From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Alvin Jackson installed at National City Church

From "Curt Miller"<>
Date 09 Oct 1998 12:05:51

Date: October 9, 1998
Disciples News Service
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Contact: Curt Miller
on the Web:


	WASHINGTON, D.C. (DNS) -- National City Christian Church here was 
filled to capacity as the Rev. Alvin O'Neal Jackson was installed 
Oct. 4 as senior pastor of a historic church sometimes referred to as 
the Disciples' "national cathedral."  
	More than two dozen members of Mississippi Boulevard Christian 
Church honored their former pastor at the installation attended by 
more than 900 persons. During Jackson's 17-year ministry at the 
Memphis, Tenn., congregation, membership swelled from 340 to more 
than 8,000, making it the largest congregation in the Christian 
Church (Disciples of Christ). 

	Jackson preached his first sermon at National City Church Palm 
Sunday. Among the early visions Jackson shared with his new 
congregation was growth in membership — tripling or quadrupling the 
size of the present 462-member congregation within five years. 

	But the new pastor elevates a mission that goes far beyond filling 
pews with warm bodies. "I see a diverse, multi-cultural congregation 
of white, black, brown, primarily middle class, but also rich and 
poor people of God. A national church with an international flavor. A 
denominational church with an inter-denominational spirit. An inner 
city church with a suburban appeal,"  he wrote to his new 

	"Alvin Jackson is the right man at the right place at the right 
time," said the Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, general secretary of the 
National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, at a 
pre-installation banquet. Jackson, she said, is called to serve in a 
church "in a city with tremendous challenges — to bear witness to a 
nation that needs models of inclusiveness." 

	Hundreds of persons from Disciples congregations, regions, general 
ministries and Disciples institutions of higher education filled the 
sanctuary. The Rev. Chris Hobgood, Capital Area regional minister, 
pointed out there are 26 Disciples congregations in and around 
Washington, D.C. "National City Christian Church is not the only 
Disciples witness in the nation's capital," he said. But "this should 
be the flagship church of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)— 
through example, through being a teaching church, as a prophetic 
national pulpit, as a model of inclusive ministry. …The opportunity 
for National City is unparalleled. It stands at a remarkable moment 
of potential for our larger church, not only in this region but 
across the nation and world," Hobgood said. 

	National City Christian Church is unique among the nearly 3,900 
congregations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). 
Established in 1926, it is the church that Disciples forbear 
Alexander Campbell envisioned when he wrote, "We ought to have the 
largest meeting house in Washington City, and there … stand in the 
presence of kings and earth's nobility, and proclaim the gospel. …" 

	National City is supported, in part, by Basic Mission Finance, the 
"family treasury" of the denomination. The congregation's local 
affairs and programs are managed by the pastors and conventional 
church board. The National City Christian Church Corporation, a 
separate body representing the whole church, owns the property and 
manages resources for the maintenance of the historic sanctuary, its 
related buildings and property. 

	The Rev. James A. Forbes, Jr., pastor of Riverside Church, New York 
City, preached the installation sermon. "We have to do the work that 
God sent Jesus to do. Jesus' work — what is it? It's liberation. Oh, 
we know the litany: it is life, it is light, it is to seek, to see, 
to heal, to save, to relieve, to charge, to focus, to also express a 
kind of outrage at blindness that's willful, ignorance that insists 
on its way and arrogance," Forbes exhorted. 

	Forbes, referring to a new pastor's challenge to lead a congregation 
in new directions, looked about the capacious sanctuary and quipped, 
"This is a mighty ark here — and it takes a lot to turn — I mean, I'm 
talking about an ocean liner and this is an ocean liner. And it takes 
a long time to turn an ocean liner around."

	Forbes, addressing members of the National City congregation, said 
growth would rely on the talents and resources of veteran and new 
members. "If the old-timers and the newcomers can figure out the 
significance of being here is that they all were sent, then you can 
get on with the work," Forbes said. 

	Jackson's longtime friend and colleague, the Rev. T. Garrott 
Benjamin, Jr., Indianapolis, admonished all of those present that 
Jackson could not approach the future alone. "This … is a mutual 
commitment, and all of us share in that commitment. This church 
belongs to us all."  Benjamin predicted that Jackson would declare 
war on the "demons of homelessness, hopelessness, demons of violence, 
racism and greed. …"  

	Benjamin, pastor of Light of the World Christian Church, called for 
support from the whole church for his friend and former associate, 
"We should not expect any more from Alvin O'Neal Jackson than we are 
willing to do. He is fragile, he is finite, he is one person, and our 
expectations are off of the map. If it is going to work, all of us 
are going to have to share the burden and the blessing. … We are in 
covenant. Our job as a church is to pray — for him, for National City 
Church, for the city of Washington, for the National City Corporation 
— to pray that God's will will be done." 

	-- 30 -- 

{Note to editors: A photo of Rev. Jackson will be mailed.)

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