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2012 - Winter Katalyst

2012 - Winter Katalyst

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Published by: Reconciling Ministries Network on May 21, 2012
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VOL. 29 NO.

1 A Shining Light of Justice
by Bishop Melvin G. Talbert, RMN Board Member




In dealing with the many emerging issues facing our church and society, we found ourselves grappling with the issue of homosexuality. We presumed to have reached a consensus on the origin of homosexuality, “mother dominance,” but fortunately we were saved from our ignorance by the release of a report in the Medical Science Journal which challenged all our assumptions. We came to the realization that we had much to learn about homosexuality, and concluded For United Methodists, all attention is focused on the 2012 that homosexuals were no less than heterosexuals and General Conference in Tampa from April 24 through May 4. were entitled to their human and civil rights. During the All bishops, 988 delegates, the media, and several thousand debate of our report to the 1972 General Conference, a observers, visitors, and guests will gather under the theme, motion from the floor was made to amend the report “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ to Transform the World.” with the following words: “Though we do not condone The delegates will be faced with the monumental task of the practice of homosexuality and consider it to be sorting through and acting upon many urgent matters: incompatible with Christian teachings …” The amendment the Call to Action Report (CTA), the Interim Operational prevailed. Thus, we now have a more restrictive version of Team Report (IOT), the Ministry Study Committee Report, that amendment in our current Book of Discipline, codified and many other resolutions and petitions. Somewhere to restrict clergy in their full ministry to GLBTQ persons. in the midst of these reports will be petitions and resolutions calling for the removal of language from For forty years, ten quadrennia, our church has continued its the Book of Discipline that is hurtful to and discriminates discriminating and hurtful language in our Book of Discipline. against persons because of their sexual orientation. How long will it be for our church to become the shining light of justice for GLBTQ people in our midst? Our church My first General Conference was Dallas 1968. I was a will not glorify God by its witness as long as we deny the full delegate. Facing that conference was a merger between inclusion of all persons, specifically GLBTQs, in all aspects The Methodist Church and The Evangelical United Brethren of our life together. The world is watching, and so are our Church. A “new” church was birthed – The United Methodist daughters, sons, granddaughters, and grandsons. We Church. In the midst of the many actions taken, the Central are called to love our neighbors. Is that too much to ask? Jurisdiction (created in 1939 as an appeasement to southern whites to foster a merger between The Methodist Episcopal Prayer: Dear God, help us to loosen ourselves from the shackles Church, The Methodist Protestant Church, and The Methodist of forty years of discrimination against GLBTQ persons Episcopal Church, South) was eliminated. Since 1968, The so that we, with them, can be a light in your world. Amen. UMC has been living into becoming a racially inclusive church. That was forty-four years ago. In the 1968 merger at

I grew up on a farm near the small town of Clinton, Louisiana. My parents were life members of St. Peter Methodist Church. As a child, I recall hearing and reading the Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount) in the Sunday Worship Services. The imagery in those words resonated deep within me: “You are the salt of the earth...” (Matthew 5:13) “You are the light of the world...” (Matthew 5:14) Later in life, it was Matthew 5:16 that gave me strength and courage when faced with difficult human struggles and challenges: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your God in heaven.”

General Conference, a Social Principles Study Commission was established. The Council of Bishops appointed the commission members. I was honored to serve as one of those members. Bishop James S. Thomas was elected Chairperson. Our task was to harmonize the social statements from the two merged churches and to present to the 1972 General Conference (Atlanta) a new Social Principles statement, the framework of which remains to this day, for our “new church.”

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Countdown to General Conference
by Jayson Kerr Dobney, RMN Board Member and Legislative Section Coordinator for Faith and Order

As I write this, the countdown clock on the General Conference Web site says there are less than forty days until delegates arrive in Tampa. Forty days! My palms start sweating just contemplating that reality. As Reconciling United Methodists, we have invested a lot of hope in the idea of GC and the dream of action that will finally bring full equality for GLBT people in our church. Of course we have hope! We are Easter people and hope defines our very being. Yet, we have had hope before. 2012 marks the 40th year since the phrase“incompatible with Christian teaching”was added to the Book of Discipline. Every four years we have hoped for change, and for forty years we have been left to wander in the wilderness, where we have borne witness to the devastation that unjust policies have caused to countless lives. Our hope must be tempered with both outrage and determination, regardless of what happens in Tampa. I have all of these thoughts and emotions swirling inside as I work feverishly in these remaining weeks before

