Logo Report on the
159th Regional Assembly

Christian Church (DOC) in Georgia
November 14-16, 2008

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Friday Night

Growing in Wisdom, from the Wisdom of the Shemah to Jesus Wisdom as a child in the Temple, was the theme of the 159th Regional Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Georgia held on St. Simons Island, November 14-16, 2009.

Ray Miles
Friday evening began, as all of our sessions did, with music shared by Chuck Jones from Sandy Springs Christian Church.  After Regional Moderator Milton West opened the Assembly and Courtney Chandler gave an invocation and Psalm 104 was the Scripture.  Dennis L. Landon, president of Higher Education and Leadership Ministries
of the Christian Church brought a short greeting and message from Higher Education and Leadership Ministries (also known as HELM).

Regional Minister Rev. Dr. Ray Miles recognized clergy new and relocated in the Region.  Ray also handed out awards recognizing churches for Achievement of Congregation Status and Achievement in Growth.  See the full list of Church Recognitions HERE.

Dennis LandonThe reading of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 led the Assembly into Dennis Landon's first Keynote address.  Dennis pointed out that "The world wants us to forget that we come from the mystery that is God."  The world lures us away from that mystery with modern technology and solutions.  In the church sometimes we tend to explain away the mystery and forget who we work for.  Dennis said that Jesus never forgot the central truth that he worked for God - he was on a "mission from God" through all his trials and challenges.  But all work in the church, Dennis said, must begin with the question "What does God want us to do."  Dennis encouraged us to "never forget the central truth that we work for the Mystery - God!"

Following Dennis' keynote, Dr. Bob Harris brought a message from the Christian College of Georgia.

Sekinah Hamlin
Bringing an inspiring evening to a close, Rev. Sekinah Hamlin, SERF Minister For Anti-Racism And Reconciliation for the Southeastern U.S. issued a call to reconciliation and explained her work in the regions in which she works.

Saturday Morning

Saturday morning dawned early but a bit rainy - but only in weather, never in spirit.  The Women gathered to hear Rev. Sekinah Hamlin speak from Exodus 1:8-22 about the power of those Hebrew women who, because they feared God, disobeyed Pharaoh.  "God needs people," she pointed out, "who are willing to work and step out."

Sonny WrayThe men gathered to hear James M. (Sonny) Wray, Jr., Vice President for Advancement of Lexington Theological Seminary talk about the visioning and strategic planning process going on at LTS and seek the Men's input into that process as the first of a series of meetings with church groups around the U.S.

The Plenary Session opened at 9am in the Jones Auditorium with singing and then a report to the entire group from Sonny Wray on the Missions work being done by students and faculty of Lexington Theological Seminary.

Sonny was followed by Rev. John Novikoff, president of The Mission for Biblical Literacy who described the work the organization is doing in Russia, Armenia, Nicaragua and Haiti.  Next Rev. Leland C.
Chris Kulp

Collins, Executive Director of the Georgia Christian Council explained the work of the Christian Council and thanked the Region of Georgia for their participation.

One of the highlights of the morning was the Bible Lecture by Kris Culp, Dean of Disciples Divinity House at the University of. Chicago.  Kris taught from Luke 2:41-52, the story of Jesus as a boy, who stays behind in the temple to talk with the Teachers.  She used art from the middle ages to help us understand the wisdom that the young Jesus was reflecting. "Wisdom is not something we can grow in a weekend."

Morning workshops were well attended and included sessions in:

  • Financial Planning and Budgeting for Christians  Led by Tana Glassford, a member of Ray of Hope Christian Church where the group discussed how Christians should be good stewards not only of the tithe that is due to God, but also the rest of their resources.
  • Hide It under a Bushel? No! Marketing the Local Church  Perhaps the best attended workshop of the retreat, Rev. Chuck Jones explored simple communications methods your local church can use to identify and reach out to prospective members in your community.
  • Campus Ministry Roundtable Led by Rev. Dr.Bob Harris discussed opportunities for ministry on campus and discussed some models of effective campus ministry.
  • Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children. Rev.Debi Acree gave an overview of a program that calls participants into personal responsibility for the safety of children.
  • “Who has been called? Led by Rev. Patrick Chandler discussed the inclusion of gay, lesbian, and transgendered peoples within the ordained ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Georgia.
Saturday Afternoon

Betty Brewer-CalvertFollowing lunch, the Assembly reconvened for the annual business session of the Region.  Moderator Milton West called the assembly to order and the minutes of the previous meeting were approved.  Staff reports included Rev. Betty Brewer Calvert presenting Women's programs in the Region in photos and Rev. Michael Weeks discussing the work of the Transformation Commission in the Region.

The distribution of Disciples Mission Funds was voted on and approved.  The 2009 budgets for the Region and for the Camp Christian Conference Center were discussed and approved.  Ray Miles pointed out that these budgets have been "cut to the bone" but are in the black. Copies of the Budgets can be found on the REPORTS PAGE.

