Mission First!

Posts Tagged ‘Allen Harris’


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November 25 Call to Prayer


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by Allen V. Harris

Philippians 4:4-9

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

Isn’t it so like us human beings that when this or that doesn’t go the way it always has or the way we had hoped it would, that our minds go into a tailspin?  You had your day off planned perfectly (in your mind, at least) from the early morning yoga, to the coffee with a dear friend, to watching a good movie playing at the metroplex at night!  Ahhhhh!  Then something happens and your day changes dramatically: a friend calls from the hospital, your car needs to be transformed into a taxi for a group of teenagers, a distraught friend drops by unannounced, or the tickle in the back of your throat becomes a full-throttle sore throat.  Argh!  And, if you are like me, my mind then becomes my worst enemy, and I become obsessed with how things aren’t going my way – sometimes to the point that I jeopardize the rest of the day due to the depression or frustration in which my mind has chosen to dwell.

I’ve experienced the very same thing with congregations and mission.  Sometimes we get so caught up in how we have done this or that project or endeavor, as worthy as it may be, that we get thrown off course quickly if something doesn’t go quite our way when planning or implementing the mission.  The pancake supper to raise funds for Week Of Compassion seems impossible when the primary pancake-flipper decides to go to a family wedding that weekend.  The women’s shelter that has been the focus of your Christmas Angel Tree for decades closes and all the energy and enthusiasm seems to dissipate into thin air.  The pastor who was beloved and seemed to be taking your congregation into a bright and shiny future gets called to another church in another Region.  Darn it!  And then we worry.  We worry about funding.  We worry about energy.  We worry about numbers.  We worry about growing older.  And our worries get the best of us!  Well?  In the words of a great Indigo Girls song, “You can stand there and agonize, ‘Til your agony’s your heaviest load.”

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church at Philippi, gives us solid words of advice about how to change our mind’s obsessive focus on the negative with a few helpful suggestions: “Rejoice!”  Gratitude is the greatest antidote to negative thinking.  “Let your gentleness be made know.”  Honest vulnerability, especially with those we know and trust and love, can transform hardened hearts. “Let your requests be made known to God.”  Pray.  Pray.  Pray.  “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”   Choosing to focus on the best life has to offer allows us to more fully receive the peace of God, which bypasses all human understanding.

When we as individuals or our congregations begin to fixate on how our perfect plans have been thrown into a tizzy or on how we cannot do what we’ve “always done before,” let us turn to Philippians 4 and remember that a refocusing of our minds might just refocus our hearts, and therefore our mission.  If we allow it, becoming a taxi to a bundle of teenagers might just be a ride overflowing with joy and laughter.  If we are open to God’s Spirit leading us, the loss of one mission focus might allow us to connect with new and more pressing needs in our community.  If we allow it, gratitude, vulnerability, prayer, and pondering that which is good might just change our lives.

Prayer: “O God, when life doesn’t go the way I had hoped and my anxieties and frustrations take over my mind, help me find a way to stop, refocus, and try a new path that I might continue to follow Jesus to where I am most needed in the world.  Amen.”

Capital Area assembly reports on Mission Gathering


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2016ccca-mgillustration

by Rev. Allen Harris, regional minister

2016ccca-mgofferingThe rich diversity of the Christian Church Capital Area and the energy of new life and purpose was evident at the Mission Gathering that was a central part of that Region’s Assembly  Oct. 14 and 15, in Shepherdstown, WV.  Representing Haitian immigrants, Hispanic church leaders, young adults and seasoned church members, African Americans, conservative, moderate, and progressive viewpoints, Asian Americans, LGBTQ persons, persons of European descent, charismatic Pentecostals, rural, suburban, and urban congregations over 200 people participated in the Capital Area Regional Assembly.  All who gathered eagerly shared their stories of faithful mission in their local congregations, their hopes and dreams for the future of the church, and their newfound excitement for a Region seeking to make Mission First! a reality for guiding the direction of the staff, board, and volunteers of the Capital Area.

2016ccca-mgtablesThe Rev. Dr. Delores Carpenter was host for the Assembly in the Mission Gathering, assisted by the Rev. Ciara Simonson.  It was especially fitting that Rev. Carpenter lead the two-hour session as she was present at the very beginning when Mission First! was initially imagined.  Both she and the Regional Minister, the Rev. Allen V. Harris, have been chosen to be on the Mission Council which will take all of the data from Mission Gatherings around the life of the Church and help to focus them as they guide the direction of our denomination.  The Mission Council will be meeting in Dallas in early December.

2016ccca-mgreportCommon themes from the reporting session included the need to do more mission outside of our comfortable church buildings, the urgency for more partnerships with other churches and even non-church-related entities, the challenge to rethink how we treat and talk about those with whom we are doing mission, and the firm belief that the mission to which Christ calls us will be the very thing that brings us back together as a church.  A particularly poignant moment during the plenary session from one of the table groups came when Nancy Solomon, member of North Chevy Chase Christian Church, Chevy Chase, MD, and treasurer of the Region, and Ramona Crawford, member of University Christian Church, Hyattsville, MD and member of the personnel committee, shared Ramona’s drawing inspired by the conversation in her group.  The drawing is of a “fragmented world,” and in the midst of the brokenness is the bread and chalice.  Dynamic lines pointing inward show that, “The chalice is knitting/mending the world back together community by community.”

