The theme for the 2019 General Assembly (GA), held in Des Moines, Iowa, July 20 – 24, was ‘Abide in Me’ from the scriptural passage of John 15:5 (NRSV)
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”
And the booth for Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF), Hope Partnership and New Church Ministry tied into this theme with a vineyard setting, wine barrel tables, and two ‘tastings’ with Rick Reisinger as sommelier (pouring non-alcoholic grape juice, of course). But probably the biggest draw to the booth, located just inside the main entrance of the exhibit hall, was the 14-foot lighted chalice that faced the room interior.
“People used it to navigate, because you could see it wherever you were in Hy-Vee Hall,” says DCEF Vice President Gilberto Collazo. “Plus, it was a great background for selfies and we encouraged people to take ‘the chalice challenge.’”
And, people did, by the hundreds, with the DCEF staff who were working the booth often serving as photographer. Whether people were stopping by the booth to speak with a Building and Capital Services Advisor, or to check DCEF’s Escape Room Leader Board, they usually managed to make it over to the chalice . . . and accept the challenge.
DCEF Awards Innovation
Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF) has recognized the innovative use of Holy Place for mission and ministry with the inaugural presentation of its new INNOVA award. The ceremony was held on the first night of the 2019 General Assembly (GA), Saturday, July 20. During the Branch and Vine Dinner that was hosted by DCEF, Hope Partnership and New Church Ministry, the stories of all five nominated congregations were told via video presentation to an audience of nearly 400.
Nominees for the 2019 INNOVA award include:
Casa View Christian Church of Dallas, Texas, which became a missional church in 2016 and now provides both church- and community-transforming resources like a Free Children’s Closet, Community Meals Mission and Free Community Events, the church’s largest mission.
Triumphant Temple of Praise Christian Church of Flint, Mich., which purchased a nearby bingo hall to serve as worship space with the help of the Michigan Region and Disciples Church Extension Fund and now uses it, and the building they outgrew, to serve the elderly and young alike.
Greenleaf Christian Church of Goldsboro, N.C., which purchased an abandoned grocery store and restaurant to serve as home base for the Christian Academy and Childcare Center, the STEM-focused Project Y.E.S.S. Academy, and Faith Estates — housing lots for first-time home-buyers.
Glendale Mission & Ministry Center, Glendale, Ariz., which, with the help of the Arizona Region and DCEF, sprouted from the campus of the former First Christian Church and is now home to a food and clothing pantry, local not-for-profits, a Head Start program, and three nesting congregations.
Iglesia Mision La Roca Christian Church of south Dallas, which, with the support of Disciples Men of the Southwest Region, raised enough money to purchase land, qualified for a construction loan, and received DCEF’s first-ever Holy Places grant and whose members now volunteer at nearby schools and with the Neighborhood Watch Association.
Following the video presentation, two award winners were announced surprising nominees and event attendees alike. Casa View Christian Church and Iglesia Mision La Roca each received the INNOVA statuette and a $3,000 cash award. In the photo on the left, Pastor Jayme Harvey accepts the INNOVA award on behalf of her church — Casa View Christian Church of Dallas, Texas. Representatives of Iglesia Mision La Roca were unable to attend the event, but are shown in the photo on the right. The other nominees received a certificate of recognition and $1,000 to aid in their ministries. View all five INNOVA nominee videos.
“DCEF’s mission is to help churches plan and finance their Holy Places,” says DCEF President Rick Reisinger. “So, we are delighted to recognize and encourage innovative use of these facilities among our ministry partners for the benefit of their communities.”
To nominate a congregation for the next INNOVA to be awarded at the 2021 General Assembly, email a brief description of its innovative use of Holy Place (100 words or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line INNOVA Nominee.
DCEF Reports to GA
DCEF’s biennial President’s Report to the General Assembly was presented this year entirely in a video featuring Rick Reisinger, President of Disciples Church Extension Fund, and Gilberto Collazo, DCEF Vice President. The information it featured included the following:
Since 1883, DCEF’s fund has grown to more than $167 million. . .
and has financed more than 13,600 church loans.
