Breaking Ground: The Newsletter of the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities

Archives available here. Note specifically the January 2009 issue entitled “Spirituality: A view of the world”

This brings to mind the National Organization on Disability Accessible Congregation campaign from the earlier part of this decade. An excellent start, but 2000 of 335,000 U. S. congregations (I believe the theological term is) sucks.

Here’s are practical tests:

1) does your pulpit area have a wheel chair accessible ramp PROMINENTLY VIEWABLE FROM THE AUDIENCE SIDE (symbolism is a big part of religious houses of worship message-wise, no?

2) When is the last time a blind or a deaf person lead prayer? How about someone with a speech disability using either a human or technological interpreter?

3) Do you have ANY Braille bulletins or collateral materials. Videos with captions? American Sign Language Bibles? can help with some of these things.

4) How many folks with visible disabilities of your leadership team (board, elders, presbyters, synod, national denominational board, etc.?

5) When’s the last time you’ve asked questions (as an organization) remotely like the four above?

Mark Hamilton on Justice

<ed.note>One of the benefits of Lent is the setting aside of time to meditate on just how much we’ve|I’ve screwed up in the previous year. One of the blessings of Easter is the sense that a new, hopeful year awaits for more victory, less defeat. But victory needs a goal and I can think of no better than that of a greater involvement in God’s will as it relates to believers promoting justice. Mark Hamilton’s thoughts on the topic make a fantastic springboard moving us in the direction of that goal.</ed.note>

What is justice? How can we be more just people, and a more just church? These questions seem acute in our time, as American Christians have access to unprecedented wealth and power while so many of our brothers and sisters sometimes lack even daily bread. As this new series of podcasts tries to show, the Bible offers a profound and eminently workable approach to changing our own lives — our attitudes, behaviors, values, and desires — so as to become more just people. I hope you enjoy this series and welcome your comments or questions. Dr. Mark W. Hamilton Associate Professor of Old Testament and Associate Dean ACU Graduate School of Theology Abilene, TX 79699 Editor, The Transforming Word

Podcast here.

Lorajoy Tira Dimangondayao – Diaspora Missiology: “The Road Map to Cape Town for People on the Move”

The world has increasingly become “borderless” due to globalization, technological communication and accelerated migration or diaspora (i.e. scattering or dispersion of people from their homeland), towards the end of the Second Millennium.  These diasporas have created tremendous opportunities and challenges to evangelize and disciple millions of people who, just a century ago, were living in isolated countries and regions of the world described by missiologists as “closed” and “restricted” to Christian missions.  Thus, the 21st Century reality of mass movements of people requires the global Church, here after referred to as the “Whole Church”, to respond.
Diaspora is then, one of the global issues to be discussed during the upcoming Lausanne III or the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization (Cape Town 2010) gathering of Evangelical leaders in Cape Town, South Africa, October 16-25, 2010.  It must be noted that the previous Lausanne Congresses (Lausanne I – 1974; Lausanne II – 1989) did not address the issue of diasporas.
To prepare for this upcoming discussion (on Diasporas in Cape Town), two consultations on Lausanne Diasporas were convened in 2009 as part of the “road map” to Cape Town. More here

Great Communion Celebration invite to the West End Church of Christ, 4 p.m., October 4, 2009

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ in Middle Tennessee,

200 years ago Thomas Campbell was a lone voice crying out in the wilderness, calling for the unity of believers based on the commitment to Jesus Christ shared by all Christians. He decried the divisions that separated believers and reminded them of God’s gift of One Church. The fall of 1809 saw the publication of this clarion call in the form of his Declaration and Address; a breathtaking vision of Christians loving, worshipping and serving together in every locality-allowing the Spirit of Christ to form themselves into humble servants. That call eventually led to the formation of what has been known as the Restoration or Stone-Campbell Movement, a fellowship of people and congregations comprised of the Christian Churches, Churches of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Today that early vision of Christian Unity is one for which increasing numbers of believers long and is a major thrust of movements all across Christianity. A reappropriation of the spirit of the Declaration and Address in the churches of the Stone-Campbell Movement may be one of the richest contributions we can make to the emerging world of Christianity – and a gift we can give ourselves!

