Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunday, March 25

Photo © Jim Doty Jr.

Good Morning Readers,

And welcome to the Community of Christ 2007 World Conference. Conference has officially begun. Several things happened yesterday, even before the Opening Ceremony last night. The Quorums of Seventy, which you remember are the out-front missionary arm of the church, always have their first gathering in the morning before conference begins.

Stephen Veazey addresses the Seventy. Photo © Bob Walker

President of the Church, Steve Veazey addressed the Seventy and spouses with just a first glimpse of a program of missionary outreach that will allow the Seventy and the Twelve Apostles to re-establish the close working relationship that once characterized and energized the missionary outreach of the church. This reporter, a member of the Seventy, is excited at the prospect of being a part of this new/old hand-in-hand thrust to call the church into a renewed sense of mission. More light will come forth as the week unfolds and this reporter will keep you informed as the story develops.

Photo © John Weese

Something new this year are three individual sessions during the day for discussion, information gathering, and exploration of the reports and resolutions that will be deliberated and voted on during the actual business sessions. Steve Veazey, has reiterated to us that we are not just a church with a prophet, but more importantly, we are a church of prophetic people. Prophetic people are a discerning people, and Steve, and the church leadership, challenge each of us, as disciples, to constantly listening to discern God’s will for us as individuals, as congregations, and as a world church. What is God speaking to us today? Where would God have us go today? Who needs the ministry of grace, or mercy, or compassion, or affirmation today? These new opportunities for dialogue and discernment offer us the chance to hear God speak, through the sacred stories of one another. As we listen to each other’s hearts, and honor each other’s journey, we allow God to speak to our heart as we celebrate the diversity and differences that make us, “the collective we”, a stronger and more powerful people.

Photo © Bob Walker

After supper we gathered for the Opening Ceremony. This reporter still gets excited being in the Auditorium with Saints from all over world, in colorful native dress, sharing hand shakes, and hugs, and cheek-kiss greetings with friends from countries and nations from all over the globe.

Photo © Jim Doty Jr.

Try to visit the Community of Christ website or my newsletter partner, Jim Doty’s conference blog and see some of the rich cultural heritage of the “People of the Church.” African’s, Tahitians, native first people, people from India, China or Japan; all places where our church – your church – is impacting lives and offering people a chance to hear the Good News of the Gospel and find the hope contained therein.

Photo © Bob Walker

This reporter remembers when conference began with the roll call of nations and procession of flags from each nation and country parading down the aisles and being placed at the back of the rostrum. Currently, the flags of the nations are furled on the railing of the balcony circling the Auditorium chamber. As each nation in named, in order of the year and time of their official membership, their flag is unfurled and displayed by a person of that country often in cultural dress. It is a cacophony of color and majesty as each successive flag rolls open to display. A swivel neck would be helpful to be able to watch the flags as they circumference the chamber. And each year it is exciting to hear the names, and see the flags of new nations where the church has been established just since last conference. It helps us visualize that we really are a world wide church.

Photo © Bob Walker

Singing hymns with more than a thousand people, and the several hundred piece orchestra from Graceland University , and the Auditorium pipe organ is a sight and sound treat – well, better than dessert. Violins, cello’s, bassoons, base, snare and kettle drums, gongs and chimes and flutes and brass, and the united voices of people from all over the face of the earth singing has to be as close to a heavenly choir as this reporter may ever hear. I’ve stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon, and seen the sun rise on Denali, Mt McKinley, and I think this is as grand and majestic as either.

Today (Sunday) will begin with Worship in the Auditorium including communion. Imagine table after table covered with colorful cloths from exotic places, and filled with stacks of trays of Communion Emblems; then carried by a small army of servers to share with somewhere around sixteen hundred conference attendees. It’s a powerful visual delight to watch, and an uplifting experience to be a part of.

So until tomorrow, faithful readers, may God bless your worship today, and may you find new color, and a renewed sense of purpose and calling in the many places you live, and work, and learn, and play. See you here tomorrow.

Seventy Bob