Tuesday, June 07, 2005
Good Morning Readers,
A Final Thought --
Your roving reporter is home, a safe and uneventful trip; the best kind. But on the way home I had the chance to consider a point or two I'd like to share.
As I mentioned earlier, during the whole conference this reporter sensed a mood of Hopefulness, Jubilation, Joy, Anticipation. The singing seemed more robust than at some other times. The mood of the sermons, and talks, and Disciples Generous Response (offertory) remarks, and the prayers were powerful, upbeat, visionary. Looking beyond...........
There was a sense of new beginning -- a new start. Talking with Apostle Linda Booth just as I was leaving yesterday she said, "Bob, I'm excited about the future possibilities. We are in a good place."
So my question to us all is this - How do we, who were part of the conference experience, translate what we felt into a language and action in our home congregations that makes a difference? And how do we, in our local congregations, make the dreams and vision of Community of Christ leadership real and alive in our smaller, local communities?
A thought I've read often is, "Don't tell God how big your problem is, Tell your problem how big your God is."
So is your God big enough to tell someone about? Is your God powerful enough to tell you ailing friend about? Is God's compassion big enough to tell your hurting neighbor about? Is God's assurance big enough to tell your worried coworker about? Is God's love big enough to share with someone who is about to lose their home, or family? Is God's generosity big enough to volunteer at a local food bank, or mission? Is God's hope big enough to share with someone you know who may not see any hope for their future? Is God's peace big enough to share with someone you care about who is lost and afraid? Is God's joy big enough for you to share with someone who seems to have lost the joy of living?
Steve Veazey is the new leader, the President of the Community of Christ. We have several new members of the Council of Twelve Apostles, and an updated Bishopric. But it's not enough.
A few new leaders are not enough to change the world and build Community - Zion, in the places where you and I live. We need to join the mission. We need to see the vision. We need to answer "YES" to the call! Can we? Will we?
During conference, I pledged a hearty YES to go back and make a difference at home. It's an easy promise in the midst of hundreds of others, all riding on the spiritual wave of promise and optimism we felt. But the question remains, can I keep my promise here, at home, in my local congregation and community? And can I be infectious with my desires so that others will want to come along. Can I help my congregation become healthy, in all three areas of congregational life; 1) internal activities like worship, pastoral care, education, 2) external activities like peace and justice ministries and community service, and 3) inviting and witnessing activities? Will we risk being relevant to those we are called to minister and witness to?
Will we join together, as never before, to answer YES to the call? Will we live the mission to create community? Will we invite others, as Andrew did in the New Testament, to "come and see?" And will there be anything so see if they do come?
We worship a big and powerful God. We worship and awesome God. Let's go show and tell someone about our God!!
Until SPEC, Thanks for reading,
your roving reporter
If you have enjoyed Bob's conference reports, you can write and thank him at: SeventyBob@aol.com
Conference photo albums are here.
Monday, June 06, 2005
So much happened today it's hard to know what to write about, and what to leave out. The day started early with Quorum caucus, and mass meetings starting at 7:30. We all needed to consider and vote on all the changes to Leadership Steve Veazey had proposed. In the reports from each of these groups the votes were unanimous, or at least without dissent. Then the conference voted as a whole on the letter of counsel. It passed. The one concern and disappointment seemed to be that all those chosen to fill the councils were "white Americans".
Having carried the vote on the letter of counsel, ordinations were already planned to make sure the church was organized and prepared to do the business of the church. Ken Robinson will remain in the Presidency. Leaving his role as Apostle and Joining Ken and Steve is Dave Schaal, called as a counselor and member of the First Presidency.
Ken McLaughlin and Gail Mengel were released from the Council of Twelve Apostles to be free to fulfill other roles as assistants to the First Presidency.
Filling the now four vacancies in the Council of Twelve Apostles are, Stassi Cramm, a former member of the Presiding Bishopric, Ron Harmon Jr., a former pastor, Rick Maupin, an adult convert to the church, and Susan Skoor, who will be the Apostle to the Rocky Mountain Mission Center. Jim Slaughter was set apart as President of the Council of Twelve. All these Ordinations took place and so the Presidency and Council of Twelve are filled and ready to go. Photos of all the ordinations are here.
Filling the Vacancy in the Bishopric left by Stassi Cramm, is R. Paul Davis, who was ordained a Bishop and set apart to be a member of the Bishopric.
Addressing the dates for next World Conference, March 24 - 31, 2007, and extending the proposed budget one year filled out the afternoon, and the business session was adjourned. The business part of conference is over.
After supper we participated in an awesome worship experience. The Tahitian Choir sang, and it doesn't get much better than that. Steve Veazy preached his first sermon as President of the church, and it was powerful, challenging, and convicting. It was a outstanding worship experience. I'm sure the text of Steve's sermon will be on the World Church web site very soon.
The number of attendees for this conference was significantly higher than the past few years. I think many wanted to be part of history. Overall conference was positive, upbeat, friendly, and very hopeful and forward looking.
Your reporter is excited about the possibilities and potential of becoming the community we've been called to be. Each congregation needs to decide if they are going to be healthy, and alive, and be part of the future, or just exist awaiting an untimely and slow death.