In celebration of the bicentennial of Thomas Campbell’s Declaration and Address Christians all over the world are gathering around the Table to share the Lord’s Supper – which Campbell called that great ordinance of Unity and Love – on Sunday October 4, 2009. The name given to this celebration is Great Communion in recognition of our Movement’s belief in the centrality of the Lord’s Supper, the place where we demonstrate our greatest unity. For more information on Great Communion go to Here you will find a host of downloadable resources for use in the local congregation.

In Middle Tennessee Christians of the Stone-Campbell Movement are invited to share in their heritage and be a part of a new call to Christian Unity by gathering for a Great Communion Celebration at 4 p.m. on October 4, 2009 at West End Church of Christ, 3534 West End Ave, Nashville. The service will feature brief messages by David Fleer and John York, a Unity Choir, and fellowship to follow. The central focus of the day will be a celebration of the Lord’s Supper. 

For more information or to participate in the Unity Choir contact the office of World Convention at 615-331-1824 or email at 

The Nashville Area Great Communion Planning Task Force 

Mission Alive believes that church planting and church renewal must

  • demonstrate the in-breaking of the kingdom of God into contemporary social fabrics so that God’s will “is done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
  • replicate the simple patterns of equipping and sending illustrated by the ministry of Jesus (Luke 10:1-9; John 20:21).
  • embody the incarnation of Christ so that the gospel comes near to sojourners, that is, “spiritually curious but disoriented God seekers” (The Tangible Kingdom, p. 116).
  • refocus the church from a hierarchical, modern pyramid, with religious leaders providing goods and services to the already saved, to a missional wedge sending maturing disciples to serve and speak to the unsaved.
  • move intentionally from theology to spiritually-formative practices to redemptive structures.
  • Mission Alive exists “to discover, equip, and nurture church-planting leaders who will plant Christ-formed churches in suburbs, city centers, poverty areas, and university contexts with unbelievers as the primary target and to partner with churches to plant churches”  We do this by (1) equipping church planters through Discovery, Theology, and Strategy labs, (2) providing church planter care through coaching, spiritual direction, church planter forums, retreats, and conferences, and (3) partnering with churches in missional renewal and church planting.

    Missional renewal of local churches takes place in a ministry called reVISION—Initiative for Missional Transformation.  ReVISION is designed to walk with leaders of existing churches as they pray, think, and plan for leading their churches to more fully express the Mission of God in their communities.  As part of reVISION, ministry leaders and shepherds participate in the Theology and Strategy Labs and take these missional moves to their full church leadership.  Mission Alive then works personally in post-lab orientation(s) to help them reVISION the mission of God and practically equip them to participate in His mission in their communities.

    Currently 15 church planting movements are emerging in six states.

    Learn about missional church planting through this video.

    Kevan Peer Update

    Hey Family!

    Thanks to those of you who prayed about the elder / deacon sessions, and followed it up to ask about it all.

    Turns out I had the date incorrect. I had only copied part of it off a church's bulletin board. It was not "1", but "15"! So, there are still chances to pray. And please do. Perhaps you can ask our Congregation there to pray for the unity efforts in Tennessee this week. So, it is this coming Saturday!

    The E Main St CoC is one of the older Congregations here in my area of middle TN, and even had Pres. Garfield preach there once back in the 1860's! Pres. Garfield is one of 4 US Presidents to be affiliated with our Brotherhood. E Main has taken up hosting Elder / Deacon / leader "lectureships" one Saturday each Summer, and usually the topic deals with a focus on those areas.

    For the last 30 years, all 3 streams / aspects of the RM / SCM have been trying to understand what went wrong, that a "unity" movement could not hold it together. Many have tried differing methods without establishing the ground work of a Biblical framework to allow such. And since it was not part of a Biblical hermeneutic, several left to start more conservative or liberal wings, or just left, in part due to the inconsistencies.

    And our a cappella aspect has seen this even moreso, with there now being 26 different "sects" within that tradition of our Brotherhood. Those 26 align into 6 camps who cannot work and worship together. The result for them is not only do they say the CC / DoC are not the "true Church", but they also say the CoC up the street is not the "true CoC". The world looks at that and says, "why bother going there, I can find that anywhere!" And so the CoC's have been losing members steadily since the 1980's at least. (So have the DoC's as well as the CC's until the 1990's when we started turning things around, yet in some areas, we are still losing members — just like other old school faith groups. That is one of the hopeful dynamics of returning to the Matthew 28 Approach to Scripture, that it allows us to use many of the "Emergent" trends [not so much Emerging school] which embrace much of what this generation seeks from community, and what our Brotherhood started out doing in the first place.)

