations as Transitional Minister. Ron has ministered to congregations located in each of the four geographical parts of the Mid-America Region.   

Drawing on his multiple areas of interests and diverse experiences, he can connect with people from all walks of life. Following Jesus’ model of transformational leadership, Ron celebrates ministry which encourages personal, spiritual and communal growth. His personal mission statement is: “God calls me to shepherd and strengthen the Church, one congregation at a time.” He is committed to serving as a presence to enable him to bring clarity of vision and encouragement to all disciples. Ron has a strong affinity for small, rural churches and seeks to identify and support the commissioned and bi-vocational Ministers who serve them.

Excited about the rich history of the Mid-America Region, Ron celebrates the Spirit of love and generosity expressed through the many congregations we serve. As a collaborative team player, Ron looks forward to becoming part of the unique Mid-America Regional Minister Team. He sees this new approach as a healthy and creative paradigm promoting transitional and transformational ministry throughout the entire Region.

Through his leadership style, Ron maintains a strong commitment for his ministry to be close to Christ and Holy Scripture to help him nurture communities and individuals. He brings an analytical mind and a heart deeply grounded in its ‘first love.’ And he lives with a spirit of acceptance for all persons from the great diversity we enjoy as members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). 

Ron has committed his life to serving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and appreciates the Church’s polity which provides for mutual accountability and freedom to express congregational faithfulness, in all its ways.

It Has Been a Joy (farewell letter from Dr. Larry Colvin)

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As I prepare to end my time as one of your Regional Ministers August 31, I thank God for the opportunity I have had to serve you. As with any ministry, there were the days I asked God, “What have you gotten me into?” For the most part, however, it has been a joy.

One of the best parts of my work was having the opportunity to visit churches throughout the Region, particularly in the northwest part, and to meet so many people who are faithful in prayer, study, and mission. I have enjoyed, too, working with congregations as they prepare to receive a new pastor.

Mid-America is the first Region to take a leap of faith in developing a Regional Minister team. What a blessing it has been to be a part of a team ministry! We  build ideas together, challenge each other in a loving and creative way, and support each other and our families. I am sure this will continue to be a blessing for the Region.

There are so many people I want to thank with whom I have worked. I dare not begin to name persons for the fear of leaving out some who have been so supportive. Just know, I am grateful.

Most of this past summer my wife, Debbie, and I have traveled the Region visiting churches as part of our preparation to serve with Global Ministries. We thank the congregations who have found so many creative ways to support us as we minister on your behalf for the next three years in Ghana. At the end of that time, we look forward to returning to Mid-America to share our experiences with you.

Again, I leave with much joy. In addition, Debbie and I look forward to seeing you again. In the mean time we hope you will remember us in your prayers and we will remember you in ours.

Peace in Christ,
Larry

Learn more about the Colvins' upcoming work.

A Week Beyond Belief for Faith Adventures Camp

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This year, Faith Adventures Camp celebrated its fifth year of camp fun and faith during the week of July 23rd -27th. What started out as a leap of faith five years ago for churches in the southwestern part of the Mid-America Region, has grown into a giant leap in campers, staff, and faith experiences. The Disciples of Christ camp is located at Camp Hebron, a non-denominational church camp and retreat facility, on Lake Pomme de Terre, near Pittsburg, Missouri. One of the unique features of Faith Adventures Camp is the concept of all ages at one camp in one week.  

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The 2018 Faith Adventures Camp included 121 campers, with over 50 campers in each of the JYF and Chi Rho age groups. In addition, there were 51 volunteer staff and 20 churches represented from across the Mid-America Region. This year we welcomed three new congregations to Faith Adventures Camp; Broadway Christian Church in Columbia, Ozark Mountain Christian Church in Merriam Woods, and Westlake Christian Church in Laurie.


