Georgia Disciples at the 2011 General Assembly
Nashville TN - July 9-12

The Assembly was another amazing experience.  A chance to meet old friends, make new friends, learn about and participate in the working of our denomination, attend workshops and learning tracks.  But General Assembly is also about worship.

Perhaps one of our Youth, Emily Blackwood put it best.  "General Assembly is like a giant Youth-a-Palooza but for adults.

LOTS more photos taken by General Church Photographers: More

Reports from the Georgia Delegation

Saturday - Day 1 of the General Assembly

The Assembly opened Saturday night with Worship at 7:30.  Enjoy reports written by Rev. Kathy McDowell pastor of Peachtree Corners Christian Church.

What better way to open the 2011 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Nashville, TN than with worship, and of course, communion? More than 5,000 Disciples gathered Saturday evening, July 9, in the plenary hall of the Nashville Convention Center to meet and to be greeted by old and new friends, including Nashville musician Gabe Dixon, the 80+ members of the Kentucky Men’s Chorus, Tennessee Regional Minister Glen Stewart, and Assembly Music Director Bill Thomas. Opening worship was also Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of our church, as well as Larry Brown, Moderator, Juan Rodriguez, First Vice Moderator, and Marilyn Williams, Second Vice Moderator.

The scripture for the evening, Deuteronomy 6:1-12, introduced the theme of the Assembly, “Tell It!” And tell it we did – in thousands of voices raised in song, in the beautiful telling of scripture to the children using the “Worship and Wonder” method, and in the message brought by Rev. Holly McKissick, Senior Pastor of St. Andrew Christian Church, Olathe, KS. Rev. McKissick challenged the congregation to share their stories of faith with others because so many people do not know the end of the story, which is “the lame walking, the blind seeing, the thirsty given drink . . . the end of the story is joy and justice and peace forever and ever.”

Georgia Disciples were included among those gathered for worship, including one teen coming for the first time who compared the General Assembly to a “giant Youth-A-Palooza for adults.” But this young person and the many other teen, children, and adults gathered will discover in the days ahead that there are experiences designed for everyone, including children’s and youth programs, a Nashville style concert featuring Gabe Dixon and Craig Wiseman, special learning tracks and workshops, mission opportunities, many styles of worship including an HIV/AIDS Healing service, a choice of worship services at local congregations on Sunday, prayer opportunities, and much fellowship.

There’s nothing quite like the General Assembly to remind me of just how dynamic and diverse, big and beautiful our church really is! I hope you’ll get a glimpse of that too, in these reports from the General Assembly.

~Rev. Kathy McDowell Pastor,
 Peachtree Corners Christian Church

Sunday - Day 2 of the General Assembly

“Tell It!” continued to be the theme of the 2011 General Assembly of the Christian Church in Nashville, TN, as more than 5,000 Disciples began their first full day together. Here were some of the highlights:

  • Many began the day with worship in the Assembly Hall with Rev. Bill Lee leading a moving HIV/AIDS Healing Service. Using the scripture from Mark 2:1-12, the story of the four friends who went through the roof to get their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing, he challenged the church, he challenged the church to adopt a “by any means necessary” mentality with this disease and other challenges the church faces.
  • Many others attended worship services at local congregations, both Disciples as well as other local churches, which hosted numerous guest preachers including Rev. Dr. Fred Craddock, Rev. Dr. Dick Hamm (former General Minister and President of our denomination), Rev. Timothy James, (Associate General Minister and Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation), Rev. Amy Gopp (Executive Director of the Week of Compassion), and Rev. Frank Thomas (Senior Pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis).
  • The business of the Assembly began with a “State of the Church” address by Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, in which she explained just how dramatically the Christian “landscape is changing.” Disciples can be proud of the fact that we have started nearly 700 new churches since 2001. Still, because Disciples churches overall tend to be small, we need to figure out how God is calling us to be church. Nearly half of Disciples churches average fewer than 60 in worship on a Sunday, and only 20 percent of Disciples churches have more than 120. When it comes to being Christian in the 21st century, she challenged us to consider “whether our buildings help us to do ministry or whether our buildings are the ministry.”
  • In an important shift, a new way of doing business at the Assembly was introduced. In the case of voting on “Sense of the Assembly” resolutions, which have often been divisive, the Assembly will be practicing a “Faithful Conversations” model on some issues. During this Assembly, Assembly participants can participate in one of several panel discussions on “Christian Perspectives on War and Peace” which will participants understand the complexities of this issue.
  • The day concluded with a concert “Sing It!” including Gabe Dixon and Craig Wiseman who brought the Nashville music scene to life for the audience.

