News from AllianceQ: August 2013

GA-1327 "Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All" adopted by the General Assembly

General Assembly Resolution 1327 “Becoming a People of Grace and Welcome to All”
was adopted by an overwhelming majority upon standing vote of the General
Assembly of the Christian Church (Dicsiples of Christ) in the United States and
Canada, held in Orlando, FL, July 13-17, 2013.

The resolution calls upon the Christian church “to recognize itself as striving to become a people of grace and welcome to all God’s children though differing in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, physical or mental ability, political stance or theological perspective” and “to affirm the faith, baptism and spiritual gifts of all Christians regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that neither is grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church, but we celebrate that all are part of God’s good creation.”

Finally, the resolution calls upon “all expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), as a people of grace and welcome, to acknowledge their support for the welcome of and hospitality to all”

In many ways, this resolution brings together much of the work that GLAD has done over the past 30 plus years, working to transform the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) into a just and inclusive church that welcomes persons of all gender expressions and sexual identities into its full life and leadership. It is important to understand, however, that in our congregational polity, the General Assembly does not have the authority to tell the congregations to be Open & Affirming. This resolution does ensure the welcome of LGBT members in the General Church itself, and this resolution does encourage the congregations, regions, and other expressions of the church to become welcoming places, yet the work of GLAD and the Open & Affirming Ministry Program continues.

GA-1327 was submitted to the General Assembly by 20 Open & Affirming congregations of the Christian Church along with the GLAD Alliance and the Pacific Southwest Regional Chapter of GLAD.

Several members of GLAD were very involved in the process that brings a resolution to the Assembly floor. When a resolution is submitted to the General Assembly, its first stop is the General Board. Present at the April meeting for the General Board of the Christian Church in Indianapolis last April were Derek Penwell, pastor of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church in Louisville, KY, GLAD Council Member and O&A Team Leader; Kerry Armstrong, long-time GLAD member from Indianapolis, Council Member, and O&A Team Member; and Mark Johnston, Executive Director of the Open & Affirming Ministry Program and, at the time, a member of the General Board.

With great care, Derek, Kerry and Mark worked in several meetings for many hours with the General Board in discussions that led to a stronger and clearer resolution.

GLAD’s FAQ about the resolution can be downloaded here. You may find it useful when having conversations about the resolution in your congregation.

At the Assembly itself, GLAD was also very attentive to the discussion and debate around the resolution. GLAD provided a FAQ about the resolution to everyone who came to GLAD’s booth in the exhibit hall. This FAQ was carefully crafted by Derek Penwell, James Barton, GLAD Council Member and lawyer from Mesa, AZ, and Mark Johnston.

GLAD also distributed almost 500 t-shirts with the slogan “All Means All” on the front and a Disciples chalice on the back with reminders of the many ways that all means all. There was so much interest in these shirts that they ran out long before the resolution floor debate on Tuesday.

The debate speeches have been posted on GLAD’s Facebook page. These links should get you there:

Maria Perez

Jackson Cobb

Rita Nakashima Brock

James Barton

Miranda Cook

Several GLAD members also worked together to plan for the debate on the Assembly floor. Carefully planned speeches were given during the floor debate by GLAD members Maria Perez from Irvine, CA, Jackson Cobb from Lakeville, MN, Rita Nakashima Brock from Fort Worth, TX, James Barton from Mesa, AZ, and Miranda Cook from Lynchburg, VA.

All these speakers did an excellent job, and there was much grace apparent as several of our speakers often used their time down to the last second. In the tension of the moment, it was inspiring to watch Amanda, allotted only the remaining one and a half minutes of the debate time, edit her speech on the fly, use every second, and say exactly what she wanted to say.

We rejoice in this milestone, calling the congregations, regions, and other expressions of the Christian Church to become a people of grace, welcoming all to the table. And we know this isn’t the end of the road, but are energized all the more with the hope that lie before us.