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Contributing writer Ted Parks made this final report from Bayamon, where the Disciples of Christ in Puerto Rico concluded their Centenary Convention on Feb. 15. Look for articles from Parks later this week on DisciplesWorld’s website and in the April issue of the magazine.
Puerto Rican Disciples crowned a century of gatherings as a body of believers Sunday afternoon with the closing service of their Centenary Convention in the Rubén Rodríguez Coliseum in Bayamón near San Juan. With music provided by a 300-voice chorus and the event potentially bringing together 104 Disciple congregations and six mission points from across the island, the 100th convention contrasted the first gathering, when the members of a handful of churches — the fruit of a still nascent mission effort by North American Disciples — also met in Bayamón. Though no official figures were announced, attendance at the Sunday event was likely more than 3,500 people.
General pastor Esteban González Doble preached at the concluding service, emphasizing once more the convention’s theme of unity. González explained that talking about unity should come as no surprise for a gathering of Disciples, with oneness a cherished and essential element in Disciples thought and practice. But the general pastor moved quickly from the importance of unity in general to the importance of unity for Puerto Rico, telling the convention that the island nation “urgently” needed a church that modeled oneness in a fragmented society.
After the general pastor spoke, the assembly observed the Lord’s Supper, with ushers clad in white shirts carrying baskets of pre-packaged communion elements up and down stairs to various levels of coliseum seating. General minister and president for North American Disciples, Sharon Watkins, led the benediction, her words translated into Spanish by Church Extension vice-president Gilberto Collazo.