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NEWSLETTER OF RECONCILING MINISTRIES NETWORK
VOL. 28 NO. 1 WWW.RMNETWORK.ORG WINTER, 2011
by Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey, RMN Board Member Recently, 36 of our bishops signed onto a statement advocating the elimination of ¶ 304.3 from The Book of Discipline (2008). I received that news with great joy but also a tinge of pragmatic regard. I have been the victim of bigotry and oppression for so long that I have ceased to expect any law or repeal of law to be able to eradicate racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on. These are matters that require both work of agents of God and the sanctifying move of the Holy Spirit. I entered this work of active agitation against our current despicable polity that asks its clergy and members to live a life of hypocrisy because – simply put – I love the Lord. As a queer Black United Methodist clergywoman, I understood the risks but it is not the first time I have understood my By Audrey Krumbach Matt and Fred dreaded family visits at Christmas time. Nancy, Matt’s mom, had said condemning things and even tried to disinvite them from family gatherings. While Nancy merely tolerated them, their Grandma refused to exclude Matt and Fred. Even though they expected the worst, they went anyway. Three weeks later, while Matt was out of town, Fred came home to an unexpected voicemail. “Hi, Fred, it’s Nancy. I was worried you might be lonely or might forget to eat. Take care of yourself while Matt’s away.” Matt says his mother’s heart was strangely warmed, but does not know what sparked this initial acceptance. This powerful transformation happened silently throughout the visit; in between the cranberry sauce and the embarrassing childhood stories, love began to put down roots. Nancy saw her son and his husband in a new way not because of an argument, but because they told stories about their daily life. We know that the power of transformative relationships is not limited to families. When we truly listen, in-laws become beloved parents, strangers become treasured friends, and opponents become respected colleagues. Our stories witness to God’s real love for every single person. Thousands of United Methodists have already been
A Calling to “Risk Taking Ministry”
calling as a responsibility to do “risk taking ministry.” Nor is it the first time my sense of call has been challenged on the basis of who I am. I received a call to ministry during the late 70s. Men stood in my face shaking their finger at me telling me I was going to hell because, “God never called a woman to preach. “ When I joined the United Methodist Church in 1991, my Pentecostal friends told me I was going to hell because, “Those Methodists aren’t saved.” And through it all, I have had churches that would not receive me because I am Black and according to some, “They just aren’t ready for Black folks yet.” Through all this, I have defied bigotry and sought to make our church and world a better place because, again, I love the Lord. Now, as our children look to us for direction our young adults grow weary of the insanity of our laws and our members hope for a more relevant and inclusive ministry. I invite you to take courage, join the movement with RMN, and, as always, continue to pray for our Church.
Transformed by Love
transformed by your stories, and in this fourth year of Called to Witness, we Believe Out Loud Together (BOLT). We believe in God’s creative love. We believe In Jesus’ command to love God and neighbor, and we believe God is transforming our church through stories each and every day. Are you ready to be an ambassador of reconciliation by sharing your story? Will you say yes to God, and to your brothers and sisters who are waiting (even if they do not yet know it) to hear your story and be transformed? Learn to tell your story and take the next step for inclusion at a BOLT training this spring. Visit www.rmnwitness.org/ calendar to find a training near you and get started! This free on-line series provides resources for your Reconciling journey and connects you with teams from churches, classes and campus ministries in the Reconciling process. Register today by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-736-5526
Reconciling Process Webinars
Starts April 3rd!
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Highlight: Annual Conference Teams
by Audrey Krumbach
Rather than highlighting a single congregation, we bring you two Annual Conference Teams (ACTs) who are organizing in new ways. California–Nevada Many people believe California is an inclusive state, but the 2008 referendum to end marriage equality disproves that myth. Therefore, the CaliforniaNevada Reconciling ACT is answering the need to offer education, awareness of bullying, and leadership towards full inclusion for our church. In January, the ACT gathered to tell their stories and plan an Annual Conference witness. To raise awareness of the deadly consequences of bullying, rainbow wooden images will represent each person who has committed suicide since April 2008 (the date of the last United Methodist General Conference). They will also invite the Annual Conference Memphis Two values are absolutely primary in Western Tennessee: family, and scripture; while neither is simple, both are life giving. One of the leaders on the newly formed Memphis ACT marched in the local pride parade with a sign stating: Christian Homeschooler for Equality. Southern families are rarely quiet places of gentle dissent; more often they are embodied in rowdy dinner tables with a large serving of argument but a larger portion of love. However, some of our families have been broken or devalued by our churches, and the Memphis ACT included both those
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.
