In the midst of our day-to-day tensions and anxieties do you sometimes hear God asking, “What do you need today to embrace my call?” In the verse preceding the well-known verse of Micah 6:8, The Message version reads, “How can I stand up before God and show proper respect to the high God?” The prophet ponders on response to God, “shall I give… the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” God has created and empowered each of us with numerous gifts, passions, and experiences for how we respond to the prophet Micah’s question. But, what if we changed the question? What if in the midst of our emotions, feelings, anxieties, and even as we ponder the sins of our souls, we stopped to ask God “What do you need from me today?” What do you need from me today, God, to promote justice that heals and love that binds us together with our neighbors and all creation?
As we close out our celebration of the Season of Creation this Sunday, September 30, we also consider how we will support God's call to be a PRO-RECONCILING and ANTI-RACIST community as we collect our SPECIAL OFFERING for the work of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Reconciliation Ministries. Funds from this special offering enliven our efforts to promote healing, relationship building, and restoration in the whole family of God. Through it, the Christian Church can provide programs for leadership development, curriculum for dialogue and learning, and partnerships within the Church and our communities to continue the work of becoming pro-reconciling and anti-racist.
If your response to the question “What do you need from me today?” calls you to want to do more, please consider participating in the MID-AMERICA DISCIPLES' RACIAL JUSTICE SUMMIT hosted by Webster Groves Christian Church Saturday, October 6, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Former General Minister & President Sharon Watkins will be the keynote speaker and participants will learn more about economic justice in Missouri while connecting urban and rural power bases, and building justice networks in Mid-America. To learn more or register online, please visit this online resource, or speak with Rev. Riggs who is a member of the Mid-America ARPR Team.
A MOVEMENT FOR WHOLENESS IN A BROKEN WORLD
In October 1967, members of the Christian Church gathered in St. Louis, Missouri, at the annual International Convention of Christian Churches. At that assembly, a group of concerned members brought up the distress urban areas across the country were experiencing regarding issues of racism and poverty. Participants at the Convention felt strongly that the church should make intentional effort to address these issues happening throughout the church and nation. So, they got to work.
Almost immediately the United Christian Missionary Society through the Urban Emergency Action committee received funds to begin providing grants to social services organizations who were already serving communities in the work the church was looking to support. Organizations like the Boys and Girls Club and the YMCA received grant money to aid in their efforts dismantling societal oppression.
After a year of success and increasing interest from across the Church, General Minister and President, A. Dale Fiers, convened a steering committee to discuss and strategize how to further address the racial and social oppression that was occurring in American cities. The committee had a goal of raising $1 million over two years for programs in urban centers and rural communities.
What the church thought would be a temporary fund that would eventually lose interest became a movement. Reconciliation: The Urban Emergency Program consistently met its fundraising goals, with congregations within the denomination generously donating money, overwhelmingly supportive of a mission working within the the vain of social justice during the tumultuous civil rights era.
In 1971, the Church, now officially organized into the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), formalized its commitment and call to the work of Reconciliation as a permanent ministry within the denomination. The call to Reconciliation: The Urban Emergency Program – the Reconciliation Ministry continues its witness these 47 years later.
Today, the ministry works to break down systems of oppression that effectively marginalizes people through practices of social and economic exclusion. Reconciliation Ministry offers anti-racism and anti-oppression trainings throughout the Church to foster a denomination-wide understanding of the importance of dismantling systemic racism and poverty in their community where they serve and do mission.