logo Report on the
158th Regional Assembly of the Christian Church (DOC) in Georgia

November 9-10, 2007 - Sandy Springs Christian Church

Seeing Visions and Dreaming Dreams:
We are the People We’re Waiting For


Friday Night, November 9

Dinner

Friday night began with a wonderful dinner prepared by the host Church, Sandy Springs Christian.  Salad, Chicken Pot Pie and hot biscuits filled us all in preparation for a message from Jim Howell of the Board of Campbell Stone.  Jim reported that Campbell Stone has completed a refinancing and has refurbished much of their facilities.  They are actively seeking residents and encouraged those at the Assembly to refer those looking for housing.

Worship

Friday night's opening worship began with the praise band from Brookhaven Christian Church who put the congregation in the spirit with a combination of contemporary praise songs as well as old standards such as "How Great Thou Art."  Henry Brewer-Calvert then led the 175 people present in a call to worship.

Rev. Dr. Brad Miller, Moderator, welcomed everyone and brought greetings from Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President who's video taped greeting did not arrive in time for the Assembly.  Brad called the roll of churches present then called on Rev. Doug Job to bring greetings from the host church, Sandy Springs Christian Church.

Rev. Chimiste Doriscar then introduced the keynote speaker for the evening, Rev. Gilberto Collazo, New Church Ministries Vice President. 

Brad thanked the regional staff for their work in the past year.  He pointed out that there are 63 individuals working towards ministry with the Commission on Ministry.  There are new church starts in each district of the region.  Brad pointed out that there are still challenges in the region, mostly financial, but that things are getting better every day.  Emphasizing the financial, Brad then asked Rev. Andy Campbell to talk about the importance of the upcoming Christmas Offering.  Andy pointed out that all of the Christmas offering goes to the Regional Church.  He encouraged each church to set a goal of $10 per member.

Rev. Janetta Cravens Boyd then led the assembly in prayer ending with the Lords Prayer which she encouraged each member to say in the language and form with which they were most comfortable because even it that sounded a little confusing, "God can sort it all out."

The Sandy Springs Choir sang a beautiful rendition of "As We Gather At Your Table" which led us into Communion led by the Regional Ministers Dr. Ray Miles, Rev. Michael Weeks and Rev. Betty Brewer-Calvert.

Rev. Jamie Brame of Christimount Christian Assembly then talked about people's favorite reasons to come to Christmount.  He reminded everyone of all the special programs and retreats including music workshops, Christmount Week, The Scott Clergy Forum and others and encouraged everyone to come up to Christmount with a group or as individuals.

Steve Tadegrin of Centre Evangelique Pierre  la Angulaire in Auburn Georgia led the Assembly in the hymn "I See The Lord" in both French Creole and English as members of the congregation helped us learn the French parts.

Rev. Bob Harris, president of the Christian College of Georgia pointed out that 60 years ago a Regional Assembly had created the Christian College of Georgia at Athens.  Since then it has been preparing individuals for ministry guided by its board of trustees.  Today the College ministers to students on the campus of the University of Georgia with over 50 students involved.  The College also operates the 18 month old Institute for Christian Ministry which currently has 26 students enrolled and working through 13 courses to become licensed ministers.  And the College runs the annual Voices Clergy Retreat each year at Camp Christian Conference Center.

Video:
in preparation for the Assembly, congregations were asked to submit
videos of their members giving their vision for the Christian Church in Georgia.  Members from Gods City of Refuge, First Christian Church Macon and Brookhaven Christian Church participated.  The Video was co-ordinated by Ms. Jocelyn Wheaton of God's City of Refuge and produced by Mr. Will Boyd of FCC Macon.

Rev. Michael Zhu of the First Chinese Christian Church of Norcross read Joel 2:26-32 in Chinese while the words were projected in English.  God tells his people Israel that he will pour out his spirit upon them and their sons and daughters will prophesy and the old men will dream dreams and the young men will see visions.

Ray Miles handed out Special Church Recognitions..

LEADING CONTRIBUTORS TO DISCIPLE MISSION FUND IN 2006
First Christian Church, Athens
Cherry Log Christian Church, Cherry Log
Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur
First Christian Church, Macon
Eagles Landing Christian Church, McDonough
First Christian Church, Sandersville
First Christian Church, Valdosta

LEADING CWF/DISCIPLES WOMEN CONTRIBUTORS TO DISCIPLE MISSION FUND
First Christian Church, Athens
Central Christian Church, Columbus
First Christian Church, Sandersville
Sandy Springs Christian Church, Sandy Springs

LEADING YOUTH GROUP CONTRIBUTORS TO DISCIPLE MISSION FUND IN 2006
First Christian Church, Lawrenceville

CHURCH GROWTH – ADDITIONS AND BAPTISMS
Peachtree Christian Church, Atlanta
Bogart Christian Church, Bogart
Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur
First Christian Church, Macon
Mount Vernon Christian Church, Monroe

Following a prayer by Dr. Roger Sizemore and special music "And I Saw A New Heaven" by Sandy Springs Choir, Rev. Gilberto Collazo brought the sermon.

