We begin this year’s report with a sense of deep gratitude for our global fellowship of cooperating churches. It is a distinct honor to serve our expansive spiritual community. The Catalyst Team exists to serve as a hub of connection, communication and facilitation for the 740+ congregations that make up the International Churches of Christ.

The Catalyst Team has many objectives: Serving as a facilitation group with an eye on strengthening our unity; providing resources and education for leaders; developing and maintaining a common vision of health and growth; helping resolve conflicts that arise; and addressing topics or cultural developments that affect the efforts to proclaim the gospel message of Christ. Additionally, the Catalyst Team plans and maintains the cadence of annual leadership meetings and conferences, supports the work of the various Service Teams, facilitates the functioning dynamics of the global delegates’ group and provides support and communication to our 35 regional families of churches.
2023 proved to be an engaging and productive year for the Catalyst Team. As we entered the fifth year of this work, we were looking forward to all the ways God would “open doors” to bring us together and redevelop a pattern of leadership meetings. Possibly the greatest highlight was the re-establishment of our Spring Meeting in Izmir, Turkey, in March.

The theme for our time together in Izmir was “Light of the World.” Each of our main speeches came from the book of John and the seven “I am” statements spoken by Jesus. It was quite inspiring to consider the teachings of John from both the Gospel of John and the writings of Revelation, as we sat in the very place where John wrote about and lived. There was an amazing spirit of camaraderie and love as we gathered together as the Catalyst Team, Regional Family Chairs and Service Team members. Many of us were able to participate in a fascinating tour of the Seven Churches of Asia (mentioned in the book of Revelation), led by Ed Anton.
Our global fellowship was well represented during these meetings. Brothers and sisters from many nations gathered to share best practices, seek input on challenging circumstances and engage in times of prayer and fellowship. There were many topics of discussion presented: Establishing a common global vision; maintaining connection through healthy discipling practices and engagement; how to address divergent views on topics arising within our different cultural landscapes; how to promote the health and wellness needs of ministers; and the sharing of good news from the various regional family groups. During our time together in Izmir, we came away with a long list of action items that would promote unity, inspire faithfulness and engage a growing sense of mission.
Since its inception, the focus of the Catalyst Team has been consistent and intentional. We have had more than 60 meetings together (nearly monthly). We have facilitated regular communication and engagement of the 35 Regional Family Chair couples. We have sought to keep the 120+ delegates involved and informed according to their duties. And we have wrestled with the great diversity
of concerns and challenging circumstances that often arise in our world today.
We feel honored to have worked together on so many fronts: Working to resolve various conflicts within our fellowship of churches; helping navigate the Bible and Gender consensus process; providing communication worldwide; serving in an advisory role to Disciples Today; and acting in a liaison role for the Service Teams who look to supply teaching, connection and resources for the greater fellowship. We seek to administer resources, communication and leadership influence that simultaneously inspire both an aging and younger generation of devoted disciples. In all of these efforts, God, through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, continues to hem us in and lead us forward with his grace, patience and vision.

Very practically, the Catalyst Team has worked to advance proposals and affirmations that influence the way we function as a fellowship. Proposals are created within the various regional families and are voted on by the global delegates. Once approved, a proposal is adopted into how we make decisions and function in all of our cooperating churches. The following slide highlights some of the proposals and processes we have implemented during the past six years.

Finally, as we head into 2024, the Catalyst Team will be going through a significant transition. A number of current members are completing their second term and will be stepping down. Walter Evans, Chris Ogbonnaya, AT Arneson and Rafael Lua have served on the Catalyst Team since its inception, and all four will be ending their service later this year. AT Arneson has served as the Chairman since the beginning, and his replacement has yet to be named.

We are looking forward to our Spring Meetings this March in Pasadena, California. Our theme is Build Together, Stronger. We realize we are at a crucial point in our fellowship, and we want to be sure we’re doing all we can to preserve our unique and special qualities while we continue to navigate the complex landscapes of our ever-changing world.
Current Catalyst Team Members:
AT Arneson (Chairman) (Chicago)
Walter Evans (Philadelphia)
Rafael Lua (Los Angeles)
Griselda Lua (Los Angeles)
Sarai Serra (New York)
Sebastian Serra (New York)
Valdur Koha (Boston)
Darren Gauthier (Chicago)
Danny Cabadsan (Cebu)
Emmanuel Emeh (Lagos)
Will Thorne (Boston)
Ron Conkling (Tampa)
Chris Ogbonnaya (Lagos)
Moufid Tohme (Lebanon)
Moses Gad Kalala (DRC)
Chip Mitchell (Philadelphia)
Patty Simmons (Administrator/Chicago)