Mission First!

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An example from a global partner

Mission Council Conference

Dallas, Texas

3rd December 2016 Rev Dr Prince Dibeela

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1.    Introduction

In the UCCSA we used a framework of Mission which I wish to share with you here. It is a framework sometimes referred to as the five marks of mission. It was important for us because it is simple and could be understood by people even with very basic theological understanding. Using this framework, we created a missional manual for the local church called ‘Tell me the old, old story.’ It will be important for you to develop carefully selected resources that could be used by the different expressions of the church.

2.    Telling the Story

Over generations we have pre-occupied ourselves with evangelism as the heart of our missional journey. Many have used the great commission  text as a theological under-pinning of the evangelical approaches they have adopted. We need to re-read this text, especially that previously it was read and often used to buttress imperial interests. We have to understand again what Jesus meant when he sent his disciples out in the world with the words of the great commission.

I am glad that there are representatives of theological institutions at this retreat. In my experience most theological institutions and seminaries tend to focus their training on areas such as Systematic theology, Biblical studies, Pastoral care and Ecclesiastical History. My challenge to you is that perhaps you need to do an audit of your programmes with the view to identifying how much of our theological content in our seminaries is towards maintenance, and how much is missional. Do we do enough in preparing our ministers to have the skills to be engaged in crossing boundaries or is our training about shepherding those who are already within the church? The discipline of Missiology has to be introduced as a necessity if we are to develop creative and outward looking Christian leaders.

I want to invite you to look at the Lukan perspective on Jesus’  commission which is in Acts 1:8:

8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;  and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

I choose this text because I wish to insist on the need for us to be prepared to tell the gospel as life-giving, and not debilitating, denigrating, life-denying, and condemnatory as we have done in the past.  The need  to tell the good news of Jesus Christ is not optional, however, how do we do it in such a way that it is not alienating to others? It is important that we recognize what Jesus meant when he says ‘you shall receive power,’ which for me means adequately prepared. Our preparedness is both spiritual and theological. Like I said yesterday we need the skill to listen- in, tune into a spiritual frequency as well as be theologically equipped to share the gospel.

Perhaps we should consider developing a module on Mission and Partnership (or missional church) which can be done jointly by those interested who are partners through Common Global Ministries. This  could be done online, weekly webinars, or those who are able to go on mission trips. I think we should be seeking ways that will stretch our imaginations and take us beyond our comfort zones.

3.    Teaching and nurturing

One of the endangered species in the church today is the Sunday school teacher. I am what I am today because of the many Sunday school teachers who patiently helped us to fall in love with the gospel. At a very early age we were taught important concepts such as salvation, justice, fairness, equality and Christian conduct which shaped us as we grew into adulthood. I am convinced that we should invest more into the teaching ministry of the church.

One of the strengths of the Liberation theology communities in South America was what came to be known as the Base Ecclesial Communities. Here they were able to study the Bible together, reflect on their political situations and study the works of people like Paulo Freira, Gustavo Guiterrez and others. There are different expressions of this throughout the world, some call them small groups and others call them cell groups. However, the point is it has been proven beyond doubt that we need a mechanism through which the church can become a learning space.

The theological college that I lead at the moment is called Kgolagano College of Theological education by extension. Over the years its strength has been in offering theological training to both clergy and lay leaders through manual distance education. We have been able to  equip  hundreds of people through simple, inexpensive and accessible theological approaches. The Missional Church ought to invest in its leadership and that of necessity means making theological education accessible to all.

4.    Tender and loving Service

I am convinced that the heart-beat of the gospel today is about enabling humanising relationships. In a world where the empire preaches polarization of people according to race, religion, class, sexual orientation and nationality the church has to offer the gospel as an antidote to such ideology of hatred and exclusion.

Our model of mission should be the incarnation which the Apostle Paul describes in his letter to the Philippians.  He says;

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (2: 5-11).

I just think that missional church is about offering a new anthropology which is about embracing the other. It is the Indians who say Namasthe, which means “I see God in you,’ the Zulu say, Sakubona which means ‘I see you’ and in my language we say dumela which means ‘Let’s agree’, as though to say ‘Lets share the space’, let’s go together.’ These are powerful expressions of acknowledging the divinity that is in every human being, irrespective of who they are, what skin colour they are and what religious affiliation they are. It seems to me there is so much we can  learn from indigenous knowledge systems that can inform our theology.

