2023 General Assembly- Highlights
Now that You Are Home,
a Few Things You May Want to Know
Digital Access Pass
Want to have access to the workshops, sermons and Bible lectures from the 2023 General Assembly? Purchase a digital access pass to gain access to recorded workshops, sermons from each night of worship and the Bible lectures. Video recordings will be made available to digital access pass subscribers in early September.
To add a digital access pass to your existing registration, click here and click on “Already Registered.” Log in using your email and confirmation number you received when you initially registered. Scroll to the bottom and click on “Modify Registration,” then click through to the page titled “Additional Items,” where you can select the “Digital Access Discounted Bundle.” Then click through to the final summary page where you can submit payment.
To purchase a digital access pass if you were not able to register for the in-person event, click here and select “Register Now.”
Meanwhile you can explore business items received, adopted and referred by visiting the General Assembly website.
Highlights from Saturday, July 29
After four years, the 2023 General Assembly gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, for day one of this historic four-day event. The assembly kicked off with a Regional roll call, with each of the 31 regions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada processing into opening ceremony. The Regional Minister for the Christian Church in Kentucky, Rev. Don Gillett and the Governor of the state of Kentucky and Beargrass Christian Church member, Gov. Andy Beshear, brought greetings to the Assembly, reflecting the hospitality of the state, region and Local Arrangements. Gov. Beshear welcomed the Assembly saying, “I have faith in God. I have faith in us. In this most divisive time, I believe that love will win.”
After a robust day of business, the General Assembly gathered for the first night of worship. Opening worship of the 2023 General Assembly gave attendees a chance to reflect on the time that has passed since we last gathered, welcomed joyous worship music led by C. Anthony Bryant, scriptural reflection from Dr. Eric Smith and dynamic preaching from Cha. Maj. Owen Chandler. In his reflection on Luke 6:27-36, Cha. Maj. Chandler encouraged worshipers, “Love first. Love always. We’ll figure the rest out as we go.” Worshipers also reflected on those who have passed since we last gathered and celebrate the work of the Pension Fund’s 13th Check.
Highlights from Sunday, July 30
The second day of the 2023 General Assembly kicked off with worship across the greater Louisville area, a special worship hosted by Obra Hispana, a worship experience at Cane Ridge hosted by the Disciples of Christ Historical Society and a Service Service hosted by Local Missions and Week of Compassion in the Exhibit Hall where a team build a home frame.
The afternoon featured over 23 workshop opportunities for adults including The Church Has Left the Building led by Disciples Church Extension Fund and Equipping Disciples to Confront Christian Nationalism led by a cohort of congregational leaders. While adults engaged in learning and dialogue around practical ministry and spiritual formation topics, the youth did a mental health workshop. Later, youth and children were captivated by a magic show presented by magician Ron Diamond.
Worship gathered in the evening to hear the preaching of Rev. Yolanda Norton reflect on the Genesis theme text. She was joined by Dr. Eric Smith who gave additional Biblical insight to the theme language of kindom. In her sermon, Rev. Norton shared “Some of us are so afraid that God will come and get us that we don’t find the relief when he comes up on us.” The worship team closed worship with a moving rendition of Livin’ on a Prayer.
Rev. Yolanda M. Norton is the Executive Director of the Global Arts and Theology Experience (GATE) and Visiting Professor at Moravian University. She is also a Ph.D. candidate in Hebrew Bible at Vanderbilt University and the curator and creator of the “Beyoncé Mass,” a womanist worship service. Womanism recognizes and celebrates the lives, beauty, culture, spirituality, and experiences of Black women and is committed to the survival, well-being, and wholeness of all people. The Beyoncé Mass does not deify Beyoncé. Rev. Norton served as the preacher at General Assembly on Sunday, July 30. The worship service included songs by Tina Turner, U2, and Beyoncé among others but it was not a Beyoncé Mass. Music was chosen by the GA music director not by Rev. Norton or the GATE’s ministry team. Every song, every musical genre, and generational imprint was prayerfully chosen and claimed as sacred. Rev. Norton’s compelling preaching on Genesis 11:1-9 at General Assembly was a blessing.
Service in the Exhibit Hall
|Day two of the 2023 General Assembly saw the expansion of the community being built at the gathering. While many attendees joined local congregations in worship, other attendees participated in the Service Service, hosted by the Local Missions team (a part of the Local Arrangements committee of the Region of Kentucky) in collaboration with Week of Compassion and Help Build Hope. Hosted in the Exhibit Hall of the Kentucky International Convention Center, over 70 Disciples of all ages began the Service Service with prayer and liturgy. Leah Eubanks of First Christian Church, Paducah, Kentucky, offered the message and communion meditation for attendees of the build.