    Seeing their situation as needing remedying, the CoC's have returned in many recent "lectureships" to deal with what they feel are the key issues, the "elementary teachings" of (Heb. 6). So, this lectureship focuses on what the see as key components of their return to their "foundations". The 2 doctrines in question are:

    1) 1st AM session – the "Doctrine Of Authority" (known as RPW by most Reformed Church faith groups). It suggests that the way to approach the Scriptures is to see that we "do not add to" or "subtract from" the Scriptures, Further, that if you "go beyond", then you have sinned. I say this so-called doctrine is "DOA"! ha!

    Tied strongly to that approach is their view on Biblical silences.

    2) 2nd AM session – the "Doctrine Of Silence Forbidding". This is sometimes used by Reformed Church faith groups, but usually in a lesser formulaic version. The CoC version states that if the Bible says nothing about a topic and you do it, it is a sin. Our brothers limit it, as did Calvin (the man creditied with the origination of this approach to Scripture) to the work and worship of the Church. The Amish do not so limit it saying "all of life should be worship anyway", and so apply it to all of life. The Mennonites do similarly (e.g., rejecting zippers on clothing saying they did not have them in Bible days). And the Primitive Baptists apply it to worship in restriction on things like not have central heat or air in their worship buildings since forced air systems were not available in Bible days. The Baptists in using these doctrines are now 300+ separate denominations! We are fortunate that by God's grace we are simply 3. And it has been God's grace that He is allowing us to learn how to become one again, and in so doing, be a witness to what God can do, when we let Him lead. And since this false doctrine is used so widely, once our Brotherhood is into this a few years, we can start using what God has helped us with, to help them leave this false gospel as well.

    Fewer than 10% of these 450+ Congregations that I now visit are on this program. And it seems to take about 7 years to rid our lives of the old leaven, and then it just becomes part of the normal 7 year cycle of congregational regeneration that many of you are already using. For example, in our aspect of the Brotherhood, we used to teach, "well, we do so and so because the early Church did so and so". That was a generalization, but in the details, it is false. We used the doctrine of "CENI" (Command, Example, and necessary Inference) to say something was "authorized" or okay to do in all situations. And we said if the Bible specified one way to do something, then there was only one way to do it. (The more restrictive CoC's would say and if more than one way is specified, that does not authorize any method, but all those methods are thereby "authorized".) Another way our aspect uses this approach to the Scriptures is through "pattern theology" (quick note – in the OT, the "pattern" was seen to be physical, but in the NT, when speaking of the NC's "pattern", it is always Personal! – wow, now is that not what this generation cries out for – relationship!).

    So, again, those 2 doctrines:

    1) "Authority" is dead on arrival since Jesus, Whom the Scriptures testify was sinless, did not obey it. The early Church did not obey it. God did not obey it. And in fact, we find Jesus doing the opposite, in "going beyond" (often touted as the NT proof text that "authority" is required and that "silence forbids", but in reality is a misapplication of 1 Cor. 4:6, which actually refers back to 1:31).

    2) While I can disprove "silence forbids" with one Scripture (Jn. 12:48), they likely will not be satisfied unless I first disprove about 50 false scenarios. One classic scenario used is Moses in bringing water from the rock the 2nd time, strikes the rock. They take a quick look and say, "see, he added to God's command, and that was why Moses did not get into the Promised Land in his lifetime. Is that what Scripture says, or have our brothers "added to" Scripture in order to say that? This so-called doctrine says that if the Bible does not command it or even mention it at all, and you do it (again, limited to those two areas concerning the work and worship of the Church – which is why they allow a piano in their homes, but not in their Church's building – it tends towards compartmentalization of life), then it is a sin. (Heb. 7's) Melchizedek / priest not specified from Judah, or (Acts 15's) "we gave no such command" are often trotted out as proof texts for this. sample conundrum they would suggest is "can you have watermelon as part of the Lord's Supper to represent His fleshy Body?". 

    Oh, for those of you who wish to study this last topic in depth, an a cappella CoC brother, Al Maxey, has written about this weekly for 15 years now. He recently debated online a brother from a restrictive CoC preacher training institute, Memphis School of Preaching as to whether all the NT is "pattern" or the "NT contains pattern". You can find the archives of both online at (He is very close to my statement that "Silence does not exclude. Stating that something must be done that way and only that way excludes".) That should be interesting reading for any of our brothers who cling to "patternism". You can contact him. You can subscribe to his weekly e-letter. Either way, please thank him for his work.

