A Word from Minister of Reconciliation

Silence is Violence. 

A Word of Lament for Charlottesville, VA

Rev. April Johnson, Minister of Reconciliation
August 14, 2017

Words fail when I attempt to describe the despair that engulfed me upon the learning of the tragedy of violence and murder in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend. Labels such as domestic terrorism, religious extremism, racism and bigotry, all which are fitting, do not serve to assuage the painful reality that hate’s death-dealing behaviors prevail in our society and nation. To denounce it is an important response but in no way completes the cycle of what is needed to diminish its power. The events of this Saturday call all of us to the sober reality that our words must be accompanied by action. Hate rallies are intended to show the vulnerable that they are powerless against wiles of “white supremacy and white supremacists.” The death of Heather Heyer who was mowed down by a young man drunk on the vile rhetoric and persuasion of white supremacy heightens the fear and anxiety it is intended to impose by the rally planners. Nineteen other people were variously wounded.

My soul hurts. It is painful well beneath the skin. It is the pain described by the prophet Jeremiah, “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children. She refuses to be comforted.” (Jeremiah 31:15 NRSV) Jeremiah is describing the sense of overwhelming sadness associated with the cycle of prolonged captivity and brief moments of release of the Israelites. Rachel’s weeping is metaphoric for a collective grief over the entrenched nature of violence and hatred against the children of Israel. Similarly, in the aftermath of the events of Saturday morning in Charlottesville, the grief is palpable and unable to be consoled. New York Times reporter, Hawes Spencer attending the rally described the violence in this way, “. . .the air was filled with the sounds of fists and sticks against flesh.” That was a visceral reminder that we are all conscripted into a false narrative that to be non-white in this nation is a deficiency and there are those who are willing to pound our flesh to instill that perspective as reality.

To be clear, this is our historic and our current reality. Intimidating words and physical acts of violence are the foundation stones of a nation built on principles of economic expansion and white exceptionalism. This is the harsh reality of our past. It is not, however, who we are. To ignore the reality of our past is to keep a silent vigil to the forces of evil that misrepresent our identity as children of God. What happened in Charlottesville should raise the ire of every Christ-following, peace-loving disciple. What can we do?

Pray. Pray with your hands, feet and heart. We need to consult the Founder of our Faith for guidance and discernment toward overcoming the sin of racism and bigotry. If possible, dedicate both individual and corporate prayer time this week and the weeks to come to listen to the voice of God for healing.

Learn. Read articles and books, again individually and collectively to prepare for fruitful dialogue about ways to overcome the false understanding that racism is an individual preference. I commend to you this article by the Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas. Also, host an introduction to anti-racism
workshop in your congregation or small group. Caution: be sensitive to the experiences of non-whites so as to not re-injure them by inadvertently forcing them to lead the learning process by sharing and baring their pain.

Act. Do the work. Opinion will not be the vehicle that will last the entire journey to our destination of freedom and justice for all. Our anti-racism training is designed to walk us through the history that has shaped all of us into a racialized identity that is counter to our identity as Christ’s human family. However, it is not always the starting point for a sustained conversation that leads to action. I commend to you our “One Bag of Tea, One Conversation, One Relationship” program for getting to know your congregation and/or community.

Be different. Because we offer an education and a granting program, we have learned in Reconciliation Ministry the importance to nurture our own capacity to “be the change we want to see in the world,” as coined by Mahatma Ghandi. This means go to the rally, aware of your surroundings but determined to be Christ to someone who needs your advocacy and power.

Donate to Reconciliation Ministry. Funds support grants for institutional programs that address the root causes of racism and leader development for long term change. 

Like the Rachel, while listening to the report of the events in Charlottesville, I sat in my car weeping unable to be consoled. Afterward I resolved to trust God’s leading and not the leading of intimidation by keeping silent. As I consulted the scriptures, I was emboldened by God’s promises through the prophet Jeremiah to the Israelites in this, “Thus says the LORD: Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work, says the LORD: they shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future, says the LORD: your children shall come back to their own country.” (Jeremiah 31: 16-17 NRSV)

With the help of God’s children, may it be so . . .

Christian Church Health Care Plan

The Christian Church Health Care Benefit Trust has partnered with Gravie to look for new health benefit options designed exclusively for pastors and church employees. We are looking for a better option with coverage starting January 1, 2018, but we need your help now. In just two weeks, over 425 members have already indicated they would like to take advantage of this new offering in 2018.


  • Gravie’s marketplace includes cost-friendly health insurance plans ranging from comprehensive to catastrophic coverage.
  • Gravie’s marketplace also includes ancillary benefits, including dental insurance, vision insurance, life insurance, HSAs, and more.
  • You may be eligible for government tax credits that could lower your monthly payments. Gravie will help you determine if you are eligible and help you apply.
  • Best yet, Gravie provides a benefits concierge service called Gravie Care at no cost. Gravie Care provides enrollment guidance and year-round benefits support.


