The Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Racism team facilitated a pre-Assembly event on Thursday, October 6th. Thank you to Drury University for their support in hosting this session. The training provided definitions of key words and concepts, utilized videos to illustrate ideas, encouraged constructive discussion, and promoted next steps for further exploration and action. Find the distributed materials here. Participation fulfilled the new requirement that clergy attend a Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Racism training session once every three years, which the Commission on the Order of Ministry established earlier this year. The next opportunity for such training is November 5th in St. Louis.
First among the Assembly speakers was Center for Faith & Giving Director Rev. Dr. Bruce Barkhauer who spoke at the clergy/spouse luncheon on the topic of clergy personal finance issues. Later, at the opening worship, several brought greetings to those assembled: Rev. Geoff Weinman on behalf of Central Christian Church, Rev. Dr. Penny Ross-Corona on behalf of the Regional Minister Team, and Rev. Dr. Ginny Brown Daniel on behalf of the Missouri Mid-South Conference of the United Church of Christ.
Next on the schedule was Bible study by Dr. Marco Hofheinz, a Professor of Systematic Theology at the Institute for Theology and the Study of Religion at Leibniz University in Hanover, Germany. He is currently a visiting scholar at Drury University.
General Minister and President Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins preached at the evening worship (view here) and communion was served by the Regional Minister Team (Rev. Drs. Larry Colvin, Paul Koch, Penny Ross-Corona, and Mike Weinman). Special thanks go out to worship planner and music director Rev. Emily Bowen-Marler of Brentwood Christian Church. Approximately $1,000 was received toward the joint Hurricane Matthew relief effort by Week of Compassion, One Great Hour of Sharing, and Global Ministries.
The final activity of day one was the Mission & Ministry Council launch party. Council Chairman Rev. William Brown explained the purpose and vision of the council, and introduced members of several congregations who outlined some of their churches' projects.
Saturday began with a Mission First Gathering. Rev. Dr. Watkins explained the Mission First! program and showed a video to illustrate its vision. Our Mission First host Mike Weinman outlined the process for the gathering, then invited all to separate into small groups and discuss their church's mission(s), identify common themes and specific efforts, and outline their findings for the larger group.
Speakers for Saturday's lunch were Jim and Jayanthi Wilson, Global Ministries missionaries to South Africa. They are currently traveling around Mid-America speaking in congregations and sharing their experience. After 28 years of ministry, they are retiring. They were presented a recognition for their dedication and service by Larry Colvin. Read a summary here. A Global Ministries fund has been created to support the work of such missionaries into the future. Donations can be made in their honor here.
Moderator Guy Adams called the business session to order. All reports were received, the 2017 budget was presented, and new officers were installed. Several who were completing their service to the Region were applauded for their contributions. Find the the business documents and more in the Assembly program book. Read the minutes of the session by Secretary Rick Rollings.
Participants then headed to their Mission Breakout Session of choice, after which they were invited to Pick their Passion. People with similar mission interests got together to share experiences, successes, failures, resources, hopes, and plans. To facilitate more complete and ongoing collaboration, discussion groups have been established for all of the identified topics. All are welcome to get in on the mission conversations here.
The All-Assembly dinner was held at Drury University's Findlay Student Center. Saturday evening's worship was a Taize service featuring several talented musicians and speakers. Rev. Dr. Jacque Foster of Compton Heights Christian Church in St. Louis gave an account of some of that congregation's involvement with Pro-Reconciliation/Anti-Racism. Approximately $800 was received toward this continued work.
Sunday morning worship brought a message by Rev. Aryanna Johnson Watkins, Director of the National Benevolent Association's Incubate Initiative. Her message (video here) was based on Luke 13:6-9(CEB) and challenged all to 'Get Up & Go!'
Thank you to Vickie Sowers, the whole Assembly Planning Team, and the many others who put so much effort into making this a wonderful experience for all. Watch upcoming Regional newsletters for information about the dates and location of our next Biennial Assembly!
Photos courtesy of Kirby Gould,
Diane Hall, Carole Hughes, Kris Milliron,
Penny Ross-Corona, Mike Weinman,
Mike Williams, and David Woodard.