    It has taken me years of study to try and sort out the sense from the nonsense.

    Since our aspects have been apart for so long, we have developed key jargon terms that have weighted meaning distinct from their normal sense meanings.And while& I may be close to being an expert in this translating of our traditions, I am not perfect. And since I work to support this outreach, I will not have lots of time to spend in preparation, but I tend to have Saturday free, so I am trying to do that.

    And so, with about one week left until this next opportunity for our Brotherhood to find healing, I continue to ask for your prayers:

    – that an opportunity will be granted to present questions to the gathered brothers,

    – that God's Spirit will prepare our hearts to hear His Voice over tradition's,

    – that I will be given the words to heal and they the ears to hear,

    – that I will serve in meekness and humility,

    – that God will help His Word not to return to Him void, but to accomplish Its mission.

    Please feel free to come if you live locally, the more the merrier.

    Registration in Murfreesboro, TN starts at 8 AM. Maybe you can ask a question or two as well. And if you have insight into any of this and wish to share it, feel free to forward that to my attention. And please pray. Thanks!

    Master, we believe You are not the author of confusion. Thank You for helping us start to recognize that old trickster up to his worst again, encouraging us to promote a false gospel in place of freedom in Christ. Thank You for allowing our Brotherhood the opportunity to embrace Your commands as repeated by Your Apostles and to use that to energize Your One Church. Thank You for praying for us to share in Your Oneness, and please give us the courage to do so, being Your bondservants. Help us always to be to the praise of Your glory! In Jesus' Name, amen.

    In HIS love,

    kevan peer, a servant 615.481.4503

    "for it does not yet appear, what we shall be"

    Linux 4 Christians and Interpreting God’s Will

    Someone on the listserv asked:

    God's Word…Is it to be interpreted as it is or by some other means?

    Others responded:

    > It is impossible to interpret anything without bringing your own bias. Since I am not God, and can not completely understand his mind (it's much bigger than mine) I can only hope to interpret it with his help – which normally means leaning on the wisdom of others much wiser than me.

    and others:

    > This is what God gives us the Holy Spirit for:

    My take (with some edits for clarity):

    Well, to put a fine point on it – this says that that is what the Holy
    Spirit is for – for the Apostles. To apply the same function to
    today's disciples is an act of interpretation (inference) – which was
    Taz's question in the first place. (BTW, I do make that inference –
    but I realize it is an inference and not in the original context). Taz's question is probably "why  do you feel comfortable or think it proper to make that kind of inference?"

    In Samuel, revelation came thru dreams, priests (Ephod/Urim and
    Thummim), and the similar "lots", and prophets ("burdens" or prophecies/proclamations). In Genesis and the
    gospels it came by angels, personal visitation by God (or the angel
    of God), signs, dreams, and the act of blessing or cursing. Judges had wet
    fleeces, etc. The Psalms record
    David's fascination with thunderstorms as epiphanies. There are probably others I'm missing.

    In the NT, you've got Paul telling us the "writings" were valuable in
    Rom 15:4 (and the parallel to Timothy {2 Tim. 3:16 ff}). Of course, in the LXX at that
    time there were the Apocryphal books included as well (and I would
    argue there is no way to know how much influence the Pseudepigrapha
    had in shaping the messianic concepts and expectations); Peter had
    dreams, Paul had a vision, apostles were chosen by lots, three had a transfiguration revelation, John the Immerser had a "dove' and a voice, the Holy
    Spirit spoke directly to Phillip, there was the "Joel fulfillment" in
    Acts 2:17, etc. Angels aplenty here, too (Elizabeth, Mary,  shepherds, disciples at the tomb, etc.)

    Most church traditions today are based on the acceptance or rejection
    of early church fathers' interpretations (whom they don't read
    directly) and/or councils, and later 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st
    century commentary writers; and most are ignorant of this — and
    loathe to admit it when they are informed.

    FWIW: Paul said during his day that "For everything that was written
    in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the
    encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." I infer this to
    apply to me. I pray to the Father that the Holy Spirit will discipline
    and correct me. And another inference from Paul is that he assumes a
    disciple will be somehow connected with a congregation (and by
    extension, the leaders and teachers God provides thru them).