Please email healthcare@pensionfund.org confirming that you are interested in the program. You will receive additional details via email shortly after. 

We’re looking forward to providing our pastors and church employees with the best health benefit options in 2018.

2017 Camp Gala & Auction

Pool: Our newly renovated pool features a splash pad for young swimmers or those who do not wish to swim.

Camp Gala & Auction
October 28
Disciples Center at Tawakoni

10:30 a.m. — Silent Auction
12:30 p.m. — Lunch & Live Auction

Dinner Menu:

  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Beef Tenderloin
  • Roast Turkey Breast
  • Green Beans
  • Martin’s Dirty Rice with homemade Sausage

$45 registration fee due by Friday, October 21; Register and pay online below or download the 2017 Camp Gala and Auction Registration Form and mail with payment to the Topeka Regional Office.  Proceeds benefit camp facility improvement

Have Auction Items to donate?
Items can be dropped off at the Disciples Center or given to any regional staff member.


What is Stewardship?

Taken from “Disciples receive stewardship study” 
by Rev. Bruce Barkhauer, Minister for Faith and Giving
Disciples News Service, originally posted August 2, 2017

Center for Faith and Giving (DOC)What, exactly, does it mean that the General Assembly unanimously voted to accept the Stewardship Study Document (GA-1732)? Actually, that depends on you.

The document itself becomes a historical marker for how we Disciples think biblically and theologically about stewardship and what we believe are the indications for our faith as we move deeper into the 21st Century. Beyond that, the document simply lives in the pages of the 2017 docket; unless you, the church, choose to engage it.

The document, available in five languages is meant to be read and discussed within every manifestation of the church.

It serves as a broad examination of the biblical materials that relate to the topic of stewardship, with an intent that the church become conversant with these fundamental understandings. It further provides a theological perspective which is intended to encourage dialogue and conversation within the church about what stewardship is, and what it means to be a steward as an individual, a community of faith, and as a part of God’s wondrous creation.

We recognize that not everyone will share the same conclusions/assumptions of the document. That is acceptable, since unity of opinion on how to be a steward in a singular way is not the primary goal. Our objective is to better define what a steward is. We trust that the church in its wisdom will discover what a steward does in the unique contexts in which individuals and communities of faith are located.

While the document is certainly accessible in its current form, a curriculum team is beginning to write materials based on this document. This will be graded material for elementary, middle and high school, as well as adult study resources that can be adapted for multiple uses for everything from Sunday school and small group study to VBS and summer camp. We want to make it easy to use the information and we recognize that having a developed curriculum available might help move this deeper into our shared life together.

The major points to know about this document are:

  • We understand stewardship as a spiritual discipline, not fundraising
  • Stewardship encompasses the totality of our lives
  • It is about faithful response to what we have already received from the generosity of God
  • There is enough – the provision of God is abundant – it is the human mismanagement of resources that has produced scarcity and created anxiety
  • Where stewardship is practiced, it is inherent to the presence of justice; where it is absent, injustice frequently prevails
  • Stewardship, faithfully practiced, is transformative – both for individuals and for organizations
  • Necessary resources for mission and ministry come from congregations and impact the whole church’s ability to fulfill our common vision. We are in this together.
  • We can’t be church without the practice of generosity

The document is not intended to be the complete, final authority on stewardship. It is meant to be a starting place for a conversation that church needs to have and one we need to begin now. We encourage you to access the document, to spend some time with its concepts, to share and discuss its ideas and implications, and (if appropriate for your context) utilize the curriculum when it becomes available in the spring of 2018.

Disciples Men Fall Retreat

Click here to watch, share, and post this video with friends and church!

Hey men! You won’t want to miss the Disciples Men’s Retreat Sept. 29-30.

Two dynamic speakers, Todd Adams, Pension Fund, and Jesse Jackson Jr. of East 6th Street Christian Church, Oklahoma City, will help us explore Wrestling with an Old Foe


Racial strife has raised its ugly head again. While there has been great progress since the 1950s, there is still much work to be done if we are to be the nation our founders envisioned and the faith community Christ called us to be.

In this work of racial justice, men of faith need to learn how to say “Enough!” to hurtful, bigoted speech, and acts of racially motivated violence. 

Come! Be a part of this important conversation during this year’s retreat!

Read More: KS Disciples Men Fall Retreat 2017

Reboot Your Worship

Your regional church has invested in Dr. Marcia McFee’s “Reboot Your Worship” on your behalf. Dr. McFee’s worship workshops were well-received at General Assembly, and now you can learn from her without traveling. Read on for more information and the link to participate.

Our participation gives you access to 6 weeks of downloadable articles and videos and 6 live webinars with Dr. McFee, a renowned worship designer, consultant, and educator.

She will be training churches in five basic ways to improve their worship immediately, no matter the size or style of worship and without a big budget or drastic change. Just as we have an occasional need to reboot our computers, “rebooting” your worship is simply a way to look through fresh eyes and get some fresh skills. Dr. McFee will be getting you ready for your best Advent season ever all along the way!

