Read all about the 2009 General Assembly from the Georgia perspective below.

Reports from the Georgia Delegation

Wednesday - Day 1 of the General Assembly

Greeting from the beautiful city of Indianapolis Indiana.  They said this was an ideal convention center and they were right.  The Convention center is beautiful and convenient.  The major hotels are all within easy walking distance.  The city is clean and the people friendly.

Day one of the Assembly is all about finding and re-connecting with old friends from across the denomination and this assembly has been no exception.  But there was also a short business session this afternoon, some interesting sponsored dinners and a spirit filled evening worship with an inspired message from Georgia's own Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale.  You can read the details of the business sessions and more about the worship on www.disciples.org/ga but know that The Ray of Hope Choir had the entire convention center on their feet in thanks for their amazing performance prior to Dr. Hale's message.  Dr. Hale preached from Genesis, reminding us that "We are a piece of work - God's work" and although we sometimes struggle with out identity as Disciples of Christ we should know that we are God's creation and so WE CAN be a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.

From Rev. Kathy McDowell

Hello Friends,

The General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has begun and here are some impressions from the first day (Wednesday).

We are a church of both “seniors” and “juniors.” At dinner on Wednesday I met Verla, a ninety-year-old Disciple at assisted living in Indianapolis, who was enjoying the evening along with the help of her walker and a readiness to strike up a conversation with everyone. That same evening, my dinner partners included Robbie, 7, and John, 4, two young Disciples from Illinois. Along with the delight of feeding the sparrows pieces of leftover biscuit (we were eating outdoors), I enjoyed meeting their mother, a Disciples minister who grew up at Sandy Springs Christian Church.



Worship last night was beautiful and full of rich contrasts:

  • We began worship with a dramatized reading of the first creation story in Genesis 1 written by James Weldon Johnson in 1871, “The Creation (A Negro Sermon).” This poem was accompanied by projected images and dancers.
  • As worship continued, in a decidedly contemporary twist, a group of dancers and drummers processed in, followed by VIPs and dignitaries and children, while we sang “All Creatures of our God and King”, a 12th century hymn originally composed by St. Francis of Assisi.
  • The children’s message, a retelling of portions of the Genesis 2 creation story, was carefully delivered in the style of “Godly Play” by Dr. Kaye Edwards, of Disciples Homeland Ministries.
  • And the sermon delivered by Georgia’s Rev. Dr. Cynthia Hale, senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, GA, reminded us that we are all “a piece of work” (God’s work) and as such, we have work to do in our broken, but God-blessed world.
  • Finally, although many of us present last night may come from small churches, we are a church that is no small church! Our denomination of smaller churches is a big church at its biennial General Assembly. There are estimated to be some 6,500 present at this event.

Once again, I was reminded in worship and through Dr. Hale’s preaching that this church of ours is truly a “movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” Two hundred years after the first stirrings of unity ignited our founders Barton Stone, Alexander Campbell, and Thomas Campbell to begin the very first Christian movement founded in America, that movement is still going strong! The highlight of worship last night for me was sharing communion with people of all colors and ages and races and ethnicities; children and babies sitting with their parents in a carefully designed floor space at the front of the convention hall; persons on walkers and in wheelchairs; youth and young adults; people from Disciples congregations in every corner of the U.S. and into parts of Canada. In our church, big and small, “we welcome all to the Lord’s Table, just as God welcomes us.”

Yours in Christ from Indianapolis,
Kathy McDowell


Thursday - Day 2 of the General Assembly

Day 2 began with a business session where several important business items were handled.  You can read about the issues and results at www.disciples.org/ga but know that Georgians participated in the discussion (see photo below).  The afternoon brought The Wholeness Cafe, a chance to dialogue with others from around the Disciples about issues that effect the church today.  Our worship tonight was a service of Reconciliation that was deeply moving with Rev. Doug Skinner calling us to Confess and Repent, saying "I'm Sorry."


From Rev. Kathy McDowell:

Hello Friends,

As the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) continues, we have continued to worship, learn, and fellowship together as a “movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.”   Highlights of Thursday’s Assembly which I am reflecting on this early Friday a.m.:

  • Wonderful evening worship, this time a Service of Confession and Repentance, with moving music and opportunities for a time of prayer designed to do that which we sometimes fail to do - confess and repent of our own wrongdoing.  At this same service, Rev. Doug Skinner, pastor of Northway Christian Church, Dallas, TX, brought a message reminding us that our brokenness often stems from our failure to say (and mean) “I’m sorry.”  Also at this service, Rev. Richard Hamm, former General Minister and President of our denomination led an engaging children’s moment using that old board game “Sorry.” 
  • Times of learning that were exceptional:  Dr. Richard Lowery brought a morning Bible lecture on the texts of Genesis, especially the creation and fall stories.  Dr. Lowery is professor of Hebrew Bible and currently the Interim Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Lexington Theological Seminary in Lexington, KY.  Later in the morning Dr. Newell Williams presented a lecture on “Stone-Campbell Spirituality.”  Dr. Williams is the Moderator of our church and  President and Professor of Modern and American Church History of Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University.
  • The much-awaited Wholeness Café offered us nourishment – but not from the usual cafeteria fare.  This was a way of conducting meaningful conversations with Disciples from across the country on topics including:  “Let the Children Come,” Building Partnerships for Mission,” “Do Justice,” “Practice Hospitality,” and “Make Disciples.”  What a great way this was of talking together!
  • The Disciples Men and Disciples Women met separately at lunch gatherings.  I attended the women’s gathering where the excitement is building for the 2010 Quadrennial, the every-four-year Disciple women’s gathering.  This will be held June 23-27 in Greensboro, NC.