Attendees then transitioned to building the frame of a home that will be transported after the General Assembly to western Kentucky, where a family impacted by the 2021 tornado will receive housing upon completion. Associate Director of Domestic Disaster Response of Week of Compassion, Rev. Caroline Hamilton-Arnold said of the build, “with such a significant need across Kentucky, a state with such strong Disciples presence, Week of Compassion was excited to provide a hands-on experience to connect assembly attendees to the ongoing work of recovery. We were encouraged to see the breadth of the church involved, across a diversity of age, ability, experience, and background.”
Week of Compassion is the relief, refugee and sustainable development mission fund of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Highlights from Monday, July 31
|The third day of the assembly brought a second day of workshops to enrich attendees at the 2023 General Assembly. Offered were workshops creating sustainable community impact, exploring faithful ways to use and re-purpose building space and creating financial wellness.
In her workshop on Partnering with Your Neighbors, National Benevolent Association partner and co-executive director Allison Lanza shared “We have to realize we are not the smartest person in the room. We don’t know the answers or solutions as well as the person going through it. That is what Be The Neighbor is all about.”
One of the highlights of the Exhibit hall experience was the Arts Engagement experience Within Us, Among Us. The five resident artists created interactive art exhibits for attendees to experience. Attendees can participate in an Artist’s Speak Out on Tuesday, August 1 at 11am in the Exhibit Hall.
Another feature of the Exhibit Hall experience can be found at the National Benevolent Association’s booth. NBA’s commitment to mental health, as the church’s health and social services ministry, includes welcoming attendees to their booth to engage in the Bold Visions Coloring Wall as well as presenting workshops on BIPOC mental health and Lament of Life Unlived.
The third night of worship welcomed the Rev. Dr. David Anderson Hooker to the stage to preach. Rev. Dr. Hooker was joined on stage by Rev. Joan Bell Haynes, Diane Watkins, Rev. Dr. Jay Hartley, Paul Tche, Rev. Sarah Zuniga, as story tellers during the sermon. “There is a dominate narrative of despair but if we tell what we see there are clear signs of an emerging and not yet realm of God,” Rev. Dr. Hooker shared with the worshiping body in reflecting on the power of narrative to shape our shared future.
Highlights from Tuesday, August 1
|The General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) convened in Louisville, Kentucky, from July 29 to August 1, 2023, and proudly announces the re-election of Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens to a second term as General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. She is the first African American and second woman to lead the denomination – and the first African American woman to lead a mainline Christian denomination.
The Administrative Committee of the General Board, following the procedures and requirements outlined in The Design for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Standing Rules of the General Board, officially nominated Rev. Teresa Hord Owens for re-election. Subsequently, the General Board voted to forward her name for consideration.
On Tuesday, August 1, Owens was installed and charged with continuing her ministry of visionary love, spiritual leadership, prophetic imagination, and ecumenical service. In her sermon during closing worship, she invited the General Assembly to “imagine new ways of being church and to stay at the table no matter what we face. Our commitment to staying at the table is grounded in our covenant relationship with God and with one another.”
Rev. Owens is regarded in the ecumenical world as “head of communion” and as the chief representative of the church in national and world ecumenical councils. In keeping with the Disciples’ historic commitment to Christian unity, she serves in leadership at the National Council of Churches as the Treasurer of the Governing Board and as a member of the World Council of Churches Central Committee. Her ecumenical and interfaith collaborations also include the Faith Table, an interfaith social justice coalition.
Prior to being elected to serve as General Minister and President in 2017 she served as the dean of students for 12 years at the University of Chicago Divinity School, pastor of First Christian Church of Downers Grove in Illinois, and more than 20 years in corporate America leading diverse teams in data management.
Rev. Teresa Hord Owens’ re-election to the esteemed position of General Minister and President is a testament to her unwavering dedication and exemplary leadership in serving the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) community. Throughout her initial term, she has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the denomination’s values, biblical literacy and spiritual formation, building an infrastructure for ministry and congregational data, and fostering engagement and inclusion within the Church. Her visionary approach to ministry has inspired many, and she continues to be a beacon of hope for those seeking a more just and inclusive Church community.
Her exhortation to the church is “Let’s be the church we say we are. It is in being who we say we are that we actively bear witness to God’s limitless love for all.” In addition to collaborative service with the ministries that comprise Disciples Justice Ministries, she has been active in leadership in the Poor People’s Campaign.
We look forward to witnessing the positive impact of her continued leadership and the transformative work she will spearhead during her second term in office.
Over 3,000 people gathered in person at the Kentucky Convention Center to attend dinner and lunch events, workshops, business sessions, after-sessions, and worship services last week at General Assembly 2023. We have received a number of reports of positive COVID tests from persons that attended General Assembly. If you were impacted, we pray that your case is mild and your recovery swift.
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