Last week I was able to be a part of the Disciples Public Presence Conference, the first of its kind in the Disciples, springing forth from a growing Disciples realization that it is time for us as a denomination to connect and network in regard to justice, advocacy, and other related ministries in which the church is called to publicly speak truth to power. I am so grateful for this realization, as I have long believed that the work I and others do at MCU is integral to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and thus the life and mission of the church. At the same time, one of the things I deeply appreciate about the Disciples – our creedless creed, “No creed but Christ,” which encourages a plurality and diversity of belief on all manner of things within the denomination – tends to call us away from centralized expressions of public presence and justice work. Also at the same time, however, several Disciples clergy, laity, and congregations continue to engage in justice work, even as we often feel isolated from our broader church family in doing so.
This conference did a few things well, at the very least getting Disciples who feel strongly about their justice work and connecting with others doing like-minded work in the same room and having conversations with one another. We also developed some preliminary goals and plans for Disciples Public Presence as a whole, on which a smaller group will take further action.
Some of the most important things that surfaced from this brief conference were that we need each other’s support, we are not alone, we need more central sources / a repository of information, and easier ways of communicating with the broader group, particularly as applied to developing and taking action on justice issues. We also often feel like we need more GMP and Regional support on issues, which helps our congregations understand the theological importance of justice work in the church, even when that work gets “political” in the sense of negotiating our shared lives together (rather than participation in partisan politics that churches and other 501c3s are supposed to avoid).
It was also a good reminder that the Disciples already have some helpful justice resources, including the Justice Primer & Study Guide, which provides the theological basis by which we do this work. It was particularly meaningful that the Rev. Terri Hord Owens, the Disciples General Minister and President, was in attendance. She encouraged us to continue engaging in our current justice efforts, letting the world see the Disciples’ chalice: that we are doing God’s justice work in the world from our faith as Disciples.
We are getting into a period of reading a number of shorter biblical books. Brueggemann reminds us, “The fourth scroll of the Latter Prophets, after Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, is that of the Twelve Minor Prophets. … This last scroll of the prophetic canon brings together a series of shorter prophetic collections, the twelve juxtaposed without explanation. (They are traditionally termed ‘minor’ only because these books that bear prophetic names are relatively brief compared to the ‘major prophets,’ Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. It is important to recognize that the term ‘minor’ does not mean unimportant or less important.)” (p. 223)
What are your thoughts on the Twelve Minor Prophets and their relationship to the “major prophets” Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel?
As we complete our 40-Day Journey with Howard Thurman, what have his writings brought to your spiritual journey?
This week we’re in Chapter 7, “How to Handle Uncomfortable Truths,” of The Lifelong Activist in which Ms. Rettig provides us with several helpful strategies with handling the uncomfortable truths which may come up as a result of doing one’s Activist Project History.
This chapter reminds me a lot of the kind of truth-telling one may encounter while doing Brenda Ueland’s highly-recommended 10 minutes a day of free form “brain drain” writing, which I highly recommend if you have any issues with being able to tell yourself the truth.
What uncomfortable truths have surfaced in your Activist Project History, and how are you dealing with them?
Check out the Find Your FBCO Map to find your local faith-based community organizing affiliate and connect with the people who are working together to live out their dreams of a more just world! What’s going on in your living of the Gospel? Let us know in the comments, in our e-mail discussion group, or on social media.
- “Disciples Public Presence Conference.” Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), n.d. https://disciples.org/event/disciples-public-presence-conference/.
- “Justice Primer & Study Guide.” Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 2016. https://www.discipleshomemissions.org/about-us/disciples-advocate/justice-primer/.
- Brueggemann, Walter. “The Minor Prophets (1)” in An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2003.
- Disciples News Services. “Disciples Public Presence Conference Kickstarts Conversation.” Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), 18 September 2018. https://disciples.org/general/disciples-public-presence-conference-kickstarts-conversation/
- Jacobson, Rolf. “Enter the Bible: Hosea,” n.d. http://www.enterthebible.org/oldtestament.aspx?rid=22.
- Luther Seminary. “Enter the Bible,” n.d. http://www.enterthebible.org/.
- Rettig, Hillary. The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way. New York, NY: Lantern Books, 2006.
- Rettig, Hillary. “How to Handle Uncomfortable Truths” in The Lifelong Activist: How to Change the World Without Losing Your Way. New York, NY: Lantern Books, 2006. http://lifelongactivist.com/part-i-managing-your-mission/how-to-handle-uncomfortable-truths/
- Schaper, Donna, ed. 40-Day Journey with Howard Thurman. 40-Day Journey. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Books, 2009. https://openlibrary.org/books/OL23575518M/40-day_journey_with_Howard_Thurman.
- Yee, Gail A., “Introduction to Hosea” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary.