For Everyone Born

"God will delight when we are creators of justice, justice and joy"

Community of Christ Sings, 285 (Community of Christ)


Worship & Song, 3149 (United Methodist Church)

I wasn't sure how the service would go, nor did I expect my emotional response. All I knew was the sanctuary's atmosphere was saturated with stress, anger, and sadness. It was the first Thursday Chapel Service at Drew Theological School after students and faculty returned from the United Methodist Church's Special General Conference in St. Louis. The conference voted in support of the ‘Traditionalist Plan’; ultimately, prohibiting members of the LGBTQIA+ community from serving as clergy. While there may be lingering legislative action that may determine the plan "unconstitutional”, grief was Thursday’s overtone.

I could only describe my Drew family metaphorically in a recent email: "They left as balloons full of excitement and joy...they've returned deflated and with more punctures needing healing and air to fill them up again."

Thursday Chapel Services often become a place for communal healing and prayer after devastating incidents (Las Vegas shooting, Stone Douglas High School shooting, Hurricane Harvey, etc.). I wondered how a wounded community would gather this time.

It was quiet.
No one made a sound.
No one spoke.
Nothing echoed the sanctuary walls except for chairs squawking and the occasional “sniffle”.
We silently waited.

That is until Mark Miller, an openly gay, UMC leader and professor at Drew, sat down at the piano and played the opening E Chord to “For Everyone Born”.

“We will NOT be silent!” Mark proclaimed as he led the congregation into song.

Before long, people were standing, clapping, some grabbed various percussion instruments, while others stood together in groups hugging, crying, and singing. Within a few verses, the chapel came alive. There was a new energy reverberating through the previously mute walls. Hearts were still mourning and longing for justice, but continued beating with palpations of joy.

I will never forget this worship service, or how the ministry of music resurrected a lifeless community. May we never forget the power of song and the ways in which it unites, empowers, and heals. May we too continue singing songs of justice and joy.

Just a thought about [singing] mission.

Replacing My Battery


My friend's question came at interesting time. First, the semester finally concluded and all my final projects were submitted. Thank goodness. Second, I didn't have my phone when I got the text. It wasn't lost. My battery couldn't hold its charge. I decided to take my phone to Apple Store and replace my battery. Had I thought to make an appointment ahead of time, my trip could have been just a couple hours...yeah, right.

Instead, I dropped my phone off and had to go phone-less for 5-6 hours. No phone calls. No text messages. No emails. No Facebook. No news updates. No clock. No ESPN. Nothing rattled in my pocket except for keys and my consecrated oil. 

You ever get this mini freak outs where you don't know where your phone is and you frantically pat-down every inch? Yeah, that happened. TWICE. But after a few hours, I began to relax. I wasn't trying to check my phone (which I've realized comes habitually now). It was great! I felt free. I could breathe again. 

As you've probably guessed, I had to come back to reality. But the phone wasn't the only thing to return with new energy. My friend's text, undoubtedly, was about the freedom from school; however, he helped me realize so much more. My phone became an asphyxiant and restricted me from being fully present.

I invite you to think about the things in your life that restrict your "breath". What keeps you from being fully present to others? yourself? God? Maybe your batteries need to be recharged and (like me) you don't even know it.

Preparing for Your Reason

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, "I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming...
- Luke 3:15-16 (NRSV)

Christmas will be here shortly and that means there's lots of "questioning and concerning" ahead. Travel, housing, food, activities, traffic, gifts..But how often do we think of our 'why'; the reason(s) why we travel, why we're willing to stand in TSA lines, why we prioritize being together? 

Luke 3 tells us John, the son of Zechariah, traveled the wilderness sharing the good news to the people. The crowd responds thinking he, John (the preparer) is the Messiah; the reason to celebrate. John quickly corrects them saying, "one more powerful" is coming. John diverts the focus from him to the reason to celebrate. 

I can't help but connect to the people in Luke 3. I'm often fixated on the preparation and logistics of the holiday season, rather than the celebration of "Emmanuel". I want to change that. This year, I want to breathe the Christmas spirit, and connect with those around me; my reason for gathering. It's time I set my "questioning and concerning" aside, and welcome my true reasons to celebrate.

What's your reason?

Just a thought about mission.
- Ryan

#Giving Tuesday

"If you reflect upon it, you will discover many services the church has performed for you and your community that have made life better for you and your family."

- Leonard J. Lea quoted in The Journey of a People: The Era of Reorganization, 1844 to 1946 pg. 530

Leonard J. Lea's quote comes from a 1933 publication of the Saint's Herald. This was a dynamic time in our sacred story where the church faced a historic economic depression and [overwhelming?] debt. Yet, there was a subtle spirit of hope for the future as the church worked to establish Zion. The global church family responded generously and President Fredrick M. Smith announced the retired debt 10 years later in January 1943.

As I reflect on this era, I can't help but wonder, does history repeat itself? I would venture to guess a majority would say yes! Again, we're bouncing back from a historic 2008 economic recession and (again) Community of Christ finds itself working to resolve a [overwhelming?] debt. True. I can't argue with that.

But, I must ask will history repeat itself?

A few years ago, Emma and I found ourselves talking about why we give both locally and to World Church. I learned her generosity doesn't emerge out of the present financial need, instead it grows from what she's already received. It becomes one of her ways to give back to the church. Per usual, I needed to catch up to folks like Emma and Leonard J. Lea!

Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday. In addition to tomorrow's generosity, I invite you to consider what you've already received. Maybe it was a Deer Park Reunion? First Jr. Camp? Dedication to The Temple? Trip to Africa? Spiritual Formation Retreat last October? How has your life been impacted by the church? Your community? 

We have been given so much and now is the time to share what we've received. I pray we learn from historic mistakes, but also find the capacity to respond similarly as a global family. We are doing so much now, and there's even more to anticipate. 

Just a thought about mission.

All Are Welcome


Sunday morning, Emma and I attended the Woods Chapel congregation in Lee's Summit, Mo. After the service, (per usual) I stood around talking with friends on the front stage when Emma came up to me. "There's a lady in the back." she said quietly. 

I stepped away from the group and looked down the sanctuary aisle, out the door, and into the fellowship hall. Sure enough, there was a lady sitting by herself on a bench. Since we are not members of the congregation, we found my Uncle Curtis (a Seventy and Woods Chapel attendee) to greet the lady together.

An immigrant from Iran, this was Mary's first time attending Community of Christ. Through broken English and help from Google Translate (English/Persian), we learned Mary obtained her Green Card and is now living with family near the church building; which she absolutely loved. Jesus Christ is important to her and she wants to share Christ with her grandchildren.

"Can I come back?" Mary hopefully asked.

I quickly returned to Google Translate and typed "all are welcome" in the English box. I handed my phone to her and she read the Persian box. She was overjoyed and excited! Fortunately, the congregation had a Thanksgiving Meal that night and we were sure to invite Mary and her family. We (including Mary!) concluded our conversation with high spirits and optimistic our continuing relationship with Community of Christ.

It's amazing how "welcome" translates both linguistically and emotionally. We are called to generously extend hospitality and invitation to all. No doubt this welcome manifests differently (i.e. relying on Google Translate), but nevertheless God continues to reveal God's self, especially outside of the sanctuary.

Just a thought about mission.
- Ryan and Emma

September Updates & Upcoming Events

Open Table Ministries

Open Table Ministries is still available for those who interested in introducing it into your congregations. If you would like to learn more, please contact Cindy Abbott.

Camp Staff Recognition

I want to thank everyone for helping put together a wonderful summer camping season. The work behind the scenes is immense and I appreciate all the planning, organizing, and coordination invested to provide these opportunities for our mission center. Thank you all again for your dedication to our ministries at Deer Park and I look forward to working together in preparation for next summer.

Registered Youth Worker Training

Do you or someone you know want to work with youth at upcoming Community of Christ events? Contact Greg Ardito to schedule a Registered Youth Worker Training Session. Additionally, we are happy to assist the Pennsylvania State Background Check process. 

Upcoming Events

October 8 /// Fall Conference

Moving Forward Together

Join us as we share together in worship, business, and reengage together as a mission center. The conference will begin at 9 am in the Education Building at Deer Park. Apostle Lach Mackay will facilitate a “Welcoming Ministries Workshop” Saturday afternoon. Those who plan to attend, please register by Saturday, October 1st. A free will offering will be picked up during lunch.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Ryan Pitt.

Items that will be discussed:

  • Sustaining Mission Center Leadership
  • Approving 2017 MAMC Budget
  • Deer Park Bylaws
  • Electing Mission Center Invitation Support Minister

Register Here

October 21-23 /// Jr. & Sr. High Halloween Retreat

Come have a great time getting spooky with your friends! Activities will include a costume contest, campfire, cool classes, pumpkin carving, worship, and quality time with new and returning friends!

Date:    October 21-23
Time:    7:00 P.M.
Cost:     $75

Register Here & Send your completed registration form to Greg Ardito

November 4-6 /// Young Adult Retreat

Join our Young Adults as we explore relationships with God and each other. We will share together in fun and fellowship as delve into the ways we express our faith in action while enjoying the wonders of creation in Deer Park’s backyard. 

Date:    November 4-6
Time:    8:00 P.M.
Cost:     $80 for Young Adults (18 and older)
              $10 per child (10 and under)

Register Here & Send your completed registration forms to Ryan Pitt

November 12 /// CFO Workshop

The Mid-Atlantic Mission Center will host a Congregational Financial Officer Workshop November 12th at Deer Park. We are honored to have our Field Support Minister, Dena DeVormer, come out to train and equip our CFOs with the knowledge and resources for their congregational responsibilities. All are welcome to join, and there is no cost to attend! We strongly encourage all CFOs, Pastors, Recorders, and anyone else who is interested to register for this training.

Register Here or email Ryan Pitt

Letters from Our Camp Leaders

Junior High Camp


Junior High Camp 2016 was truly and awesome week! We had 25 of the most amazing young people this year at our camp. This is the first year we had an even (almost) split of campers… 12 boys and 13 girls. WE worked in cabin groups as well as Quest groups. Sooner or later they all got to work with everyone and they did a great job working together to work, play, and learn.

Every day we had a lot of activities. From the time we woke up until the time our heads hit the pillows we were busy. We had a camp service project that we worked on every day. This year was to clear the path for the Low Ropes Course and make a path from the Labyrinth to the Low Ropes through the woods. It always amazes me how much they can get done.

Our evening activities were exciting too; Live Hungry, Hungry Hippos, Capture the Animal, Who’s Campfire is it Anyway?, games, even some new ones, like ladder golf and Flickin’ Chickens. Bonus we didn’t even lose a single camper on the river Wednesday.

I want to thank all of the staff for coming and sharing your time and talents with us this week… Please come back next year. Most of all I want to thank all of you campers for making this an amazing week. I wish I could keep you all in Junior High Camp forever… but the Senior High staff disagreed. For those of you who are moving up just remember what you experienced this week and take it with you wherever you go. Never forget who the most important camper is.

I hope you all had as much fun as I did….so until next year!

Bust those myths!

Senior High Camp

Be the Change

This has been such a great week with you all. I will treasure the memories that we made together. I have seen how much each of you has grown over the years – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

I chose this year’s theme because I know how much potential you have. You are instruments of God and you have the power to have a positive impact on those around you. I think you will be a generation that will truly better the world a that is by standing up for social justice, caring for the sick, preserving nature, ending hunger, or saying hello to a stranger, you are all called to do these great things in God’s name. You have the ability to turn the world upside down as Jesus did. Courageously choose to love, courageously choose to be radical, and courageously choose to push the human race forward.

I can’t wait to witness the amazing things you will do in this world. Remember – Do not let anyone tell you no. Do not let age or gender be a barrier. You are ready and able to do beautiful things in this world. And it is possible! The realm of possibility exists in each of you.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person one or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Barack Obama

Be the Change!

September Letter

Dear friends,

What an outstanding summer in the Mid-Atlantic Mission Center! Whether your time was filled with family vacations, trips to the beach, time at Deer Park, or maybe enjoying a warm evening walk, I pray you found time with God over the last couple months. It’s too easy to focus on the busyness of packing for vacation and getting through security lines instead of appreciating the time together with friends and family, or recognizing the opportunities to reconnect with those in your car, rather than worrying about traffic slowing you down. Spending time with God can be difficult, but if we allow ourselves to be open to the depth of God’s presence, we begin to understand the power of transformative witness. 