In his Sermon, Rev. Collazo talked about Vision.  He pointed out the progress the denomination is making towards its 2020 Vision of 1000 new congregations by 2020.  Over 500 new churches have been started to date and 35,000 individuals have found a relationship with Christ through those congregations.

He reminded us of the role playing game that was popular a few years ago called "Dungeons and Dragons."  This game, Gilberto said, encouraged players to be visionaries and step out of their comfort zones in order to win.  But, he said, many congregations are plagued by "Vision Slayers".  He reminded us that Proverbs 29:18 says: Where there is no vision, the people perish.  He paraphrased that as "When vision is lost, congregations begin to die."

Gilberto said that Vision Slayers use three main tools: 1) "God would never call us to change the way we have always done it."  But God, he said, is actually a God who continually calls us to do new things.  2) Fear.  Congregations can't fear change.  We talk a lot, he said, about "letting go and letting God" but in reality we fear letting go to God.  3) Complacency.  We need passion to keep the church moving forward.

Finally Gilberto challenged us to ask "What would you give to see your vision for your congregation become a reality?"

Dr. Miles closed with a Benediction and the light was taken from the Sanctuary until Saturday morning.

Saturday Morning - November 10

Breakfast

The day dawned bright and early with 7:30 breakfast meetings for both Christian Women and Men.  Breakfast was served together before the men adjourned to the Sanctuary leaving the women hear Rev. Wendy Miles.


Rev. Wendy Miles spoke to the Women.  She challenged the women to think outside the box and to dream what God is guiding us to be.  What are the new dreams that God has for us now? she asked, suggesting that Women's Ministries can be much more that just CWF.  She encouraged the Women to stop every day and fall in love with the dreamer of dreams - Jesus - asking "what dreams do you have for me today."  She pointed out that "We can do anything that God calls us to do."


Rev. Randy Johnson spoke to the Men.  Randy read John 21, the story of Jesus coming to the disciples after his resurrection and helping them with their fishing.  He pointed out that Jesus taught them to fish a different way, from the other side of the boat.  But he never told them to stop fishing.  Randy said that some churches spend all their time worrying about what they aren't - they worry they don't have a praise band or a large Sunday School.  He pointed out that God wants us to be the very best we can be with the gifts that he has given us.

Workshops - Morning


At 9:00am every one broke into workshops.


Church Transformation… led by the Regional Church Transformation Team
This session provided a chance for congregations engaged in transformation or interested in it to meet and share what they are doing and learn how the Regional Church Transformation Team can assist.


Being a Disciple...Who We Are and What We Believe... Dr. Glenn Carson, President of Disciples Historical Society.  This workshop covered the foundational principles of what it means to be called Disciples. From the New Testament, to Unity, to the Table, Disciples principles were highlighted to tie the past to the future.


Welcoming All God's Children: Hospitality with Gays and Lesbians… Leland Mott, First Christian Church of Atlanta
The Body of Christ is called to be hospitable to all. It has been difficult for the church to welcome people who are gay or lesbian. This workshop included a panel discussion of how the congregation can be a safe and hospitable place which encourages all people to worship and relate.


An Interfaith Poetry Circle: a Celebration of Love, Longing and Desire... Rev. Phil Foster, Disciple therapist in Atlanta
This presentation focused on the visionary quality of ecstatic poetry. The connection between spirituality and sexuality was explored through the sharing of poems from several faith traditions. Included was the poetry of Mirabi, the Song of Songs, Tagore and Rumi.


Spiritual Transformation and Cleanliness through Forgiveness… Rev. Leon Jones
The workshop focused on the importance of and necessity for forgiveness as it pertains to salvation. It scripturally taught that if we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. The choice between heaven and hell is determined by a forgiving and repentant heart.


Churches Planting New Churches... Rev. Gilberto Collazo, Vice President for New Church Establishment for the Disciples of Christ
This workshop focused on the strategy of congregations who wish to be involved in the establishment of new churches as part of their congregation mission rather than leaving that to other parts of the church.

Regional Business Meeting


At 10:45 the Regional Assembly Business Meeting was called to order by Moderator Brad Miller.  The Regional Staff each gave their reports.  Financial Reports were presented.  Reports of the Commissions of the Region were also presented by not read.


Download PDF  Read the Staff and Commission Reports presented at the Regional Assembly (PDF Format, 500k)


Financial Reports are available on the REPORTS PAGE.


During his presentation, Dr. Miles gave thanks for the other members of the regional staff, the elected leaders and volunteers of the Region.  Ray pointed out the very large list of congregations that have new ministers and said that this was a sign that positions were being filled.  Ray further pointed out the six new congregations currently in formation and said that "God's wind is blowing in a fresh new way to enable us to start new churches."  "God has dangled a vision in front of us," he continued, "a vision of new congregations . . . a vision of renewed congregations. . . a dream that we will change lives . . . and that the church will be overflowing."  "What can we be if we dream the dream," he asked.


Dr. Miles then called Rev. R. Woods Kent to the front to be presented with a Regional Ministers Pin.  Woody retired in 1996 as regional minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Virginia.  He has also served as Church Finance Council executive,  director of development for National Benevolent Association services in Indiana, and was a former associate regional minister in Florida.