Cal-Nevada Annual Conference Table 2010
members to work immediately to end discriminatory policies by passing petitions for the 2012 General Conference to change the current denominational language about sexuality. who had been hurt, and those who had previously stood by and watched, unsure of how to respond. This year, the Memphis ACT gathered to learn how to gracefully and powerfully respond to church policies, culture, and language which do harm to our family. Naming the teachings of Jesus and his constant ministry to the outcast and excluded, the ACT plans to gather again and invite more United Methodists to share their stories and seek a path towards inclusion together.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS Brian Adkins Helen Andrew Rev. Bonnie Beckonchrist Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger Vincent Cervantes Rev. Dr. Daniel Diss Jayson Kerr Dobney Giselle Lawn Rev. Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey Madelyn Marsh Rev. David Meredith Rev. Joshua M. Noblitt Rev. John Oda Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto Rev. Dr. Bruce Robbins Rev. Dr. Derrick Spiva Monica L. Swink Bishop Melvin G. Talbert Joy T. Watts
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. National Organier Rev. Troy Plummer Executive Director
Congregations Minnetonka UMC of Minnetonka, MN Quapaw Quarter UMC of Little Rock, AR Light on the Hill UMC of Puyallup, WA Christ Church UM of New York, NY Morgan Park UMC of Chicago, IL Druid Hills UMC of Atlanta, GA Provincetown UMC of Provincetown, MA Sellwood UMC of Portland, OR Communities: Odyssey Class at University UMC of Austin, TX Power and Light SS Class at North UMC of Indianapolis, IN NEIGHBORS at El Dorado County Federated Church of Placerville, CA
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New Reconciling Communities
I Wish I Could Do More
By Rev. Carl Davis
“I wish I could do more” Julianne knew that during her life her giving was limited Those words are frequently penciled by her income but by making a planned gift to RMN, Julianne in the memo section of donation checks could make sure that the mission of RMN would someday we receive here at the RMN office and get a huge boost because of her. Julianne knew that through they always make me smile. a bequest in her will to RMN, she could make her dream gift. They make me smile first because We recently received Julianne’s dream gift of over I know the person who wrote the note truly cares about $30,000 from her estate - much more than she could afford RMN’s mission to transform our Church and world into the to give to the mail appeal she answered ten years earlier. full expression of Christ’s inclusive love, and I know that, in Finally, it was the gift she truly WANTED to share all her most cases, there is a way for that donor to do more than she life. Today her gift is being used to fund our new work in or he may realize. Central Conferences helping to Consider RMN’s donor truly transform our Church and Julianne. Julianne made her WORLD. “We recently received first donation to RMN in 2000. You can make your dream She shared what she could gift too when you name RMN Julianne’s dream gift of over after taking care of her needs. your $30,000 from her estate.Her gift as a beneficiary inpolicy will A few years later, she was able or life insurance like to make a second donation to Julianne. To learn how to was much more than she could RMN. Those two donations always afford to give to the mail appeal make the gift you have contact totaled $200 and truly did help wanted to make, please she answered ten years earlier RMN do much good during me, Carl Davis, at (773) those years. But, Julianne 736 – 5526 or e-mail carl@ but it was the gift she truly wished she could do more – rmnetwork.org and ask about wanted to share all her life.” and she knew how. planned giving.
Annie Ross was honored by Jeanne Martin Leland Spencer honored: Joy & Bill Watts, Beth Olson & Shelly Davis were honored by Barbara & Reg Olson Kenneth Schoon, and Rev. Grace Berlo Deborah Maria honored: Bishop & Mrs. Cal McConnell, Kevin & Laura Young were honored by Joseph Young Rev. Hazel Anne Burnett, and The RMN Staff Margaret & Myron Talcott were honored by Bob Caviness Bob & Betty Dorr were honored by Barbara Bredthauer Martha Bentley & Becky Sechrist were honored by Richard Joy Watts honored: Bob Swing, Reg & Barb Olson, Bentley and Mary Ann Carlson Neena Mabe was honored by Heather Bachelder Brittany Cox was honored by Robbie Ausley Rev. & Mrs. Emora Brannan were honored by Mark Gruber The Chapman Family was honored by Melinda Carter Rev. James C. Preston was honored by Jane Eesley David Hosey was honored by Marion Hosey Rev. Nancy Webb was honored by Mark Gruber Deborah Maria was honored by Hazel Burnett Rusty Norment was honored by Mary Jo Ozment Dr. Brian Watson & The Viceroy SS Class of College Hill St. Andrew UMC was honored by Matthew Winkel UMC were honored by Charles Chipman The Hudson Family were honored by Elizabeth Stewart Elizabeth Brick was honored by Judith Patrick The Monday Covenant Group was honored by Monica Swink Elizabeth Fimbres was honored by Pat Coshland Rev. Dr. Tiffany Steinwert was honored by Nizza Digan George Kahl was honored by Mark Gruber Wayne & David Thibault were honored by Mark Gruber Grace UMC of Baltimore was honored by Nancy Webb The Weyons/Langin Wedding was honored by Jeffrey Waymack was honored by Katie Ladd Rebecca Langin John, Linda & Dan Lewis were honored by Wesley Lewis In Memory of... Rev. Phil Gillis is remembered by Joy Watts
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In Honor Of...
