NEWSLETTER OF RECONCILING MINISTRIES NETWORK
VOL. 27 NO. 3 WWW.RMNETWORK.ORG SUMMER, 2010
by Larry Duncan, RMN Board Member I am a member of Hennepin Avenue UMC, Minneapolis, MN, a congregation that became reconciling in 1993. Hennepin has always been very progressive; in 1956 it was one of the first churches in the country to merge its journey with a black congregation. Prior to the 1993 reconciling date, the congregation studied and explored what Homosexuality and Reconciling were all about, paving the way for others and myself to be free and safe in Church. One of the saints, the Rev. Howard B. Johnson, who led the way at Hennepin, has gone on to join the Church Triumphant. It is because of people like Howard that I am engaged in reconciliation work, indebted to the strong conviction of doing what is right and just. We have only to look to Jesus to see the examples of how Jesus treated his fellow human beings with dignity and see that we are expected to do the same. Jesus’ journey, like ours, began at the grassroots level. As the chair of the Grassroots Committee I know we’re gaining ground in The United Methodist Church. Look how far the movement has come in the past 25 years through your faith, prayer and donations. We have come this far by faith, motivated by love, but our journey is not over. We have many bridges to cross, countries and continents to talk to, stories to tell
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By Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger, RMN Board Member Imagine stand- spoke of feeling actively constrained ing on a college by church policies which deny marcampus and sud- riage equality although it is a civil redenly you see stu- ality for his congregation. However, dents setting up young adults do not automatically supan event table, port equality; like General Conference, not an uncommon the Global Convocation failed to call sight. What seems unique is that they the church to a bold vision of inclusion. are “performing weddings” to celeThe Southeastern Jurisdiction hosts brate National Freedom to Marry Day. Youth in Mission, an event which atNow clearly this is a stunt. These are tempts to give young people the opnot real, but the smiles, giggles and joy portunity to learn about systemic jusare real. These young people are cre- tice and advocacy. But young people atively demonstrating that they support at this event have not yet worked on all people’s right to marry. questions of sexual orientation or genEvents similar to this happened der identity. No one will learn to advoall the time at my college, and young cate for LGBTQ people until they both people are working for LGBTQ jus- hear inclusion preached from the pulpit tice all over the world. They are lead- and learn the skills to believe out loud. ing Bible Studies on the intersection That is where our grassroots efforts of faith and sexuality, and attending or come in. As a denomination, the UMC planning rallies for equality. There are still takes stances that deny full equalyouth refusing to attend proms at their ity for all people by denying weddings, high schools or to recite the Pledge of ordination and, in some cases, memAllegiance until all people have equal bership. We are all needed in local setrights. tings to tell our stories and work with At events like United Methodist young people. We can be youth group Student Forum and Global Young leaders or volunteers, mentors, or inPeople Convocation these grassroots vite them into our conversations. We leaders engage in thoughtful dialogue can follow the example of young peoand powerful individual conversations. ple who seek opportunities, share stoIn support of a resolution calling for ries and dialogue on LGBTQ inclusion, affirmation of same-sex marriage, because relationships share infinitely one young clergyman from Germany more than any two minute speech.