I choose life. And I pledge my gifts, talents, and resources, for God's use; for the building of the Peaceable Kingdom called Zion, and for committing myself to bringing the Love of God and the ministry of Jesus to those on the fringes; marginalized by society, seeking an encounter with the Divine. Will you come on board and be part of the team?
Thanks for reading. Don't forget to check out the photos on the Church's web site, and Jim's album site (click in the conference 2005 albums).
Saturday, June 04, 2005
The morning started out almost perfect. Cool, still, not overly humid. But very soon lightning split the sky, thunder rolled, and the sky opened up. Buckets of rain. But even that couldn't dampen the spirits of those gathered for morning worship. We started out with a somewhat modified hymn fest that was joyful and robust. Singing with thousands of others can fill the soul in a way that bad weather can't extinguish.
After worship, the document we've all already read, was officially presented by Jim Slaughter, Secretary of the Council of Twelve. The assembly was dismissed and most persons went to their respective quorum or caucus to discuss and vote on the document. In my Seventy Quorum there were many words of acceptance, anticipation, and approval. The vote was unanimous in support of Steve Veazey being set apart as the new President of the Community of Christ.
After lunch we gathered in session again. Steve shared a few words and then was escorted out of the chamber while we listened to the report of each quorum, caucus, and mass meeting. Each one was a glowing endorsement for acceptance of the document and Steve as President. After all the reports were entered into the record the floor was opened to discussion and debate. Only one person spoke; I think most felt they had been heard in their respective meetings. The vote was called and there was overwhelming support to the acceptance of the document. This reporter saw only a few dissenting votes. I think there is always a few who would have another vision in mind. Several standing ovations followed and Steve was ushered back into the chamber as we sang, "We Thank The, O God, For a Prophet." It's a long standing tradition.
After Supper we gathered, very early to get a good seat, for the ordination service. It was a rich service of reading, song and prayer. There were several who actually shared in the Ordination Prayer, each representing some part of the worldwide church.
Steve shared a wonderful acceptance and charge to the church. Apparently another tradition was that several awesome art treasures representing the major areas of the church, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Islands of the Sea, Europe, North America, and South and Central America and the Caribbean. These will become a permanent part of the worshipers path in the Temple.
You can view some of these art treasures (and other conference pictures) at ImageEvent.com/JimDoty.
Tomorrow we will consider and vote on changes to the Leadership Council of the Church including changes to the Apostolic Quorum and the Bishopric. Tomorrow I will detail those changes.
It was an historic and powerful day; a blessing to be a part of and this reporter was especially grateful to be there. May God keep us to fulfill the mission we started over 170 years ago, and through many, many changes in leadership. As Grant McMurray shared in 2004 from Section 161 of the Doctrine and Covenants, "The path will not always be easy, the choices will not always be clear, but the cause is sure, and the Spirit will bear witness to the truth....." God Bless until next time.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Hello Faithful Readers,
I don't know if you're like me, but I know I am. I usually start a car journey with a full tank of gas and a clean car, or at least a clean windshield. So the first bug splat is very noticable; in fact the first few are. But after a while I hardly seem to notice the spotted and dirty windshield. Until I stop for gas, and clean the windshield. Upon re-entering the car I'm amazed at how dirty it was by contrast. My spiritual journey is similar. When it started out I seemed all new and shiney. Every bug splat was very noticeable. But after a while I seemed less disturbed by the splats. Until I have a cleansing experience, which helps me see in contrast what I can be. God is in the business of cleaning off the bug splats and giving me a new and fresh start. Conference is one of those renewing experiences with God and God's people. I love seeing more clearly again.
Day one of the 2005 Special World Conference is in the books. It was, as expected, a day of greetings, renewed friendships, and caching up. The rich colors and diversity of flowers is mirrored by the rich colors and diversity of the people here. God is indeed an extravagant God.
Conference attendees were again reminded of the many countries of the world where the Community of Christ either has an established church, or at least a presence. In the past the flag of each nation has been carried into the Auditorium Chamber by a person from that country, if possible, in cultural attire. This year all the flags were coiled on the rail of the balcony, and unfurled as the name of the country was read. It was still an impressive reminder of the presence of the Community of Christ in the world.
We sang, accompanied by a wonderful brass ensemble complete with tympanys, a bass drum, and cymbals. It was awesome. We were addressed by the Mayor of Independence, and also by congressman Cleaver, who received an honorary PhD from Graceland University.
Tonight was mostly getting the Conference "in order" and preparing to do the business of the special conference, which is pretty much sustaining Steve Veazy and the other newly appointed leadership in the Presidency, the Quorum of Twelve, and the Bishopric.
There is mixed emotion at this conference. Many people feel somehow saddened by the absence of Grant McMurray in the Presider's chair. An emotional video highlighted much of the growth in the last eight years of Grant's Leadership. At the same time there is a definite aire of excitement and anticipation looking forward to Steve Veazy's and the new Council of Twelve's leadership.
Tomorrow, and the remainder of the conference, promise to be a time of support, affirmation, and commitment to follow Jesus into the world. As each one offers their unique gift to the fulfillling of our mission, we complete the picture of Jesus ministering unto all.
May God help us all see clearly our part in the mission to promote Christlike communities in all the places we work, play, and live. And may God give us all a renewed sense of our worth in the process.
Have a Blessed day!
Conference photo albums are being posted here