From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Disciples General Minister Announces Early End to Term

From "Wilma Shufitt" <>
Date Wed, 26 Feb 2003 15:09:53 -0500

Date: Feburary 26, 2003
Disciples News Service
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Contact: Melinda Mains
Phone: 317-713-2496
on the Web:

INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 26, 2003 -- With two years remaining in a 12-year
cycle of leadership, the General Minister and President of the Christian
Church (Disciples of Christ) announced he will step down, after the Oct.
17-21 General Assembly in Charlotte, N.C.  Citing a decade of
"remarkable change" that requires the church to "take a fundamentally
new look at how we mobilize for our mission," the Rev. Richard L. Hamm
announced his resignation to Disciples leaders today.

Moderator Alvin O. Jackson, pastor of National City Christian Church in
Washington, D.C., was on hand for the announcement. He called Disciples
to a time of prayer through the season of Lent (March 5 through April
20).  Jackson also announced the appointment of an advisory group of
Disciples general moderators, which is to meet in mid-March. The group
"will advise me as I call a transition team to help develop plans for
how we will address the organizational issues raised by Dick's
resignation and the church's need for transition," Jackson told

Hamm said he has not considered or accepted a new call to ministry, nor
was he pressured to leave the office. He said he simply saw a need for
the denomination's transition and did not believe he had time in two
years to accomplish that task himself. Waiting until his term ended, he
said, didn't seem appropriate to his call to ministry.

"When this news sinks in," Jackson told Disciples, "I hope you will
come to see Dick's resignation as I have come to see it -- as an
opportunity for us to explore as a church how we might better mobilize
ourselves for our shared mission."  

Jackson praised Hamm's leadership over the last decade.  "God called
Dick to this ministry at a critical time in the life and work of the
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)," Jackson said. "His judicious
and compassionate ministry served to heal divisions, renew bonds of
trust and forge new relationships befitting a faith community that
claims to be one in the Spirit of God. Dick's steady, pastoral presence
and gentle prodding moved this body of believers toward truly listening
to each other and to God -- and once able to listen, toward a shared
vision for the future into which God calls us."

Elected in 1993, Hamm led Disciples to replace rancorous debates on the
floor of their biennial General Assembly with a discernment process of
deliberation. Later, he helped the church cast the "2020 Vision" for a
shared future. The latter led to the launch of more than 100 new
congregations in two years -- up from a previous average of five
churches started per year. Further, the church has focused on
strengthening existing congregations for mission and on developing
leadership potential among members. Woven into the 2020 Vision is an
anti-racism/pro-reconciliation initiative that seeks to dismantle racism
within the church.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), an 800,000-member
denomination, is comprised of nearly 3,800 congregations in the United
States and Canada.  See for more information.

-- end --

Contact:  Melinda Mains
cell 317-523-3690


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