by Melissa Guthrie Loy–
Sitting next to our former minister Lee Hull Moses, I applauded the speakers who shared their stories of belonging (you should listen in). With deep vulnerability, individuals shared how they found affirmation of their whole selves in their congregations, especially at Galileo Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Galileo pastor Katie Hays wrote GA-1929, “An Invitation to Education for Welcoming and Receiving the Gifts of Transgender and Gender-Diverse People.”
There’s something to say about the fact that it had to be said that all are welcome, but I was especially proud to be a Disciple when our denomination overwhelmingly approved GA-1929. And GA-1934, “Declaring that Impartially Providing for the Basic Human Needs of Others is a Virtue Consistent with Disciples Tradition.” These commitments affirm that our identity as Disciples honors the God-given identity in each person.
Each person at the General Assembly offered me a taste of the holy:
My 17-month old, Josie, joyfully began to play with toys in the nursery of the coffee shop church service with Downtown Disciples. The nursery was a creative space set up on the side of the coffee shop. Here I met Paul, an interim minister with an adult son on the autism spectrum. We shared stories about parenting a child with special needs. I was able to tell Paul about the work of Salvage Garden and our sensory worship service. Among thousands of people, I ran into Paul a second time; he shared about that day’s breakfast at Burger King and a poster’s advertisement about French fries that will likely be his Easter sermon.
I hugged and shook hands with colleagues from across the country. I met their spouses and children. Folks greeted me with kindness and compassion and almost always also with disappointment when they learned Josie wasn’t with me at the convention center. My 17-month old is already rooted in and connected with Disciples all across the country!
I slid into one of the few remaining chairs at a workshop, “Transgender 101: The T in LGBT.” The Disciples AllianceQ moderator Robin Knauerhase facilitated an easy-to-understand conversation, one that was fun and funny, too. Among thousands of people, the woman in the chair next to mine was from my hometown in Iowa. She tailored my sister-in-law’s wedding dress years ago and retired from the veterans’ care facility at which my mother works. Susan must be in her 80s. She shared that her grandson is transgender and she wanted to learn more. “Oh, I just love him so much,” she said. “And God loves him.”
My spouse and I claimed two seats at a dinner table at the Disciples AllianceQ Banquet. While Josie wasn’t with us for this dinner, other tables included children of all ages. First Christian Church Greensboro was among the 30+ congregations honored for becoming Open and Affirming. The Alliance celebrated 40 years of ministry and I couldn’t help but think about the life and growth of not only this organization but our entire church in the last 40 years. Forty years from now, what will we celebrate at our General Assembly?
It’s exciting to imagine how big, how expansive, the table will be when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper and see in all its beauty and diversity the gift of God present in one another as we break bread together. During the Assembly I broke bread many ways with many different groups and different people. From communion to crab Rangoon pizza (that’s a thing!) to drinks to finger foods to dinner. I tasted justice. I was (re)inspired to serve. I listened to sacred stories. All this, all holy, through relationship and community. It is good to be the church.
Thank you for the financial gifts that helped make travel to the 2019 General Assembly possible.
Here are a few photos from the assembly: