Regional News

Partnership Connections Committee formed

June 3, 2021 Published by Neil Topliffe

Discussions continue toward partnership between Disciples regions of Michigan and  Illinois-Wisconsin

A committee to continue exploring a working relationship between the Michigan and Illnois-Wisconsin Disciples Regions has been named by Regional Ministers Teresa Dulyea-Parker (CCIW) and Eugene James (CCMR). The group has begun the task of determining opportunities for supporting our ministries with each other as we anticipate Teresa serving as Regional Minister for both regions beginning in January 2022.

The regions will continue as two legally separate structures but share the Regional Minister role and look for ministries currently in place in each region that might be able to work collaboratively as well as provide congregations and pastors from both regions with leadership training, spiritual nurture and racial justice witness.

The committee will focus its attention on how the two regions in the coming months will move toward a new way of carrying out Regional Ministry. The Partnership Plan, subject to final approval by the September Michigan Regional Assembly, will move toward Michigan being served on a part time basis by Dulyea-Parker as Regional Minister. The proposed plan calls for Michigan to replace Regional Elders with four Regional Associates, part-time, stipend supported ordained clergy who will provide regional ministry support to four geographical districts.

“What might be the new opportunities for us to work together is what excites me about the potential of this new way of being Regions,” Teresa told participants in the first Partnership Connections meeting on May 25. “For the past year and a half, as my colleague Angee Byrd said today, we have had our heads down during this pandemic and now we are beginning to lift them up again; I have this sense that God has put in our hands this opportunity, moving together as we walk out of these really tough months,” she added.

Members of the committee from Illinois-Wisconsin are Marla Mcelroy, co-chair, Bloomington; Jennie Churchman, Eureka; and Dwight Winnet, Creve Couer. Michigan members are Neil Topliffe, co-chair, Grand Rapids; Julie Drews, Coral; Brenda Etheridge, Detroit; and Lynn Hockenhull, Detroit. Dulyea-Parker and James are ex-officio members.

The Christian Church in Illinois-Wisconsin, at its March Regional Council meeting, gave unanimous approval toward forming a partnership with the Christian Church in Michigan. The Michigan Region will act on the proposal at its September 11 Regional Assembly.

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