The roundtable of our Mexican partner churches is now focused on the training of lay and clergy leaders for the growing number of the two denominations’ (Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ) congregations.
The long-term goals are to develop a network of support for new mission service projects and further collaboration in areas such as the joint ordination of pastors. Each of the denominations in the roundtable are challenged by lack of financial and leadership support by the congregations. Helping develop new, alternative funding sources and helping congregations and church leaders heighten their experience of what it means to be “church” and be in covenant with other congregations are current emphases of its work.
The model of a space of dialogue shown by the Joint Commission has been an inspiration to create other spaces of dialogue among Disciples and Congregational Churches in Mexico.
Update December 2020:
One of the Roundtables educational programs is the Summer Bible and Theology program. The Roundtable describes this program as an experience of unity in the midst of diversity. Drawing participants from across these three denominations, this program prides itself on creating a space for excellent biblical and theological education that is accessible to all. One goal of the program is to make continuing education for both laity and clergy a norm for those in the member denominations. Subjects include Biblical interpretation, pastoral care, and theology. The Roundtable is in the process of developing a diploma program in coordination with the Education Department from the Theological Community in Mexico.
The 2019 program was a witness to the important presence of young people in churches, not only as participants, but also as program facilitators and learners. The development of youth leadership is another top priority of the Roundtable. Therefore, the summer program has evolved from predominantly adult participants to more youth and young adult participants. Dulce, a 2019 student in the summer course “Reading the Bible Interculturally” shared this, The knowledge I acquired through the program was important because it helped me understand diverse perspectives I didn’t have before. It helped me understand more about my environment, and more than anything, it helped me be more empathetic toward my own faith community. The course has motivated me to keep working.
The Roundtable is energized to continue educating clergy and lay members across Mexico and to build upon their growing youth participation. Since the spring of 2020 and the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Roundtable has adapted and is providing virtual education and educational resources now. The summer educational program for 2020 was postponed, but the Roundtable continues to plan for the future and hopes to continue offering its flexible virtual offerings even after it returns to offering an in-person format.
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