Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Word from the General Minister concerning Disciples of Christ General Assembly

With the 2013 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) now complete, we the delegates return to our congregations and our regions bearing news of our experiences.  We heard good messages, debated issues of importance (or non-importance in the minds of some), and gathered for worship.   As we ponder our experiences, we may have received a pastoral letter from the General Minister and President, the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins.  You may have already seen it, but I'd like to share it more broadly.  In this letter Sharon interprets the meaning of Resolution GA 1327, "Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All."  I offer it up for your reflection and response.  May it help further the conversation as we move forward as God's people.

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July 19, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ -

Grace and peace to you in the name of the living Christ who lives and moves among us, who calls us to the Table, then sends us forth to serve.

I write to share a word with all Disciples congregations following an important vote at the 2013 Orlando General Assembly.

In these days following assembly,my heart is prayerful; my spirit hopeful; and my love for our church is strong. Surely, God has given Disciples a blessing and a mission for wholeness,
welcoming all to the Lord's Table of reconciliation and love.

That blessing and mission for Disciples begins in a congregation. In congregations we come forward and make or reaffirm our confession of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. There we are baptized, our babies are dedicated, we are married and our parents buried. Our faith is nurtured and sometimes challenged in a beloved community of other Disciples we know and love.

We extend the blessing as we join hands with other Disciples congregations to share God's love in our communities and around the world. We offer words and prayers of comfort and challenge, as well as hands-on help, to our neighbor in times of need. In many diverse ways, we learn the story of Jesus and invite others to walk in his love.

The recent vote to "adopt" Resolution GA1327, Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All, has significance for the Church, but it is important to recognize the nature of that significance.

The intent of the resolution is to urge Disciples to welcome into our congregations and other ministries all who seek Christ. It serves as a reminder that among Disciples we do not bar the church door or fence the table from those who desire the embrace of God's love.


Here is what this "Sense of the Assembly" resolution is not:

  • It is not a statement of "unwelcome" for Disciples who did not support the resolution. All who confess faith in Jesus Christ are welcome. All means all.
  •  It is not a policy change. The congregation where you worship and serve will not be requested to establish (or change) a policy on gay or lesbian persons in the life of the Church. The region where your congregation is affiliated is not required to change its policies on ordination. Your pastor is not required to bless same-gender marriages.
  • It is not a theological mandate. It does not say that we have the same biblical understanding of sexual orientation or gender identity. Disciples, prayerfully and with biblical study and other research, come to their own understanding on these matters.
  
This resolution does, however, carry symbolic importance in the life of our Church. It reminds us that our baptism into the living Christ continues to be our common ground

It points out that within the broad membership of Disciples, among the many congregations in covenant with each other, there have always been gay and straight, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender persons who participate fully in the life and leadership of the church.It urges us to treat each other with gospel hospitality as we seek to understand each other better.

My deepest hope is that, in the coming weeks and months, with God's help, we will continue in worship and mission together even when we profoundly disagree - as we have so often done before - recognizing that it is God's covenant of love that binds us to God and to one another[1] in Christ. My prayer is that together we will continue to witness to God's gift of reconciliation and wholeness before the brokenness of the world.

United though not uniform, diverse but not divided, let us name our differences, then claim our common calling to be and to share the good news of Jesus Christ who came "that the world might be saved". (John 3:17)

Your sister in Christ,
  

The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins
General Minister and President
With the General 
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada



[1] The Preamble to the Design of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

2 comments:

Jeffery Agnew said...

Without context it looks very political. Striving for Christian unity on divisive issues while in the moment calls for an historical perspective (*hint-hint): How have we as Disciples worked through previous conflicts given our polity?

steve finnell said...

THE WILL OF THE FATHER?


It is the will of the Father that all men be saved. The question is can men reject what the words of Jesus and still be saved.


John 6:40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

The Father wants all men to be saved. Can men say God only wants a select few to be saved and claim to believe the words of Jesus?


John 12:48-50 He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day........


Can men be a true believer in Jesus and at the same time reject His word?


How many times can men say, "Jesus did not mean what He said." Can men proclaim their creed books and other denominational teaching takes precedent over the words of Jesus and still be saved?

THE WORDS OF JESUS

Mark 16:16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

Can you reject the fact that Jesus said "Has been baptized shall be saved?" Are you receiving the sayings of Jesus when you proclaim that water baptism does not precede salvation?

Matthew 24:10-13 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.......13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

Can men oppose what Jesus said and declare that men that are once saved are always saved? Will they still be saved?

John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

Can men proclaim that Jesus was saying, in order to enter the kingdom of God you have be born by natural child birth. Can you imagine Jesus saying that a requirement to enter the kingdom of God is being born of amniotic fluid?

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through Me."

Can believers in Christ say that Jesus is just one of many roads to salvation and remain saved?

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son , that whoever believes in Him shall not perish , but have eternal life.

Some say, that John 3:16 actually means that whoever God has preselected, will believe and be saved and all others will burn in hell for all eternity.

Can men give their private interpretation of Scripture and still be saved?


CAN MEN REJECT THE WORDS OF JESUS AND STILL BE SAVED?

(Scripture from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)





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