Disciples of Christ Moves Toward Inclusion

Jim Burroway

July 19th, 2013

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), during their General Assembly this week in Orlando, approved resolution 1327 in which the church declares itself “a people of grace and welcome to all“:

…WHEREAS, the 1997 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) called for the church to give continuing research and reflection “concerning the participation of gay and lesbian persons in the full life and ministry of the Church”; and

WHEREAS, persons continue to be devalued and discriminated against within society and more sadly, within the church because of their sexual orientation and or gender identity; and

WHEREAS, Disciples find identity at the Lord’s table, sharing as the body of Christ, valuing each other in covenantal relationship even when we disagree; and

WHEREAS, Disciples historically affirm that individuals and congregations hold differing interpretations of scripture, but that all are called to transcend differences and claim one another in Christian unity;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the General Assembly meeting in Orlando, Florida, July 13-17, 2013, calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to recognize itself as striving to become a people of grace and welcome to all God’s children though differing in race, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, ethnicity, marital status, physical or mental ability, political stance or theological perspective; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Assembly calls upon the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to affirm the faith, baptism and spiritual gifts of all Christians regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and that neither is grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church, but we celebrate that all are part of God’s good creation; and

The resolution, which passed with 75% of the vote, does not address same-sex marriage or ordination of LGBT clergy. The church’s decentralized church structure leaves questions of ordination to its regional bodies, and resolutions like this one are non-binding. According to Wikipedia:

Northern California is the only region labeled as Open and Inclusive; however, the Ohio Commission on Ministry (the body that grants ordination) has decided that sexual orientation is not a criterion for ordination. At the 2012 Regional Assemblies, a number of Disciples regions (including Kentucky and Indiana) joined Ohio in eliminating sexual orientation as a restriction for ordination. Other regions are in the process of investigating the matter, mostly on a polity (since congregations determine ethical fitness for candidates and hire their ministers) and not a theological basis.


July 19th, 2013

I am delighted my sisters and brothers in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have passed this resolution after 16 years of research and reflection. I’m United Church of Christ. The UCC and the DOC have many affinities and partnerships.

On the other hand, as pleased as I am with their action, the United Church of Christ first took a position in support of lesbian and gay equality in April, 1969, a couple of months BEFORE Stonewall. A sub-region of the UCC (called an association) ordained an openly gay man as a minister in 1972. In my region (called a conference), I’d estimate a third of our active clergy are gay or lesbian. By the time I was ordained in 2000, my being gay was simply not an issue.

The UCC first expessed tentative support for marriage equality in 1997, and fully supported marriage equality in 2005, when Massachusetts was the only state it was legal.

So, as glad as I am for my DOC friends, at this point, it is not a prophetic action.


July 19th, 2013

I’d have *sworn* I put a comment here this morning…

Oh well, here goes again. I’d thought that Disciples of Christ was generally *more* conservative than the Southern Baptists. Combining this article with Revchicoucc’s post… is this issue an exception?

Joyce Miller

July 19th, 2013

revchociucc – I’m UCC, too, though a member of the laity. Thanks for your comment on behalf of the UCC’s long support of LGBT issues. I’m proud to say I’m UCC.

Hyhybt – The UCC is probably considered by those who label such things as left-wing. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), which is the way they refer to themselves formally, and the UCC are covenant partners, sharing missionaries. We have a close relationship, and many similarities. Thus, I think they may share some of our “liberal” beliefs.

Unfortunately, there are several Protestant denominations that have similar-sounding names. I also thought there was a very conservative group called the Church of Christ, but I couldn’t distinguish it from other groups with similar names. One such group is closely related to the Disciples.


July 19th, 2013

Just an FYI to all, there are quite a few outfits of widely varying doctrinal and sociopolitical persuasions that call themselves “Church of Christ.” I’m no expert on all that, but if anyone is curious, the disambiguation page at Wikipedia will help you sort through them:



July 20th, 2013

Well, it’s all very confusing, even to Christians. The United Church of Christ was formed in 1957 through the union of two denominations in the US — the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. http://www.ucc.org has a description of this union. The UCC is unabashedly a liberal and progressive Christian body. Ten page essay possible on what that means, but one aspect is we like LGBT people and have for a long time.

The Church of Christ or, more accurately, the Churches of Christ, are conservative and fundamentalist Christians. They place a high emphasis on the independence of each local congregation, so high, they sometimes do not have dealings with each other. Fundamentalist and anti-modern tends to describe the Churches of Christ. The UCC and the Churches of Christ have nothing to do with each other (even at the local level — the local Church of Christ minister considers me a heretic.)

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Churches of Christ have similar historical roots in the revivalism of the American frontier in the early 1800s. The American frontier at that time being Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee. There was an emphasis at the time in trying to restore a unity to Christianity. Over time, some of the local congregations that formed from this era adapted more to American cultural norms while others maintained and strengthened their separatism. The “adapters” gradually (like over 150 years) formed relationships between congregations and those relationships in 1968 coalesced into what is today The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The “separatists” maintained their anti-denominational stance and their rigid fundamentalism.

Christianity is very diverse in its expressions and practices. Actually, it has been since its earliest days. Christian ministers like me who have honestly studied Christian history know this. And, speaking as a liberal and progressive Christian, I resent it when the Pope and the high-profile, conservative and fundamentalist celebrity preachers are presumed to speak for all Christians.

My comments here are a very, very simple version of complex histories over two centuries.


July 20th, 2013

@Hyhybt: The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is not more conservative than the Southern Baptists. Women can be pastors in the Christian Church (Disciples) for example. They cannot in the SBC. The Churches of Christ tend to be more conservative than Southern Baptist. Some Churches of Christ congregations do not allow musical instruments in worship because they are not explicitly authorized in the New Testament.


July 20th, 2013

Quick reference guide for LGBT folks:

United Church of Christ: almost all United Church of Christ congregations will welcome you — Open and Affirming is the designation for congregations that have voted to welcome LGBT folks to full participation in the the life of the congregation — more than 20% of UCC churches are ONA. Many more have just never voted, but are ONA in practice.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ): many DOC churches will welcome you, but there is variation, moreso than in the UCC. Open and Welcoming is the designation to look for.

Churches of Christ: Do not go there.

Sorry to take so much of the comments thread.


July 20th, 2013

Russ, to put it very simply, the UCC has absolutely NO relation to the Churches of Christ.

I was moderator of my local UCC for three years. Just goes to show you how progressive the UCC and our congregation were/are considering the fact that as I was/am BUDDHIST and they knew it. Our youth director was also Buddhist. I was drawn to the UCC not because of their Christian association but because of their long and storied commitment to social justice taught by the Christ and the Buddha.


July 20th, 2013

They are certainly ecumenical! I used to know some people who went to UCC and they were all very cool, progressive people.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.