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.

 

Rev. Cindy Molini Installed

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On September 17 Rev. Cindy Molini was installed as pastor of the Lawson Christian Presbyterian Church in Lawson. Dr. Larry Colvin of the Regional Minister Team - CCMA and Dr. Ron Galvin of the Heartland Presbytery co-celebrated the installation. Although the day was gloomy and foggy outside, worship was spiritually charged. A vocal soloist and violin solo helped add to the joy of the day.

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Cindy's spiritual journey has taken her on many paths which include her Catholic upbringing and through the American Baptist. Her theological education has also been quite ecumenical. She and her husband Bill live on a farm outside Excelsior Springs.

Following worship, a festive lunch was served. The beginning plans to celebrate the church's 50 years as a united church in 2018 were begun. 

Article by Dr. Larry Colvin, Photos by Deborah Colvin

Hurricane Relief - What Can We Do?

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have left major destruction in their wake and now Hurricane Jose threatens the Caribbean and possibly southern US. We offer our prayers to the thousands who suffer the death and injury of loved ones. We offer hope for the lives that will continue to be disrupted for months and perhaps years to come.

 

 

Prayer is needed and is powerful. Yet many of us are eager to find other ways to bring relief to our suffering human family in the Caribbean and southern United States. Here is great news.  Our financial support and partnerships with both Week of Compassion and Church World Service means, we are already there and have been from the beginning! These agencies have been hard at work with other first responders providing shelter, health needs, water, and food. While there is eagerness to send clothes, or organize a work trip, we need to be patient.

Week of Compassion, on its website states, “For those who are anxious to ‘go help,’ remember it will be a while before these devastated neighborhoods are ready to host you. If you want to put you muscle to work, Week of Compassion and Disciples Volunteering have plenty of locations where work continues to rebuild from previous disasters in New Orleans, southern Missouri, Florida and elsewhere.” To know what and when to be of help following these hurricanes, continue to read the weekly CCMA news Update or consult the Week of Compassion website. You may also wish to provide financial contributions to Week of Compassion designated to hurricane relief. One-hundred percent of your designated gift will be used for direct relief. There are many ways your financial gift will assist well beyond its immediate use.

Here is an example. Because of your financial support, large quantities of water can be purchased in the local site through negotiating at lower prices. This allows more persons to receive water. It also helps a local business recover and be able to serve its community again which will provide other goods in the area. Your gift, which purchased water, now is part of the community’s economic re-development.

You may also lend support through Church World Service. You may provide hygiene kits, school kits, or clean up buckets. Simply visit the CWS website to find what items are needed and create the kits. Then either send them to the designated location or bring them to our Regional Gathering/Festival of Sharing next month! Or, you may donate the cost of kits. Yet another way to help is to donate for the cost of CWS blankets.

When the time comes to organize work trips, send us the information about the trip. In our newsletter and on our website, we can share details throughout the Region so others may support your trip with in-kind assistance, financial needs, or volunteering their skills.

Submitted by Rev. Dr. Larry Colvin,
Regional Minister Team member.
Find Week of Compassion's most recent update on hurricane relief here.

Prophetic Words about Charlottesville

From time to time, we on the regional minister team have been encouraged by you to offer pastoral or prophetic words.  Of course, many of the most egregious situations on our national communal landscape can leave us utterly speechless!  This is true for me regarding the events and responses involving what happened in Charlottesville over this past weekend.  I’d like to share a message written by Rev. Dr. Jeff Moore of Webster Groves CC, who was present in Charlottesville. He participated in the protests as part of a group of clergy providing a prayerful witness against hatred and demonstrating God’s love for all. As we are all church together, I am also grateful for and offer you prayers that were spoken from pulpits in our region on Sunday.  Please click the links for a sampling from Rev. Loy Hoskins of FCC in Marshall, Rev. Nick Larson of Broadway CC in Columbia, our Minister of Reconciliation Rev. April Johnson, and our General Minister and President, Rev. Teresa Hord Owens. Some of our partner organizations including the United Church of Christ, Interfaith Partnership of Greater St. Louis, and the National Council of Churches have also issued statements. 

