Mike Canjar Joins Memorial Christian Church

14 August 2011

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

On Sunday 16 August 2010 I became a and formally joined the Memorial Christian Church in Ann Arbor. My wife have been worshipping there on a regular basis since January.

I first learned about the Disciples of Christ from website of the American Unitarian Conference, which is the primary group of Unitarian Christians in the U.S. They mentioned that Unitarian Christians who were not satisfied with the Unitarian Universalist Association could look at Disciples of Christ if they sought a worship community that was explicitly Christian in its Orientation. I had attended several UUA worship service and was looking for something else.

The more that I learned about the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the more I liked it. BecHere are some features of our Church, articulated in my language:

  1. Christian Unity: The DoC is in favor of the unity of all self-identified Christians, regardless of theological orientation. Our Congregation has a slogan “Many beliefs. One faith. Come and be a part of the family”.
  2. Open Table Communion Every Sunday. We commemorate the Last Supper each Sunday with a communion service which is open to all self-identified Christians.
  3. Congregational Political Structure Each congregation is self-governing. We elect our Elders and Ministers. The Pastor is hired by the Congregation.
  4. Priesthood of All Believers which includes an active role for the Laity in Worship Services and Church Leadership.
  5. Gender Equality: It is a great embarrassment to the Life and Memory of Jesus that among his followers today the treatment of Women is actually a feature which distinguishes some Churches from others. In our Church, there is no difference. Women can serve in any capacity that men serve in. They can be Elders, Deacons, and Ministers. The current General Minister and President, Rev Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, is a woman

Memorial Christian Church

Because each congregation of the Disciples is self-governing, there is a rich diversity among the various congregations. I have attended several different ones in 2011 and decided that the Memorial Christian Church in Ann Arbor is where I feel most at home. MCC is particularly dedicated to the concept of Believer’s Priesthood. In our church, lay Elders and Deacons are especially active. Our communion service is administered by Lay leaders, who recite the Words of Institution. Also, MCC is an open and affirming congregation
Memorial Christian Church, by God's Grace, commits to being an open and affirming congregation. We affirm Christ's call to love God with all that we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We believe that God enriches the world with variety and calls upon us to engage in God's Holy work. Aware of the worth and importance of our diversities, we declare ourselves to be a church that is open to and appreciative of all people – whatever their race, gender, varying abilities, age, origin, sexual orientation, family configuration, economic or educational status, or other distinction. We believe that all people are children of God and entitled to participate fully in all the activities of this church and of society.

Video of “Call to Discipleship”

At each Sunday Worship service at our Church, there is a Call to Discipleship. This customarily occurs after the Scripture Reading and Sermon and before the Communion service. I have posted below a video clip of my responding to this call in Sunday 8/14. Because of some technical difficulties, we missed the first few seconds of it.

Often the Call to Discipleship is a formality. The presiding minister asks if anyone wishes to answer the call and join the Church. At this service, Reverend Shirley Martinson, begins to call to worship by noting that usually it is just announced but nobody answers. But on that day, the congregation knew that I would be responding.

I had been worshipping at MCC and participating in the congregations for most of this calendar year. I had been considering officially joining for some time. The previous Sunday, 8/7/11. My wife and I met with my Elder Eve Eve Overmars and her husband John to discuss the matter. That meeting went well and I decided that week to join on Sunday. Earlier in the service, we have a section on “God moving in our lives” in which members can make a brief statement as to how they experienced God’s grace that week. I had mentioned our successful meeting and my decision to join. My Wife and I attempted to make a Movie with my IPhone of the ceremony. You can find it down below. It is probably obvious that we had some technical difficulties in shooting it.

If you want to cut to the chase, the key part of the ceremony begins at 2:20 into it. There Shirley pays me a compliment and noted that I had prepared a “spiritual summary” for my Elder, which passed on to her. I subsequently discovered that her difficulty in opening that file was due to a gross error on my part. I did fix that and sned another copy. She very charitably replied: I have just read your spiritual summary and wanted to thank you for sending it in a format I could read. One of the blessings of your Jesuit training is that you could do this.

Baptism

Disciples of Christ does recognize the baptism of other Christian denominations but they do offer an option for Baptism at approximately the time of joining. While I was baptized in the Roman Catholic church as an infant, I do not believe infant Baptism represents the tradition instituted by John and embraced by his mentee, Jesus. I think tin is an appropriate act for me at this point in my Spiritual Journey. I am planning to be Baptized on the Sunday preceding my birthday.

Special Thanks

to my good friend and colleague, Dr. Abhijit Dasgupta of the University of Detroit Mercy’s Math and Computer Science Department, for his technical help in setting up the Video Player above. It would not be here where it not for him.

Webpage last modified Saturday 20 August, 2011