These loans total more than $956 million.
Over the last two years, DCEF Building and Capital Services Advisors have helped congregations with more than 400 face-to-face consultations
Since 2012 Hope Partnership, now a part of DCEF, has provided leadership development and congregational revisioning services to more than 1,300 churches throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Since the last GA, Hope Partnership has worked with 87 congregations.
More than 1,000 churches have already engaged in New Beginnings.
New Church Ministry (NCM) is now also a part of DCEF.
Through the 2020 Vision, NCM has recruited, assessed, trained and coached more than 1,000 new church planters.
Following the video, Rick Reisinger expressed his gratitude to the assembled attendees for their on-going support of DCEF, Hope Partnership and NCM which makes the ministries possible. View the full DCEF President’s Report.
NCM Excites the Church with a New Number
The first Business Session of this year’s General Assembly included a resolution from New Church Ministry (NCM). Around 2 pm on Saturday afternoon, July 20, Rev. Dr. Dick Hamm, former General Minister and President, was invited by Moderator Sue Morris to give a brief history of the 2020 Vision where the success of the new church movement was celebrated. He asked all in attendance who had been given a placard with the name of a church started since 2001 to hold up those cards. . . and more than a thousand did. The 2020 Vision’s focus on the formation of more than 1,000 churches by the year 2020 has already been achieved . . . and it’s only the beginning.
Following Dr. Hamm, Pastor Terrell L McTyer, Minister of New Church Strategies, spoke from the floor backed by colleagues and co-laborers in support of the RESOLUTION TO CELEBRATE THE FORMATION OF NEW CONGREGATIONS AND CONTINUE THE COLLECTIVE COMMITMENT TO MAKE DISCIPLES. As passionately submitted by Terrell, it said, in part, . . .
WHEREAS, the New Church Movement is a major contributor to the racial/ethnic diversity of the Church, as exemplified by at least 28 languages in which our congregations worship, demonstrating our commitment to affirm and advocate for our current and emerging racial/ethnic communities; and . . .
WHEREAS, New Church Ministry partners with all the expressions of the Church to train, equip, assist and multiply New Church leaders as they guide new congregations in God’s mission; and . . .
WHEREAS, it is through this cooperative spirit of support and prayer, and through the mighty courage and commitment of New Church leaders and their families, that the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) lives into the mandate of the Great Commission.
FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that the formation of new congregations and faith communities continue to be a priority of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada beyond the year 2020 as we answer God’s call to make disciples of Jesus Christ.
Pastor McTyer then proposed a new goal for the New Church Movement and New Church Ministry to share: the making of 1,000,000 new Disciples by the year 2030. The crowd applauded the suggestion.
“Some may say that that’s an awfully big number! An audacious number, even,” Terrell notes. “But I only pray that one million is courageous enough to be worthy of a movement for wholeness in this fragmented world.”
At this year’s GA, the people of Disciples Church Extension Fund, including those focused on Hope Partnership Services and New Church Ministry, were involved in presenting a total of eleven workshops, in addition to the pre-assembly 2019 SHINE event. An estimated 950 General Assembly attendees availed themselves of these learning opportunities which ranged on topics as varied as the process of church transformation, using storytelling to inspire engagement and generosity, faith-based investing, current building and location challenges facing Disciples churches, and how to keep church finances in order without compromising ministry.
“The workshops are always my favorite part of the Assembly,” says Rick Morse, DCEF and Hope Partnership Vice President. “You know the people are there because they’re interested in the subject of the workshop. And, it really shows in the attention they pay, the questions they ask, and the support they show each other. And,” he adds, “I’ve had a lot of lasting relationships begin in one of my workshops. I find that very gratifying.”
At this year’s GA, Rick ran two workshops – one that explored biblical models of church transformation, and one centered on asking the right questions to change a church’s focus – and participated in the pre-assembly SHINE event. After 44 years of ministry, including 18 years with DCEF and Hope Partnership, he retired at the end of July for a little rest and relaxation.