Yours in Christ from Indianapolis,

Kathy McDowell


Friday - Day 3 of the General Assembly

Day 3 also began with a business session followed by many opportunities for lunch, fellowship and an afternoon of workshops and learning tracks.  Please note that I have added some additional reports written by Rev. Kathy McDowell of Peachtree Corners Christian Church to the sections on Wed. - Thur. below.  Please enjoy Kathy's reports.

From Rev. Kathy McDowell

Hello Friends,

Friday was a great day at the General Assembly of Disciples in Indianapolis.  But for me, maybe best of all was getting together with the Disciples from Peachtree Corners Christian – like many of our other churches from Georgia, the PCCC delegates (Will Perdue, Jamie and Buddy Ray, and I, along with Will’s Dad Bill, and Augusta First’s John Anderson) had a chance to get together for lunch.

In addition to this fellowship, Friday was all about LEARNING:

  • The afternoon learning sessions began.  There were over a hundred choices to choose from ranging from discussion of assembly issues, to evangelism, to Sunday School, to church starts and transformation. The only problem was deciding what to attend from so many choices!
  • The morning business session saw classic Disciples as we (6,000 of us) discussed just how we would debate and decide our issues of justice and prophetic witness at future assemblies.  The verdict?  Still TBD in Saturday’s session.
  • Music was again wonderful, led by Bill Thomas of Church of the Valley, Van Nuys, CA.  Other recognizable performing artists and actors in the exceptional praise band were Andra Moran, of Vine Street Christian Church, Nashville, TN; and Laura Hall and Drew Powell of Church of the Valley, Van Nuys, CA.  (Go ahead, google them and you’ll see.)  But celebrity or not, this praise group is the big choir with a big heart.
  • It was with a sense of pride that all of us awaited the message brought by Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, our General Minister and President, who preached Friday evening in worship.  And we had our chance to show our pride and appreciation for her participation in the January National Prayer Service in Washington, D.C. But pride isn’t part of Dr. Watkins’ persona as she brought us a message based on John 17 that “We Are One.”  She began and ended her message with projected photos of a baby dedication in the Congo at a Disciples of Christ church, reminding us all that along with this baby and each other, we are all family.  And in case you’re wishing you could have been there, you can view and hear this online at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ0V151e3Gs.
    Other worship highlights were music brought by “Imperfect Youth” a choir from Torrey Pines Christian Church, La Jolla, CA, and more youth music from the All Assembly Youth Choir.  We were all clapping and on our feet!

 It’s great to be a Disciple!

Yours in Christ from Indianapolis,
Kathy McDowell


Saturday - Day 4 of the General Assembly

From Rev. Kathy McDowell

Hello Friends,

As the fourth day of the General Assembly concludes, I have just come from evening worship where the theme was most definitely “Revival.”  And I am so revved that I can’t wait till morning to write this report!  Rev. Frank Thomas of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis, TN, brought a Holy Spirit-blessed message grounded in the Pentecost text from Acts 2.   It’s difficult to put the power of this worship into words – 6,000 Disciples gathered in an ordinary convention center transformed into a worship space.  There were young and old; men and women; many races and ethnicities; from most states and many nations.  We sang together, prayed together, and gave together to the “13th Check” offering for retired ministers.  We were graced with music and dance from the praise team, the All-Assembly Choir, and the All-Assembly Youth Choir.  We left two hours later, singing “Revive Us Again,” and I really think God is at work, reviving the Disciples of Christ. 

But the day was action-packed with other events:  

  • Mission work continued for the fourth straight day.  Hundreds have participated through many projects including a blood drive, knitting prayer shawls, gardening and clean-up projects, and a non-perishable food drive. 
  • The third and final business session concluded on Saturday at noon.  You really have to be there to see how these work – despite the rules, the formality of process, and the many (sometimes lengthy) resolutions, there is something of the Holy Spirit at work here, too, as Disciples speak passionately from their positions on issues and then vote. Even with this passion, generally a spirit of “agreeing to disagree” prevails.  If you’d like to learn more about the resolutions and the outcomes of the votes the complete reports are at http://www.disciples.org/GeneralAssembly/StatusofBusiness/tabid/562/Default.aspx
  • General Assemblies are also great opportunities to learn about the ministries of the church.  Tonight I attended a dinner hosted by Disciples Home Missions where we learned about the great work being done through the many teams of this general ministry, ranging from Office of Disciples Women to the Office of Disciples Volunteering, Refugee and Immigration Ministries, and many, many more.
  • There is something going on almost around the clock at a General Assembly.  Even as I write this a Prayer Vigil for Health Care Reform continues at the Convention Center.

