Tag: Community of Christ




Submitted by Kim Naten, GPNW Mission Center President

We’ve been home from World Conference and Independence, Missouri now for about 3 weeks, which seems like a long time. . .  but also feels like yesterday.  The experience of attending this triennial event (give or take a year when a pandemic occurs) leaves deep and memorable impressions, and for me, sometimes it takes a few minutes (or weeks) to adequately process and share that experience. 

While I’d love to give you a day-by-day (or even hour-by-hour!) summary of World Conference, I’ll resist that urge and share some highlights, observations and outcomes.  For those of you anxious to learn the outcomes of the many Resolutions we attempted to discuss, those are provided at the end of my reflections.

As I reflected on the week, I realized that it’s easy to fall into our routines in terms of our own congregational and even our mission center worships, events, and traditions.  We read the bi-monthly issue of the Herald and see stories and pictures of “Community of Christ” all over the world but for the most part, I find myself wondering sometimes, how is it we are all part of the same faith community yet experience “church” so very differently?

We talk about being a worldwide, global faith community but we rarely have the opportunity to experience that diverse community, to gather, discuss, sing and worship with members of Community of Christ from around the world – to listen to the hopes, the joys, the concerns and the deep commitment of our members in other languages, to hear voices singing joyous praise songs in Swahili, French, Spanish, German, Tahitian . . .  unless we have the good fortune to attend a World Conference.

My experience at Conference opened my eyes in a new way – perhaps because this is the first Conference I’ve attended as a world church employee, so I know a little more of the behind-the-scenes happenings and World Church leaders than I did in previous World Conference experiences, I don’t know.  For whatever reasons, during this Conference experience, I saw who we ARE.  Who we truly are in this world.  I saw it in countless ways – worship, legislative meetings, listening to perspectives from life experiences far different than my own . . . and I witnessed a deep and abiding commitment to bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the world.  Not, as we tend to think here in western culture, of US bringing the gospel to “THEM” – but of each of us being recipients of that Good News from many sources, cultures, and peoples: new songs, different languages, different expressions of praise than what we might be accustomed to, etc.  The blessing of listening to a prayer in French or Spanish or Tahitian, knowing that while I may not understand what is being said, God hears it – and that can be enough.  I can pray right along with the Pray-er without understanding the words, but listening with my heart.

One observation made early in (and which was consistent throughout) the week was a change in leadership styles:  Full disclosure – I have only been going to World Conference since 2013, so I don’t have a very broad frame of reference for leadership styles of the First Presidency prior to Steve Veazey’s appointment, nor that of the Council of Twelve prior to 2013.  AND I missed the 2019 Conference, so really, I fully admit that my depth of experience here is fairly shallow.  However, I’ve heard about World Conferences for decades from friends and relatives, so I’ve developed an understanding or image of what it has likely looked like for many years.  What stood out to me THIS year was a noticeable shift in “decorum” from the rostrum.  A lightheartedness, almost jovial feeling seemed to be the norm, at least at the beginning of each legislative session.  Now I’ve sensed this in the past, but this year seemed a little different.  I’ve always found President Veazey to be pretty easygoing, approachable and humorous from the rostrum.  Perhaps with the announcement of his retirement in two years, a weight has lifted from him, as he seemed more relaxed this year.  Scott Murphy and Stassi Cramm, the other 2 members of the First Presidency, also seemed more lighthearted than in previous years.  I’m sure this could stem from a number of reasons in both their personal and professional lives, but I will say – it was refreshing.  There was a JOYFULNESS emanating from the rostrum into the gathered body, and it was contagious.  By the end of the week, I truly felt as if our interactions as a faith community and as fellow disciples were just as important, if not more so, than the legislative procedures and debates in which we participated. 

A significant change in tradition occurred during the Communion Service.  While the serving of the emblems was a totally new experience (emblems prepared in advanced and packaged in little paper bags, with notes of blessing from around the world included inside, served from baskets by servers) in many ways, what was a significant change from “tradition” occurred from the rostrum . . .or rather, without the rostrum.  Members of the Leadership Council – the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric, the Council of Twelve and the Presidents of Seventy – were positioned throughout the Auditorium, and once the Communion servers had served the body, the members of the Leadership Council served the servers.  They did not sit on the rostrum to be served as in the past, but instead modeled SERVANT LEADERSHIP by serving others.  We have not frequently seen this principle acted out so visually.  It was a profound moment for me as I watched, and was served by, people who have sacrificially accepted the call to serve and to lead Community of Christ into the future, modeling Jesus Christ in a significant, symbolic and humble act of service. 

