(by Amber Churchill)
I need a break from my Spring Break. This is the general sentiment issued after a week of partying and vacationing. Alas, my Spring Break was not filled with these memories. Rather, it was filled with seminars, workshops, conferences and worship services, which were all extremely beneficial but exhausting.
Last week I spent Thursday through Sunday at the Disciples Seminarians Conference in Nashville, TN. This biennial gathering hopes to prepare second and third year seminarians for the mysterious land beyond graduation. The weekend consisted of learning about the sixteen, that’s right 16, General Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and I discovered I did not really comprehend the diversity and breadth of Disciples before going on this trip. We have general ministries dedicated to home missions, global missions, Christian unity, faithful giving, publication of Disciples materials, education and leadership, and long term financial planning for clergy. Truly, I was overwhelmed by our structure and at the desire from leaders within our church to equip the new ministers, pastors, preachers, and teachers for their journeys.
Some of my favorite moments came when I was able to speak with both the representatives for the National Convocation and La Obra Hispana, which are two of the General Ministries. I told Sharon Watkins, our General Minister and President, that my congregation would be the slightest bit upset if I did not cause some sort of trouble. Historically, there has been concern from both of these groups about becoming more affirming of LGBTQ’s within the Disciple tradition. Recently, their concerns have been increased because there is a resolution preposed for this summer’s General Assembly for the CC(DOC) to become a church of Welcome and Grace and Midway Hills is the second signer of the resolution. So, I could not let the opportunity to speak with their representatives pass me by. I asked them both a simple question: how do we have open honest dialogue?
Ultimately, we are all disciples and if our statement of radical inclusivity at the table is really true then those who do not agree with the LGBTQ stance are also welcome. There is room for all at the table and I am willing to fight for inclusion of both sides. Frederick Buechner said it best when he said, “Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me.” All are welcome.