The 2018 Theme was “Beyond Belief, with an emphasis on “What if questions in the daily curriculum.” The week ended with the questions, “What If…we speak up and What If…we could change the world?” The mission project for the week collected approximately $1,250 for Camp Barnabas located near Purdy, MO. Camp Barnabas is a unique ministry providing Christian camping experiences to people with special needs and chronic illnesses. The program exists to offer life-changing experiences to campers and to the people who serve them. The money raised will be enough for a scholarship for one camper and possibly two week-long missionaries.

Rev. Jack Daniel, pastor of El Dorado Springs First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was the coordinator for Faith Adventures Camp, running all four camps in one week. That in itself is Beyond Belief. Rev Daniel said, “Our hope is that all who attended camp, Try-It (K-2nd  Grade), JYF (3rd -5th), Chi Rho (6th-8th), CYF (9th-12th Grade) and the many adults involved, will grow in their faith through this camp experience. My personal saying has always been, ‘Come as you are...leave a changed person.’”

Faith Adventures Camp is a part of the Summer Ministries of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ). To view this year’s Faith Adventures Camp video (coming in the near future), or for more information about Faith Adventures Camp, visit their website at www.faithadventurescamp.com.

Thanks to Barb Walsh for this story and photos.

Ministries With and For Older Adults

 Choosing a priority of focus, balance and flexibility in our mission and ministry as care-ers is exemplified by an activity with feathers in a session last year.

Choosing a priority of focus, balance and flexibility in our mission and ministry as care-ers is exemplified by an activity with feathers in a session last year.

The Rickman Legacy Leadership Development Fund has provided funding for the second year of leadership training for churches across the Region who wish to address their older adult population with pro-active steps. The program on ministry models for local congregations and clusters is offered in two- to six-hour blocks depending on the church’s choices and emphasis. The event is free of charge to all congregations, but registration is required.

The programs are led by Jan Aerie, MS, family counselor and gerontologist, who has long developed and led workshops, written curricula and founded elderly advocacy organizations with churches and communities.

This fall programs are scheduled at three sites:
Millersburg Christian Church, September 30, worship at 10:30am and continuing 1 – 3 pm
Monroe City Christian Church, October 13, 9am – 1pm
First Christian Church, Mt Vernon, Oct 27, 9am - 1pm

It’s no secret that life expectancy in the US is lengthening, and with so many baby boomers, the US population aged 60 and over is “booming.” Nor is it a secret that US mainline protestant congregations are graying and shrinking. The fact is that today’s mainline churches have a large and valuable asset—their older adults.

Intentionally developing and fully utilizing the great wisdom, faith and experience of older adults is critical to the mission of churches today. Clearly, older adults are an essential resource for the Church, and have much to offer to its mission, not only in regular giving in the offering plate, but in life experience, faith formation and active involvement in the community.

It is essential for us to finds ways to develop a comprehensive plan to raise awareness and address the emerging crises in health, caregiving and faith issues, which cross generational and economic lines. There are many congregations seeking to develop more comprehensive approaches to such a ministry.

Churches who held programs last year discovered ways they could enhance their outreach and evangelism with older adults, and address concerns of their older population that they had never even thought of. They felt the knowledge they gained and the challenge they took up was well worth it.

If you are interested in holding a program or have questions, contact
Paul Koch at: paulccma@sbcglobal.net or 636.221.7065
Or Jan Aerie, aeriej@gmail.com or 216.870.1557
Register online now.

Story submitted by Jan Aerie.

Quilt Show at FCC Louisiana

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Louisiana, Missouri celebrated its Bicentennial in a big way recently and First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) took an active role in the festivities. 

Rev. Ruth Ann Jones, who began serving the church in May, was honored by being asked to give the prayer at the opening ceremonies. Helen Crew, who is Board Moderator and an Elder, was responsible for the creation of the Bicentennial Quilt. The quilt consists of 48 blocks representing businesses, organizations, churches, and people influential to Louisiana. It was made by a variety of individuals interested in having a part in contributing to the quilt. The blocks used a variety of techniques in being made; applique, photos, painting, embroidery, and piecing. They were given to Mrs. Crew and she assembled them and did the quilting.  She also provided a booklet explaining each block and who made it.