General Conference. Specifically, my task in Tampa is to work as a legislative coordinator. This is the front-line between delegates and the Common Witness Coalition, and in these months leading up to GC we are already involved heavily in conversations with delegates. I did similar work in 2008 and was able to witness profound changes as delegates listened to our stories, talked with other delegates, and began to discern a new direction for our church. Ultimately, seeing the transformation of some delegates convinced me that this is how the Book of Discipline is going to be changed, through oneon-one heart changing experiences. This means that we have to engage our delegates, all of us, to let them know what is important to us and ask for their support. Even more importantly, if we are really seeking to change the church we must seek out these conversations and transformations, not just with General Conference delegates, but every week in our pews until every congregation is a safe space for GLBT people. As a movement, we have spent years learning how to do this. It is at the heart of who we are, and it is how we will eventually reach enough delegates to change the Book of Discipline, and, more vitally, every United Methodist Church.

Welcome New RMN Board Members!

Anne Brown

Rev. Dr. Gayle Felton

Anne Lynch

Lisa McFarland

Tina Seitz

Frank Staggs

Robert Swing

New Reconciling Congregations, Communities, and Campus Ministries • Amity United Methodist Church of Chapel Hill, North Carolina • Argue Sunday School Class of Pulaski Heights UMC of Little Rock, Arkansas • Aspen Community United Methodist Church of Aspen, Colorado • First United Methodist Church of Elmhurst, Illinois • First United Methodist Church of Park Ridge, Illinois • First United Methodist Church of Pasadena, California • Grace United Methodist Church of Austin, Texas • Journey Sunday School Class of Saint John’s United Methodist Church of Austin, Texas • North United Methodist Church of Indianapolis, Indiana • Simpson United Methodist Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota • The Springs United Methodist Church of Plover, Wisconsin • United Methodist Student Association of Vanderbilt Divinity School of Nashville, Tennessee • United Methodist Women of Anna, Hannah, Miriam, & Mom’s Coffee Circles of St. John’s UMC of Austin, Texas • Via de Cristo United Methodist Church of Scottsdale, Arizona • Wesley Foundation of Texas Christian University of Fort Worth, Texas • Wesley United Methodist Church of Cicero, Illinois

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Love Your Neighbor: Witness Update
by Will Jouko Green

“But wanting to justify himself, [the lawyer] asked Jesus, ‘Who is my neighbor?’” (Luke 10:29) Whatever our motive for asking, “Who is my neighbor?” is a question that can transorm us. On behalf of RMN’s Witness Team I invite you to come to Tampa so that we can live out our response together and be transformed by the Spirit again. Some of you have asked when we will be witnessing. The answer is easy: there are witness events planned every single day of General Conference. We need you physically present to put this plan into action. Please register as a volunteer online today at www.gc12.org. Each morning we begin with a commissioning service to spiritually prepare us. We will be distributing information, singing, praying, worshiping, breaking bread, protesting, celebrating, sharing, dancing, learning, and preparing for God to act. Our goal is not just to give the right answer to a legal question, but to do it and live (Luke 10:28).

A Very Social General Conference!
by Ann Craig

In the four years since General Conference 2008, technology and digital media have expanded exponentially. In 2008, having a blog and being able to text was cutting edge. Facebook was just taking off, and Twitter was not on the map. In four years, Facebook went from 100 to 900 million users, and Twitter is passing the half billion mark this month. Today, no campaign moves forward without social media. Common Witness ads on Facebook have already touched more than three million people who had “Methodist” somewhere on their page, and more than 12,000 have clicked through to view YouTube videos of everyday United Methodists speaking of their hopes for inclusion in The United Methodist Church. Many of those views were mobilized by our forty ambassadors, who continue to coordinate posts, creating trends on Facebook and Twitter that will be amplified dramatically when General Conference begins. Reverend Jeremy Smith of Oklahoma is the chair of the social media team. His popular blog, Hacking Christianity