The palliative activities of the church which include soup kitchens and shelters for homeless people are necessary. However, we need to equip ourselves to go beyond that by asking questions that will address structural injustice. We have to challenge the economic configurations  that continue to benefit a small population of the world at the expense of the majority. I believe we cannot continue to preach ‘fullness of life for  all’ or ‘wholeness’ or any of the missional priorities we are setting for ourselves without addressing the issue of economic injustice.  And by  the way the World Communion of Reformed Churches has done some good work, especially through a document called the Accra Confession. The World Council of Churches has had what is called the AGAPE process  which also addresses the dangers of neo-liberal economics and is searching for alternatives. The Council for World Mission initiated a process whereby they are seeking an alternative Economy. You don’t  have to re-invent the wheel because there are lot resources out there.

5.    Transforming the World

Dr Sharon Watkins and I had the privilege of serving in the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches for seven years. In the WCC we dealt with many ecumenical and missional issues, which I believe ought to be part of our local agenda. Among the issues that we preoccupied ourselves with included the situation in Palestine. We had to deal with the continued denial by Israel and the USA of the people of Palestine the opportunity of statehood, the continued embezzlement of their land by Israel, the continuing attacks in the name of self-defence by Israel on their children and destruction of their infrastructure. We dealt with issues such as HIV and AIDS and how the poor in the South continue to be ravaged by this disease even though Anti-retroviral drugs have been around for close to two decades.

We discussed issues such as the war in the Sudan, the situation of indigenous communities around the world, racism, sexism and lots of other issues. We identified what were the life-denying issues across the world and studied them with the hermeneutical lenses of justice.

These are issues that the Christian Church should not avoid in its  missional self-understanding. In the UCCSA we embarked on a programme through which we trained justice advocates across the denomination. The purpose was to create a critical mass that would be able to educate, problematize, speak to and on behalf of those in the margins as well as challenge the church to be true to its calling to justice and peace. We had developed a carefully structured programme that  dealt with prejudice, patriarchy, internalized oppression and how our faith informs us in dealing with these matters.

6.    Treasurer

The ecumenical movement has made critical contribution in the Conference of the Parties discussions on climate change. This  is  important and as stewards of God’s creation we ought to develop theologies and a voice regarding climate change. Perhaps this is an area where Disciples of Christ could actively create partnerships with partners in the South. Climate change is a matter of global concern and there are opportunities for developing synergy in harvesting of water, making clean water accessible to poor communities, planting trees in the face of deforestation,  promoting  organic  farming  and  other  such     missional projects. It could also be an opportunity to engage in common advocacy against big multi-national corporations such as Monsanto who destroy local agriculture through their massive business models that impose genetically modified seeds.

Transformed by the renewing of your mind

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Mission Council of the Christian Church
Dallas, Texas

Rev Dr Prince Dibeela

Download this paper as a PDF

The following paper was delivered to the Mission Council meeting in Dallas Dec. 2, 2016.

Rev Dr Prince Dibeela

Rev Dr Prince Dibeela

The starting point for Missional engagement should always be the recognition that Mission is a project of God.  The notion of Missional Church arises from the acknowledgment that Mission is the invitation for us to participate in what God is already doing, and has been doing from eternity.  This is critical because churches have often fallen into the temptation of thinking that mission could be about shifting things around, developing mission and vision statements, changing furniture and the décor of the sanctuary, and other such superficial alterations.  The notion of missional church in my opinion is an opportunity to do much more than that.  Through this movement we are called as Christians to review our vocation and interrogate what it means to be church in the circumstances we live in.  I would like to offer some proposals for your consideration. (more…)

December 2 – Prayer for the Mission Council

by Nadine Burton

Gracious and Loving God:

We pause today to enter into a time of prayer around the Mission Gathering Initiative. We thank you for the work of your Holy Spirit throughout this process, understanding that it is prayerful and necessary Kingdom work! We recognize that WE are beginning where a great cloud of witness ended, so we approach this work with humility and courage.

This weekend, leaders from around the country are meeting to pray and listen, to discern and discover ways to move forward with mission imperatives. We thank you for every Mission Gathering group that gathered in 2016 to share in this ministry of discernment.  We thank you for every facilitator and team, who took time to navigate and discover meaningful ways to uncover the treasures of creativity, wisdom and dialogue.  We thank you for the Mission Implementation Team, whose wisdom and guidance continue to lead us to a place of discovery.