Inclusive Teaching is Necessary for Progress
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By Karen Ballard The Reconciling Group at Central United Methodist Church, Ashville, NC, is alive and well. Several years ago we discerned a need within our congregation for more education around the intersections of homosexuality, the Bible and United Methodist policy. Our first step, a four-session Sunday school class on homosexuality in 2007, didn’t seem to ruffle many feathers, so in 2008 we held a church wide screening of For the Bible Tells Me So. We had people present with views across the spectrum and followed the screening with a four-week dialogue program on homosexuality we developed using Wesley’s quadrilateral. Each week our community’s excitement grew as more people joined the dialogue. From our dialogue, a chorus emerged who sought to speak and sing our welcome in more direct ways. In September 2009, we were invited to participate in RMN’s four week pilot program “Toward Inclusiveness”, now known as Rethink Inclusion. Rethink Inclusion naturally crescendoed our group toward bold actions by encouraging us to develop active steps both as individuals and a group at the end of each session. One step developed a statement of belief for our group. That statement evolved into our Reconciling Statement adopted January 6, 2010. We have received pushback from members of our church who do not agree with our belief statement; however we con-
Reconciling Group at Central United Methodist Church
RECONCILING MINISTRIES NET WORK 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.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Helen Andrew Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger Vincent Cervantes Rev. Daniel Diss Lawrence T. Duncan Rev. Duane A. Ewers Elizabeth A. Fimbres Will J. Green Esther Villarreal Houser Madelyn Marsh Rev. David Meredith Dr. Randall Miller Rev. Holland Morgan Rev. Joshua M. Noblitt Rev. John Oda Elizabeth Okayama Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto Rosario Quiñones Rev. Dr. Bruce Robbins Sally Sparks Rev. Dr. Derrick Spiva Monica L. Swink Joy T. Watts Ralph A. Williams LEGAL COUNSEL Jennifer Soule RMN STAFF Meg Carey Business Manager James Dalton Communication/Technology Coord. Rev. Carl Davis Director of Development Stephanie Harris Admin & Donor Relations Associate Rachel Harvey, Deaconess Associate Executive Director Audrey Krumbach, M.Div. Field Organizer Rev. Troy Plummer Executive Director
RMN Board Member Rev. Josh Noblitt with the Wilkes at Central UMC
tinue the dialogue whenever the opportunity is open. We expanded our connection to other local congregations and Reconciling United Methodists by participating in a Believe Out Loud training. The workshop helped each of us develop and practice telling our stories, stories we shared at the 2010 Western North Carolina annual conference where we hosted a booth and open worship service for over 100 people. We were honored to have Bishop Richard B. Wilke speak at Central in August encouraging us in our welcome to everyone who comes through our doors. As we continue our journey toward living out loud as a welcoming, open and inclusive community, new voices continue to join our chorus as we seek new songs of welcome along our journey for the full inclusion of all God’s children. We are grateful for all the resources and support RMN has provided us on this journey.
and listen to dialogue to begin. It can be done with your help. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, Jesus still reaches out to us. We must learn how to read the sacred story along with our stories. Seeds are being planted all the time into the soil. I invite you to help. Partner with RMN to sow new seeds by working with churches in your community that take on a Reconciling identity. Nurture the soil our movement is planted in by getting involved in your Annual Conference Team and become a RMN donor. Join us as we work toward and celebrate the year round harvest of God’s justice.
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GAINING GROUND, CONT. FROM PAGE 1
By Rev Troy Plummer Getting conversation started about full inclusion beyond preaching to the choir is one of our movements greatest challenges. We know from research and personal experience that there is a large section of persons who need support to help them be fully inclusive. Either they have a lingering bible question, have yet to experience the harm exclusion causes, or perhaps are concerned about what being publicly supportive will mean to them personally in their home, in their Sunday School Class, in their pew. Rethink Inclusion, www.rethinkinclusion.org, is designed specifically with the concerns and questions of the “moveable middle” or “compassionately conflicted” in mind. From a beginning one-session tutorial and quizzes to measure familiarity with inclusion and the United Methodist’s exclusive policies to a free downloadable fourweek curriculum with video, leader’s guide, and lesson plans, Rethink Inclusion helps our compassionately conflicted Sisters and Brothers begin those new discussions in new places.
Rethink Inclusion: Starter Kit for the Moveable Middle
Post, Send Link, Offer Support, Make it viral!
Use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, listservs, personal e-mail list, and other avenues you have access to for distribution. Invite others to share further! Think regionally too: Your annual conference might announce it in the newsletter or post it on their website. If you are part of an annual conference clergy group or committee, make sure they get the chance to use the materials too! Send it to your bishop with a personal note. Always be sure to offer your support as well and be ready to share why this is important to you and connect them further with RMN resources including our blog (www. rmnblog.org), website (www.rmnetwork.org), and staff (773.736.5526)!
