Well that was interesting. Having just returned from the 2019 General Assembly, “Where As and Be it Further Resolved” is still ringing in my head. Those two phrases keep banging around in the empty spaces of my head (of which there is plenty!) and jiggling loose the old Slade Morlang statement, “So What?”
Now that I have you totally confused, if not completely disinterested, let me explain. Every two years the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ gather as a denomination in order to conduct business, reestablish contacts, make our voices heard on the national stage and generally take stock of who we are in relation to the world and God’s call to us. Considering the diverse nature of our denomination, that can get pretty interesting. In order to make sure all perspectives are considered and decorum is the norm, we abide by a set of rules. As ideas are put forth and considered they eventuate as resolutions known as, “Sense of the Assembly.” For example, GA-1926 (stands for General Assembly resolution 1926) is titled “Spirit of Active Listening” and sets forth the denominations commitment to encourage everyone to be intentional about listening to all sides of a discussion, not just those with whom you agree. Now I will get to the so what question in a bit but here are a few of the resolutions:
GA-1925 Addressing the State of Global Forced Migration
GA-1926 Spirit of Active Listening
GA-1928 A Call to See and Respond to the Crises of Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence
GA-1929 An Invitation to Education for Welcoming and Receiving the Gifts of Transgender and Gender-Diverse People
GA-1930 On Women and Just Peacemaking
There were many more General Assembly resolutions than this and on a variety of topics but we have now come back to the question I started with, the one Slade Morlang used to ask nearly every Sunday in Sunday School class, so what? What difference does it make if we pass or do not pass these resolutions? Does it make a difference to anyone? Are minds changed or laws proposed based upon what the DOC does or does not do at General Assembly? I don’t know.
To be candid with you, I am conflicted about the whole idea. I find it frustrating that we as a denomination spend so much time crafting these resolutions full of “Where As” and “Be it Resolved” knowing that before the sound of the ayes die down we will be moving on to another world shaking resolution that also won’t really change things.
Having said that, I also believe that failing to deal with difficult issues and stating a position implies agreement or at least consent. I also believe that in ways we don’t really understand, saying things out loud does change the world, so maybe making resolutions does as well. Do I agree with all the resolutions, of course not, but I do respect the “Sense of the Assembly” and I do recognize that God is at work in ways I don’t always understand.
So what? Well, two things, first I decided I would share this internal dialogue with you so you too can wrestle with it and I guess I will just keep thinking about it, but, whereas I am getting hungry, be it resolved that I am going to go eat. See Ya in church!
Oh, one more thing, here is a full resolution for you to read so you can get a, “Sense of the Assembly.”
SPIRIT OF ACTIVE LISTENING
WHEREAS, we all share a common humanity; and
WHEREAS, Romans 14 tells us “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgement seat.”; and
WHEREAS, when discussing difficult issues, all voices need to be heard; and
WHEREAS, diverse opinions challenge and broaden our own perspectives on issues that matter to us; and
WHEREAS, current disagreements over issues such as gun control, immigration, health care, and civil rights, are particularly divisive, with people not listening to one another; and
WHEREAS, even difficult discussions within the church are often one-sided and divisive; and
WHEREAS, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is “a movement for wholeness in a fragmented world” and “part of the one body of Christ” and “we welcome all to the Lord’s Table as God welcomed us” as we understand that “all” means all; and
WHEREAS, we realize the vision of this church is to be a faithful, growing church, that demonstrates true community as proclaimed in Micah 6:8; and
WHEREAS, we confess a mission of “service to all people”, rejoice in “God’s covenant of love, which binds us to God and to one another”, and recognize that “through baptism into Christ we are made one with the whole people of God” and “In the communion of the Holy Spirit we are joined together in discipleship”;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, July 20-24, 2019, call upon the many expressions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to be a safe place to have difficult conversations; and
FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that the church be called to Hear and Listen to all voices present as we respect our brothers and sisters in faith, free of judgement and preconceived ‘notions, recognizing and accepting our common humanity.
(For a full list of resolutions and a recap of happenings at General Assembly, visit https://ga.disciples.org)