By Revs. Don and Susan Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers
“I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.”
Susan and I, along with over 4,000 other Disciples from across the US and Canada and around the world, gathered together in Indianapolis for our General Assembly this July. It was an exciting time, filled with wonderful worship, fellowship, business sessions, learning opportunities and networking with colleagues and friends across the life of the whole church.
We of course were very proud to have our own Tom Perring as First Vice Moderator of the General Assembly leading the worships for this amazing event. In addition, our youth and young adults helped with worship, business and other activities throughout the Assembly. Our PSWR pride shone brightly on the first night as the Rev. Jose Morales brought the opening message that challenged us to re-think our notions of unity: “The paradox and promise of the Gospel is that whereas false unity is safe yet deadly, true unity is dangerous yet life-giving.”
We also celebrated that the PSWR will continue to be represented in the biennial with the election of Belva Brown Jordan as Moderator-Elect and Eula Nicola Pagdilao for her election onto the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) General Board.
One of the very special moments of the Assembly was the farewell celebration for Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins who finished her 12 years as our General Minister and President. We were reminded of the historic significance of her election as the first woman to be named as head of a mainline denominational communion. In addition, we again were filled a deep sense of pride as we recalled that Dr. Watkins gave the address at President Barrack Obama’s inauguration. We also witnessed all the amazing work that Dr. Watkins accomplished in her 12years as GMP and offered tearful goodbyes as she closed her time in this position.
Of course perhaps the most anticipated moment of the Assembly was around the election of our new General Minister and President the Rev. Teresa Hord Owens. With the announcement of the overwhelming affirmation of her election, the entire Assembly erupted in celebration as Disciples witnessed yet another historic moment in electing not only another woman to head our denomination but a woman of color! Rev. Owens will be the first person of color as an African American to hold the position as General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
With the Assemblies theme being “ONE” based on the scripture from John’s Gospel, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.” John 17:20-21a, Rev. Owens delivered an inspiring message calling for all Disciples to again claim our calling to reflect this prayer of Jesus in all we do.
She said, “Our striving for unity is perhaps the most powerful way in which we bear witness that the love of God is real and present in the world. If we can hold one another in community, even in the presence of tensions that result from human differences of various dimensions of identity, socio-economic status, geography, theology and politics, we can be an example to the world to say that we believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and his church are so important that we can work together despite those differences to ensure that God’s message of love is shared and lived out in the world.”
Certainly in today’s contentious climate both politically and religiously this message is needed perhaps more than ever. We seem to be bombarded daily with things aiming to divide us along every line and create hostility, distrust and suspicion of the “other.” Rev. Owens goes on to say, “This is not an easy vision, and it will take not just the best of what is in us, but it will also take the best of what God can do in and through us.”
As we look ahead our Regional Gathering on October 21, we will continue this vision with our theme, “FAITHFUL IN THE TENSION.” We are pleased and excited to have the Rev. April Lewton as our keynote speaker and look forward to the inspiring and challenging word she will bring for us here in the PSWR.
I close with these words from our new General Minister and President, “I pray that together we can provide the world with an example of the radical love and hospitality of God that will allow us to be witnesses of the gospel of Jesus Christ in this time. May they look at our fellowship, with all its diversity, with all its struggles, and marvel at God’s goodness and love.”
Together on the journey,
Don and Susan
Your Regional Ministers
Read more about General Assembly highlights here.