New Reconciling Communities
Churches: Sweet Home UMC of Sweet Home, OR Lakewood UMC of St. Petersburg, FL East Longmeadow UMC of East Longmeadow, MA The United Church and Die Vereinigte Kirche of Washington, DC Dorsey Emmanuel UMC of Elkridge, MD Crawford Memorial UMC of Winchester MA Sunnyside Centenary UMC of Portland, OR The United Church of Hinesburg of Hinesburg, VT Church of the Saviour of Indianapolis, IN Communities: Orange County Community Of Reconciling United Methodists, Orange County, CA The LGBT Outreach Team of South Anchorage of Anchorage, AK Ages and Stages Reconciling Community of Salina, KS Seekers Sunday School Class of Union Avenue UMC of Alliance, OH
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2010 Annual Conference
A movement for full inclusion is growing across the United States. This map is an illustration of Reconciling Annual Conference witness in 2010. Contact the RMN office to connect to your Annual Conference Team’s witness in 2011!
Map by James Dalton and Rachel Harvey, Deaconess
New England RCs: 41 Troy RCs: 9 Yellowstone RCs: 1 Dakotas RCs: 2 Wisconsin RCs: 13 West Michigan RCs: 5 Western PA RCs: 1 Central PA RCs: 1 Minnesota RCs: 17 RCs: 4 Detroit North Central NY Western RCs: 2 NY RCs: 1 Iowa RCs: 10 Northern Illinois RCs: 23 New York RCs: 16 Wyoming RCs: 3 Eastern PA RCs: 8 Greater New Jersey RCs: 1
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Rocky Mountain RCs: 13 New Mexico RCs: 0 East Ohio RCs: 8 West Nebraska Ohio RCs: 5 Indiana West Illinois RCs: 16 RCs: 7 Virginia Great Virginia Rivers Peninsula-Delaware RCs: 1 RCs: 2 RCs: 3 RCs: 2 Kansas Kansas Kentucky BaltimoreMissouri East West RCs: 2 Washington North RCs: 4 RCs: 3 RCs: 5 Carolina RCs: 17 RCs: 3 Memphis Tennessee Western Oklahoma RCs: 6 RCs: 0 North Carolina South RCs: 3 Carolina RCs: 3 Arkansas North North RCs: 1 RCs: 1 Northwest Alabama Georgia Red Bird RCs: 3 RCs: 1 Texas Missionary Mississippi RCs: 0 NorthRCs: 8 RCs: 0 South Texas RCs: 0 AlabamaGeorgia West Florida Louisiana RCs: 0 Holston Central RCs: 0 RCs: 1 RCs: 1 Texas RCs: 1 Florida Texas RCs: 2 RCs: 3 Southwest Texas RCs: 22
California-Pacific Hawaii District
Pacific Northwest RCs: 24
Oregon - Idaho RCs: 15
California - Nevada RCs: 51
CaliforniaPacific RCs: 17
Desert Southwest RCs: 2
Pro LGBT resolution passed
Rio Grande Annual Conference Oklahoma Indian Missionary
Jurisdiction Boundry Annual Conference Boundry
Advocacy (e.g. Legislation) Support (e.g. Fellowship Gathering)
Awarness (e.g. Display Table) No Witness Reported
RCs: # of Reconciling Communities
Methodists In New Directions (MIND), organized witnesses of mercy and justice on the ground and online this year. In addition to their annual armband witness at the ordination service, MIND offered annual conference members rest and refreshments at a hospitality tent. MIND also introduced four pro LGBT resolutions. Resolutions related to hate crimes, same-sex weddings or holy unions and LGBT military service all passed. One resolution calling for the annual conference to publically acknowledge the unjust policies of the United Methodist Church, though heavily supported, was ruled out of order and will be reviewed by the Judicial Council in October. All witnesses coordinated on the ground were magnified on-line through MIND’s facebook, twitter and new website http://www.mindny.org/ . Beyond annual conference, MIND’s website continues to connect MIND members and beyond through a weekly enewsletter highlighting national and local events. This year, the Minnesota Annual Conference believed out loud for full inclusion by passing eight resolutions which ask the 2012 General Conference to end church discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity. These petitions request the removal of hurtful language in eight different paragraphs of the book of discipline related to: the incompatibility clause, ordination, licensing local pastors, same-sex marriage, and funding. In addition to these petitions, the Minnesota Annual Conference joins a number of annual conferences in requesting the Judicial Council revisit Decision 1032. The sum total of these petitions make it clear that this is one annual conference where all means all.