Ray also presented gifts to outgoing regional board members Rev. Darrell Vandervort, Rev. Roger Sizemore, Jocelyn Wheaton and Rev. Brad Miller.

Youth Activity Council

While the Regional Business meeting was going on upstairs, the Youth Activity Council was in "the Pit" - Sandy Springs Youth room - planning the 2008 Youth-a-Palooza with Rev. Michael Weeks.

Lunch

Sandy Springs Volunteers again prepared an outstanding meal - Lunch consisted of roast pork, dressing, green beans and another excellent salad.

Workshops - Afternoon

Beyond the Choir: Drama and Dance in Worship... Rev. Nancy Oliver, Peachtree Christian Church
The workshop provided an introduction to creatively incorporate Drama and Dance into Worship services.

Listening to God: Prayer and Contemplative Ministry… Rev. Doug Job, Interim Pastor Sandy Springs Christian Church
This group heard what Sandy Springs Christian Church experienced when about 90 members covenanted to meet in "Prayer and Share" Triplets this past spring. Each group of three met ten times for about 100 minutes each session to read, reflect, listen, and pray. The triplets' work helped "discern" rather than "decide on" a vision and Future Story for the congregation.

Sabbatical for Pastors: A Church's Blessing… Rev. Dr. Brad Miller, Brookhaven Christian Church
This group discussed the issues of the Biblical basis for sabbatical; clergy burnout; congregational and pastoral planning for sabbatical leaves; the financial costs; and the spiritual renewal that can come with a well planned sabbatical.


Bible Study on the Assembly Passages... Dr. Stan Saunders, Professor at Columbia Theological Seminary
Bible study on the base passages of the Assembly, Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17

A Handbook for Church Treasurers and Officers... Rick Reisinger, Vice President of Church Extension
This workshop introduced a new handbook which has been produced by various church entities to assist church treasurers and others working with money in the church.

Reconciliation... Jocelyn Wheaton, God’s City of Refuge, Atlanta
This group discussed the anti-racism/pro-reconciliation work in the church.

Closing Worship

The 137 congregants present were put in the spirit of worship by the Iglesia El Aposento Alto Praise Team from Jonesboro, Georgia.  The team serenaded the assembly in both Spanish and English.

Members of the Youth Activities Council then led the Call to worship followed by an invocation prayer led by Red. Dr. Percy Johnson Jr. of God's City of Refuge in Atlanta.  Rev. Leland Collins then gave a short message from the Georgia Christian Council in which he encouraged us to "be the body of Christ."

Following another song by Iglesia El Aposento Alto, the assembly heard from Mr. Rick Reisinger, Vice President of Church Extension.  Rick explained that the mission of Church Extension was to provide "mission effective" capital assistance to disciples congregations.  They are working hard on new services for all disciple congregations including assessment tools and capital funding loans.  Rick said that twenty five congregations in Georgia have received a total of $11.2 Million in loans.  Across the U.S. and Canada Church Extension has loaned a total of $153 Million.

Mrs. Ana Guardiola, Community Christian Church in Fayetteville and Ms. Wanda Zayas of Iglesia El Aposento Alto in Jonesboro read Acts 2:14-21 in both Spanish and English.

The second part of the Dreaming Dreams Video was shown followed by the offering conducted by Rev. Michael Weeks.

Dr. Ray Miles installed the officers of the Region for the coming year.  Moderator Rev. Dr. Milton West,
Moderator-Elect Vinnetta Golphin-Wilkerson, Treasurer Rod Baker, Secretary Rev. Sam Nichols.  2010 Class of Board Members: Angel Guardiola, Leigh Ann Tatum and Pat Brannen.

Dr. Miles led the Assembly in communion with the assistance of the new Regional Moderator Rev. Dr. Milton West and Regional Moderator-Elect Rev. Vinetta Golphin-Wilkerson.  The special communion music "The Majesty and Glory of Your Name" was performed by the choir of Central Christian Church of Augusta.  Rev. Betty Brewer-Calvert led the Assembly in the Pastoral Prayer followed by another song from Augusta: "Joyful, Joyful Sing Praise."  Medie Still then introduced our speaker for the evening, Rev. Gilberto Collazo.

In his Sermon, Rev. Collazo asked if were were "risk takers or bystanders."  He encouraged members of the Assembly to "Step out in faith and take risks."  Gilberto used Exodus 14:10, where the Israelites tell Moses that they would rather have stayed slaves in Egypt than to die in the desert.  He pointed out that God told the Israelites to move on across the sea - but he also gave Moses the power to part the sea.  But the sea only parted AFTER the Israelites started moving.  "There was a call to get moving," he said, "even when things looked impossible."

The Disciples of Christ were given a "before the Red Sea" experience when they were presented with the "Vision for 2020" by Rev. Dick Hamm.  When faced with a steep decline in membership and congregations we were challenged to form 1000 new congregations by 2020.  Gilberto said "We have not been called to failure.  What we need, God has put in our hands as he put the staff in Moses hand to open the Red Sea."

Rev. Dr. Ray Miles led the Assembly in a Benediction and closed the 2007 Regional Assembly.

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