I am utterly grateful that these prayers have stirred my consciousness.  I am equally grateful that our Mid-America Region has been proactive rather than merely reactive in response. Our daily work, week in and week out, has been working toward pro-reconciliation and anti-racism together.  Long before white nationalists organized a march in Charlottesville, your PRAR team has been working toward healing our divisions with a message of inclusion and acceptance.  Long before we realized as pastors that we needed to collaborate and join together to discuss how we can effectively minister in turbulent times, your colleagues have been working on our Persons in Ministry retreat for this September.

I believe Jesus' most prophetic words were contained in what we read as a four-word response when he was challenged, "Go and do likewise."  Luke 10:37 For pastors and others wanting a prophetic, pastoral conversations on where to turn next, Go! and take advantage of what is offered now.  Our two upcoming PRAR trainings will include conversations about Charlottesville.  Our Persons in Ministry Retreat is aptly titled, "Pastoral, Prophetic, Perturbed: Ministry in Turbulent Times."  Your loss and emptiness, "your grain houses" will become full by wrestling with biblical texts among colleagues and hearing prophetic words from Dr. John Thomas, our PIM keynote speaker.  Remember, financial assistance is available for both!  Here are the links to register and find out more:    PRAR training     PiM Retreat

Trying to do likewise,
Paul Koch, RMT

Additional statements added since original publication:
Broadway Christian Church
Video statement by General Minister & President Rev. Terri Hord Owen

Board Calls Regional Minister Team Members

On Saturday, August 12th the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Mid-America Board met at First Christian Church in Columbia. Part of the business of the day was to receive the reports and recommendations of the two search committees that had been working towards filling two upcoming vacancies on our Regional Minister Team. Rev. Dr. G. Mike Weinman (Southwest office) will be retiring in January 2018 and Rev. Dr. Paul Koch (Northeast office) concludes his time as Transitional Regional Minister Team member at the end of this year.

Rev. Katrina Palan has been called to serve in the Southwest office. She is currently serving as the Interim Regional Minister in the Disciples of Christ in Nebraska and brings a wealth of interim, 'settled', and chaplaincy experience. The search committee's decision was based on her "background of education, training, work experience, participation in ecumenical activities, the follow-up phone calls, and her sincere response to the various questions that were presented to her during the interview process." Read their whole report here.

Rev. Dr. Paul Koch has been called to serve in the Northeast office, now in the capacity of 'settled' Team member. Before his time as Transitional Regional Minister Team member began in 2016, he served a number of churches in Missouri, Alabama, and Iowa, as well as an Interfaith Mission organization. He is passionate about outdoor, youth, and men's ministries. Read the search committee's report here.

The board unanimously approved the two recommendations. Both have been called and will begin on January 1, 2018. Please plan to come and visit with them at our Regional Gathering as both will be joining us in Sedalia on October 20 & 21.

CCMA Turning 200!

Our Regional Gathering in Sedalia, October 20-21 kicks off a celebration of the bicentennial of Disciples coming together to be church in Mid-America - with the founding of the Salt Creek Christian Church in Howard County in 1817.  We hope to continue celebrating clear through Missouri's bicentennial in 2021.

We honor this time of anniversary to reach out to others outside our denominational walls and use history to emphasize the special things we are.  In a time when many are turned off and turned away from “church” by creeds, rules, doctrines, judgments, and narrowness, we have a heritage of openness that is inviting.  Two hundred years of being who we are is worth talking about and worth taking beyond our walls.

Bob Priddy, a renowned Missouri broadcaster, historian, and member of FCC-Jefferson City joins others to give us perspectives on where we came, who we are, and where we are headed. Five years ago he was asked to deliver a sermon and spoke in the person of Alexander Campbell.  He concluded this way: 

Bear with me for a few more minutes while I explain the greatest strength of our message to those who say we offer no answers for a people desperate for them.    

