In April the Elders of the First Christian Church in Edmond, Oklahoma invited the Elders of Hillside Christian Church to enter a conversation about changing the way the Disciples of Christ “vote” on resolutions. The primus for this dialog was that every time the church deals with a controversial topic in ends with a vote and several congregations leave the denomination. The quest was to find a better way.
I have to compliment our Elders on their insightfulness and logic at addressing an important topic. Here is our Elders’ response:
July 25, 2014
Resolutions Task Force
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
201 East Second Street
Edmond, Oklahoma 73034
Dear Elders of First Christian:
After receiving your “Sense of the Assembly” letter and the accompanying information, Hillside Christian Church distributed the information to our eighteen Elders for thought, prayer and discussion. As a body, we recently met to discuss the issue and formulate a response. As a result of our discussion, we feel it’s apparent that the General Assembly Resolutions process can be divisive and that other solutions should be considered.
Many of these divisive issues have been around for the life of the Disciples of Christ. To think that we can solve them in the blink of an eye with an up or down vote is more than presumptuous. While denominational judicatories do not like using the word “autonomous,” because we all have to be accountable to each other, we are still sovereign self-governing bodies with our own individual identities. It is good to come together in covenant as a manifestation on regional and national levels to have conversations about our faith journey. However, since it is difficult to adequately represent the full character of each local congregation on a national level, it behooves us to find an avenue that helps each local congregation find its comfort level of faith and not be isolated from the greater body we call the Church. In the end, every congregation needs to resolve these issues in their own time and way with all the information available.
As a result, we feel that issues leading to a faith based response (a denominational stance), ethics, morals, theology, etc. are best left up to the individual congregation for resolution or action. Each individual,
not in a vacuum but as a member of a local congregation, should prayerfully address and work out their response to issues as they arise. Further, each congregation should build upon these individual decisions coming to a congregational position, if the local congregation so chooses.
It is our consensus that the General/Regional Assembly would be better served by not taking a formal position or vote on issues of this nature. Rather, they should develop procedures for addressing individual, faith based, divisive issues at assemblies. All relevant information concerning a given subject might then be disseminated to local congregations for their consideration.
Actions along these lines would serve to disarm unwarranted media hype and would allow each congregation to formulate their own opinions, responses and conclusions without perceived external mandates.
Thank you for including us in this discussion. Hillside Christian Church would support a resolution at the General Assembly that would change this voting process.
With sincere warmest regards in Christ name and for Christ’s Church,
Dr. William H. McConnell Mr. Bryce Miskell
Senior Minister Chair of the Elders