From the Worldwide Faith News archives

New leadership signals shift in Disciples

From "Disciples Off. of Communication"<>
Date 26 Apr 1999 13:52:51

ecumenical work
Date: April 26, 1999
Disciples News Service
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Contact: Clifford L. Willis
on the Web:


	INDIANAPOLIS (DNS) -- The April 14 installation 
of the Rev. Robert K. Welsh as president of the 
Council on Christian Unity signals a shift of 
emphasis in the ecumenical work of the Christian 
Church (Disciples of Christ).

	That shift involves helping congregations 
"reclaim our ecumenical vocation as Disciples." 
Driving that message home was the installation 
service held in Welsh's home congregation, 
Allisonville Christian Church (Disciples of 
Christ), Indianapolis. Preaching during the 
service was the Rev. Michael Mooty, pastor of 
Central Church, Lexington, Ky., and moderator of 
the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

	Disciples lay and clergy leaders from across the 
U.S., and several ecumenical participants, were 
on hand to witness the change of ecumenical 
leadership for Disciples. Welsh succeeds the Rev. 
Paul A. Crow, Jr., who retired in December after 
25 years as CCU president.

	Besides helping Disciples congregations reclaim 
unity as a central focus in their witness and 
ministry, Welsh's first three months in office 
have been filled with strengthening numerous 
ecumenical involvements and networks. These 
include a partnership with the United Church of 
Christ, a proposed new relationship through the 
Consultation on Church Union, and the Disciples 
of Christ/Roman Catholic dialogue. In addition, 
he has represented Disciples in major gatherings 
of the National and World councils of churches.

	"The ecumenical movement over the past 50 years 
has become more institutionalized as 
denominations have focused upon maintaining 
structures instead of something dynamically 
engaging all of us," said Welsh in a report to 
the CCU board of directors.  

	There is, however, hope on the horizon as the 
nine U.S. denominations in COCU move toward a new 
relationship culminating in "Churches Uniting in 
Christ." A liturgical ceremony that would declare 
the new relationship among the churches 
tentatively is planned for January 2002. Those 
communions include the UCC and the African 
Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist 
Episcopal Zion Church, Christian Methodist 
Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church, the 
International Council of Community Churches, the 
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the United 
Methodist Church.

	The proposal is a major result of the 18th 
plenary of the Consultation on Church Union, Jan. 
20 - 24, in St. Louis. The plenary also named 
racial justice a "primary hallmark" of the new 
relationship and announced a shared mission for 
combating racism.

	Heads of the participating COCU churches have 
been asked to draft a public statement against 
racism; develop educational programming and 
resources aimed at eliminating racism; and to 
claim the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday as an 
occasion to work for racial justice and Christian 

	CCU directors affirmed those broad commitments, 
and specifically asked Welsh to encourage 
Disciples leaders to join the shared 
denominational efforts to combat racism. These 
efforts would dovetail a current anti-racism, 
pro-reconciliation initiative underway in the 
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  

	The board also addressed several internal issues 
within the life of CCU which would create closer 
partnerships with regions and other general 
units. This includes a decision to move the 
investment management of its permanent funds to 
the Christian Church Foundation. 

	-- end --

{Editor's note: A photo from the Rev. Robert K. 
Welsh's installation service is enclosed.}

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