            There might never have been a more free time or place in all of our nation’s history than at the turn of the 19th century in the area between the Alleghenies and the Mississippi, the area and the time when our denomination was born. 

            The people who flowed into that area were free of the British crown and its church.  They were free of the official churches of the colonies on the seaboard.  It was a new area. It was a new era for living and for thinking. People had not come to this area for religious reasons.  They had come with a spirit of adventure, a spirit of hope, and hope for an opportunity to build a better life. 

            In the east, doctrines separated people.  On the frontier, distance, danger, and loneliness erased structures that separated people from one another.  Differences, including those based on denominational doctrine, were eliminated by the necessity for survival.

            The great revivals that began a few years before I arrived increased church membership.  But to the degree that they relied on emotionalism and tried to re-create doctrinal differences, they brought more divisions within and between denominations.  Some ministers such as Brother Stone and my father got into trouble, not because of how they taught the Bible but because they acted and taught contrary to the creeds of the church which acted to exclude, not include, those who had the freedom on the frontier to formulate their own understandings of God’s word.  Many people who were experiencing the freedom of the frontier grew uncomfortable being judged on the basis of their adherence to a man-made creed rather than on their Scripture-based personal faith. 

            It was that climate that led my father to begin the Declaration and Address more than 200 years ago, “From the series of events which have taken place in the churches for many years past, especially in this Western country, as well as from what we know in general of the present state of things in the Christian world, we are persuaded that it is high time for us not only to think, but also to act, for ourselves; to see with our own eyes, and to take all our measures directly and immediately from the Divine standard; to this alone we feel ourselves Divinely bound to be conformed, as by this alone, we must be judged.” 

            In a nation that has proclaimed Freedom of Religion as one of its undeniable rights and virtues, it was time in 1809 to reject limits on religious freedom advocated by denominations themselves.  It was time to acknowledge that each Christian stands to be judged only on his relation to the Word of God, not the creeds of man. 

            To those who say we stand for nothing because we do not demand adherence to statements or orders that would forever keep us three feet long, let us answer that we stand for that most basic desire of all people----to be free to use the mind God has given each of us to understand the mind of God.   

            It is that freedom that strives to create the Church of Christ upon earth (that) is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ and obedience to him in all things according to the Scriptures.  

Stand for nothing?  

Hardly. Two hundred years ago, we established that we stand for the freedom of all believers to know God through GOD’s Word. 

That is our answer.  

That is our message.  

That is our past.

 That is our future.  

            I speak from your own past today and tell you to be as unafraid to proclaim that message as boldly and as faithfully in this day as we proclaimed it in the beginning.    Go forth to bring Christians to discipleship in Christ….and build the one Church of Christ upon earth. 

Submitted by Regional Minister Team member Paul Koch.

Christian Regional Youth Festival

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On July 17-20th, Mid-America youth and adults convened at Drury University in Springfield for the Christian Regional Youth (CRY) Festival.  Erin Reed-Cooper traveled from Atlanta, GA to deliver a keynote address focusing on the theme 'Finding God in the Highs & Lows', based on Romans 8:38-39.
 

 

Throughout the four days, in addition to the keynote address and family group discussion, participants attended workshops on subjects such as Biblical interpretation, racism, social justice, healthy lifestyle choices, Jesus, Islam, prayer and more.  For the second year, CRY attendees spent an afternoon of service in their host community; this year, they had the choice of painting and cleaning a early childhood learning center, repairing trails at a water conservation area, or writing letters to government officials.

 

 

According to many of the CRY ‘veterans’ present, this year’s festival was one of their most memorable events, one that they claim is historic in its sacredness, relational, and life-giving ministry.  Also historic was the diversity of those present.  The 2017 CRY family consisted of participants diverse in age, race, sexual orientation, biblical interpretation, culture, ethnicity, political inclination, economic circumstance, religion, culture, and faith.  There was a true representation of society.  Yet there was something…different.  Something that was odd, unfamiliar, that stood out in this small CRY society.  There was celebration.  Not in spite of the diversity, but because of it.  Instead of ignoring the differences, these differences were embraced and honored.