Sunday morning as you worship at PCCC I will be with you in spirit, even if not in person.  I’ll be worshipping at a local church service here in Indianapolis.  But there is more than one service to attend:  nearly 75 area churches have invited guest preachers, as well as 6,000 Disciples to worship.  Our Georgia ministers preaching are:  Rev David Grandgeorge, Rev. Jim Brooks, Rev. Dr. Fred Craddock, Rev. Katie Hays, Rev. Linda Whitmire, and Rev. Erin Cooper.

May your Sunday worship revive you!

Yours in Christ from Indianapolis,
Kathy McDowell


Sunday - Day 5 of the General Assembly

This morning members of the Assembly attended worship in various community congregations around Indianapolis.  Some from Georgia heard Rev. Dr. Fred Craddock preach at Central, some heard Rev. Alvin Jackson at Light of the World Christian Church, some heard Rev. Katie Hayes, Linda Whitmire, David Grandgeorge, James Brooks, or Erin Cooper guest preach in local churches.

Read more in Rev. Kathy McDowell's report below:

From Rev. Kathy McDowell

Hello Friends,

The 2009 General Assembly of the Christian Church has concluded as of Sunday, Aug. 2.  And how appropriate that we concluded our Assembly with a day of worship. 

  • Nearly 75 area churches invited 6,500 Disciples to worship, along with guest preachers who brought their messages from the Assembly theme from Revelations 22:2, “For the Healing of the Nations.”  I attended First Christian Church in Bargersville, IN and appreciated their warm welcome. 
  • From 2 to 5 p.m. the Assembly hosted a Concert and Communion Service.  The music was great – again – featuring the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, the All Assembly Choir, the All Assembly Children’s Choir, vocal artist Carrie Newcomer, vocal performers Laura and Rick Hall, First Samoan Christian Church, Pacific Southwest Youth Council Drama Troupe, and Donald Lawrence and the All Assembly Choir.  All I can say is that this afternoon concert was eclectic, rich, and a feast for the ears!
  • What was unique about this communion service is that it brought together the three streams of the Campbell Stone movement – Disciples of Christ, Churches of Christ, and Christian Churches – around the communion table.  In a moving service of the Lord’s Supper, we listened to the scriptures, prayed a prayer of confession about our denominational divisions, as well as an affirmation of our faith. Representatives from each of these Christian traditions joined around the table for these prayers and readings.  Following the prayers, the thousands in attendance served each other communion.

Our last song together was “Revive Us.”  It is my sense that God has already begun answering that prayer for the Disciples of Christ – not only in our denomination, but in many congregations large and small.  See you back in Atlanta on Tuesday!

Yours in Christ from Indianapolis.
Kathy McDowell


Wrap-up Report from Dr. Ray Miles

Let me say how proud I was to be a part of the Christian Church in Georgia at the recent General Assembly.  With more than 85 Georgians present, we were a sizable delegation.  Most seemed engaged and interested in what was going on.  There was time for visiting with old acquaintances, learning about the ministries of the church  and for dealing with the issues of the church.   If you haven’t seen it yet, the Georgia Web site coverage (below) especially by Buddy Ray and Kathy McDowell was excellent for getting a feel of the event.

In reflecting on the General Assembly there are several things that come to mind.  The worship sessions, though a little bit longer than many would prefer, were lively and the sermons challenging.  Particularly good in my opinion were the sermons by Sharon Watkins and by Cynthia Hale.

In something of a surprise for me the State of the Church presentation was really uplifting.  More than a recitation of what was going on it left one with a feeling of pride in the church we are becoming and a feeling of excitement at the role we have in the world.  I feel like it would be an excellent piece to show to a church board or to elders at a meeting to give a real feel to who Disciples are in the world.  If you have trouble getting it from the online streaming site, you can contact me as I have a copy on a DVD.    For that matter I’d love to come and show it to your leaders and do some Q&A after.  Contact me and let’s set a time.

The Wholeness Café was a new idea in learning how to have conversations in large groups and get real input.  The one I was in had 250 people including nearly 100 youth.  The discussion was animated and serious about how we can become intergenerational in our approach to church.

The results of the business items are also listed on the Disciples website.  We made some major decisions and you will want to see those.  Results of the business items are included on the Disciples website.   

The new Order of Ministry document was passed and we will be living into it over the next two years.  It will mean that an immediate job within the Region will be to rewrite our Policies and Criteria for the Order of Ministry so we are in compliance.

The Calls to Action method of doing business was not adopted by the Assembly so the process of “Sense of the Assembly” resolutions will continue to be the way of dealing with issues.

Assemblies will continue to be held in summer months and the next two are close enough for Georgia to have a really good representation at each.  I hope you will plan now to attend the Assembly in 2011 to be held in Nashville and the 2013 Assembly to be held in Orlando.

For further information, consult the website www.disciples.org , contact one of the Georgia people who were present, or contact Ray Miles.

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