DisciplesWorld magazine ceased publication in early 2010.
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Disciples celebrate Hamm's decade of leadership

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (10/23/03) — Around 1,000 Disciples of Christ attended a dinner here Oct. 21 to honor Richard L. Hamm, retiring general minister and president of the church, for the leadership he provided the denomination during the past decade.

The evening's program included speeches from Hamm's friends and family and a video highlighting his work.

Dennis Landon, president of the Disciples' Division of Higher Education, announced the creation of the Richard Hamm Leadership Fellow, a scholarship in Hamm's honor. Landon said the goal is to create a $60,000 endowment.

Associate General Minister and President Bill Edwards, who served as master of ceremonies for the evening, narrated a multimedia presentation with photos of Hamm's childhood, youth, and years in ministry and leadership.

Arne Larson paid tribute to Hamm with a song he wrote about "herding cats," a phrase Hamm once used to describe his ministry as GMP. Larson called Hamm the "Cat Herder General and my inspiration."

Church Finance Council President Lois Artis read Langston Hughes' poem "Mother to Son," to which she likened Hamm's 10 years in office.

"Your life as GMP has not been a crystal stair. But you kept on climbing," she told him.

Artis thanked Hamm for the "visible change in the church's attitude" toward people of different cultures and heritages.

Dan Mosely, professor at Christian Theological Seminary and a close friend of Hamm's, chronicled Hamm's spiritual journey as GMP.

"You trusted that God would make something out of our shared life, something that would bless the world," he told Hamm. "You have walked with us when we were lost, and you have walked us back to life."

Hamm's son David and daughter Laura also spoke.

David Hamm drew appreciative laughter when he said, "'Optimist' is hardly an adequate description of my father."

Laura Hamm thanked her father for his guidance when she struggled to make sense of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"It's incredible to me that someone who gives so much to others so often has so much left to give," she said.

The audience laughed when Hamm's administrative assistant, Mary Collins, presented him with the gift of a hot air balloon ride, saying, "This is to help you lighten up."

Hamm's wife, Mindy, drew a standing ovation when she spoke. She thanked the church for taking good care of him when he was away from home, and told her husband she was proud of him.

In his closing remarks, Hamm, recognized those who had supported him through the years, including his family and his former pastors. He encouraged those present to "help people discover the Disciples," and said it had been a delight and a privilege to serve the church.

Hamm, 55, announced earlier this year his intention to retire after this General Assembly, 21 months before the end of his term.

William Chris Hobgood became interim GMP at the closing of the Disciples General Assembly in Charlotte.