There was a Quilt Show held at the church over a three-day period with the sanctuary being filled with fifty other quilts, old and new, draped over the pews. 

Information and photos courtesy of church secretary Linda Beer.

Christian Ministries Scholarships Awarded

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Disciples Women’s Ministries of the Mid-America Region are pleased to announce that seven students received The Christian Ministries Scholarship Fund (CMSF) award for 2018-2019, which provides financial assistance for women and men preparing for Christian Ministries. A total of $5,600 was distributed as $800 scholarship awards to be split between the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters. These awards will support the calling and educational goals of five seminarians and two certificate in pastoral ministry students. Congratulations to our 2018-2019 scholarship recipients:

Rev. Gina Louise Johnson (United Theological Seminary) Associate Minister/Children’s Director, Sedalia FCC and Commissioned Student Minister--supporting congregation is Warrensburg FCC.

Rev. Angela Williams (Phillips Theological Seminary) Outreach Pastor, Fifth Street CC in Columbia, and Pulpit Supply Preacher for three years at Clarksville CC.

Rev. Heather J. Patten (Lexington Theological Seminary) Associate Minister (Youth & Young Families), Fulton FCC, and Transitional Minister at Auxvasse CC.

Rev. Alan Bailey (Eden Theological Seminary) Part-time Commissioned Pastor at FCC in California, MO.

William Deshay Cortez Jackson (Brite Divinity School - TCU) New M.Div. student with music education background. Sponsoring congregations are Canton CC, and Second CC, New London, MO.

Two scholarships were given to students in the new online Ministry Training Program (Certificate in Pastoral Ministry) at Phillips Theological Seminary: Bill Dahlheimer (Elder at Celebration Church, St. Peters, MO) and Adam Berry (Pulpit Supply Preacher at Hematite FCC, Festus, MO).

Regional Disciples Women’s Ministries Coordinator Theresa Hamilton says, “This award year was unique since the CMS fund had not made awards for several years.” She explains that in the future, the CMS deadline will be earlier in the year and may have revised requirements for applicants (there may be fewer funds to distribute in subsequent years). Watch the Regional newsletter and website for updated scholarship details. The Christian Ministries Scholarship Fund is under the stewardship of the CCMA Disciples Women's Ministries. This year’s volunteer committee of DW met during the Regional Assembly in Hannibal, MO, and included: DW Coordinator Theresa Hamilton (FCC, Cameron), Regional Minister Katrina Palan (South Street CC, Springfield), LeWanda Jackson (2nd CC, Fulton), Debbie Colvin (FCC, St. Joseph), Sara Reiter (Community CC, Camdenton), and Janet Taylor (FCC, Festus).

“I would like to thank committee members for the cooperative team effort and for sharing their valuable time,” says Theresa Hamilton. DW interested in serving on the 2019-2020 CMSF committee should email Theresa Hamilton at: DW.ccma@sbcglobal.net

CMS Funds come from local congregations, individuals, and Disciple Women (CWF) groups. After the distribution of this year’s scholarship awards, $5,000 was added to the principle of the CMSF Endowment. Donations to this fund are greatly appreciated. Please use the CCMA “Remittance Form for Donations” and write “CMSF” under the “Disciples Women” column (this form is located at the bottom of all Website pages at: www.mid-americadisciples.org).

See more information and photos of award recipients here.

Thank you to Theresa Hamilton for this information.

Granville CC Celebrates Foster Families

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Granville Christian Church in Paris, MO celebrated the ministry of foster families on May 20, during National Foster Care Month. Two member families spoke about their experiences in foster care and how faith influences and strengthens them. The guest preacher was former foster child Antornette Allison, now Youth Pastor at Willow Street Christian Church in Hannibal.

