Tag: courage

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.  

WORLD CHURCH LEGISLATION SURVEY:   

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

Courage to Let Go

Courage to Let Go

At our annual Pastors and Staff Breakfast last month, technical difficulties prevented us from properly sharing two video interviews with leaders in our Mission Center. You can view them below or on our YouTube channel:

Proclamation of Joy

Proclamation of Joy

Mission Center President Kim Naten
Opening Worship Address “Courage to Dance”
Mission Center Conference 2022: Courage

My comments this morning start with a story.  A Love story.  Near the beginning of the 3rd grade, a classmate of mine, Regina Hoag, and I began ballet classes together.  I have no recollection of how that came about, but her mom was able to take us to class and I think my mom picked us up, but however it came to be, we started ballet classes at the big green ballet school on the corner of 175th and Aurora, The Giglio Theater School of Dance!  Mr. and Mrs. Giglio and their daughter ran the school, and Mr. Giglio was everything you’ve ever read or seen in the movies as to what a Ballet Master was.  Stern, perfect posture, a walking stick tapping out the counts as we plied, releved, ronde de jombe’d . . . His daughter, Cleo, was the children’s teacher and was a little less frightening, but between them, they conveyed – at least to me – a seriousness and a discipline for dance that somehow stuck.  And I fell in love.  Ballet and tap dancing became the first things outside my family that I truly loved, that was something I could do and experience that brought a sense of JOY.  I’m not sure my mom shared that same sense of joy as she was the one sewing ribbons, straps, and tulle skirts onto the many costumes I wore over the years, but for me – dancing became a magical world of grace, elegance and joy expressed through movement and music.  Like many little girls, I dreamed I’d dance right into adulthood and a career as a professional dancer. 

Toward the end of my 3rd year of lessons we moved out of the area and thus ended my presumed career path.  I don’t think I realized it at the time, but over the years I would recognize that those 3 years of dance lessons instilled in me a love for all types of dance.  As a student at Graceland I was thrilled to be able to take tap dancing as my PE credit; and later in life I took Western line dancing and Salsa dancing classes just for fun.  And if you know me at ALL, then you surely know my nearly lifelong affection for the Disco dancing!  And SOMEDAY I think I’ll learn ballroom dancing.  And keep dreaming that one day they’ll do a season of Dancing with the Stars but call it Dancing with Regular Folks and I’ll try out and get a spot, and win the Mirror Ball trophy!  I’m guessing this is a part of my life story that few of you knew.

So right about now you may be asking yourself, WHY DID SHE DRESS UP LIKE THAT JUST TO TELL US A STORY?  And I may be asking MYSELF, why am I standing here in a none too flattering get-up sharing this story?  It’s not to be cute, or entertaining WELL, here’s why:  wearing this outfit brings me joy.  Just buying it and breaking in these toe shoes, sewing on the ribbons, all of it brought back the joy of dancing. 

Our theme this morning is COURAGE TO DANCE:  HOW DO WE CLAIM OUR JOY IN COMMUNITY TO EXPRESS OURSELVES FREELY WITHOUT FEAR?  I’m sharing this story and dressed up in an outfit that brings me joy because I am not afraid to be my authentic self in this community.

We claim, as members of Community of Christ, to promote communities of Joy, Hope, Love and Peace.  The teachings, words and actions of Christ himself affirm this, and we have countless scriptures from both the Bible and the Doctrine and Covenants that guide and direct us to be a loving community where all are welcome, all are of worth, and all are called.  We claim unity in our diversity and compassion, forgiveness, justice and mercy; we affirm that there is a place at the table for everyone born!  So if that’s the Community we are called to create, and long to live in, shouldn’t this community also be the place where we are free to be our unique, quirky, silly, vulnerable selves?  In a world that seems to thrive on judgment, criticism, and ridicule, shouldn’t our faith community be the one place we can be ourselves without fear of that judgment and harshness?  Theoretically, our families provide that place for us as well – but not always.  Our faith community, what we always called our Church Family, however, is a chosen family, a welcoming, accepting and loving bunch of people who want the best for one another.  Or at least in my mind, is what it should be. 