The following were elected to positions on the Regional Board:

Gladys Stephenson, Credentials Committee
Ray Austin, Nominating Committee
Jim Brooks, Board Secretary
Darlene Reynolds, Tom Stephenson, Regional Board.

Ray Miles called congregational representatives forward to receive awards for Top Giving to Disciples Outreach, Top Giving Per Capita and Leading Contributors to Disciples Mission Fund.    See the full list of Church Recognitions HERE.

Miles and JenkinsRay also recognized Lanie Jenkins and Sam Nichols for their long service to the board.

Ray then gave his "State of the Church" address.  "The Region is in better shape now than several years ago despite the current financial crisis in the U.S."  However, Ray points out that 15 congregations will face their continued existence over the next few years and 15 more need revitalization.  The region must have at least 10% growth just to maintain its current levels of membership and congregations.  Ray also pointed out that the face of the region is becoming more diverse in culture and race and to be faithful to our mission as Disciples we must continue to make disciples of all the world.  The region currently has six new church starts and two new congregations were just accepted into the Region at this assembly.  The region is making strides in transformation with new trained leaders and continues to move ahead as an anti-racist, pro-reconciliation region.

For a list of all Business Items, Staff, Commission and other Reports presented to the Assembly CLICK HERE.

Following the business session, the afternoon workshops included:

  • Greening of the Church  Led by Rev. Doug Job, discussed ways the church can be more environmentally responsible in its stewardship and use of the church.
  • Marriage Enrichment  Led by Rev. Jack and Lana Snellgrove gave their experience with and introduction to a marriage enrichment process which can be offered in congregations.
  • Anti-racism in the church   Led by Rev. Sekinah Hamlin focused on ways to continue the work of combating racism as a church.
  • Search And Call For Those Who Aren’t Searching Led by Rev. Dr. Ray Miles helped attendees understand how the system works in Georgia.
  • “Global Ministries in Congregations”  Rev. Bob Shebeck of Global Ministries explained how to become a Global Mission Church and other opportunities with Global Ministries.

Saturday Evening

Evening worship was opened with song followed by a very moving version of Psalm 51 in scripture and song.

Dick SavageDick Savage, with the Disciples Benevolent Association (formerly the NBA) discussed the associations shift in mission from providing residential facilities to seeking to establish partnerships to help meet local and community social services needs.  Their first effort has been a chaplaincy care program in some of the former NBA facilities.

Rev. Erin Reed Cooper then read our scripture from Jeremiah 31:31-35.

Dennis Landon delivered the Sermon.  He said that the language of the Bible is really a language of faith, a language of poetry.  Because, he said, any language about the mystery of God requires a lot of conversation; it can not be taken literally.  He explained that HELM had created the Disciples Leadership Institute to pull the church together by understanding our differences in language, faith, beliefs and worship styles.  Rather than focus on our differences, we must, Dennis said, learn to talk to each other about what really matters - our belief in Jesus Christ.

Following a hymn, Bob Shebeck talked to the assembly about the work of Global Ministries.

Grow in WisdomWhile the Regional Assembly Ensemble sang "In Water We Grow", each member of the assembly was invited to come forward and take a Paperwhite Narcissus bulb and small planter to take home and grow as a reminder of our charge to Grow in Wisdom through our baptism in water with the Lord.

Following an offering, Reeda Allen offered a prayer of thanksgiving, Betty Brewer-Calvert reminded us of the Fruits of Women's Ministries in the Region and then Katie Hayes sent us to our lodging for the evening with a benediction.

Sunday Morning

Kris CulpKris Culp continued her Bible lecture from Saturday Morning by delving into Deut. 6:4-9 and considering the Shema - "love the Lord your God with all your heart . . ."  To find wisdom we must have the teachings of God inscribed on our innermost hearts and from the top of our head to the end of our outstretched hands.

Following Bible study, the Assembly began its closing worship.  Ray Miles showed a video from Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President on the upcoming Christmas Offering.  Ray explained the importance of the Christmas offering to the Region and that this video was available to congregations to show to their members.

CommunionAfter an opening hymn and invocation by Vinetta Golphin-Wilkerson, Luke 2:41-52 was read.

Dennis Landon then brought is final message of the Assembly.  Dennis said that in his home church, a seminarian had just finished a sermon on Luke 7:35-50, the story of the woman who washed Jesus feet with her hair and is forgiven despite the scorn of the Pharisee.  In the scripture, God forgives all.  A woman in the pew behind Dennis, following the sermon asks him "What kind of Church IS this!"  She wasn't asking if the church is protestant - she was asking "What kind of Church is this that forgives anyone?"  God, Dennis pointed out, accepts any who reach out to him, no matter who or what they have been.  Dennis encouraged us to always be ready to explain "What kind of Church IS this!" - a Church that worship's God and accepts everyone.

Revs Miles, Weeks and Brewer-Calvert led the Assembly in Communion together, and following the hymn "In the Bulb there is a Flower", Moderator Milton West sent us forth with a benediction.

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