Granville Church is also collecting items for Angel Wings, a organization in Mexico, MO that provides clothing and other items for foster children. A speaker from Angel Wings will be present during the Sunday School hour June 3, and Granville kids will be making simple jewelry items for foster kids during Vacation Bible School.

Thanks to pastor Fran Schnarre for this information and photo.

Disciple Women Spring Tea


Disciple Women from across northwestern Missouri gathered on May 5 for a Spring Tea hosted by the women of First Christian Church at Lathrop.

 

Devotions were offered by Cheryl Sanders of First Christian Church in Carrollton. Her message was about what God may suggest for a "bucket list." 

 



Pianist Michael Strahm shared selections from Andrew Lloyd Webber and John Philip Sousa. He also shared a composition of his own entitled, "Ocean Waves."

 

Newly installed Disciple Women's Coordinator, Theresa Hamilton of First Christian Church in Cameron, was the main speaker. First Theresa shared her love and long interest in Disciple Women's ministries and her opportunity to work with women in various congregations in the Region. She discussed the many changes in the life of women's ministry in Mid-America and in Disciples Women's ministry. As she begins her new duties she plans to use her gifts in communications and technology bring the women of the Region together.

Many delicious cookies and sweets were enjoyed by all.

Article and photos by Dr. Larry Colvin.

Back Bay Mission

Regional Minister Dr. Larry Colvin, participated in a Holy Week Mission trip at Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, Mississippi March 26-30. He joined mission participants from churches in Wisconsin. The mission team participated in working at two homes in the gulf region, completing the laying of a floor and siding begun by previous mission participants. The homes were built by volunteer labor and have been sold (at no profit) to low income families who have qualified for purchase.

Volunteer time was also given to working in the Back Bay food pantry and the Micah Center, a day center for homeless people. Micah Center provides showers, laundry, counseling, and job assistance. It is the only homeless shelter in Biloxi. A day was given to fold and inventory Back Bay Mission shirts which are for sale.

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Back Bay Mission, affiliated with the United Church of Christ, has provided ministry in the Biloxi community for over 90 years. In the 1960's it was in the forefront of the local Civil Rights movement.

The mission team took time to come together in prayer and celebration of the Lord's Supper on Maundy Thursday.

CRY Cabinet Had One BUSY Weekend!

The Christian Regional Youth (CRY) leadership team spent a busy weekend in St. Louis leading the Mid-America Region, serving together as one body.

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On Friday night, the team gathered in fellowship to paint and create protest signs. Saturday morning, the youth were invited to lead a brief, pre-march worship service at Compton Heights Christian Church. There, they inspired the congregation through scripture readings, song, and their own personal testimonies on why they felt moved to march. Rev. Dr. Paul Koch, Regional Minister, closed the service with a moving message by our General Minister and President Teresa Hord Owens.

Following the service, the youth joined 15,000 others in the March for Our Lives demonstration and protest. For many, this was their first march; they were awed at the turnout, proud to be part of this youth-led movement, and passionate about the cause.

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After the March and a quick lunch, the team headed to DOORWAYS, a residential facility for individuals living with HIV/AIDS. What may seem like a daunting encounter to many held no reservations for this team. They jumped into the community BINGO game with fervor, quickly joining the residents in laughter, friendly competition and fellowship. As the Cathedral Basilica was just around the corner, they stopped by for a tour, a visit with a priest, and a received blessing.

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The Cabinet returned to their host church, Webster Groves Christian Church, where they finished their day by planning the 2018 CRY Festival, participating in leadership development training, reflecting on the day’s events, and planning to lead the Palm Sunday service in the morning.

The youth began the worship service by marching in waving their protest signs from the day before, in a reflection of Jesus’ parade of civil disobedience on this Palm Sunday so many years before. Palms were given to the congregation members to join in their Hosannas. The Cabinet youth led the entire worship service, sharing their personal testimonies and reflections during the ‘sermon’, occasionally tearing up with emotion. A summary of their comments included:

“I marched because today’s youth are oppressed by the fear of what event may take place next, what person may get access to a gun they shouldn’t have. We are oppressed by this fear, but we are following our Lord and Savior as we trust He will liberate us from our “Rome”; being those fighting against us and for guns.”  - Qu’Naya, high school junior
“As a 17-year old, my biggest fear is often ‘will I be safe at school today’. Knowing that other kids have felt this fear and have seen it happen makes me want to be behind this movement and end the chaos before more lives are taken.”  - Adrienne, high school junior
“On March 14th, my school participated in the Nation-wide Walkout, but [others] at my school held an ‘anti-protest’. But those who participated in the walkout, along with myself, were stronger than the other, small crowd.”  - Juliet, high school sophomore
“Some of my friends say that participating in events like the Walkout on March 14th will never make a difference, even though history has proven the opposite. For however long it takes, I will walk out and protest until something is changed. I hope that future generations will not have to go through a revolution such as this.”  - Ben, high school freshman
"Experiencing a march first-hand was a surreal experience. It was empowering to know that I had a voice, and freedom, to express my feelings about issues that plague this country. I am rarely part of such a collective movement, that right in front of me brought people of different faiths together." - Khotso, high school sophomore
" I believe that you should stand for what you believe in and not let anyone tell you otherwise. Also, something needs to happen and no change ever happened unless someone protested. I marched to help make a change happen in our country. To me this march shows that the youth of this country care about their future and the future of our country." - Allison, high school senior
“The numbers of marginalized and victimized people is steadily growing across our nation. Sitting silently by while others are oppressed goes against all of Jesus’ teachings. So now I resist. But March for Our Lives was something special; a protest originated and led by youth. These youth inspire me, and give me renewed hope for change and a better future for us all.”  - Kris, adult sponsor

A special thank you to Webster Groves Christian Church, who graciously opened their doors and hosted the Cabinet members for the weekend, and to the congregation of Marshall First Christian Church, who sent along casseroles, meals and monetary donations to feed the Cabinet throughout the weekend.

Thanks to Kris Milliron for this story, and to her and Carole Hughes for the photos.
Kris has also put together a video to document the experience.

First Rural Church Summit a Great Beginning

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Both laity and clergy joined together for the first of four Rural Church Summits being held throughout the Region of Mid-America. This first summit was graciously hosted by First Christian Church in Bonne Terre. Regional Ministers Rev. Katrina Palan and Dr. Larry Colvin led the laity and clergy in worship and a day of workshops and discussions celebrating the value and ministry of rural churches. By looking at our roots, we can discover possibilities where God is leading in 21st century Mid-America. The church also provided delicious treats and a wonderful lunch.

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Those attending became enveloped in lively and creative conversations about the shape and possibilities for the church and rural communities, as they looked forward as leaders of congregations. As discussions continued, it became clear that there are a variety of vital possibilities and resources available - provided congregations are willing to work together.

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Although the summits are developed with a distinct Disciple understanding, clergy and laity from other denominations are welcome. If your congregation is thinking of taking part, consider asking other clergy and laity in your community to join with you.

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The next Rural Church Summit is scheduled to be held at First Christian Church in Bolivar on Saturday, April 28. To register call the church office at (417) 326-5304 by April 23. Registration of $10 covers materials and lunch. First Christian Church is located at 407 West Broadway. Four hours CE credit for clergy.

Future Rural Church Summits:
Northwest: Gower Christian Church - May 12
Northeast: Monroe City Christian Church - Date to be announced.

Article by Dr. Larry Colvin
Photos by Dr. Penny Ross-Corona

Terry Nicholas Newest Disciples Care Team Member

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Terry Nicholas of First Christian Church in Burlington Junction is welcomed as the newest member of Mid-America's Disciples Care Team (DCT). He was presented a  three-year certificate during worship on January 28 by DCT chairman, Rev. Dan Kercher (at far right), and Regional Minister Team member, Dr. Larry Colvin (second from left). Also pictured is DCT member Laurie Kercher.