Along the same lines, I had a couple of opportunities to participate in the legislative process, either by moving and speaking to a resolution, or, more significantly, by questioning and even challenging the Chair to better understand the decisions made during that process.  In each of these instances, I felt valued and heard, and even validated when the Chair acted on one of our concerns the following morning.  I’m not sure how many people in other denominations and religions can say that they have questioned or challenged their church leaders and have had the same experience I did. 

World Conference is a busy, busy week, to be sure: Legislative sessions, meetings of priesthood and disciple quorums, caucuses, and orders, shared meals, “lunch and learn” sessions, and of course, worship experiences fill each day.  Our experiences and memories of these events come down to one thing, for me at least:  RELATIONSHIPS!  New relationships are discovered and forged; old friendships are renewed and strengthened; friends we’ve “met” on social media are suddenly standing before us in 3D!  Each moment of my World Conference experience is remembered and cherished because of the relationships surrounding them.  Whether I was serving Communion with one dear friend whom I’d not seen in several years and one new friend I’d only recently met on Facebook, or watching two beloved colleagues and friends move into new ministerial roles (one of which includes being my new supervisor), or sharing the joy and excitement of several of our delegates experiencing World Conference for the first time, I was profoundly moved, grateful and blessed by the opportunity to observe and participate in this experience.  Relationships are at the core of who we are as Community of Christ.  Our relationships with one another are rooted in, and a reflection of, our relationship with Jesus Christ, with God, and with the Holy Spirit. If we are to healthy, whole and loving relationships with the Divine, we must nurture our relationships with one another.

Our next World Conference will be in TWO SHORT YEARS! (After which, we’ll be back on our triennial schedule.)  2025 will be here before we know it, so I encourage you to begin your planning NOW!  Start saving vacation time and money so that you can experience this amazing, often life-changing event.  Be a voice in the direction Community of Christ will go in the future!  Be there to witness the setting apart of our next President and Prophet of the Church!  I look forward to seeing YOU in Independence in June of 2025!

Here is the link for the summary of official Community of Christ summary of legislative items. 

Click on this link for more updates and summaries from World Conference.

“Coming Out” Monologues: Listen to the Sacred Stories of the LGBTQIA+ Community

“Coming Out” Monologues: Listen to the Sacred Stories of the LGBTQIA+ Community

Submitted by Sean Langdon, Rocky Mountain Mission Center President

A few years ago, my friend Dylan and I attended an event called the “Coming Out” Monologues in Portland, OR. It was an evening of celebration, vulnerability, and courage. Six individuals shared deeply and authentically their Coming Out stories with those gathered. There were tears, there was laughter, and there was a strong sense of safe space and supportive community. Various sexual orientations and gender identities were represented that night. A mother of a trans child even shared from their perspective as an ally and then the child bravely shared with the audience. As Dylan and I continued to reflect on that experience, we knew that we wanted to create a similar experience for a Community of Christ audience. So, during the Pride month that follower, we hosted Chapter 1 of the Community of Christ “Coming Out” Monologues in June 2021. We are now preparing for Chapters 6 and 7 to take place in the remainder of 2023.

We invite all to join on Zoom and listen with open hearts, ears, and minds to the sacred stories of those within the LGBTQIA+ community as well as those who journey with them. To help preserve the sacred practice of listening, the chat feature is turned off until the end of the event. In respect for the vulnerability of the stories shared, we do not record the monologues. We invite folks to join and be fully present to what is unfolding in the lives of our storytellers. These are stories from our journey, past and current, with hope shared for the journey forward.

Our next two “Coming Out” Monologues will be:

  • Friday, June 30: “The Story of Who I Am: Authentic Stories of Truth and Hope”. Help us close Pride month on a high note by listening to the stories shared during Chapter 6 of the monologues.
  • Wednesday, October 11: Join us on National Coming Out Day for Chapter 7 of the monologues.

Storytellers for both Chapters will be shared as we get closer to their respective events.

If you are in the LGBTQIA+ community and associated with Community of Christ and are interested in sharing your story during a future monologue, please contact Sean Langdon (slangdon@cofchrist.org).

These 2-hour events will begin at the following times: 6:30p PT / 7:30p Mt / 8:30p CT / 9:30P ET.

How to connect to the “Coming Out” monologues:

Join us by using the following Zoom Link:

Alternatively, to join by phone and listen in, use this number: 1-253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 851 8667 0433
Passcode: 942012

The Community of Christ “Coming Out” Monologues is co-sponsored by Beyond Horizons and Harmony. Beyond Horizons is a New Expression of Community focused on relational ministry for the LGBTQIA+ and Allies Community in the Greater Pacific Northwest USA Mission Center. Harmony is a non-profit organization that provides advocacy, education, and resources for Queer voices in Community of Christ with a shared vision of full participation.

Online RCYW Training Now Available!

Online RCYW Training Now Available!

I am happy to announce the release of our online Registered Child & Youth Worker (RCYW) Training. This will help our mission center be more efficient in processing RCYW Applications since most applicants will no longer need to wait until we can offer a training. This online training will also allow our many RCYW’s to take their refresher course every 3-5 years at a time that works with their schedule. If someone does not have access to internet, they should connect me at the contact information below so that arrangements can be made.

Here is how the process will work for those needing to take the training as a new applicant or as a refresher course:

  1. Watch the training video (80 minutes): https://youtu.be/8LlhIt_jZt0
    1. If helpful, here is a note sheet that you can use while taking the training: click here.
  2. Take the RCYW Training Quiz: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/sv/GCCYMid/rcywquiz
    1. Once you complete the training, I will contact you to confirm whether or not you received credit for the training and to review any potential incorrect answers.

For those wanting to apply to become a RCYW, please continue:

  • Complete the fillable application and turn in to your pastor. RCYW Application: click here.
    • Helpful Notes:
      • Applicant should not use references related to them or the pastor reviewing the form.
      • Applicants need to be at least 15 years of age and older and be connected with Community of Christ for at least 6 months.
        • RCYW Assistants: Age 15-20
        • Registered Child & Youth Workers: 21 and older
      • Applicant must become a RCYW within a year of taking the course. If not, they will likely need to take the training again before application can be processed.
      • The application must be processed and approved within 6 months from the time that the form is dated.

If you have any questions related to the RCYW guidelines or this process, please contact Brooke Schlenker (bschlenker@cofchrist-gpnw.org).

GPNW Reunions 2023: Register Today!

GPNW Reunions 2023: Register Today!

Registration begins April 1st, 2023.

CANCELLATION & REFUNDS Please notify Jill Brunette (jbrunette@CofChrist-GPNW.org, 425-207-8712) of your need to cancel as soon as possible. Refunds will be made as follows: • Before Registration Fee deadline: 100% • On or after Registration Fee deadline, prior to the first day of reunion: 2/3 • On or after first day of reunion: No refunds 

PART-TIME & DROP-IN WITH NO OVERNIGHT STAY ON SITE • No Overnight On-Site Stay – If you will attend reunion for any amount of time and will not stay overnight on site, RSVP directly with the Reunion Director, who will confirm your payment amount, to be paid on site. Reunion Registration is not required. Any overnight stay, for any length of time, requires registration. 


DATES: June 25-30, 2023

THEME: God, Where is your spirit Leading Next?

Enjoy the renewal of friendships and the wide range of ages joining in fun and fellowship at Lewis River Reunion! Families gather around the creek. Children and grandchildren play with glee. Teens reconnect with old friends. Adults gather for chats under a tree. The adventurous explore the waterfalls up the hill or swim in the river below. Music, laughter, learning, new opportunities for discipleship, and sharing one’s heart are all possibilities within the week’s experience.

REUNION MINISTRY: Mike Hoffman and Ashley Whitham

DIRECTOR TEAM CONTACT: Debbie Pineda, 360-747-1333, LRreunion@CofChrist-GPNW.org

EARLY BIRD PRICES: $100 per camper (age 5+)/$375 per family by May 26, 2023

REGULAR PRICES: $125 per camper (age 5+)/$450 per family by June 9, 2023

‘Family’ is up to 2 adults and 6 kids or 4 adults residing in same household. Part time prices available on registration site.


DATES: July 30 – August 5, 2023

THEME: God, Where is Your Spirit Leading Next?

Building on the extraordinary experience of Samish Reunion 2022, we ask God, “Where is your Spirit leading next?”. We are planning and preparing many fun activities for the whole camp to enjoy as we ponder and seek exciting answers to this question. Camp will bring many traditions of our Samish Island history to the forefront along with creating new opportunities to share in fellowship and reconnect in community. Worship, Recreation, Classes, Salmon BBQ, Arts & Crafts and Campfires will weave into a relaxing week that we hope everyone can attend.

As always, we need YOU to make this highly anticipated camp a success. Where do you see yourself helping out? Teaching a class? Leading Arts & Crafts or Recreational Activities? Music Ministry? Bring your talents and join us for an “EPIC 2023 SAMISH REUNION!!”

REUNION MINISTRY: Ron Harmon, Shandra Newcom and Donald Welch

DIRECTORS: Erin McClaskey, Team Lead/Contact: 206-914-4449 and Jannette Harrison, Contact: 206-355-6851 SamishFamilyReunion@CofChrist-GPNW.org


By June 30By July 14
Early Bird PriceRegular PriceStayCamper
$300$360full timeAdult (12+) – first two, each
$240$300full timeAdult (12+) – each additional
$210$240full timeYouth (ages 6-11)
$30$30full timeChild (ages 0-5)
$50$60part timeAdult (12+) – first two, each, per day
$40$50part timeAdult (!2+) – each additional, per day
$35$40part timeYouth (ages 6-11) per day
$5$5part timeChild (ages 0-5) per day


DATES: August 6-11, 2023

THEME: God, Where is your Spirit Leading Next?

Come spend a week under the Murtle trees with Richard Betts, Western Field Support Minister, at Remote reunion. Enjoy worship, engaging classes, fun, food and fellowship as we work together to build community and explore the theme “God, where is your spirit leading next?”

REUNION MINISTRY: Richard Betts and Ashley Whitham

DIRECTOR TEAM: Katie O’Keefe-Knobel Team Lead/Contact: 541-350-3258 RemoteReunion@CofChrist-GPNW.org


By July 7By July 21
Early Bird PriceRegular PriceStayCamper
$450$535full timeFamily (up to 2 adults & 6 children, or 4 adults residing in the same household)
$175$210full timeIndividual (ages 12+)
$150$175full timeYouth (ages 4-11)
$70$80full timeChild (ages 3 and under)
$90$107part timeFamily (up to 2 adults & 6 children, or 4 adults residing in the same household) per day
$35$42part timeIndividual (ages 12+) per day
$30$35part timeYouth (ages 4-11) per day
$14$16part timeChild (ages 3 and under) per day


DATES: August 19-24, 2023

THEME: Britain and Beyond – Our Global Mission

The combined Adult and Singles Reunion for 2023 continues our international focus with testimonies from Apostle Richard James, the secretary of the Council of Twelve Apostles, assigned to the British Isles Mission Centre, Western Europe Mission Center, and Eurasia Mission Centre. Richard was born in Wales and has traveled extensively in his field. Expand your understanding of what it means to be Community of Christ as you hear the successes of challenges of our brothers and sisters across the Atlantic, including the impact of the war in Ukraine.

REUNION MINISTRY: Richard James and Kim Naten

DIRECTORS: Susan Oxley: 425-226-2771, Susan Webber: 253-370-8840 and Tom Webber 253-320-4474, AdultReunion@CofChrist-GPNW.org

EARLY BIRD PRICES: $300 per adult by July 21, 2023

REGULAR PRICES: $360 per adult by August 4, 2023

Part time prices available on registration site.

Spectacular (SPEC) 2023: Plan now to attend!

Spectacular (SPEC) 2023: Plan now to attend!

“SPEC” (Spectacular) is an annual week-long worship, leadership, sports, music, and arts camp held on the campus of Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. It is sponsored by Community of Christ and will be attended by approximately 500 high school students and staff from around the U.S. and Canada. This is the largest gathering of youth in Community of Christ. The mission of SPEC is to create a safe, Christ-centered community that encourages teenagers to discover God, their inherent worth, and cultivate and express their giftedness.

The theme for SPEC 2023 is “Wonder”. Daily themes will be explored through classes, worship, and other activities. We will travel as part of the Northwest Delegation, which consists of campers and staff from Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Western Wyoming, Northern Utah and Montana, as well as friends in British Columbia and other locations.

When is IYF/SPEC held?
SPEC Trip: July 12-22, 2023
July 12-15 – in Independence, MO, for delegation bonding, sports practicing, devotions, a visit to a water park with dinner on the Independence Square, and more. We will be staying at the Family Life Center.
July 15-22 – in Lamoni, IA at Graceland University for SPEC.

Who Can Attend?
Any high school student who is CURRENTLY in grades 9, 10, 11, or 12 may attend. Invite your friends!

How Do I Sign Up?

Sign-up here to participate with the Northwest Delegation:


Registration deadline: April 15.

This registration link registers you to attend with the Northwest Delegation. The participant will also need to register with Spectacular as well. SPEC will go live with their registration this Spring. Once they do, the link will be emailed to those registered with the Northwest Delegation.

What is the Cost?
The cost for the 11-day trip will be $910 per camper. This includes camp registration and a camp shirt, most meals, lodging, two delegation shirts, and all transportation. The campers will need to bring money for four meals, as well as their own spending money. We suggest about $75 for meals on their own.

The first payment of $500 is due by April 15, 2023, and the second payment of $410 is due by May 20, 2023. Please pay online using the links below (no fees), or send payments to: Northwest SPEC, c/o Cindie Ellwanger, 30442 101st Pl. SE, Auburn, WA 98092. All checks should be made payable to “Community of Christ” with the participants name in the memo line.

Please don’t let money prevent you from attending. If Financial Assistance is needed, a request can be made to Sean Langdon at the contact information below by April 10.

Northwest Spec Camper Payment 1:

Camper’s name & phone
Camper’s email address

Northwest Spec Camper Payment 2:

Camper’s name & phone
Camper’s email address

Northwest SPEC Staff Payment 1:

Staff name & phone
Staff email address

Northwest SPEC Staff Payment 2:

Staff name & phone
Staff email address

Your Generosity is Appreciated!

The Northwest SPEC Delegation gladly accepts donations for the Terry Read Financial Assistance Fund. Donations made to this fund goes to help provide financial assistance for campers and staff who can’t afford the entire fee to attend SPEC. Attending SPEC isn’t cheap so your donations help greatly to ensure all who want to attend, can attend.

To donate, send a check made payable to “Community of Christ” to Sean Langdon, 1715 Chester St, Unit 2, Aurora, CO, 80010. Please write “TR Fund” in the memo line.

Or you can donate using the PayPal button below:

Who Do I Contact?
Northwest Delegation Leaders:
Kelly Mongrain, 253-569-1510
Sean Langdon, 425-293-6366
Email: northwestspec@cofchrist-gpnw.org

Visit Us On Facebook!
Follow us on Facebook! Like our Facebook page at “Northwest Spectacular Delegation – Community of Christ” for updates, photos, and more!

World Conference 2023

World Conference 2023

Information for GPNW Mission Center Delegates and Alternates

World Conference 2023 is quickly approaching, so please check here regularly for announcements and updates. Also refer to https://cofchrist.org/2023-world-conference/ for additional information, including all legislation, daily schedule and other events. 

REGISTRATION OPEN: Online registration for World Conference is open for delegates and children, at CofChrist.org/2023-world-conference/#csec-2023-world-conference-register.

Register before March 1 to get the discounted rate. Click here to see prices.

DATES: Friday, April 21 through Friday, April 28.  Be mindful that the NFL Draft is also taking place in Kansas City during these dates so airfares, hotels, rental cars, etc., will be in high demand; we recommend making your travel arrangements as soon as possible. We encourage all attendees to reach out to one another if interested in sharing transportation, lodging, etc.  

DELEGATES: At our Mission Center Conference in early November, delegates to World Conference were appointed en masse by Mission Center President Kim Naten as there were fewer nominees than the number allotted to our mission center by World Church. Click here to view those appointed. We currently stand at 76 delegates and 3 alternates. Our allotment is 79, so Kim may appoint 3 additional delegates to serve. If you are interested in serving as a Delegate, please contact Kim Naten (knaten@cofchrist-gpnw.orgbefore February 20, 2023. After that date, names submitted will be added to the list of alternates. Alternates will be moved into any remaining delegate slots on February 21 and the roster of all delegates and alternates must be submitted to World Church by February 22.  


Prioritization of World Conference Legislation – The First Presidency is inviting mission centers across the church to participate in providing input into the prioritization of our World Conference agenda. To this end, an electronic survey has been developed to collect feedback.  The survey for our mission center is available from now until January 31st Please take the time to help the First Presidency prioritize the legislative items on the agenda for World Conference.  Input from members is valuable! (This survey is open to non-delegates as well, so feel free to share with friends and family members who may not be attending World Conference.) 

The link to our survey is:  https://forms.office.com/r/FMP1cjhZgg

GPNW PREPARATION WORKSHOPS: Our previously announced plan of three workshops has changed to two online workshops to provide opportunity to review and discuss World Conference legislation. Two workshops will be held via zoom:  Sunday, March 19 and Saturday, March 25. All are welcome to attend these workshops; you need not be a delegate or alternate. All delegates and alternates are strongly encouraged to participate in the World Conference Online Exploration Series prior to our workshops (see below).

Review Legislation in Exploration Sessions | Sign Up Now!

New for 2023 World Conference is an opportunity to explore legislative proposals with others around the church through weekly Zoom Events.

A single resolution will be the focus each week during the Exploration Sessions series. Participants will share perspectives and listen to others in a facilitated session. Five sessions will be offered each week to accommodate time zones and busy schedules.

  • Monday: 1:00–2:45 p.m. (Pacific) 
  • Tuesday: 4:30–6:15 p.m. (Pacific) 
  • Wednesday: 4:30–6:15 p.m. (Pacific) 
  • Thursday: 7:30–9:15 a.m. (Pacific)
  • Saturday: 10:30 a.m.–12:15 p.m. (Pacific)

Exploration Sessions will begin 9 January and continue through March. All are welcome.

Registration is required. Click the links below to register for each event. 
Week of 9 January:  G-1 The Climate Emergency
Week of 16 January:  G-2 Doctrine and Covenants 116 to Historical Records
Week of 23 January:  G-3 Racial Justice
Week of 30 January:  G-4(a) Baptism and Membership
Week of 6 February:  G-5 Universal Scripture Access
Week of 13 February:  G-6 Enhance Transparency on Nonviolence Statement
Week of 20 February:  G-7 Resolution on Marriage
Week of 27 February:  G-8 Resolution Opposing Christian Zionism
Week of 6 March:  G-9 Compassion for Refugees/UN World Refugee Day
Week of 13 March:  A-4 Amendment to CofChrist Bylaws

Even those who are not delegates are invited to learn more about business coming before Community of Christ in April.
Read proposed legislation and see a summary of actions.

Day of Prayer and Special Offering for World Conference

On 22 January, join with those around the world as we uphold the 2023 World Conference in our prayers and through our offerings. Offerings received on this Sunday will help with the costs of Conference. The goal is to raise $100,000 USD.

Those in the USA can participate by giving to World Conference 2023 through www.etithing.org, by placing a check or cash in the offering plate, or by sending a check to International Headquarters, Attn: Presiding Bishopric, 1001 W. Walnut St., Independence, MO, USA, 64050.

In Canada, contributors can give by e-transfer or mail to Community of Christ, 355 Elmira Rd. N., Unit 129; Guelph, ON, N1K 1S5.

You can find a special Disciples’ Generous Response for 22 January on Herald House.

QUESTIONS?  As always, if you have any questions at all about World Conference, please reference the World Church link provided above or contact Kim at knaten@cofchrist-gpnw.org

Club Q and Safe Space: Reflections from a Queer Minister

Club Q and Safe Space: Reflections from a Queer Minister

By Sean Langdon

“…I’m so sorry to learn of the Colorado Springs shooting. There are just no words anymore…”

This was the text I received on Sunday Morning from our Mission Center President Kim Naten. You see, I was at the Beyond Horizons Retreat at Lewis River Campground where cell reception is spotty. So, I had not yet heard the news about the mass shooting at Club Q, a queer nightclub, in Colorado Springs. This was another targeted attack on the LGBTQIA+ community and furthermore, it took place on the weekend preceding Transgender Day of Remembrance (November 20). On this day, we “honor the memory of the transgender people whose lives were lost in acts of anti-transgender violence.” (https://www.glaad.org/tdor) This attack happened in what should have been a safe space for the community.

Let’s back up for a moment though. This past weekend, 18 of us gathered for our inaugural Beyond Horizons Retreat. This retreat had been delayed three times already due to COVID-19. While present together at the retreat we lived the theme of “Chosen Family: A Place at the Table” through storytelling, laughter, and moments of blessing. We decorated pride cookies and shared in a Friendsgiving meal together. Then just before our closing Communion Service, I received the news about the mass shooting.

Beyond Horizons 2022 Retreat Group Photo

The Beyond Horizons Retreat was a safe space for the LGBTQIA+ community as well as the allies who journey alongside us. It was an example of what our sanctuaries should be, both the physical sanctuaries in our congregation buildings as well as the sanctuary that is created through mutual respecting relationships. Those who attended were free to be themselves and express that in the way that was natural and authentic for them. What a gift that was and could continue to be.

In times like this, I am reminded of the need for our congregations and new expressions of community to continue the work towards being open and affirming welcoming communities. It is not enough to just be “nice and kind” people anymore. We must continue the work to look within and confront our biases and allow the Holy Spirit to shape us as we live into new ways of going beyond the horizon to which we are sent. And while this work is important for us to do for all marginalized communities, the LGBTQIA+ community has been specifically targeted by those claiming to represent Christ.

Currently, Salem and Crystal Springs Congregations are the only congregations who have done the work with Harmony to become an official Welcoming & Affirming Congregation in our mission center. Harmony is the non-profit organization that, “provides advocacy, education, and resources for Queer voices in Community of Christ with a shared vision of full participation.” To learn more about their “Welcoming & Affirming Congregation” program, click here: https://www.harmony.lgbt/waprogram.html. I encourage your community to consider participating in this program.

There have been many times over the past few days that I have found myself in tears. Knowing that you are part of a community targeted by others, is an exhausting place to be in. Knowing that some want you dead just because of who you are, is an exhausting place to be in. And, if I’m being honest, being a full-time minister in a religion that is expressed in ways that fuels murderers to commit their heinous acts, is an exhausting place to be in.

I am grateful to have been raised in, serve in, and be a member of, a denomination that I believe does not express Christianity in that way, but this doesn’t mean that we don’t still have a lot of work to do. I invite… no, I plead… to our members, friends, congregations, and new expressions of community to explore ways that ensure that our communities are safe spaces for all marginalized communities. And to not only provide safe space but to also actively participate in helping transform our schools, places of employment, and neighborhoods into being more welcoming and inclusive as well. Some of our lives depend on it. The lives of people you love depend on it. Maybe even more so than you realize. If you need a face to put to this reality, use mine.

We cannot continue to sing “For everyone born, a place at the table.” or “may our hearts and minds be opened, fling the church doors open wide. May there be room enough for everyone inside. For in God there is a welcome, in God we all belong. May that welcome be our song.” unless we are willing to do the work to make these hymns a reality in our Community of Christ spaces. We have come far. Let’s continue going the distance.

A note from Sean: I know that reading the word “queer” in a positive way might be new for some as it is a term that historically has been used to oppress those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Even I have struggled with claiming this term for myself. To do so, is new for me. I think this note from Harmony might be helpful: “The term Queer is being reclaimed by some who identify as LGBTQ+ and is used as an umbrella term for the LGBTQ+ community.  We use the phrase “Queer voices” to describe all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI), who have the courage to use their voice to speak for justice for the marginalized in the Queer community.​”

Statement on Recent Gun Violence

Statement on Recent Gun Violence

May 25, 2022 | USA Team of Apostles

The USA Team of Apostles released this statement on the recent mass shootings in the USA.

To Community of Christ Leaders, Mission Centers, Members, and Friends:

Community of Christ actively endeavors to share the peace of Jesus Christ in a troubled world. This call is grounded in the Enduring Principles, including Unity in Diversity, Blessings of Community, the Worth of All Persons, and Responsible Choices.

We join other faith organizations and communities who grieve for those families that lost loved ones in recent mass shootings. We unite in prayer for those affected by recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and too many other locations. Sadly, the New England Journal of Medicine in April indicated firearm-related violence is now the leading cause of death for US children and adolescents.