Sign-up is free, webinars are free, resources are free, and the number of participants from your church is unlimited. Your region has paid the price for all our churches!

Sign-up at https://ny163.infusionsoft.com/app/form/kansas-region-docOn the sign-up page, in the box District/Region/Presbytery, type “Kansas Disciples.” 

Second Anti-Racism Training Session

Saturday, Aug. 26, is the second of three Anti-racism Training for clergy, spouses and church leaders for this year; the date was changed due to our trainer’s schedule. It begins at 10 a.m. at the Disciples Center at Tawakoni, and ends around 3 p.m. A third session is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 19, at Great Bend First Christian Church, same times.

Anti-racism training is mandatory for all clergy in the Kansas region in 2017 in order to maintain standing regardless of their status in the every-third-year requirement for Boundary Training. This training is also open to all non-clergy church leaders who would like to be part of the discussion on how to counter the racism among us. This event takes the place of our usual Boundary Training for this year. One-third of Kansas clergy still need to register for either the Aug. 26 or Oct. 19 session.

Trainer Nancy Eggen is the Minister for Racial Justice Initiatives for the Kansas-Oklahoma Conference of the United Church of Christ. She will lead participants to explore the difference between acts of racial bigotry and systemic racism, to learn more about the difficulty of talking about race and our history as a racialized society, and to explore white privilege.

Copyright in the church

Technology Tidbit: What churches need to know about copyright law

With the advent of technology, it is easy to share music and videos.  Being a Non-profit/education based organization, churches are not exempt from copyright. In most cases, if you are not charging people to come hear the performance of music then it falls under the fair use doctrine. 

Fair use doctrine promotes freedom of expression by permitting the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works in certain circumstances. In determining fair use, consider these factors:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

In the cases of churches, we collect an offering and one can argue that we are “charging” people.  That is where the CCLI license comes in.  It protects both you as the church as well as insures the appropriate copyright holder gets the royalties if any.

With the advent of technology, the CCLI license insures song writers still get paid for their work. Permission is required to reproduce lyrics of copyrighted hymns or songs. Owning a set of Hymn books doesn’t provide permission (unless otherwise stated). The electronic storage on a computer of hymns/songs counts as reproduction including projecting the words using PowerPoint slides. With a CCLI License, the church has permission to write, type, or copy song words and music.  Remember to report usage to CCLI.

The license doesn’t cover photocopies of lyrics or music directly from hymn book. Books have a typography right which is 25 years from first date of print. A Music Reproduction License covers the right to photocopy from a book. 

Only the copyright owner has the right to change or amend their work.  Finding difficulty in how a song has been written, or concern with its theology doesn’t give you the right to change the work without permission form copyright holder

Under CCLI reproduction songs/hymns require you to show:

  • the copyright symbol
  • the writer
  • copyright holder
  • copyright year
  • license number

Example: Fred Smiley © 2000 Happy Music Ltd, CCLI Licence No: 12345

When projecting the lyrics using PowerPoint slides, remember to display this information on the bottom of every slide of each song.

Choosing the right words

Communication Corner: Choosing the right words to tell your story

Written communication – print or digital – is the primary way churches communicate with members, visitors, and the surrounding community.  The words you use and the tone they convey affect how well your church communicates.  


Action vs. passive verbs:

Depending on the way in which you word a sentence, a verb can be either active or passive. When the verb is active, the subject of the verb is doing the action. When the verb is passive, the subject is the recipient of the action rather than doing it.

Active: The girl threw the ball.           Passive: The ball was thrown by the girl.

Active voice makes your meaning clear for readers, and keeps the sentences from becoming too complicated or wordy. Sentences in active voice are also more concise than those in passive voice because fewer words are required to express action. Sentences in passive voice can seem awkward, and overuse of passive voice can cause your writing to seem flat and uninteresting. 


Positive vs. Negative language

Whether you communicate orally, or in written form, the way you express yourself will affect whether your message is received positively or negatively.

Using positive language tends to reduce conflict, improve communication, reduce defensiveness in others and helps portray the speaker/writer as credible and respectable. Positive language tends to create the action you want, while negative language tends to do the opposite. People remember more often when the sentence begins “Remember to …” rather than “Don’t forget to ….”

Negative phrasing and language often have the following characteristics:

  • tells the recipient what cannot be done.
  • has a subtle tone of blame
  • includes words like can’t, won’t, unable to, that tell the recipient what the sending agency cannot do.
  • does not stress positive actions that would be appropriate, or positive consequences. 

Positive phrasing and language have the following qualities:

  • tells the recipient what can be done
  • suggests alternatives and choices available to the recipient
  • sounds helpful and encouraging rather than bureaucratic
  • stresses positive actions and positive consequences that can be anticipated. 





KCH Legacy of John Dinner


Kansas Christian Home
Legacy of John Benefit Dinner

August 26
6 p.m.

Meridian Center, Newton