United Church of Christ

Disciples, like UCC partners, speak out on immigration, refugees, poverty

Disciples Assembly Barber worship 7/24/19

Members of the United Church of Christ’s ecumenical partner, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), took social-justice actions at their July General Assembly similar to those taken a month earlier by the UCC's General Synod.

Like the UCC's national meeting, the Disciples' July 20-24 gathering in Des Moines, Iowa, was filled with opportunities for worship, workshops and church business of many kinds. Among these were:

  • A vote calling attention to the global crisis in migration and another opposing a recently announced U.S. administration plan to further reduce refugee admissions. "The number of refugees has hit an all-time high … while the number of refugees allowed into the United States … is at an unprecedented low," said the latter, an emergency "Sense-of-the-Assembly" resolution. Noting that Disciples have resettled tens of thousands of refugees in the U.S. and Canada in the past 75 years, it called on members and congregations to support "a return to at least the historic U.S. average of 95,000 refugees resettled annually."
  • An action opposing recent government "sanctions against or investigations of 'Good Samaritans' and humanitarian aid providers." Also passed as an emergency resolution, it cited cases such as that of the Rev. Kaji Dousá, a UCC minister who pastors Park Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in New York City. She has been targeted by the government for working with immigrants there and on the southern border'
  • A resolution inviting the church "to grow in the embodiment of God’s generous welcome for transgender and gender-diverse people and their families through education, shifts in institutional language and practice, and the cultivation of trusting relationships," and calling for resources to be produced on that topic for "biblical theological study, pastoral care best practices, and best practices for institutional inclusion."
  • A vote to enter a full-communion ecumenical relationship with the United Church of Canada.
  • A closing sermon by the Rev. William Barber, a Disciples minister who heads the national movement Repairers of the Breach. He said: "The rejected and the poor will lead the moral revival to revive the heart and soul of democracy in this nation." He also urged participants in a post-Assembly rally at the Iowa capitol building to join a contemporary Poor People's Campaign of nonviolent activism against poverty.

Similar actions by the UCC Synod, held June 21-25 in Milwaukee, included resolutions on global forced migration and immigrant families and children, a demonstration outside a local Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, and a keynote speech on poverty by author Matthew Desmond.

The Disciples' Assembly also recognized the Rev. James A. Moos, completing his service as co-executive of Global Ministries, a common mission agency of the UCC and the DOC, and introduced the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson, elected at the June General Synod as his successor in that office and as UCC Associate General Minister.

"I so enjoyed the time I spent with our partners in the Disciples of Christ," said the Rev. John C. Dorhauer, UCC general minister and president, reflecting on the Assembly. "The feeling is of a family gathering, coming together to celebrate and share, to learn and worship, to pray and deliberate.

"In every setting I have served, from the local church to the National Setting, it is with my Disciples colleagues that I share my deepest and most valued partnerships and friendships. I saw so many of them in Des Moines, and it warmed my heart deeply. I continue to value the relationship we have with them, and the ways in which we influence and impact one another in our shared commitments to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ."


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