We are called not only be in the presence of God, but we are to share those testimonies AND invite people to experience relationship with Christ. I recognize God is not always the first thought when you think about summer vacation, but by some miracle (whether we realize it or not) God is woven into all of creation.

In her book In God’s Presence, Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki describes the dynamic relationship between God and the world:

As a dance, whereby in every moment of existence God touches the world with guidance toward its communal good in that time and place, and that just as the world receives energy from God it also returns its own energy to God. God gives to the world and receives from the world; the world receives from God and gives to God, ever in interdependent exchange.”

As we bring the summer vacation to a close, we are challenged not simply to continue the “dance” with God, but to invite others to the dance floor by sharing our testimonies! Over the next few months, I encourage you to boldly share your summer stories of community and transformative witness. Not just in the confines of church or morning worships, but share at school, work, the grocery store, and with your families. Inviting God into these sacred spaces is a wonderful ministry and I look forward to hearing your stories of transformative witness.

Ryan Pitt
Mid-Atlantic Mission Center President

Doctrine and Covenants E-book Now Includes Section 165!

We're excited to announce that the Doctrine and Covenants e-book for Amazon devices and apps has been updated to include Section 165. This new section was approved in June by the 2016 World Conference of Community of Christ. 

If you have previously purchased the entire e-book, a standalone version o Section 165 is also available. Community of Christ is registered as a charitable organization eligible to receive donations from the AmazonSmile Foundation. 


It was truly a SPECTACULAR week at Graceland University. The North Atlantic States Youth (Chesapeake Bay, Mid-Atlantic & New England Mission Centers) sent youth to Lamoni, IA to meet over 1,000 Sr. High Community of Christ members and friends for a week full of worship, performing arts, music, dance, sports, devotions, and ice cream. The theme “Connect” summarized the week together. 

SPECTACULAR is an opportunity to spend time with friends from Deer Park, but it’s an even greater opportunity to reach out and connect with campers from other regions in North America. We sang campfire songs differently, worshipped differently, and understood God differently, but the ministry of SPECTACULAR brought together our community in meaningful ways. 

Special guests included:

  • Prophet-President Steve Veazey 
  • President Stassi Cramm
  • Apostle Barb Carter
  • Apostle Art Smith
  • Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber
  • Afghan Rapper & Activist Sonita Alizadeh
  • New York Photographer Steve Hartman
  • Christian Rapper Agape Dave

The North Atlantic States were blessed to have a wonderful, dedicated staff who voluntarily attended SPECTACULAR. Thank you everyone who gave their time and finances to make this unique experience possible for our youth. I look forward to the preparation and planning for an even better trip next year. 

2016 World Conference Recap

The 2016 World Conference was a fantastic week of worship, business, learning, and friendship. There are a number of ways you can connect and share the World Conference experience even though the physical event over.

Section 165

On Monday, 6 June, the conference delegates voted to include the words of counsel as the newest section in the Doctrine and Covenants. You can read the new scripture onlineand printed copies are being produced as inserts for those with a current copy of the Doctrine and Covenants. We'll be sure to let you know when they are available from Herald House. 

YouTube Playlist

There are 40+ videos posted on the CofChrist YouTube channel from various events during World Conference. Due to musical copyrights, we can't post the entire evening services but many of the spoken portions are posted. Be sure to check out International Peace Award recipient Leymah Gbowee's keynote and President Veazey's closing sermon

Photos on Flickr

We had about 10 extremely-gifted volunteer photographers capturing big and small moments all around the complex. Check out some of their best work in our World Conference photo albums housed on our Flickr page. No account needed to view the photos!  

Official Recap & Daily Minutes

The World Church secretary is diligently working on a recap of the conference actions as well as compiling the final daily minutes. Once those have been reviewed and approved, we'll post them on and share the web links widely via the Herald, email, and social media. 

WC2016 Event App

The event app will be active for another 9-12 months following World Conference. You can still access documents, bulletins, daily update links, and the evaluation. The only exception is the World Conference Hymnal which has been removed in accordance to the copyright permission we were granted for the even