DCT members provide care for and help link congregations across the region. Sometimes, when a regional minister must be in another congregation, a DCT member will be the regional representative. DCT members may also be with congregations to celebrate church milestones, provide care to the pastor and family, and keeps congregations in prayer. The team meets two times a year for training and support. Members are selected through a process of referrals by local pastors and serve for a three-year term. Most team members have a direct relationship with 3-5 congregations and visit at least two times per year.

Article by Rev. Dr. Larry Colvin
Photo by Deborah Colvin

 

Pictured are Laurie Kercher, DCT member; Rev. Dan Kercher, DCT chairman; Dr. Larry Colvin, RMT member; and Terry Nicholas.   [Susan - you can list the order as need by which photo(s) you select.]

High School Winter Retreat

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Thirty-five adults and high school youth from across the Mid-America Region converged at Jo-Ota Retreat Center over MLK, Jr. weekend for a Winter Retreat.  The weekend consisted of presentations, simulations, games, fellowship, worship and discussion groups, all centered around the topic of social justice.

Rev. Loy Hoskins presented an eye-opening account of white privilege.  Rev. Sally Robinson and Lisa Conner-Collier from the DOC Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Racism team shared history, videos, stories and conversation about awareness and their works towards reconciliation.  Rev. Jeff Moore helped participants dig into the Bible and reflect upon scriptural accounts and Jesus’ instructions regarding social justice.  William Jackson finished off the presentations with discussion on our personal privileges and categories of oppressed groups.  All of the presenters shared vital information, both from their personal stories to historical data.  Participants engaged in honest and open conversation, sharing their privilege or lack thereof, hopes, fears and dreams for a just society.

The group participated in simulations and exercises demonstrating the effects of discrimination and oppression.  An activity on economic disparity resulted in a small elite ruling class, countered by a majority lower class and even an impoverished group of angry protesters demanding fair treatment.

Tomorrow’s world looks more just and hopeful through the eyes of youth who are WOKE to white privilege, systemic racism, discrimination and oppression, and are passionate about creating equality and justice for ALL of God’s children.

A few dreams shared by the youth during our 12 hour Night of Silence:
 

  • “I have a dream that one day wars won’t exist because people will be happy with what they have and not crave more.”
  • “I have a dream where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.”
  • “I have a dream that one day people won’t be judged by their race, intelligence, social class, gender or culture and that everyone will be treated equally.”
  • “I dream that employers will hire the most qualified person, not just the person most like them.”
  • “I dream that one day everyone sees each other as God sees us.”
  • “I have a dream that one day those who are poor would really be able to move up in the world.”
  • “I have a dream that one day we will not have to dream. That one day we won’t have to be afraid. That one day we won’t need to cry out for justice. That one day, freedom and liberty really will be for all.”
  • “I have a dream that my family will still come to my wedding, even if I marry a woman.”
  • “I have a dream that we acknowledge each other’s differences and love each other for it.”
  • “I have a dream that my race will not hold me back.”
  • “I have a dream that things will change for the better, for everyone.”
  • “I have a dream….to have the bravery to act and the voice to speak.”
  • “I have a dream of understanding, compassion, communication, caring, empathy, fairness and love.”
  • “I dream of change, and for people to realize what is really going on and make it stop.”
  • “I have MLK’s dream now, and I will fight with all I’ve got to make a difference.  This person is going to fight for the voiceless and oppressed and make this country an equal land.”
  • “I have a dream that this country will learn the process of grief, healing, closure, acceptance and the strength to move forward.  I dream that people everywhere would learn from, accept, teach and even love those around them rather than point guns.”

Thanks to Kris Milliron for this story and photos
and to Paul Koch for additional photos.

Christmas Offering 2017

We are very grateful to all congregations for their generous contributions to the annual Christmas Offering. This offering will be received in most congregations on December 10th and 17th.

