136th Annual Membership Assembly Recap

Over the past year Community Renewal Society has been putting our faith into action at every turn as the need to fight for social justice and equality in our communities increases. Our beliefs and values have been forefront in everything we’ve done and your commitment to dismantling racism and poverty has been evident in your actions. CRS could not do this work without you, our member congregations. Your time and gifts continue to be vital in moving our work forward. That is why the Annual Membership Assembly (AMA) is one of our key events, where leaders come together to make decisions, live out our values, and put action behind what is most important to us.

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The 136th AMA took place this year on the South Side of Chicago at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Saturday, October 6. CRS member congregations gathered to recognize service with our annual awards, vote on key CRS business, affirm the Platform for Renewal, welcome new board members and make commitments to put our faith into action.

Our time together was moving and refreshing (Facebook album). Over 100 people participated from over 30 congregations. We started our morning by breaking bread in fellowship at randomly assigned tables. Members really enjoyed hearing each other’s stories and discovering why we fight for justice and equality. After breakfast, we joined the Maple Park Praise Team to worship in the sanctuary.

Our co-chairs, Revs. Ann Rosewall and Robert Biekman kicked off our meeting; Rev. Robbie Craig gave the State of CRS; and Nancy Mularkey provided an update on the hiring process for the permanent Executive Director. Member congregations welcomed ten new board members and said farewell to six whose terms have ended. We greatly appreciate the time, effort and expertise the Board gives to CRS — we look forward to continuing our partnership with those who are leaving and are excited to engage those who are joining. Next, we celebrated victories and bestowed Congregational and Partner Awards. Our member congregations approved the 2018 – 2019 Platform for Renewal which was commissioned last year from our summer listening in 2017. CRS affirmed: Police Accountability, Restoring Opportunities and Justice Reform, Community Development (Housing and Jobs), Just Economy for Safe Communities and Commitment to Anti-Racism. Then we heard from panelists who have a wealth of experience in growing congregations through justice and service.

Our day was graced by an amazing presentation by the La Fuerza Youth Leadership group from Lincoln UMC Sanctuary and Reconciling Church, one of CRS’ newest member congregations. Three teenagers spoke powerfully by sharing their experience as children separated from their parents, who were undocumented immigrants. The three girls testified on how they use art and dance to express the impact current, unjust, immigration law enforcement has had on their lives and their families.

While the work of CRS actively continues through the end of the year, we invite you to look towards the new year. Save the date, Monday January 21! We have begun preparations for our 2019 Martin Luther King Faith in Action Assembly. At the close of the AMA, each of our congregations began committing dozens of people, if not more, to join us for a Chicago mayoral candidate forum and a gubernatorial accountability session. We are praying and working towards a turnout of 1,000 for this keystone event and need your help to reach that goal. Register now!

Thanks to all who attended our 136th Annual Membership Assembly. With your help, we look forward to an incredible year of putting our faith into action!

CRS