(hackingchristianity.net), continues to bring insights to online United Methodists. The team is using www.gc12. org to reach supportive constituents with emerging issues and legislation when General Conference is in action. The landing place for General Conference delegates who want to view videos and explore how to be faithful to God’s call to Love Your Neighbor in the midst of great diversity is www.generalconference2012.org. You can watch from home the developments of General Conference as events will be streamed and posted on YouTube. Legislative committees and floor action will be captured and shared as FlipCams and smart phone photos and videos will be everywhere. Legislative monitors will be tweeting to keep everyone abreast of conference actions through the official hashtags #gc12love, #gc2012, #umc, and more. Whether at home or in Tampa, I invite you to stay connected to the Common Witness Coalition. For tips on how to stay connected, check out the back of this issue. We are expecting social media to have a significant impact on communications with United Methodists at General Conference and throughout the world. Winter - - Katalyst- - Page 3

A Symbol of Our Salvation
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by Rev. Gil Caldwell

No Holiness But Social Holiness
by Deborah Weekley

Building Bridges
by Anthony Fatta

Who is my neighbor? John Wesley There was a time when I thought once said, “The world is my parish.” that those of us who accepted As a United Methodist I believe this the salvation and liberation that is means everyone in the world is my available in Jesus, as described in neighbor. As in any neighborhood, Matthew 1:21 (“...he will save his there are some neighbors I get people from their sins...”), answered the question, “Who is my neighbor?” But, after living along better with than others and I prefer to for 78 years, and as a third generation Methodist hang with. There are also neighbors with whom preacher, I have learned that we have placed limits I disagree and try to avoid. However, if I take on those we accept as neighbors. These limitations Wesley’s comment and Jesus’ story of the Good have been and are based on race, gender, place Samaritan seriously, ALL are my neighbors. This of national origin, immigration status, and sexual means I care about their well-being. orientation. I have come to realize that if we cannot accept, affirm, love, and treat every person equally as John Wesley, who, with his brother Charles, a neighbor as a sign and symbol of our salvation, our founded the Methodist movement said, “The response to Jesus and our Discipleship is incomplete. Gospel of Christ knows no religion but social Everyone God has created is our neighbor, and our religion, no holiness but social holiness. You profession of faith compels us to treat them that way. cannot be holy by keeping yourself pure and clean from the world, but by plunging into Go and Do Likewise ministry on behalf of the world’s hurting ones”.
by Marla Marcum

The word “neighbor” is thrown around in a theologically careless way in the church. As followers of Christ, we are called to love our neighbors, but we fail to do so. This is our perpetual confessional prayer. Perhaps trying to set parameters on or come up with definitions for the word “neighbor” is a moot exercise. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbors, yet he did not give us a bulleted list of exceptions. This absence of definition is profound for United Methodists today, especially as we press on towards General Conference. No boundaries are set for the term “neighbor” because love knows no boundaries. In the practice of love, no one is incompatible, undesirable, or unwanted. Our “neighbors” are all of God’s creations. Jesus’ neighborhood is full of connecting bridges, not dividing walls.

Outside the Steeple
by Tim Tennant-Jayne “As an ordained United Methodist

Finding Neighbors

As a faithful United Methodist, I know by April Hall Cutting that love is not an abstract noun - it’s My neighbor is willing to ask hard, a verb. I try to build my life around unanswerable questions, even recognizing ways that I can embody when angry that there are no love in the world by doing love and answers. My neighbor points to being love. This often means that the the awe and mystery of life and I have to live far outside my own comfort zones. I love -- the mystery we dare to call love to learn from other people’s perspectives and experiences in order to expand my own practice of “God.” My neighbor is found in restless creativity that urges me to respond through art, music, discipleship. worship, gardening…. and in finding neighbors In Luke, Jesus is asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus to create with me. responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan. The final words of the parable motivate me to do this work: “which of the travelers acted as a neighbor to the person in the ditch? Go and do likewise.” Here Jesus turns the question on its head: not who must I love, but how can I be the one who shows love to those who need it.

elder who is also a gay man, I’ve had to “think outside the steeple” about who is my neighbor. My neighbors are the people with whom I relate at the gay bar in my community. My neighbors are individuals who are gay, straight, transgender, lesbian, bisexual, Caucasian, AfricanAmerican, Asian, and Latino. They are adults of all ages. Most of us have heard the clear religious message that we are unlovable, but we know we are beloved children of God. Together we celebrate good news. Together we comfort one another in times of loss. Together we come to care about each other. We become a family. Outside of the steeple, through God’s Spirit, we are working for the transformation of the world.