And so the fact that I’m standing here in this little outfit that brings me joy and helps tell my story, speaks volumes about THIS community.  I can walk in here proudly and uninhibited because YOU, my friends, are my people, my safe space, my sanctuary.  You love and accept me, you provide space for me to risk and experiment, and grace for me when I falter.  I can be my authentic self with you.  And isn’t that what we ALL want to experience in community? And what we’re called to create for others? 

To answer the question then, perhaps we claim our joy simply by having the courage to be our authentic selves, believing that our chosen community will accept us and love us without judgment or ridicule.  Maybe I’m being naïve or viewing the world through rose-colored glasses, but really – if we all just quit hiding behind masks, saying and doing what we think people want to hear and see, and chose to live joyfully and without fear, what a community we could create, huh?  And when WE claim our joy, we are giving others permission and courage to claim theirs, and it goes on and on. 

Being in Christ-like community with one another SHOULD be a joyful experience! So joyful that we want to dance and sing and laugh and know that everyone in our community is free to do the same.  My own experience as teenager confirms my belief in this.  Growing up, as a teen, I felt like I was living 2 lives:  the Monday thru Friday Jr. High and High School Kim, and the Zion’s League/”church” Kim.  The person I was at school bore little resemblance to the person I was with my church friends at Zion’s League events and camps.  I found my safe space and knew that when I was with THOSE friends, I could be myself and not have to fit in with any particular group or act a certain way to be accepted. I was fortunate to learn early in life that my chosen faith community was a safe place for me to learn and grow and make mistakes and be silly and be joyful.  My school friends knew that I was very involved in my church youth group and accepted that about me, but we simply didn’t have the same kind of friendship that I had with my church friends.  And having those friendships in my youth shaped me and formed me.  I don’t just mean my peers, I have to include my friends’ parents, the other adults around, the older kids – the village.  The village that raised me and provided me with loving guidance, boundaries, compassion, forgiveness, and the freedom to express myself freely and joyfully, without fear.  That is the kind of community I hope we are striving to create, for one another, for our kids and youth, for the strangers and the seekers searching for a spiritual home. 

Our scripture text for this morning comes from Doctrine & Covenants 161:1, and inspired me to have the courage to stand here like this today.  I hope that it brings encouragement and hope to you as well.

A. Lift up your eyes and fix them on the place beyond the horizon to which you are sent. Journey in trust, assured that the great and marvelous work is for this time and for all time.

B. Claim your unique and sacred place within the circle of those who call upon the name of Jesus Christ. Be faithful to the spirit of the Restoration, mindful that it is a spirit of adventure, openness, and searching. Walk proudly and with a quickened step. Be a joyful people. Laugh and play and sing, embodying the hope and freedom of the gospel.

Circles of Support

Circles of Support

Spiritual Practice Presented at GPNW MC Conference 2022 Pastors and Staff Breakfast

By Ashley Whitham

This morning, I’ll invite you to sit comfortably with your feet on the floor, and preferably with support against your back. Close your eyes. In your mind, imagine yourself in a large circle. If there were a target on the floor, you’d be standing in the middle, with rings extending away from you.

People in your life begin to walk onto the rings around you. As the rings fill with familiar faces, your body feels lighter. You close your eyes and slowly drift backwards, where the first ring of people catch you.

The first ring is made up of your closest loved ones. Your spouse, best friends, parents, siblings, cousins – who are these special people you can lean on? As your weightless body leans back on this first ring of beloveds, how does it feel to trust them? How does it feel to step backwards into this first ring of support?

(Pause for reflection)

You continue to step back and reach the next ring of people. As you lean back, supported by their hands, you look to see the faces of friends, extended family, and close co-workers – people who you feel comfortable with, who you can relax with. How does it feel to relax while others support you?

(Pause for reflection)

Step backwards again until you reach the third ring of support. Here you find your church family. You feel their hands supporting your back as you rely on their help to hold you up. How does it feel to rely on your church family?