New York Annual Conference
The 2010 Breaking the Silence luncheon celebrated the group’s history and encouraged new ways to speak out about full inclusion. Over 300 people gathered to keynote speaker Ky Dickens , director of Fish Out of Water, a new documentary about the Bible and homosexuality http://www.fishoutofwaterfilm. com/. Dickens encouraged luncheon attendees to use the critical time between now and General conference to believe out loud! The group took this challenge seriously by replacing the red conference name tag lanyards with beautiful blue Breaking the Silence ones. Many wearers found the lanyards were excellent conversation starters, creating an opportunity to share their story with new old friends. In these lanyards, Breaking the Silence expanded their traditional event based witness and launched a new way to talk about inclusion.
Minnesota Annual Conference
Texas Annual Conference
California-Pacific Annual Conference
brating an anniversary with a partner in church. This powerful project was spoken into existence when the 2009 Annual Conference approved “significant time on the agenda for United Methodist gay and lesbian families to share their stories with the Annual Conference.” In addition to the twelve stories shared, a ministry enrichment session focused on creating a culture of radical welcome and twenty-six stories were published in a resource book for congregational use. This book can be downloaded from http://www.cal-pac. org/pages/detail/1925
Mississippi Annual Conference
for all, recognize God’s movement among all people and provide safe places for sacred conversations regarding controversial issues. Mississippi reconciling leaders celebrated this momentous decision by beginning conversations about a statewide Reconciling community and organizing toward a 2011 Called to Witness training and annual conference witness.
This year the California Pacific Annual Conference bore witness to stories of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender United Methodists and their families. These sacred stories built bridges and invited solidarity across lines of exclusion and silence. Clergy spoke of living in daily tension because the church they serve does not respect them for the person they love. One couple described their anger when the church who had baptized their children excluded their children because of their sexual orientation. Other stories claimed the unending grace of God, named the hope found when they were explicitly welcomed to the communion table, and described the joy of cele-
The Mississippi Annual Conference discussed two resolutions on human sexuality which despite their polar positions, both passed. While the conference support of a resolution seeking “closure regarding the (2009) lesbian testimony” prohibits LGBT testimonies during future annual conference worship services, their positive votes for “The Need for Sacred Conversations” resolution also opened the door for dialogues and forums concerning full inclusion. “The Need for Sacred Conversations”, sponsored by eighty Mississippi United Methodists, called for members of the annual conference to: demonstrate God’s love and grace
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For a full list of Annual Conference reports visit: www.rmnblog.org
Annual Conference summaries by Audrey Krumbach and Scott Summerville
Love Casts Out Fear
When faced with a difficult decision my grandfather would often pause, look at the rest of us gathered around the supper table and quote from President Roosevelt’s 1933 inaugural address, “Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I was recently reminded of that concept while on a road trip through the Mid-West to visit RMN donors when I met a transgender United Methodist called to pastoral ministry. She completed Local Pastor’s Licensing School and was excited to take the next step in answering God’s call in her life. However, unlike every other person in her class, she was not appointed to serve a church at the end of her training. The Book of Discipline does not prohibit transgender pastors from serving congregations as it does “self avowed practicing homosexuals.” So why wouldn’t a Bishop or District Superintendant appoint her to pastor a parish? A year after she concluded her training my new friend learned the answer to this question, and it was exactly what Roosevelt warned us against many years ago. Fear - what FDR called the “unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” The District Superintendant had been slow to appoint this person because he feared how she would be treated and received by a parish; he feared the political fallout of such an appointment in a conservative Annual Conference. He feared the unknown. But the Holy Spirit continued to sanctify his heart and the truth of I John 4:8 “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear.” won out. So emboldened was he by the liberating love of Christ, that he personally reached out to this transgender local pastor candidate, apologized to her and asked her to help “teach the teacher” as he continues to
By Rev. Carl Davis
When you name RMN as a beneficiary in your will you invest in a future where love wins out.
