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Award winning Dialogue between Catholics and Disciples

For nearly 40 years, a group of pastors and lay members from the Louisville Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church and the Disciples of Christ have gathered to discuss issues many in the church shy away from. Their commitment to engaging in civil dialogue over both practical and controversial issues have remained, even as other groups formed at the same time have faded.

Yet, for Father Joe Graffis and Rev. Sally McClain the group has helped to identify shared common beliefs and practices, while also giving a safe space to understand different perspectives and ideas. As a result, the group has become a tightly knit group of not just ministry partners who meet between September and May to discuss practical and complex issues, but fellow brothers and sisters who are ministry together in service to Christ. Their efforts will be recognized by the Kentucky Council of Churches as one of three awards for Civil Dialogue to be given at the October 24th banquet at this year's annual assembly.

Relationships that have made a difference in their local congregations.

“This is who we are,” McClain said how “the dialogue has created enhanced relationships. Before we were Protestant, we were Catholic. Before we were Catholic, we were Jewish. It is that teaching moment that you have with your individual congregants that helps to break down barriers. It still does that today. People need those false myths addressed.”

What led to the commitment to engaging in civil dialogue?

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Restorative Justice event - register now!

Zacchaeus made amends to persons he had defrauded, so deeply had he taken Jesus' love to heart. (Luke 19:1-19) As ambassadors of reconciliation, we are to make amends when we can, allow others to make amends, and foster this practice broadly as a way to heal the world's hurts. It's called "restorative justice," and it has become a movement in our day.

The Kentucky Council of Churches has stated, "The primary Christian understanding of justice is one that focuses on the potential for redemption, an effort to restore wholeness -- wholeness to the individual, as well as wholeness to the community."

Please consider attending the Restorative Justice 2014 assembly sponsored by the Council. Everything needed for registration is on our web site. You may download the brochure containing all the details here.

The dates are Friday October 24th (late morning) and Saturday October 25th (adjourning just before lunch). The location, in Lakeside Park, Kentucky, is just south of Covington in northern Kentucky. The leaders will include:

The Rev. Dr. Carl Stauffer
Co-Director of the Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice at Eastern Mennonite University, Stauffer has done hands on work for restorative justice in the US and abroad.

Ms. Nontombi Naomi Tutu
Having lived through the end of apartheid as the daughter of Bishop Desmond Tutu, she is a moving speaker on issues of truth and reconciliation, gender and race.

Sister Helen Prejean
Spiritual advisor to death row inmates, she is the author of Dead Man Walking as well as The Death of the Innocents.

The devotions leaders and workshops, banquet awards, exhibits, and fellowship with leaders of a dozen Christian traditions all work together to make this an opportunity to "go deep" into the most challenging aspects of the Gospel.

Please prayerfully consider registering for and attending this event! 


Bethany Fellows program "goes ecumenical" to help new clergy

The Bethany Fellows program supports ministers in those early years of service when they are most likely to burn out and leave the ministry. It was pioneered by the Christian Church Disciples of Christ and is funded by the Lilly Endowment.

Now the program is “going ecumenical” and will no longer be exclusively for Disciples clergy.

The program structure is two 5-day retreats throughout the year for a total of 8 retreats per participant. The week is filled with small group processing with participants’ peers and seasoned mentors, site visits to congregations doing excellent ministry, a 24 hour silent sabbath, and a great deal of prayer.

It is a national program, so all clergy in congregations and chaplaincies in all denominations across the country, within those first 5 years of serving, are eligible. The mentors are dispersed throughout the country. Rev. Kim Gage Ryan (located in Missouri) is the executive director. The website for the current Bethany Fellows program, including the contact information for the executive director, is here.

The Rev. Robyn Bles, a Bethany Fellow serving at Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington KY, says, “If you know of any clergy serving a congregation or in chaplaincy and are still within those first 5 years, I hope you'll pass along this invitation to them. I cannot speak more highly of Bethany Fellows.  It not only steeped my first years of ministry in love, support, and prayer, but it transformed my daily practice of ministry.  I'm so thrilled that they're making it ecumenical as I think forming these prayerful colleagues in ministry is just what the Church needs.”


Engaging Compassion in 2014 - An Interfaith Discussion

To mark the one year anniversary of the Dalai Lama's visit to Louisville, a panel of representatives of diverse faith groups met May 19th at the Drepung Gomang Institute. Numerous practical insights were shared, such as the Dalai Lama's challenge for social service providers to meet the needy "where they are." If there was a consensus on priorities, they were education and practical action.

The Kentucky Council of Churches representative, Executive Director Marian Taylor, added a state-wide perspective on the challenges of moving to full acceptance of religious diversity. There was applause when she announced the Council's 2015 assembly will focus on just that theme. A photo of the evening's program can be seen here.


KBF Coordinator Announces Retirement

(Provided by KBF's Laura Barclay)

Dr. John LepperJohn Lepper, Coordinator for the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship, announced his retirement effective June 30.  Lepper, founding Coordinator, has served in this role for sixteen years.  Bob Fox, KBF moderator and pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Georgetown, stated, “I am confident that John has left us as an organization well positioned to use our considerable gifts to do the continuing hard work of ensuring that KBF will be an organization that individuals and churches will partner with in meaningful gospel work for years to come.”

Lepper’s last acts as Coordinator will be to help oversee KBF’s ninth Extreme Build project in McCreary County and facilitate the KBF state meeting at the CBF General Assembly.

During Lepper’s tenure at KBF, the organization forged partnerships globally and locally with ministries in Morocco, McCreary County, Owsley County and Nada. In addition, KBF was instrumental in the founding of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky and has provided financial support for and collaboration with BSK from its inception. Greg Earwood, President of BSK, shared that he was “grateful that John guided KBF into this partnership” and appreciated his “kind and gracious friendship.”
Lepper also served on the board of the Kentucky Council of Churches after helping lead KBF into a formal partnership. Marian McClure Taylor, Executive Director for the KCC, said of Lepper, “He helped bring the KBF into the Kentucky Council of Churches, not just formally but relationally…I personally see John as a mentor, because he exemplifies Christian leadership.”
Lepper is optimistic about KBF, saying, “I have high hopes for the future viability of Kentucky Baptist Fellowship. With a succession plan in place and with a staffing study group in the process of evaluating the overall staffing needs and financial abilities of KBF, I can move forward in my own life, confident that the One who began a good work in KBF, and in each of us, will continue that good work.“
Prior to his work with KBF, Lepper served as Department Director at the Kentucky Baptist Convention and was a pastor for 15 years. Prior to and during his time with KBF he has had extensive experience in interim ministry.
When asked about his plans for retirement, Lepper responded, “I anticipate focusing on one of my passions which is helping churches in pastoral transitions. It remains to be seen how that will unfold but I do anticipate being involved in this aspect of church life.