(Pause for reflection)

As you feel your body begin to feel real again, you’re able to stand without help. You open your eyes to look at how far from the center you traveled with the support of others. Look into the eyes of those who held you up. Can you feel gratitude for their support, or are there other thoughts or feelings distracting you?

(Pause for reflection)

If you turn around, you can see that there are still more rings of people. Perhaps in the further rings you can see your cluster support staff.

Take a deep breath. As you feel ready, you can come back to this room and open your eyes. I hope that you saw faces of people that you can trust and rely on in moments when you need to step back.

Movement of a Disciple’s Life

Movement of a Disciple’s Life

Spiritual Practice presented at GPNW Mission Center Conference 2022 during the Business Meeting

By Ashley Whitham

How had you moved through your life as a disciple? This weekend’s theme is courage, but they all have different actions paired with courage, because the courage of a disciple inspires us to move. So as we pause this afternoon, I’ll invite you to reflect on your life as a disciple of Christ, and the rhythm this has created within you.

At some point, you had the courage to Step Forward. Your heart was open, your thoughts connected with ideas and a holy inspiration that moved your body into action. You stepped forward. Can you think of a time you stepped forward in your life as a disciple? You stepped forward into the waters of baptism. You stepped forward into the loving embrace of your community. You stepped forward to offer your hand when someone needed support. You stepped forward to share God’s love with another. Take a moment to think of those times when you courageously stepped forward.

(Pause for reflection)

When have you had the courage to Stand? We stand with our community; with those we care about. We stand in prayer. We stand and sing. We stand in line at potluck. Standing is its own precious action when a disciple stands courageously. You stand to offer support. You stand to volunteer. You stand to make the space around you safe for others. When have you courageously stood as a disciple?

(Pause for reflection)

In the joy of being truly yourself, loved and accepted in your community, how do you express yourself freely, without fear or constraint? Are you comfortable being vulnerably yourself? Can you grab onto your authentic feelings in the moment, and express them without inhibition? In your discipleship, what does it mean to have the courage to Dance? It means you dance! You raise your hands in joy. You open your arms in love. You stomp your feet to the rhythm of life around you. You claim your space. You shout to the world, “This is me! This is what matters to me! You are what matters to me!” When have you courageously danced in joy?

(Pause for reflection)

There is a time to step forward and time to Step Back. You step back to rest. You step back to learn. You step back to make room for others. Stepping back is not failure. Stepping back does not deserve judgment. God calls you to step back sometimes. Step back to catch your breath; to discern; to check the map to make sure you’re still headed where you were planning to go. When have you as a disciple been called to step back?

(Pause for reflection)

And now we week the courage to Kneel. We have gathered as representatives of the greater body of Christ as it lives and moves in the Pacific Northwest. To serve that body, we kneel. On the first Sunday of the month, as we enter that sacred space of sacrament, we kneel. In prayer, we kneel. In love, we kneel. To listen to children, we kneel. Reflect on your life as a disciple and consider times when you have responded to God by kneeling.

(Pause for reflection)

Creator of wind and gravity and force and friction and bodies,
Move us!
Call our bodies into action.
Fill our hearts with the courage to move to the rhythm of discipleship.
Fill our ears with the sounds of your creation around us.
Bless us with the awareness of your Spirit’s dance in our community, that we can join. Amen.

The End of Lent | We Don’t Go Back to Regular Life. We Move Forward in the Newness of Christ.

The End of Lent | We Don’t Go Back to Regular Life. We Move Forward in the Newness of Christ.

By Ashley Whitham

At the beginning of Lent, I shared in a “Coffeeshop Conversations” worship with some friends about our Lent journeys. At the end, I was lamenting that I didn’t know what to give up, because the thought of trying to track an addition or subtraction from my daily life would likely add to my personal anxiety. That was when I decided I would give up my anxiety for Lent – a tall order, I recognize, but an honest attempt would be made. My friend, Naomi, challenged me: giving up anxiety would leave space in my life for something – what could it be? I answered that I knew the right answer was courage, but I also knew how very difficult it would be for me to put that into actual practice during Lent.