 

Heard repeatedly every year, is that CRY is the “Real World”.  CRY is “Home”.  In a very brief few days, each is sustained and fed enough to get through the remaining 360 days.  This may seem cynical to many, but it is just the opposite. At CRY is found unconditional love, laughter, support, forgiveness, freedom and grace.  At CRY is found what church seeks, strives to become, but sometimes fails. At CRY is found the Kingdom of God.

Officers for the coming year are President Brenen Sullivan of First Christian Church in Marshall, Vice President Khotso Moore of Webster Groves Christian Church, and Secretary Ashlyn Robbins of First Christian Church in Marshall. See the whole Cabinet list here.

Story by CRY Coordinator Kris Milliron.
Photos courtesy of Kris and Brian Kirk.

Fresh Winds at FCC in Rock Port

First Christian Church in Rock Port celebrated Pentecost by breaking ground for a new community center. The project has been in the planning stages for several years. FCC pastor, Rev. Rodney Hopper, stated that a dream is coming true because the congregation was willing to trust in God's Spirit and shake off doubt. The center will be an all-purpose building that will give more space to the congregation for meals and special occasions. The center will be open to the whole of Rock Port and surrounding area. In fact as part of the planning the church has been asking the community what is needed that is not already being done?

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Dr. Larry Colvin, Regional Minister Team member preached and turned the first spade of earth. Pastor Hopper turned the second shovel-full. This was followed by several others turning soil and sharing their hopes and dreams. The day was hot, the ground was hard and dry, but the building, with God's help, has begun.

 

Story by Dr. Larry Colvin
Photos by Debbie Colvin

Training Time for New Beginnings Congregations

On Saturday, May 20 persons from three congregations met in Chillicothe to take part in a training as part of Hope Partnership's New Beginnings. Taking part were members of First Christian Church - Cameron, First Christian Church - Centralia, and First Christian Church - Chillicothe. First Christian Church in Republic are also participating in New Beginnings.

New Beginnings works with congregations to help them discern where God may be leading them into the future. It is not a set program, but a process whereby the congregants enter into conversation with one another and with God. It is a time of trusting one's faith. There are four major parts to New Beginnings, 1) Assessing, 2) Training (the focus of this gathering), 3) Discerning through house meetings, and 4) Deciding the way forward.

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Gilberto Callazo, President of Hope Partnership, led the training of those who will return to their churches and facilitate house meetings for discernment. President Callazo shared with the gathered that it is time to shift our thinking about long held assumptions. Congregations need to shift from making members to creating discipleship, from being about faith to transformation through faith, and from maintenance to preparing missionaries. He noted churches must know "why" they are doing what they are doing. Churches that are thriving (not necessarily in growing numbers) are relevant to their community, and have a passion for active mission with it, because of their identity with the mission of Jesus Christ.

Story and photos courtesy of Regional Minister
Team member Rev. Dr. Larry Colvin.

Mission: Kitchen Remodel

On Saturday, May 6th a team from First Christian Church in Edwardsville, IL remodeled the kitchen at the Good Samaritan House, a local shelter for women and children. The team is thankful that local vendors either donated or discounted the materials and professional labor such as plumbing.  After much advance coordination, the team accomplished the following in a one day remodel:  

  • New granite countertop and new faucets installed
  • New electric range installed
  • Florescent bulbs replaced
  • Painted the kitchen
  • Cleaned/organized the cabinets
  • Provided 2 new storage cabinets and new microwave cart
  • Installed new shower heads in each bathroom and new bath mats 

Pictures of this and other Mission Events:  fccedwardsville.org/connect/service

Story and photo courtesy of pastor James Brooks.