I Long for More Diversity
by Rev. Robert Dean McNeil “My neighbor is a classmate from

Just Asking
© 2012 by Amy Houchen

Moving Forward with Compassion
by Rev. David E. Weekley

seminary who, fifty-four years ago, could not be appointed to a church in Oregon because he was black. My neighbor is a transgender woman who has become part of our family because her parents, “good church-going folks,” rejected her. My neighbor is her half-sister, in prison in Michigan for murder. My neighbor is a man in prison in Oregon for a murder he committed at the age of seventeen. He has been there twenty-eight years. My neighbor is a Native American by birth who has adopted us as his parents. He is gay and a recovering alcoholic. My neighbors are the half-Mexican relatives of my granddaughters. I long for more diversity of neighbors in the places where I worship.

It may not be obvious, but who among us is not bloody and beaten? Who is not aching from the bruises inflicted by brusque rejection, sophisticated sarcasm, incessant competition, careful avoidance, satisfying condescension? But who among us is not also traveling with wine and oil, a handful of denarii and a compliant donkey, which may not be obvious when we glance at the time or consider our position?

My Neighbors Are. . .
by Deborah Maria

As a transgender man I sometimes find myself among people who treat me the way that Jews in Jesus’ day treated Samaritans. I enter a room or gathering like Annual Conference and some step back, refuse to talk, or, worse yet, ask why I am included in the community at all. At such times I am challenged by the Good Samaritan story. In these places Jesus asks me to extend hospitality and compassion to the most wounded, fearful, and desperate people I encounter on my journey even as they rebuff me. Sometimes this means continuing to pray for those who reject me as their pastor simply because of who I am. At other times it means remaining in conversation with those I know have spoken untruths about me to others. Moving forward with compassion rather than returning fear and hate to those who have threatened my vocation, the well-being of my family, and my personal health is often difficult. But this is what Jesus asks of me.

…the people moving in next door; how can I love them when my wonderful, just-divorced friends just left? …my grandson, who lives for video games, would rather never leave his house, and does not communicate with me; how can I show him that I love him? …the fellow from General Conference 2008 who knows that Jesus said something about homosexuals but can’t recall the verse; did my response touch him in a heart-changing way? …the people who give resources to oppose people like me being fully welcomed into the UMC; how can they not see me as a child of God, just as I am? I am their neighbor, too. How can they not love someone as likeable and generous and energetic as me?

RECONCILING MINISTRIES NETWORK mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.

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Planning for General Conference
General Conference 2012 opens at the Tampa Convention Center at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24th with a worship service that includes Holy Communion. For helpful information, including links to the 2012 General Conference Visitors’ Guide, legislative committee assignments, and tips on planning for the big event, visit the “Our Church” section of www.umc.org. Registration begins at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 21st for international delegates, at 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 22nd for domestic delegates, and at 8 a.m. on Monday, April 23rd for everybody else. Unless otherwise indicated, all official UMC events will be held at the Tampa Convention Center. RMN’s office will be located in the Howard Johnson Plaza at 111 West Fortune Street, approximately 1.3 miles from the Convention Center. RMN staff will be arriving in Tampa on Monday, April 23rd.

Coalition Site (Home Base) Intersection of Franklin and Channelside Howard Johnson’s 111 West Fortune Street Tampa, FL 33602

Tampa Convention Center 333 South Franklin Street Tampa, FL 33602

Note: A Coalition calendar of events will be on-site.

Below is a list of items on the UMC agenda that might be particularly relevant and/or of particular interest to you:
Tuesday, April 24 4 p.m. -- Opening Worship and Holy Communion 7:30 p.m. -- Sensitivity Training Wednesday, April 25 10:20 a.m. -- Organization of the Legislative Committees 2:30 p.m. -- Holy Conversation: Foundation on Identity and Theology 4:05 p.m. -- Holy Conversation: Human Sexuality 7:30 p.m. -- Plenary Session: “Critical Choices in the Church” Sunday, April 29 7 p.m. -- “We Need a River: A Plenary Celebration and Challenge of the Mission and Ministry of The United Methodist Church” The basic daily schedule is as follows: 7 a.m. -- Committee Meetings 8 a.m. -- Morning Prayer/ Reports/ Committee Meetings/ Calendar Items/ Conference Business 10 a.m. -- Morning Break 10:20 a.m. -- Calendar Items and Conference Business 12:30 p.m. -- Lunch Recess 12:40 p.m. -- Service of Holy Communion 2:30 p.m. -- Calendar Items and Conference Business 3:35 p.m. -- Afternoon Break 5 p.m. -- Daily Deadline for DCA Printing 5 p.m. -- Dinner Recess 7:30 p.m. -- Plenary Session 8:30 p.m. -- Evening Worship A WORD ABOUT SCHEDULES Because of the fluid nature of General Conference, it is impossible to tell exactly when delegates will discuss a particular issue. Even when an item is scheduled, it can be delayed if other issues have taken more time than expected. Items can also be added at the last minute if more time is available than expected. The Committee on Agenda will plan in detail the schedule for each day of the conference. The first week is assumed to be primarily for legislative committee work, and the second week is for plenary sessions.