We pray that you move us beyond complacency, status, bickering, and selfishness.  We are joyful that as we seek to give the best of ourselves, you desire to give us the best of your Spirit. Move us to collaborate for the good of the church!  Encourage us to not waiver to the left or to the right, but to center our hearts and minds on the transformational work.  We desire to walk worthy of the calling that you call us to walk with mission priorities. We are the Church! We are hopeful that who we are becoming will be a spring board into new wineskins of mercy and justice.

As followers of Jesus Christ, remind us that we are called to mission in our everyday, ordinary lives: Inside the church, outside the church, wherever we live, work, and have our being in you.  We dare to touch lives to the fullest, to love our neighbor as ourselves, to structure our lives around grace, to uncover the depths of your love and mercy toward us, as we extend the same grace and mercy to others. We are strengthened by a witness and perseverance that calls us to think more highly of others than we do ourselves.  While we profess our love for the Christian Church (DOC), awaken us to the realities that we face. So that we will seek remedies for injustice, to give hope to those who are marginalized, to provide food for those who are hungry, a lamp for transforming churches, and unity and wholeness for broken communities.

Oh God, in the coming days, help us to see what you see, to hear what you hear, and TO move as you move. Open our hearts to do thy Holy will, to bring a “Good Report” on behalf of the Body of Christ. In Jesus name, this is our prayer. Amen.

November 11 Call to Prayer

Luke 6:27-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

27 “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.

Jesus’ message often centered on turning conventional wisdom and custom on its head. He was an agent of change who asked his followers to consider an alternative future, a future in which the immediate reaction would not be revenge. In fact, in this lesson from Luke, he even encourages his followers – and by extension, us – to pray for those who abuse and even to give to those who rob you.

The Gospel offers us wisdom for today. Western culture has a marked tendency toward “me and mine” but the Way of Jesus is marked by reaching out, by walking alongside, by caring with and for others. Showing God’s love to the world is not an easy task, but it is ours to do as disciples – and Disciples.

As the first weekend in December approaches and the members of the Mission Council prepare to look at what more than 2,300 Disciples had to share, we pray that they will look beyond “conventional” wisdom for inspiration that comes from the Holy Spirit. We pray that they will have insights that will move us toward wholeness both nearby and around the globe. We pray that they will help us focus on God’s call for God’s Beloved Community.

Prayer: O Source of all we are and all we have, move us toward our call to bring wholeness to this divided world. We pray particularly for the Mission Council as they listen for the Spirit whispering through the people of God. We pray you will work and move in them to make God’s call to love our own.

Capital Area assembly reports on Mission Gathering


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 Gatherings roll across U.S., Canada

The process started with an address at General Assembly in Columbus last summer and has grown in scope to encompass nearly all 32 regions in one way or another. Disciples have shared their own ministries and what they have learned from partnering with others. And many shared what direction they believe Disciples as a whole might go with mission.

At this writing, more than 67 mission gatherings have occurred with at least 13 more scheduled before mid November. While not all the response forms have been received from those 67 gatherings, more than 1,600 have been entered into the data base.

Participants have included youth in several settings such as camps and conferences, Disciples Women at their planning meetings, special sessions at regional assemblies as well as National Convocation’s Biennial Session, the Bilingual Asamblea for Obra Hispana and North American Pacific/Asian Disciples’ Convocation. Several regions have had multiple gatherings across their geography.

If you have attended a mission gathering, thank you! If you are looking forward to one in the next 6 weeks or so, you can get ready in a variety of ways from re-familiarizing yourself with the Disciples identity statement to reading Global Ministries’ book of essays on mission.

Whether you participate in an actual Mission Gathering or not, you can join other Disciples praying weekly for the process, particularly as we approach the Mission Council’s meeting the first weekend in December.

For more information or to see the tweets about what participants have learned from mission partners, go to missionfirst.disciples.org or search this set of hashtags: #ccdoc #missionfirst #learningfrompartners

Mission gatherings foster deepening connections

“’Enthusiastic’ is the most common word I think I’ve heard in regard to people’s sharing about the congregation’s work (in answer to the first discussion question of the gathering).” Mission First! Project Coordinator Kenetha Stanton is hearing a lot of enthusiasm as she talks with hosts for the 56 Mission Gatherings that have occurred.

More than 2,000 Disciples have taken part in gatherings ranging in size from six to several hundred people. Disciples Women, youth, regional assemblies, special area gatherings and ethnic communities have all provided venues for talking about what matters most – God’s call on our lives. In the region of Georgia, more than 250 youth at camp participated, but also folks with 90 years of experience participated in the process.