All donations will be used for our collective ministries right here in Mid-America, where miracles happen every day!

Learn more and download promotional materials here.

Click image below to enlarge/download our Mid-America bulletin insert information.

Ministry of the Shoe Box

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We at Florissant Valley Christian Church have been packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child for several years. Each year we set a goal and each year we have surpassed that goal. Many in our congregation collect items for our boxes all year round. We watch for bargains, sales  and check clearance racks whenever and wherever we are shopping. There are work days to make things to go in our boxes and to wrap and decorate boxes. Sometime in the fall the first boxes arrive and they just keep coming.

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We have a chart, where we put up stickers to keep track of our progress. On November 12, 2017 we lined up and passed boxes to people waiting to fill a van. This year our goal was 200 and we packed 244 into the van. This is truly an all church project, some pray, some donate money and some pack boxes. Our boxes are then taken to a collection center, then they go to a larger collection center and then to one of 3 processing centers to be checked and sent all over the world.

Typical items packed are hygiene items (wash cloth, bar of soap, toothbrush, and comb or brush), school supplies (crayons, markers, erasers, pencils and sharpeners, paper and coloring books), and toys that will fit in the box (usually a WOW toy of some sort, we try to put in a stuffed animal).

Story and photos submitted by Carol Mayer.

 

Thanks to Our Unsung Heroes

We on the Regional Minister Team affirm that the greatest honor and privilege we have in our capacity to serve God and Christ’s Church is to be a pastor to the pastor.  As a collective body, there are few more dedicated servants, overworked achievers, underpaid givers, and compassionate healers than those who sacrifice income and hours for layers of education and authorization. They sometimes attend to parish needs over their family’s to accept and honor a call they heard from God by serving a local congregation.  As the nation honors those whom it calls for service on multiple holidays a year and every public sporting event and concert, we in the church honor our Servants of the Cross – with not as much fanfare or retail discounts granted, but especially during this Ministerial Appreciation Month of October.

We say, “Thank you!” for your ministry in your congregation and to the Region of Mid-America.  We also encourage leaders in our churches to celebrate October 8-15 as the Week of the Ministry.  A kind word (by email, Facebook, or greeting card), a plate of cookies, a Starbucks gift card, or a simple handshake will go the second mile in brightening your minister’s heart who is beginning to stress over Advent liturgies and themes - and potentially add years to a joyous and faithful ministry together.

Thank you! to all of our Mid-America congregations who support your minister and ministry by also giving to the Region’s special offerings and appeals so we can “give it right back.”  God bless!!

Larry Colvin      Paul Koch      Penny Ross-Corona      G. Mike Weinman

Sincere Thanks from Your Regional Minister Team

We offer much gratitude to all congregations that promoted and collected Reconciliation Special Day Offerings over the past two Sundays, and to you who gave.  One of several programs in our Region that is receiving grant money from the Reconciliation Offering is The Caring Hands After School Program at Willow Street Christian Church in Hannibal (featured recently in the Hannibal Courier-Post).  Do know that your generosity is changing lives!

Last week, Penny Ross-Corona and Paul Koch had the privilege of gathering with colleagues in our Region and beyond at Centennial Christian Church in St. Louis to join Rev. April Johnson, Minister of Reconciliation; Mark Anderson, president of the National Benevolent Association; and our new General Minister and President, Rev. Teresa Hord Owens.  The event was led by Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker, who is NBA’s Organizing Specialist and a member of the St. Louis Racial Justice Group.  We gathered for worship and to offer collective encouragement to our fellow pastors who have been “praying with their feet” in support of their St. Louis neighbors.  Testimonies were heard from Rev. Brenda Booth of Isaiah 58 Ministries, Rev. Dr. Jacque Foster of Compton Heights Christian Church, Rev. Dr. Jeff Moore of Webster Groves Christian Church, and Rev. Derrick Perkins of Centennial Christian Church.   We heard from Rev. Johnson that the General Church Office of Reconciliation is claiming its call to be a prayerful and financial resource when a crisis of inequality and injustice erupts in our communities (like Week of Compassion is for natural disaster).  As Rev. Owens eloquently added, “We can’t choose our headlines, but we can work for better ones.”  Indeed, your Regional Minister Team stands with those who wish to make better headlines that resemble the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Please go to:  https://www.nbacares.org/stories-and-news/gods-countermoves  for additional information about this gathering.

