Reflections on Going to the General Assembly -- Pre-Assembly


Early Wednesday morning Cheryl and I will head out toward Indianapolis. We'll pick up two other members along the way, one a youth delegate. Our destination is the Disciples General Assembly. There we will worship, participate in learning activities, attend luncheons and banquets, and do the business of the church. There will be about 6000 or so other folk there with us. This is work related, but I've come to enjoy the event. No, not the business portion. I find that at times to be tedious. But, it's important that we discuss issues of importance, even if we don't have sufficient time to devote to each issue. Sometimes these conversations are contentious, but in many ways the current rules have limited the nature of the debate. We have fewer social justice type resolutions, the most conservative activists have already departed, so that part of the Assembly is, rather mundane.

But, why go? Why spend money on a week such as this? Besides giving me the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, many of whom I've known since college days, I get to make new friends, and build new networks. There's also great worship and preaching. I'm looking forward to hearing our General Minister, Sharon Watkins, preach. I'm also looking forward to again hearing Cynthia Hale preach. The worship, led by Bill Thomas, is always great. It has developed a rather Southern California style, for that's where Bill Thomas comes from. It's a bit ironic that a church rooted in the mid west and south has taken on this worship style at Assemblies.

But perhaps the most important reason for being there, even if it may not be at the forefront of my own thinking, is the opportunity recovenant with the broader Disciples community. I've posted at several other points, including at Theolog essay, especially in regard to the Michael Kinnamon/Jan Linn book, Disciples: Reclaiming Our Identity, Reforming Our Practice (Chalice Press, 2009), about the importance of heritage and identity. Perhaps it's because I have a rather peripatetic background -- I've been everything from Episcopal to Foursquare -- that I value a sense of heritage and tradition. It's not that I believe that ours is the only way, or that ours is necessarily the best way, but it's this particular community and its traditions that provide a context for me to live and move and breath the Christian faith. Indeed, this is the tradition that works best for me.

So, when I gather with brothers and sisters at the General Assembly or at a Regional Assembly, I'm recognizing that there are others taking the same journey, who are formed by the same traditions. Thus, I'm able to recovenant with them, with the hope that together we may hear God's voice and direction, and take on the call of God to engage the world with love, with justice, and with grace. It is not that we're better, it's just that we have a heritage that should form us for ministry.

So, should you be a Disciple and going to Indianapolis this week. I look forward to sharing in worship, study, fellowship, prayer, and work with you -- as we covenant together to be God's people in this time and place! If you're not, I ask that you pray for us or think of us as we gather!

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Tags: Assembly, Christ, Covenant, Denominational, Disciples, General, Identity, Kinnamon, Michael, Sharon, More…Watkins, of

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Comment by Clare Suzanne (Suzi) Goldt on July 28, 2009 at 6:45am
Robert -- Absolutely! I sometimes think that life-long Disciples do not remember what a privilege it is to be in covenant together. Maybe we'll see one another this week as we gather to be Disciples.

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