“The conversations and sharing that took place in small groups during our NAPAD Convocation allowed people to speak about their hopes for the Church. People had the opportunity to convey what the needs are in their local communities and how the Church can be prophetic in its response,” shares Rev. April Lewton, National Benevolent Association Vice President for Development and Marketing who led the NAPAD gathering. “There was often a lot of shared laughter. Groups stopped to join in prayer over something, and people came away encouraged through their connections together.”

“We had the wonderful opportunity to host 11 Mission Gatherings throughout the state of Georgia.,” says Georgia Regional Minister Denise Bell, a member of the Mission First! Implementation Team. “I was never quite sure of what to expect except that each one would be different. Attendance ranged from 15 to 250 and we experienced the joy of sharing current mission stories and activities and dreaming about what courageous actions God has in mind for us in our general and regional church.”

Bell continues, “I heard comments like, ‘I wish all of our members were able to participate,’ and ‘This was a wonderful exercise, I did not know that all of this stuff was going on in our congregations. We care about our communities.’”

She reports that one gathering has already started a conversation between two racially different congregations to join ministry efforts in their community. “Every person left the gathering with a renewed hope about the church. Our dreams will discern a shared community day where every church at the same time will make a service investment in their community. We are already working on a shared mission project and ways to celebrate every congregations mission projects.”

More Mission Gatherings will be hosted across Disciples regions in the coming months with all the results poured into a report to the Mission Council meeting the first weekend in December. The report will be a combination of computer and human analysis of all the information received from all the mission gatherings. The Council will discern one or more themes for the Church to help focus our work together. In addition, the General Board, meeting in February, will discuss whether to formalize the governance changes piloted these past two years and present them to the 2017 General Assembly.



Mission Council named

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:

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


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;


February update

The list

Gatherings-dark-bgThe list of Mission Gatherings has grown a bit since it was last updated in November 2015. Take a look! And there are still several in process, so return to the page often to see if there is one near you.

Though each Mission Gathering will be a little different, generally each one will open with worship followed by small group discussions of three questions. The results of those discussions will be shared with the larger group present. All of the feedback, individual and group, will be added to the data given to the Mission Council in early December for the Mission Council to use in discerning a shared mission focus for Disciples of Christ.

The first gathering

2016MFJanFriendsThe Disciples Women Leadership Council hosted the first Mission Gathering in Daytona, FL, as part of their regular meeting. During the discussion themes of care, compassion, connection and welcome came shining through.

The next gatherings will be the weekend of March 11 & 12. Disciples Women will have a gathering as part of their interregional event, and the Montana Region is having a special meeting to accommodate the Mission Gathering.

The Mission Council

The general ministries and regions have named their representatives for the Mission Council. The next step is for the General Nominating Committee to identify members from congregations that will include two from the Governance Board, one from each racial/ethnic ministry and two under the age of 25.

Get ready

You can do your part to help the Mission First initiative by: 1) joining the Mission First prayer effort. Receive prompts on Fridays direct to your in box; and 2) refresh your knowledge of the Disciples identity statement using the videos and study materials available online.


A short history – and future – of Mission First!

updated 12/18/15

2013: The Cabinet of general ministry presidents realized two things: the work required of the General Board was very broad including both visioning and administration and that Disciples needed to revisit our sense of calling and mission since it had been some time since the 20/20 vision was introduced. They took a proposal to the General Board asking for some thought to be given to a modified governance structure that would allow for corporate visioning and a way to reorganize ourselves to support that vision.

2014: The General Board appointed a Mission Council Task Force to imagine how that might work. A key recommendation was for a widely consultative process. In order to involve congregations in the visioning, the Mission Gathering concept was born.

2015: The General Board accepted the recommendations and authorized a two year pilot program. Called Mission First, the program calls for a Mission Council for the ministry of vision and focus and a governing board for the ministry of administration.

To experience the model and to fund the pilot, the board suspended their regular 2016 meeting. The Administrative Committee is functioning as the governing board during the pilot period. The pilot is to last until 2017.

At the summer 2015 General Assembly, the pilot was launched with the Administrative Committee meeting as a governing board in the fall. Meanwhile, the implementation team ramped up for Mission Gatherings, inviting regions and other ministries to host them across the U.S. and Canada.

2016: Mission Gatherings will occur across the U.S. and Canada in regional assemblies and other places Disciples gather.

Around the first week of December 2016 a Mission Council of over 40 people will meet to discern God’s call for Disciples.

2017: Disciples from all expressions of the Church will collaborate to implement God’s call to share in mission together.

The General Board will review the successes of the pilot and recommend any permanent changes to the General Assembly.