 As you have worked, given, stood, and marched to make Reconciliation possible, we wish to recount how your Regional Minister Team, congregations in our Region, and faithful Disciples have made progress this past year, and where we see ourselves heading next.

  • Three Pro-reconciliation/Anti-Racism workshops that educated and informed about systemic racism were held across the Region in 2017, each very well attended.  The PR/AR team gathers at least monthly to listen and to refine content.
  • Disciples in our Region have gathered for non-violent presence, in consultation with local law-enforcement.
  • A special grant has been given to help train those who wish to learn to be pro-active rather than just reactive when injustice occurs, as part of future PR/AR trainings.
  • Grants were given to Disciples congregations who see justice as also helping alleviate economic inequality in their active ministries.
  • Our 2017 Persons in Ministry Retreat provided biblical teaching on how to “minister in turbulent times.”  Sacred spaces for sharing and lamentation were created to help pastors find healing and resolve in daily ministry frustrations.
  • Central Missouri Disciples have joined Missouri Faith Voices to offer prophetic words to our state government.
  • Our 2017 Christian Regional Youth gathered at Drury University in July to learn about ways to bridge the gaps of social inequality.
  • A high school winter retreat over the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend in January 2018 will touch upon many issues for action to build up the beloved community.
  • Our Outdoor Ministries is beginning a special initiative to bring more youth of color to our camps in 2018.
  • Our Regional Gathering this October focuses heavily on cooperative hands-on mission that will aid disaster victims and families around the world.
  • Our Mid-America Update features each week a story of mission and justice happening because of local congregations in each quadrant of the Region.
  • We have made it a priority to listen to the many layers of struggle and economic inequality experienced by our rural Disciples and through the ministries of our small-town and rural churches.

Rev. Owens concluded her remarks at Centennial Christian Church by saying, “Our biggest evangelism tool is our public witness.”  May all who seek the love of Jesus Christ find he has many feet, many voices, and many hands that always extend out as welcome to our table of grace.

Larry Colvin
Paul Koch
Penny Ross-Corona
G. Mike Weinman

St. Louis Racial Justice Group Update

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Last Friday, September 15th, former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty of the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith. Since then there have been daily demonstrations around town calling attention to the ongoing reality that the killing of black and brown skinned children of God is viewed by our society and by our criminal justice system far differently than the killing of their white counterparts. 

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Our St. Louis Racial Justice Group has been involved in these demonstrations and is continuously working for the day when such a group is not necessary. Until then, they will protest injustice, promote awareness, exemplify peace, and engage policymakers. Led by the National Benevolent Association's Organizing Specialist Rev. Dr. Dietra Wise Baker, the group includes:
Rev. Derrick Perkins, Centennial Christian Church
Rev. Margie Pride, Memorial Boulevard Christian Church
Rev. Dr. Jeff Moore, Webster Groves Christian Church
Rev. Dr. Paul Koch, Regional Minister Team
Rev. Dr. Jacque Foster, Compton Heights Christian Church
Rev. Dr. Suzanne Webb, recently retired from Union Avenue Christian Church

Their recent action is summarized in this reflection by Rev. Dr. Jacque Foster. For more information, including how to receive regular updates, refer to their 9/18 email communication.

 

 

Next Wednesday, September 27th, our General Minister and President Rev. Terri Hord Owens and our Reconciliation Minister Rev. April Johnson will join us for an evening of processing and planning and this ministry continues. All are welcome to join them at Centennial Christian Church for dinner, dialogue, and direction. Learn more and register here.