GA-1327 (Sense-of-the-Assembly)

BECOMING A PEOPLE OF GRACE AND WELCOME TO ALL
Adopted by the General Assembly
WHEREAS, “We are Disciples of Christ, a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world,” called to welcome others as we have been welcomed by God1 and to practice hospitality to one another,2 as well as to strangers;3 and
WHEREAS, Scripture affirms that all people are created in the image of God and share with all others in the worth that comes from being unique individuals;4 and
WHEREAS, Scripture affirms that as Christians we are many members, but are one body in Christ each with different gifts, called by Jesus to love our neighbors as ourselves,5 and called to the ministry of reconciliation and wholeness within the world and within the church; and
WHEREAS, Disciples historically affirm baptism as the primary call to ministry and offer baptism to all who profess their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior; and
WHEREAS, Disciples historically profess that the nature of Christian discipleship is profoundly informed by the Lord’s table, which is central to the act of worship, calling attention to the radical hospitality extended by Jesus, who welcomes all to the table of grace; and
WHEREAS, the Disciples’ movement came to be in reaction to limitations being placed on this welcome, recognizing that excluding anyone from the Lord’s table fragments the body of Christ; and
WHEREAS, the 1997 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) called for the church to give continuing research and reflection “concerning the participation of gay and lesbian persons in the full life and ministry of the Church”;6 and
WHEREAS, persons continue to be devalued and discriminated against within society and more sadly, within the church because of their sexual orientation and or gender identity; and
WHEREAS, Disciples find identity at the Lord’s table, sharing as the body of Christ, valuing each other in covenantal relationship even we disagree; and
WHEREAS, Disciples historically affirm that individuals and congregations hold differing interpretations of scripture, but that all are called to transcend differences and claim one another in Christian unity;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly meeting in Orlando, Florida, July 13-17, 2013, calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 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
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Assembly calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) 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; and
FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly 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.
Douglass Boulevard Christian Church, Louisville, KY
Midway Hills Christian Church, Dallas, TX
Chalice Christian Church, Gilbert, AZ
Fireside Christian Church, Denver, CO
Little White Chapel, Burbank, CA
First Christian Church, Eugene, OR
Tapestry Ministries, Berkeley, CA
St. Andrew Christian Church, Olathe, KS
Lafayette Christian Church, Lafayette, CA
First Christian Church, Concord, CA
University Christian Church, San Diego, CA
First Christian Church, Vallejo, CA
New Covenant Community Church, Normal, IL
First Christian Church, Lynchburg, VA
Central Christian Church, Indianapolis
First Christian Church, Orange, CA
Open Hearts Gathering, Gastonia, NC
Bethany Christian Church, Tulsa, OK
Pine Valley Christian Church, Wichita, KS
Foothills Christian Church, Phoenix, AZ
GLAD-Pacific Southwest Region, Irvine, CA
GLAD Alliance

1 Mark 12:31 [Statement of Identity of the CC (DOC), Disciples.org]
2 1 Timothy 5:10; 1 Peter 4:9
3 Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2
4 Genesis 1:26-7
5 2 Corinthians 5:18
6 Resolution No. 9719, A Call on the Participation of Gay and Lesbian Persons in the Life of the Church, accepted by the General Assembly meeting in Denver, Colorado, July 25-29, 1997.

Thinking about Christianity and Disability

This post is a collection of thoughts and reflections on comments from Dr. Debbie Creamer, PhD, author of Disability and Christian Theology Embodied Limits and Constructive Possibilities, during her lectures at Ministers Week at Brite Divinity School at TCU and University Christian Church.

Dr. Creamer’s first lecture addressed four modes of reflection on disability: 1) moral, 2) medical, 3) social or minority group, 4) limits model. These four models have strengths and weaknesses. They impose limitations and blind sides to our perceptions, while also shedding new and different light. They reflect normative views in our culture and over time. Dr. Creamer’s work, along with others referenced below, is to discover new ways to imagine and articulate disability and God and our relationship/experience of both.

Churches think of themselves as inclusive, when what they often are at best is accessible. Inclusive means that people have full access so that their involvement is not a bother or problem for others. They are not only invited and welcomed, but can initiate. We often provide cutouts in pews, but how often to we readily enable access to positions of leadership in worship, such as the chancel and pulpit?

From access to inclusion – the insights of Brett Webb-Mitchell in Beyond Accessibility: Toward Full Inclusion of People with Disabilities in Faith Communities

She then spent time “playing” (her word) with images of disability that might surprise and enlighten us.

“Disabled God” Nancy Eiesland – “The Disabled God”  the image of a God who uses a powered “sip/puff” wheelchair. Powerful, mobile, assertive. What would it feel like to imagine God as disabled?

Jennie Weiss BlockCopious Hosting: A Theology of Access for People with Disabilities  –

“Interdependent God” Kathy Black, Healing Homiletic: Preaching and Disability – dispelling the illusion that we are independent. What if God is interdependent as well. God tells us stories of community where Jesus relied upon and needed others in his life and ministry.

“Bold God” – Disability requires people to be more assertive, and in this boldness we may see the image of God.

“Authentic God” – what if we think of disability as normative, as what it is to be human? We all are or will be disabled at some point, unless we die young and suddenly. We are made in God’s image, and thus what we are somehow reflects what God is. There are things that God can’t do. Limits can be good.

This was a helpful conversation, and I commend Dr. Creamer and her work to congregations and others who are interested in exploring and responding to these issues and to discover anew our common experience of God in the world.

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A helpful brief article by Dr. Creamer is Theological Accessibility: The Contribution of Disability in Disability Studies Quarterly.