Written by Emily Mullins
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) women's conference is bringing together sisters of faith from the DoC and the United Church of Christ to celebrate, praise and learn about opportunities in women's ministry. This year, a group of women from First Congregational United Church of Christ in Atlanta are working in partnership with the event organizers to ensure its success as a visible witness for women in the life of the UCC and DoC.
The Quadrennial Assembly, held every four years, takes place June 25-29 in Atlanta. This year marks the 15th gathering dating back to 1957.
"I thought people in Atlanta would enjoy this opportunity, and because I think only good can come from expanding our community of Christian discipleship with the Disciples of Christ. This is a way to have a more meaningful relationship," said the Rev. Elizabeth Clemente, a member of First Congregational Church UCC. "Speaking for myself, I've had a wonderful time with them. The planning committee has been supportive and affirming."
Though the event is a Disciples of Christ function, the UCC plays a key part in its planning, said Arlene Pimantel, who coordinates the Quadrennial Assembly for the Disciples.
"In 2006 both denominations did a joint event where we planned it together," she said. "This year we have UCC members on the planning committee. They have been such a great resource and blessing for us. Terri, Elizabeth and Bette have been involved hands on."
Along with Clemente, the others from First Congregational Church UCC on the Quadrennial Planning Committee are Bette Graves Thomas, church administrator for First Congregational, and Terri Vismale-Morris, a member of the church.
The women have been part of the planning committee and local arrangement committee for three years in preparation for this month's event. So far, the women of First Congregational UCC who serve on the committees have taken people on tours of the location where the assembly will take place and recruited about 25 volunteers to work during the assembly. Clemente plans to drum up more help this month.
Asked how she came to join the planning committee, Clemente said that a former colleague at the UCC's national offices in Cleveland, the Rev. Loey Powell, UCC associate to the general minister and president, reached out to her.
"Loey Powell asked me, and then I recruited Terri because she knows this type of stuff, and it went from there," Clemente said. "[The assembly is] at a hotel three blocks from our church, and [the women of the planning committee] have worshipped with us in our church."
The theme for the Quadrennial Assembly, "I See You," is a nod to the ways in which the gathering lifts up women by seeing them in their heart, hope, value, despair and humanity.
In addition to worship, education, service, and social justice opportunities, several special events are planned to highlight other important issues of faith. There are plans for a Pilgrimage Celebration and Remembrance to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center to mark to the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, as well as a Walk Against Trafficking to raise awareness about human trafficking. Funds raised by participants in the walk will go to youthSpark, an Atlanta-based organization that serves victims of human trafficking and works to end the dehumanizing act.
Other events highlighting Quadrennial 2014 are keynote speakers, who include the Rev. Sharon Watkins, general minister and president of the Disciples of Christ and the Rev. Cynthia Hale, founding and senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga.
"I think the assembly will be terrific, and I hope more UCC women decide to come to it," Clemente said.
Registration for the assembly is $400 for the entire event, and there are opportunities for men to take part, as well as one-day registration options.