Ninety participants from just about all of our Convocation congregations plus many others traveled to Willow Street CC in Hannibal on April 1 for a spirited, targeted and worshipful event addressing how to be a faithful 21st century congregation. The Convocation welcomed Pastor Charlie Blackmon from the newly combined congregation of Restoration Christian Community Church and rejoiced for the growth and transformation taking place there. The group was also very glad to welcome Patricia Penelton, National Convocation Board President. Worship, workshops, dance, the procession of banners, words from our moderator Vickie Sowers and Regional Minister Team members Drs. Penny Ross-Corona and Paul Koch, great food and fellowship filled the day along with a special surprise tribute to Rev. M. Faye Vaughn, Convocation Coordinator Emerita for her past 23 years of shepherding the annual event.
National speakers, the Rev. Dr. R. Wayne Calhoun, Executive for Evangelism and Congregational Transformation for Disciples Home Missions and keynoter Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, who serves as a founding executive for the Disciples Justice Action Network spoke in the same accord. Both identify the historic and urgent contributions of African-American Disciples congregations as being vital for the Church needed today and beyond. Dr. Sullivan said that Convocation churches have the innate obligation to stand firm for justice and societal transformation for equality. He said, "You can advocate for justice and not be Christian, but you can't be Christian and not advocate for justice." Dr. Calhoun echoed that congregations cannot afford the luxury of merely taking care of their members and accepting the status quo. He said, "Jesus is calling us to seize the opportunity before us."
After witnessing the brief but always stimulating presentation from the Mid-America Pro-Reconciliation / Anti-Racism team, Dr. Calhoun took a moment to go out of his way to applaud the Christian Church of Mid-America for our outstanding educational offerings, voice and activity to bring the general church forward in being a truly Reconciling Church. Our program and efforts lead just about all the other regions in content and enthusiasm. "Give yourself a pat on the back Mid-America."
Convocation Co-Coordinators Paula Holliday and LeWanda Jackson were especially pleased by all who came out (even as far away as Joplin and an entire busload from Centennial CC in St. Louis).
Story and photos courtesy of Rev. Dr. Paul Koch. Additional photos courtesy of Paula Holliday and Rev. Dr. Penny Ross-Corona.