    Other folks may argue some other path but God blessed me with an
    analytical mind and I can usually spot a whole the size of a truck in
    their logic. Me seeing it and being able to point it out to them
    persuasive — well, those are two different things.

    Bonus: It is a good practice to
    talk to missionaries and ask what theological "things" they've learned
    by the questions asked of the biblical text by their fellow disciples
    in these congregations which differ from those asked by the "Western

    Note: Paul's end game was "courage". The "hope" was the necessary foundation (resulting from trusting God to act in the future as He had/has in the past — called "faith" in "churcheze") to produce "courage" so that Christians should do good works in thanks and praise to God — even if — and especially in — the face of opposition.

    In short: Persevere in compassion and excellence toward others empowered by the hope and courage produced by faith in the God whose compassion and "steadfast loving-kindness" provided|provides a Messiah for us in our time of need — even in , especially in, the face of opposition.

    The Fund for Global Environment and Conflict Resolution Call for Proposals

    Overview of The Fund

    The Fund for Global Environment and Conflict Resolution (The Fund) is the result of a partnership between Columbia University Center for International Conflict Resolution, School of International & Public Affairs and the Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea of the Italian government. Over a period of three years, The Fund will provide support for research, teaching and fellowships. Thanks to The Fund, CICR will promote research conducted by prominent scholars at Columbia University, in Italy and in other countries relating to the issue of the global environment and conflict resolution.

    The Fund has three major focus areas. First, it will look at the relationships between sustainable development and post-conflict issues in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Peru and Colombia—areas where the Italian Ministry has ongoing activities. Second, the research will focus on the prevention of potential conflicts over natural resources, paying particular attention to China, the Middle East and North Africa. Third, the research will focus on the relationship between climate change and international security. The Fund will also provide opportunities for fellowships and scholarships to scholars and students interested in these areas.

    Candidates must be from Italy, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Peru, Colombia, China, the Middle East, and/or North Africa and/or be at Columbia University. Exceptions to this will be made on a case-by-case basis where the researcher in question has demonstrated excellence or expertise in one of the above fields or case-studies in a way not met by the other candidates.

    Call for Proposals

    The Fund for the Global Environment and Conflict Resolution at CICR would like to invite all interested applicants to submit proposals for research before June 30. Proposals should look generally at the Environment-Conflict nexus and specifically be related to one of the following areas of interest:

    1. Researching the prevention and control of potential conflict in the use of natural resources with particular reference to China, Middle East and North Africa. Paying particular attention, where possible, to afforestation/reforestation land use efforts in China or the impact of economic development as a direct result of renewable energy projects as an impetus to security and stability in Northern African regions.

    2. Researching environmental solutions and sustainable development policies in conflict and post-conflict areas, based on the ongoing activities of the Italian Ministry in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Peru and Colombia as case studies. Areas of research might also look into illicit land use for drug trade and terrorist efforts. Paying attention, where possible, to endeavors underway in Iraq, the Republic of Serbia, the Republic of Montenegro and the Amazonas region of Peru and Caribbean coasts of Colombia.

    3. Researching climate change and its relationship to international security as a whole with regards to water scarcity and food security.  Paying particular attention, where possible, to researching the consequences of the current worldwide financial credit crisis sand how this impacts security as a whole in both developed and developing/emerging markets as climate change adaptation forces transnational border trade and migration. Paying attention, where possible to climate change phenomena and water scarcity.

    The research should be problem driven and available, upon completion for wide dissemination in the form of policy papers, through books, journal publications, conferences and seminars both at Columbia University and in relation to avenues linked to the Italian Government.


    1. Applications should include a cover letter stating the reasons for applying The Fund.
    2. A CV detailing all education, work experience and publications.
    3. One letter of recommendation
    4. A Research Proposal of no more than ten pages, including:
        a) Executive Summary
        b) Project Description/Field-work outline
        c) Rationale
        d) Objectives
        e) Outputs/Outcomes
        f) Challenges
        g) Budget

    CICR is able to provide support for research proposals of around $10,000 per project and two to four proposals will be awarded funding. However, exact amounts to be provided will be decided by the selection committee; all decisions are final.

    Candidates shall be hired as Consultants, or given Honorariums, depending on the specific tasks decided upon. Timeframes and financial compensation will be decided upon on a case-by-case basis. CICR cannot provide office space but will provide access to libraries on Columbia University campus.

    All applications should be sent to Josie Lianna Kaye at on or before 30 June.