Her particular role is to lead people in efforts where they can agree, especially given the Christian Church’s history of making room for “widely divergent viewpoints concerning ‘nonessentials,’” as denominational literature puts it.
The Disciples have had conflict over LGBTQ inclusion, though a previous General Assembly passed a resolution in favor of it. She noted that the calls she has received have not been about her views on Black Lives Matter, but about sexuality and politics. She emphasized that her desire is to care for the vulnerable, not to align theology and politics.
“We’re disciples of Christ, not of any particular ideology,” she said. Further, since denominational polity lacks emphasis on doctrinal orthodoxy and places high value on congregational discernment, “we have no hammer to lay down.”
She noted that her congregation displays banners with the motto, “In essentials unity, in nonessentials liberty, in all things love.” Unity, she clarifies, isn’t consensus, including in scriptural interpretation. Owens stressed the importance of biblical literacy: wrestling with the text in the pews as well as the pulpit.
“The church really does have to be able to hold all those things in tension and be able to take a stand when it needs to, and keep calling people to account on that issue of love—that cuts through a lot of disagreements about what’s essential and nonessential,” she said. “Unity is not possible if love isn’t right up there with it.”