A 21-person delegation made up of leaders from the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) traveled to four Middle East countries as part of an ongoing expression of solidarity with Middle East Christians. The pilgrimage was the first trip to the region for the Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President of the UCC, and the Rev. Traci Blackmon, acting executive minister of Justice and Witness Ministries. They were joined by the Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Disciples of Christ. In addition, seven UCC conference ministers, six regional ministers from the Disciples of Christ, a representative from the United Church of Canada, and two representatives from the United Congregation of Churches in Southern Africa made the trip.
Peter Makari, area executive for Global Ministries' Middle East and Europe, led his largest delegation to the Middle East for two weeks, from Feb. 28 through March 11, to Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel-Palestine.
The pilgrimage came in the middle of the Middle East Initiative, which Global Ministries kicked off last summer, inviting the wider church to focus on the region for an 18-month period before concluding in December 2016. Through mission and partnership, churches can learn more about the dozens of denominational partners in the region and the issues they face, learn about how the UCC and Disciples of Christ continue to build on the long-lasting history of engagement, and become active in education and advocacy efforts for peace and support various programs.
Reflection from Richard Spleth, Regional Minister for the Indiana Region of the Disciples of Christ - In the Spirit
Photo Essay from the Orthodox Initiative - We are Present at the Border
Reflection from Susan Dewey, Pacific Southwest Co-Regional Minister, Week of Compassion Committee Member - Coloring the Desert
Sermon by Rev. Dr. Paxton Jones, Regional Minister for the Kansas Region of the Disciples of Christ - It's Not Them
Traci Blackmon delivering a keynote speech immediately following the trip at "Super Saturday" of the Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island Conferences, on March 12.
Rick Spleth recorded this video for DisciplesNet and it was streamed by them for their Sunday morning worship service on Sunday, April 3. The assignment was to create a sermon on the lectionary text for the week, John 20:19-31, and also to reflect on the trip.