grow with her in Christ’s inclusive and transforming love. Today they are working in a new ministry to LGBT people in their community. Together, they boldly proclaim that they are liberated from subjection to fear by the love of God through Jesus Christ. RMN’s mission is not accomplished merely by fixing The Book of Discipline’s anti-gay policies. As this case shows, prejudice and fear will continue to negatively impact LGBT United Methodists even when such hatred is no longer codified in denominational rules. Only by sharing Christ’s inclusive love with individuals and living out the Gospel’s teachings of justice and inclusion, will RMN’s mission be accomplished. Accomplishing our mission requires long term strategic planning. That is why I invite you to join me in making a planned gift to RMN at this time. Together, let us assert our firm belief that not only is the only thing to fear, fear itself, but also that perfect love casts out all fear. RMN is a beneficiary in my will because I know of no better way to help change the hearts of people like the District Superintendent mentioned above from hearts of fear, to hearts of love. I know that only by changing those hearts will God’s realm come to earth as it is in heaven. Please contact Carl Davis at (773) 736-5526 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request information about how to leave RMN in your will, or make RMN the beneficiary of an insurance policy.
Tributes and Memorial
Rev. John Oda was honored by: Judy Dowell and Rev. David Weekley Julie Arms was honored by: Leigh Dry and Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto Bishop Mel & Marilyn Talbert were honored by Edgehill UMC Bill Brownson was honored by Rev. Jim & Carol Waugh Bob & Joyce Swing were honored by Reconciling Uniting Ministries of IL Dr. Brian Watson was honored by Chuck Chipman Bishop Jack & Margie Tuell were honored by Bishop Sharon & Rev. Blaine Rader James Dalton was honored by Will J. Green Rev. Josh Noblitt was honored by Kathryn McElveen The Watts Family was honored by Mindy Carter
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In Honor of...
Mindy Carter was honored by The Watts Family Pat & Chuck Simons were honored by The Watts Family Rev. Bob Epps was honored by Jo Ellen & Stephen Ham Rev. Tom Douce was honored by The Watts Family Samuel Clark was honored by Mark Gruber & Sheldon Lebowitz Vicki Flippin & Diamond Hill UMC were honored by Rev. John Alden & Maggie Carr
In Memory of...
Mr. & Mrs. Charles Boyer remember Billie Stierle Bonnie & James Rock remember George Everett Carlton Bauer remembers Rev. Howard Johnson Don & Rev. Donna Morrow De Camp and Kathy Reynolds remember Lee Williamson
SAVE THE DATE
Join hundreds of United Methodists singing of and organizing for justice and inclusion for all God’s children as we celebrate in joyful worship designed by M a r k M i l l e r a n d Ta n y a B e n n e t t .
Sing A New Song is brought to you through the partnership of: Methodist Federation for Social Action & Reconciling Ministries Network
August 24-28 , 2011 S awmill C reek Resor t Huron, Ohio
FOR MORE INFO: RMNETWORK.ORG / INFO@RMNETWORK.ORG / 773-736-5526
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SING A NEW SONG
rmnetwork.org has a new look
With new: • Convo Bible Studies • Plenary Sessions • Sermons • Actions Kits
As the movement for full inclusion grows, so does Reconciling Ministries Network’s online presence. Visit www.rmnetwork.org today!
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