Disciples Heed Minority-Group Needs

After nearly a year in ecclesiastical waters, the restructured Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is still very much afloat, steaming toward ecumenical and social-action harbors. But James Forman’s Black Manifesto will not be among the ports of call, delegates decided in their first biennial General Assembly last month in Seattle.

The Manifesto sparked much action—and reaction. The Disciples’ 250-member General Board asked for approval of its response to the Manifesto, which confessed racial sins but rejected Forman’s “racism, violence, separatism, extortion, revenge, and blanket denunciation of the church.” Board members proposed five-year goals which, if accepted, would “shake every one of our churches and institutions,” according to the Disciples’ chief executive, A. Dale Fiers.

Recommendations included: increasing the Disciples’ own “Reconciliation” urban-crisis fund from $2 million to $4 million; redeploying $30 million of congregational and headquarters budgets to minority-group needs; hiring one-fifth of staff from minorities; investing in minority businesses; creating a Christian Church Urban Affairs Commission.

Leaders of the non-official Disciples for Mission and Renewal bloc moved—but lost 1,603 to 696—to recommit the measure for the addition of denominational recognition of Forman’s Black Economic Development Conference (BEDC). Chicago pastor Charles H. Bayer revealed that some Disciples wanted to give $4,000 to the BEDC in the name of the church. To blunt the opposition he repeated a rumor, later denied by BEDC chief Calvin Marshall III, pastor of an A.M.E. Zion church in New York, that ...

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