Greetings to all in the Love of Jesus Christ:
As we approach Thanksgiving Day – el día de Acción de Gracias – I am grateful for the warm (but not scorching!) welcome I have received in my first 11 weeks in Arizona. It has been my privilege and joy to worship with 16 of our 25 congregations – very convenient that some of you worship in the afternoon! If I haven’t been to your congregation yet I have plans to be there very soon. I should complete the cycle before the end of February.
During the last month I have taken two major trips. In October I went to Toronto to meet with the College of Regional Ministers (CRM), and just last week I joined several other regional ministers and church leaders across the nation for an “immersion trip” to San Diego and Tijuana to witness several impressive ministries related to immigration and border issues. Our General Minister and President, Terri Hord-Owens, and our National Hispanic Pastor, Lori Tapia, were on both trips as well.
I’m delighted to report that our Disciples leadership across the country is strong. Collectively, we are prayerfully listening to what God is calling us to be and do in this time and place. I note this because it is always a danger that church leaders – both denominationally and within individual congregations – lose sight of our overall mission to embody God’s love for the world and seek first the kingdom of God. Instead, we often allow ourselves to worry about smaller issues, or worry about “saving our church.”
Once we focus on our institution, and not our mission – we have lost our true reason to exist in the first place. We must always ask: “What is our purpose, what is our mission, what does God need us to do and be?” So I’m delighted to report that those deep conversations are happening among your regional ministers and collectively we are committed to leading a church which seeks to make God’s love manifest in a terribly fragmented world. And as I travel around Arizona, I will continue to ask how your congregation is working to transform the lives of your members and your communities to more fully embody Isaiah’s vision of God’s peaceable realm, where the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid … and all the Earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord.
Dios les bendiga!
Regional Minister and President, Christian Church in Arizona
Images credit to National Benevolent Association (NBA)