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40 Years Is Long Enough
by David E. Braden

For 40 years, The United Methodist Church has Rev. Jim Todd was honored by The United Parish of Upton. upheld policies condemning David Mauzy was honored by Jen Stuart and Joan G. & Paul C. homosexuality as “incompatible Hudson. with Christian teaching.” 40 David E. Braden was honored by Shirly Garland and Alice & Marc years is a long time to spend Lonoff. in the wilderness. 40 years is a Carol Brown was honored by David E. Braden. long time to hold out hope that Parker & Betty Lou Hodgman honored their gay and lesbian friends. one day God’s promises will be fulfilled. 40 years is long enough. Jennifer Randazzo honored her friends who are without a place Reconciling Ministries Network is ready to lead The United Methodist Church into the Gospel promise of a church where God’s love is available to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Our partnership with Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA), Affirmation, and Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) in the Common Witness Coalition is stronger and more prepared than ever before as described in this issue of Katalyst. Although we are still an intensely divided church, it is still possible that the 2012 General Conference will vote for LGBT inclusion by a 51 to 49% vote. More than ever before, we need your help to be successful at this General Conference in Tampa, Florida. Will you consider making a gift to RMN to help end the 40 years of LGBT discrimination? Your gift will support scholarships to young adults to attend General Conference, translators for Central Conference delegates, printing and mailing of resources for General Conference delegates, and much more. You can make a gift online at www.RMNetwork.org/donate, write a check to Reconciling Ministries Network, or give us a call (David Braden, 773-736-5526). Forty years is long enough to wait for a fully inclusive church. However you choose to give, thank you for your support!
in which to worship comfortably. The wedding of Glen Hoffs & Tom McCauley was honored by D. F. Allen and Edward Poliandro. Wilson Canafax was honored by the Central Texas RUMs. James Graham was honored by George Graham & E. Michael Fleenor. Sam Isley & Boo Tyson were honored by Rev. Laurie Hays Coffman. Matthew Hanne was honored by Rita A. Carter. Danielle Godomski was honored by Rev. Jared Littleton. Lauren G. Rosenthal was honored by Douglas Rosenthal. David Meredith was honored by Lyn Berkebile. John & Linda Lewis were honored by Dr. Wesley J. & Pamela Lewis. Rev. Karen Oliveto was honored by Joseph Mannino. Sheila Bigelow was honored by Lisa Bigelow. Rev. Roger Wosley was honored by Cynthia Beard. Fred Brewington, Bob Hinson, and the OR-ID RUMs Leadership Team (April, Carolyn, Marilyn, Karen, Greg, Marcia, Winnie, Gwen, and Kathy) were honored by Deborah Maria. Deborah Maria was honored by Rev. Hazel Anne Burnett. Rev. Jill Sanders and Rev. Dick Clark were honored by Patty LaGree. The Church of the Saviour’s Reconciling Through The S.E.A. Group was honored by Melinda L. Carter. Rev. Jackie Marshall, Sean Delmore, and Mary Lyn Martin were honored by Bill & Joy Watts. Henry Waymack was honored by Carol L. & Jeffrey W. Waymack. Nancy Yount was honored by Kerry Halligan and Patricia R. Dougherty & Milton Won. Kerry Halligan was honored by Rev. Nancy K. Yount. Anne P. Brown was honored by John M. Dunlop.

Gifts in Honor Of. . .

Gifts in Memory Of. . .
Julie Auer was remembered by Ruth Schulz, David E. & Sharyn A. Hansen, Rev. Alice Ann Glenn, and Robert & Patricia Williams. Melvin Wilbourn was remembered by Matthew Malok & Bill Whittaker. Cindy Marano was remembered by Judith A. Patrick. Harry A. & Peg Akers were remembered by Scott R. Akers. Minnietta Milliard was remembered by Kent Milliard and Kendall & Katherine Milliard.

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How to Keep in Touch During General Conference
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