Rev. Kathy McDowell
Pastor, Peachtree Corners Christian Church

Monday - Day 3 of the General Assembly

The 2011 General Assembly got down to business on Monday with the opening of its first full business session. One of the first items on the agenda was the re-election of General Minister and President Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, which was accomplished by a landslide vote. Dr. Watkins will serve a term of six years beginning July 14, 2011 and ending at the conclusion of the 2017 General Assembly.

In other events of the day, Assembly goers experienced:

Learning events including a lecture by Harvey Cox, Harvard Divinity School professor, author and theologian, which compared the first three centuries of the early church to the diversity and openness of expression that Christianity is experiencing in the 21st century.

  • A sampling of how the Assembly works in its handling of three business items - #1123 “Support of Children and Youth by Opposing Bullying in Schools, the Church and the Community; #1121 “Justice in Education Reform” and #1122 “Preventing Sexual Abuse and Ministering to Its Survivors.” (See www.disciples.org/ga for complete reports on all Assembly items.)
  • Mission opportunities including working on flood-ravaged homes in Nashville, a blood drive, knitting baby caps and chemo caps, and donating new children’s books to a local ministry serving impoverished children.
  • Lunch opportunities ranging from reunions hosted by Disciples seminaries to downtown Nashville restaurants.
  • More learning events ranging from learning tracks on Leading Change, Missional Churches, and Youth Leadership, to resource groups on 100+ subjects.
  • An Emergent Style of evening worship with something for everyone (from contemporary singing, to a grand organ, and a four-piece “Nashville style” brass quartet) and featuring Brian McLaren, renowned author and Emergent Church leader who spoke on being a “Luke 10 Church.”
  • A high-energy after session dance for the some 400 youth in attendance.

And there’s more to come!

Rev. Kathy McDowell

Tuesday - Day 4 of the General Assembly

For Georgia Disciples at the General Assembly, Tuesday’s highlight was the evening program “Tell It!” hosted by Georgia’s own Rev. Dr. Fred Craddock. In true storyteller fashion, Dr. Craddock, along with the Cherry Log Christian Church choir, wove a rich evening of story and song that encouraged and challenged the gathered Assembly. Following the evening, Georgia Disciples gathered in an after-session to meet and greet one another.

But even before the evening program, the day was full of many other events:

  • A full day of business with reports from many General Ministries, including the constituent ministries of our church (Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries, North American Pacific/Asian Disciples Ministries, National Convocation); our ministries representing Disciples colleges and education (Council of Colleges and Universities, Higher Education and Leadership Ministries); our new- and transforming- church ministry (Church Extension); Disciples Home Missions, and Global Ministries; and the Office of Disciples Women.
  • An all-assembly discussion of some of the complexities of the immigration issue, designed to help participants experience a model of respectful conversation that can be used with difficult issues.
  • Recognition of international guests, which are always an important part of the General Assembly experience. Missionaries also were commissioned Tuesday afternoon.
  • The “Be the Change” series continued with lectures by Soong-Chan Rah, theology professor and author of The Next Evangelicalism” and Patrick Villier, president of the National Spiritual Council of Haitian Churches (CONASPEH). The global face of Christianity has changed – and western Christians must adapt.
  • An evening prayer vigil for those affected by immigration issues.

And if that isn’t enough to do at the General Assembly, there is a full Exhibit Hall, Cokesbury Bookstore, great Nashville restaurants (Jack’s BBQ is a must), meeting with friends, mission opportunities, and much more.

Rev. Kathy McDowell

Wednesday - The Final Day of the General Assembly

Just a few photos on this final day of the 2011 General Assembly.

The 2011 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) concluded Wednesday, July 13, with a worship service in which Marian Wright Edelman brought the message. Ms. Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund (CDF), has been an advocate for children and disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. Under her leadership, CDF has become the nation's strongest voice for children and families. In her message, she challenged the Assembly not only to “tell it” but to “do it” when it comes to advocating for education and changes that will impact the lives of children. Worship was also highlighted by the All Assembly Youth Choir, and the Commissioning of the new moderator team for the 2011-13 term.

Other events during the final day of the Assembly included:

  • The conclusion of the business portion of the meeting with reports from several more General Ministries (Christian Board of Publication, Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Pension Fund and more).
  • Passage of #1119 Item for Reflection and Research “Moral Injury and Spiritual Care in a Time of War” as a way to encourage the church to engage in reflection, prayer, and education on this topic.
  • A continuation of the “Be the Change” series with guest speaker Amy Jill Levine, Vanderbilt professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies.
  • Lunches hosted by both the Office of Disciples Women and Disciples Men.
  • The announcement by Disciples Women of the location of Quadrennial 2014 at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, June 25-29, 2014.

If you enjoyed this Assembly (or reading about it), you can start making your plans for the next one – July 13-17, 2013, in Orlando, FL

~Rev. Kathy McDowell

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