Now, it’s Holy Week. Our Lent journey is coming to a close. Did I leave my anxiety behind and find new courage? No. At least, not completely. I did have moments when I was reminded of my Lenten decision, and thought about what it would be like to choose courage. Sometimes I did. But what I mostly got out of Lent this year was a self-awareness. In those moments of anxiety, I paid better attention to what was triggering those feelings, and why I was having that reaction.

I have got to have the fastest voice of self-doubt in all of humanity. I was in shock at how quickly a sharp voice in my brain could tell me, “Not you.” I would watch a lovely, empowering TikTok video of someone saying, “You are worth it!” And as I smiled at the thought of ‘being worth’ whatever ‘it’ is, that voice simultaneously said, “Not you.” Or a message of body positivity that a friend would share on Facebook, saying that, “You are beautiful as you are.” For a second, my heart would sing, “Am I beautiful?” Then just as quickly, that voice would say, “They’re talking about someone else. Not you.” Or whenever my son tells me that I should find a boy or girl to date, because he wants to make sure there’s someone who loves me so that I’m not lonely when he’s not home. I know, he’s the sweetest. While I struggle to say out loud, “Thank you, baby. I’ll do that when I’m ready,” that voice in my head is saying, “There’s too much to ‘fix’ before someone can love you. There’s too much to ‘fix’ before you can be happy. The ‘you’ you are now is not acceptable. Not you.”

I have spent more than 10 years preaching about the equal worth of all persons before a loving God. I have spent more than 10 years proclaiming that part of the instructions to love your neighbor as yourself has to start with loving yourself. I have spent more than 10 years teaching girls and women to love and accept themselves as they are. I have spent more than 10 years encouraging people to be authentically themselves because they are beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of their Creator!

And never did I once think that included me.

As my self-awareness during Lent grew, I realized two things:
1. I don’t know how to turn that voice off.
2. I want to be happy now.

Yes, I have moments of joy and glee during my daily life. I’ve got two amazing kids, and there’s a lot of humor in our home. We have fun together. I love to laugh and giggle. I am happy sometimes. But being happy with myself is different. Being comfortable with who I am is not something I have ever accomplished. It has always been, “I’ll be happy when…” and, of course, those things never happened. Or when they did happen, they didn’t make me any happier with myself. Even when there were times that I felt like I was acting fully myself, in the moment, expressing my thoughts uninhibited, momentarily unaware of my anxieties about social awkwardness or about my physical body… that tends to come crashing down around me when I say something wrong, or snort too loud, or knock over my cup. And I always interpreted those moments as ‘great forces of the universe’ putting me into check; a system of balances, as it were. I can never fully be myself, because then the pendulum would swing the other way and I would create chaos or disruption for others, or bring negative attention to myself.

As I’ve noticed these troubling things about myself, and knowing Lent is coming to an end, I wonder what is to become of me after Easter. Do I welcome my anxiety back? Do I continue to listen to that stupidly quick voice in my head? Do I continue to hold myself back from being myself? Lent is a season of transformation; it is a cocoon time. If I just go back to the way I’ve always been, what was the point of Lent? Christ welcomes us at the tomb on Easter morning, and instructs us to go out into the world a new person.

I have to find a way to leave my insecurities in that tomb. I have to find a way to silence that voice. I have to find a way to be happy with who I am now. Easter is not the day we all go back to normal. Easter is the day we move forward, a new beginning. Christ didn’t leave the tomb and tell his disciples, “Let’s get back to Galilee.” Christ died and came back new, leaving the wrappings of his death in the tomb. So what will be different for you on Easter? What do you need to leave in the tomb?

I know that voice is gonna be with me for awhile longer, and I know my anxieties will never leave me completely. But that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna keep working on it. It’ll never get better if I keep on as I have been, so I’m gonna try something new. I’m gonna try to find ways to tell myself that I am worthy, and loved, and acceptable just as I am. And I’m gonna get myself a pretty dress that looks like I love my body (even though I don’t feel it yet). I’m not gonna keep hiding myself from the world because of my anxiety. I’ve got to keep choosing courage.

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