We denounce needless violence that ends and shatters lives. We pray for wisdom as we consider our individual response as disciples in dialogue and action. We affirm World Conference Resolution 1270 urging firearms be used for sporting and professional purposes only. We uphold the urgent need for “members and leaders (to) discuss the role nonviolence plays in the pursuit of ‘peace on and for the Earth’ (Doctrine and Covenants 165:1d) and in the life and mission of the church” (World Conference Resolution 1319).

Doctrine and Covenants 163:2a invites all to “strive to be faithful to Christ’s vision of the peaceable Kingdom of God on earth. Courageously challenge cultural, political, and religious trends that are contrary to the reconciling and restoring purposes of God. Pursue peace.”

In the spirit of Jesus, the peaceful One, we encourage all to share their perspectives with their state and national representatives that together we might courageously call for peace, reconciliation, and healing in our world.



Released by the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

May 24, 2022

Today our nation watched in horror as yet another mass shooting claimed the lives of 21 souls. Tragically, 18 of those killed are elementary school students. Our hearts are broken for the lives lost as we stand alongside the grieving.

This massacre follows recent mass shootings in Milwaukie, Buffalo, Palo Alto, Laguna Beach and Chicago. Why is there is a mass shooting nearly every day in this county? We ask this as echoes of the Psalmist ring in our heads, “How long, O Lord?”

The United States of America stands alone when it comes to gun violence. These types of shootings simply do not happen in other countries, let alone with such frequency. In the last five months alone, a gun has been fired on school grounds in the United States 288 times. The next closest country is Mexico with eight.

Something is wrong in our country; most anyone can recognize it. Yet we live in a country where elected officials refuse to take even modest steps to protect the vulnerable. How many more children must die before these elected officials take urgent action? We implore them to do so now. Their “thoughts and prayers” ring ever so hollow and reinforce their cowardice.

Because the all too predictable pattern of outrage and shock has become not only tedious but morally inadequate, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon invites immediate action by supporting the work of Lift Every Voice Oregon (LEVO). Through LEVO, people of faith and good will can pursue with expediency IP17–Reduction of Gun Violence Act.

IP17 is a ballot initiative petition that will reduce gun violence by making gun owners more accountable and ammunition less lethal. IP17 needs signatures by the end of June to qualify for the ballot. Sign the petition at lifteveryvoiceoregon.com.

At least for Oregon, we can make a difference. May we turn our sorrow into hope and actions that will assure the day when gun violence is no longer an everyday occurrence.

<strong>Discernment Journey Videos Released</strong>

Discernment Journey Videos Released

By Sean Langdon

In the fall of 2020, the Bridge of Hope Strategic Planning Team for the Greater Pacific Northwest USA Mission Center followed a nudge to not just focus on how we were going to raise funds to meet our funding goal but also discern a “Bridge of Hope” to the future of who we are called to be as communities that live into our name, Community of Christ. What came out of the planning and conversations that followed was an invitation to our congregations and campgrounds to begin a journey of discernment. The discernment journey invitation provided a way for congregations and campgrounds to ground themselves in the holy work that was unfolding within God’s invitation for them as a community. To help with this, a discernment companion was assigned to journey with them. Many of our congregations, along with Lewis River Campground, have begun the journey!

At our recent Nuts & Bolts workshops, Kim Naten and I lead a session focused on discernment. As part of our planning, we recognized that we wanted folks to hear from disciples in our Mission Center who have been engaged in discernment. Therefore, three videos were created for this session.

The videos were:

  • “Discernment Within Community of Christ”: In this video, Pastors from Renton Community of Christ, along with their Discernment Companion, share with Kim Naten about their congregation’s response to the discernment journey invitation. Watch here: https://youtu.be/FyHcqvRJQi8.
  • “Discernment that Connects Us To the Community”: In this video, Pastor of Portland Community of Christ shares the journey that his congregation on when discerning whether to participate in a new missional opportunity in their community. Watch here: https://youtu.be/pv076ghQa3A.
  • “Discernment As A Way of Life”: In this video, leaders from Southridge Community of Christ share about a discernment journey that lead to the creation of their labyrinth. We hear their story through the lens as individual disciples, collectively as a congregation, and then how it connects them to the community. Watch here: https://youtu.be/6GcXmHljR5g.

We now share these videos with all of you as we learn from the wisdom shared by these faithful disciples.

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