May it be so.

Mission Council named


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Meeting by conference call on Tuesday, Feb. 23, the General Board of the Christian Church approved the individuals nominated to the Mission Council for the Mission First! pilot project. They will meet in December 2016 to receive the information from the Mission Gatherings and discern one or more key mission areas. They are as follows:

Moderators
Tony Rodriguez 50-59, Hispanic/Latino, Male, Layperson, FL
Tom Perring 50-59, Caucasian, Male, Layperson, PSW
Mary Lou Kegler 60-69, African American, Clergy, GKC
Sue Morris 50-59, Caucasian, Female, Layperson, NE
Congregational members
Jonathan (Jon) Blackwood 50-59, Caucasian, Male, Layperson, GA
Shanell Bowden 23-29, African American, Female, Layperson, IL/WI
Delores Carpenter 60+, African American, Female, Clergy, CCCA
Hope Casey-Allen 18-22, Multi-racial, Female, Layperson, IN
Peggy Chandler 60+, Caucasian, Female, Layperson, GKC
Jeremy DeWitt 30-39, African American, Male, Layperson, TN
Aura Yolanda Estrada 40-49, Hispanic/Latino, Female, Layperson, SW
Nestor Gomez Morales 40-49, Hispanic/Latino, Male, Clergy, CRM
Steven Gower 30-39, Caucasian, Male, Clergy, OH
Arnold Hayes 60+, African American, Male, Layperson, TN
Jennie S. Huang 40-49, Asian, Female, Clergy, SW
Matthew Hudman 30-39, Caucasian, Male, Layperson, SW
Delesslyn Kennebrew 30-39, African American, Female, Clergy,
Mayon Marcelino 30-39, Filipino, Male, Layperson, CAN
Carolyn McLemore 60+, American Indian/First Nations, Female, Layperson, OK
Jaclyn Oden-Peace 18-22, Mixed, Female, Layperson, SW
Sarah Page Jones 18-22, Caucasian, Female, Layperson,
Dawn Robinette 50-59, Caucasian, Female, Layperson, FL
Regional representatives
Greg Alexander 60+, Caucasian, Male, Clergy, KY
Thad Allen 40-49, Caucasian, Male, Clergy, WV/PA
Denise Bell 50-59, African American, Female, Clergy, GA
Nadine Burton 50-59, African American, Female, Clergy, GRR
LaTaunya Bynum 60+, African American, Female, Clergy, NCA/NV
Teresa Dulyea-Parker 50-59, Caucasian, Female, Clergy, IL/WI
Allen Harris 50-59, Caucasian, Male, Clergy, CCCA
Sotello Long 50-59, African American, Male, Clergy, SC
Bill Spangler-Dunning 40-49, Caucasian, Male, Clergy UMW
Cathy Myers Wirt 50-59, Caucasian, Female, Clergy, OR/SID
Higher education
Jon Berquist 50-59, Caucasian, Male, Clergy, PSW
Kelly Thompson 50-59, Caucasian, Female, Layperson, MidAm
General ministries (including Disciples Women and Disciples Men)
Gilberto Collazo 50-59, Hispanic/Latino, Male, Clergy, IN
Ron Degges 60+, Caucasian, Male, Clergy, IN
Chris Dorsey 40-49, African American, Male, Clergy, MI
Rebecca Hale 50-59, Caucasian, Female, Clergy, TN
Julia Brown Karimu 60+, African American, Female, Clergy, IN
Seung Un (Paul) Tche 40-49, Asian, Male, Clergy, IN
Denise Turner 40-49, Caucasian, Female, Clergy, NCA/NV
Brian Burton 30-39, African American, Male, Layperson, OH
Racial/Ethnic ministry representatives
Hector Velazquez 60+, Hispanic/Latino, Male, Clergy, SW
Geunhee Yu 60+, Asian, Male, Clergy, NCA/NV
Timothy James 60+, African American, Male, Clergy, IN
General Minister and President
Sharon Watkins 60+, Caucasian, Female, Clergy, IN

By the numbers

22 Males; 24 Females

3 are 18-22; 1 is 23-29; 6 are 30-39; 8 are 40-49; 16 are 50-59; 12 are 60+

14 are African American; 1 is American Indian/First Nations; 4 are Asian; 20 are Caucasian; 5 are Hispanic/Latino; 2 are Multi-racial

18 Lay; 28 Clergy

Regional composition

1 Canada 2 Northern Calif./Nevada
2 Capital Area 1 Nebraska
1 Cent. Rocky Mtn. 2 Ohio
2 Florida 1 Oklahoma
3 Georgia 1 Oregon/S. Idaho
1 Great River 2 Pacific Southwest
2 Greater Kansas City 1 South Carolina
2 Illinois/Wisconsin 5 Southwest
8 Indiana 3 Tennessee
1 Kentucky 1 Upper Midwest
1 MidAmerica 1 Virginia
1 Michigan 1 West Virg./Pennsylvania

Background

At the 2015 General Board Meeting, GB-15-0934 Report of the Mission Council Task Force was approved. This approval included receipt of the actual task force report, approval of the Mission First! concept and authorization of the pilot of the Mission First! process in 2016.

In the Mission Council Task Force Report, Appendix 2, the membership of the Mission Council for the pilot is defined as follows:

The Mission Council will be composed of forty-six (46) members:

appointed by the College of Regional Ministers;

 


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