Sunday, October 2, 2016

World Communion Sunday

 I am reminded – on this World Communion Sunday – of Thomas Campbell.
Thomas Campbell was a minister who migrated from Scotland to America in 1807. He settled in western Pennsylvania, and continued to serve as a minister.
There, Thomas Campbell got upset at how the church was divided. Churches fenced off the communion table to all but those in their own branch or division. But Thomas Campbell believed that communion should be for everyone.
Two years later, Thomas Campbell wrote a document titled “The Declaration and Address.” In that document, he wrote:
That the Church of Christ upon earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one; consisting of all those in every place that profess their faith in Christ…
In other words, it wasn’t right to deny people communion because they belonged to a different church, because really, they were all part of ONE church.
Thomas Campbell’s son, Alexander Campbell, was also a minister. A few years after Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address, both Thomas and Alexander left their denomination. They decided that denominational divisions did not belong, and they started a movement that they hoped would not be part of any denomination, but simply “Christian.”
That is the beginning of the movement that became our church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Although we are today recognized as a denomination ourselves, we still maintain an emphasis on Christian unity, and we work together with other Christian denominations and organizations.
And whenever we celebrate communion, everyone is always invited to participate. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you are on your faith journey. You are welcome.
We still agree with those words of Thomas Campbell, spoken over 200 years ago, that Christ’s church is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one, that this one church consists of all those in every place, every house of worship around the world, who seek to follow Jesus in their lives.
Today, the world is divided in so many ways, yet we continue to follow Christ’s call to remove the fences that divide and work on building bridges that unite… One way we are doing that is through our region’s Youth Immersion Ministry…

[what follows is a presentation by Tristan Bradfield on his experience with YIM]

 Hi, I’m Tristan, and for the past year and a half I have participated in the Disciples of Christ Pacific Southwest Region’s Youth Immersion Ministry. Since our group name is so long, we started to call ourselves YIM.
YIM is supported financially by the Oreon E. Scott Foundation and the Pacific Southwest Region’s Anti-Racism / Pro-reconciliation committee. And so, for all of you who have donated to regional church offerings, including the annual Reconciliation offering: THANK YOU.
Our Regional Church has always worked to include diversity in the ministries it provides. However, the Youth Immersion Ministry is specifically designed to create a team of youth that come from our NAPAD churches (that stands for North American Pacific Asian Disciples), from Hispanic Ministries, from the African American Convocation, and from Anglo/European Churches.
Our mission is to do meaningful ministry in multi-cultural contexts in a way that promotes reconciliation for all people and ends racism. We do this by engaging in important conversations about racism, reaching out to others in the name of Jesus, and intentionally crossing cultural barriers to learn more about the gifts of a culture other than our own.
At General Assembly 2015 in Columbus, Ohio, YIM attended the African American Convocation Heritage Dinner and worshiped with the Hispanic Ministries. We also helped out – I was a microphone monitor during several of the business sessions, while other YIM youth helped lead worship.
This summer, 2016, we flew to Puerto Rico to be with our Latino brothers and sisters together at summer camp. Next summer, we plan to go to South Korea. These experiences require us to step out of our comfort zones, to show that we value what others are doing in the name of Jesus Christ, even if it is unfamiliar and uncomfortable to us. These activities teach us how important it is to work together for the sake of others because if one of us is being mistreated, then we are all being mistreated in some way.
In Puerto Rico, we had the opportunity to worship with two Disciples congregations – in different areas and with different worship styles.
 One of the churches had a special Sunday morning service in conjunction with their Vacation Bible School program. Here you can see the sanctuary decorated for VBS. [pause]
When most people think of Puerto Rico, they might think of the beautiful tourist location San Juan.
We had the opportunity to visit there as well.
But when I think of Puerto Rico, I remember the amazing experience I had at Camp Morton, located in Baranquitas.
This past July, when I traveled there with Youth Immersion Ministry, I got to experience the Puerto Rican culture, as well as learn what they believe it means to be a Disciple of Christ. What I found was, even though there was a huge language barrier, I felt closer to God than I have ever felt before through the amazing energy that the campers brought not only to worship, but to everyday activites. I had many firsts, such as trying new foods like mofongo…
  On the left, you see the Puerto Rican specialty, mofongo.  On the right, little tiny fries on burgers and anything else is very common.
I also got to try new activities, and I really felt that I experienced the culture in a way that no tourist would be able to.
The days I spent in Puerto Rico brought me closer to those on YIM, as well as giving me an experience I don't think I will ever forget.
My YIM experience continues. Friday night and all day yesterday, we had a lock-in at First Christian Orange, where we viewed the film “Dear White People,” and continued our discussions of culture and race. These conversations are not always easy, but being part of the church and a part of YIM has taught me that they are extremely important. It is how we will overcome the barriers that divide us and separate us. It is how we take part in the difficult work of reconciliation that can make us the ONE CHURCH that Christ calls us to be.

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