Gifts in Memory and Honor of...
Meet Your Sing a New Song Plenary Speakers
Bishop Yvette Flunder founded the City of Refuge United Church of Christ (UCC), a thriving inner-city congregation in San Francisco, which has been celebrating the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ since 1991. A native San Franciscan, Bishop Flunder is a third generation preacher with roots in the Church of God in Christ. She was licensed in the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) and later ordained by the Bishop Walter Hawkins of Love Center Ministries where she served as Associate Pastor and administrator for the Oakland-based Love Center Church. In 1984 Bishop Flunder began performing and recording with “Walter Hawkins and the Family” and the Love Center Choir. Bishop Flunder is also an ordained Minister of the UCC and a graduate of the Ministry Studies and Master of Arts programs at the Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, CA. She received a Doctor of Ministry degree from San Francisco
Bishop Yvette Flunder
Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, CA. In June 2003, Bishop Flunder was consecrated Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship a multi-denominational fellowship of 110 primarily African American Christian leaders and laity representing 56 churches and faith-based organizations from all parts of the United States, Mexico, and Africa. Bishop Flunder is a Trustee and Adjunct Professor at Pacific School of Religion. She is a board member of the National Sexuality Resource Center and an active voice for the Religion Council of the Human Rights Campaign. She also serves as the Justice and Witness Board of Directors representative on the UCC Governance Facilitation Taskforce. Bishop Flunder is much sought after as a preacher, educator, conference speaker and singer. She has been invited to minister and serve throughout the nation and many points abroad. She is the author of Where the Edge Gathers: A Theology and Homiletic of Radical Inclusion (Pilgrim Press). Bishop Flunder has received many awards for her work in the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with the elderly and youth. At Sing a New Song Bishop Flunder will offer her expertise at a Friday Plenary on “The Intersections of Oppression.” For more information on Bishop Flunder and Sing a New Song visit www.sans2011.org. emphases. As preacher and teacher, Sprague remains a consistent voice for informed biblical scholarship, progressive theology, an inclusive church, racial justice, peace, gender equality, the poor and incarcerated, and interfaith respect and cooperation. Sprague is a graduate of Ashland University (B.A. 1961), the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, (M. Div. 1965), and is the recipient of several honorary doctoral degrees, including from Ohio Wesleyan University and the Chicago Theological Seminary. He is the recipient of the American Friends Service Committee’s “Courage of Conviction Award”, the Rainbow Push “Civil Rights/Peace Award”, and was the initial recipient of the coveted “William Sloan Coffin Award for Justice and Peace.” He is co-author of a chapter in the seminary textbook, “Pastor as Educator”, and is the author of the 2002 book, Affirmations of a Dissenter. At Sing a New Song Bishop Sprague will bring this knowledge and expertise to a Friday Plenary on “Progressive Action and Voice.” To learn more about Bishop Sprague and other presenters that will be at Sing a New Song visit www. sans2011.org
Bishop C. Joseph Sprague
Bishop C. Joseph Sprague was elected to the episcopacy in 1996 and served as Bishop of the Chicago Episcopal Area and the Northern Illinois Conference until his retirement in September, 2004. Prior to this, Sprague served 27 years as a pastor and seven years as an ecumenical/interfaith officer. He was a delegate to four General Conferences and five North Central Jurisdictional Conferences of The United Methodist Church. It was his motion that established the United Methodist Communities of Shalom at the 1992 General Conference. A global church movement, some 400 Communities of Shalom presently engage congregations and their communities in working together to enhance wholeness and well being. Bishop Sprague is known for combining biblical scholarship, preaching and teaching with social justice
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A Statement of Counsel to the Church
Out of concern for the welfare of all God’s people, and, order to maintain personal out of special concern for the people of The United Methodist integrity. Church, we, United Methodist Bishops – retired, believe • Young adults, especially, The United Methodist Church should remove the following embarrassed to invite friends statement from The Book of Discipline (2008): and expressing dismay at the “…The practice of homosexuality is unwillingness of our United incompatible with Christian teaching. Methodist Church to alter its Therefore self-avowed practicing 39-year exclusionary stance. homosexuals are not to be certified as • Closeted pastors, currently candidates, ordained as ministers, or called and ordained in our appointed to serve in The United Methodist church, living divided lives Church.” ¶304.3 while offering effective Our lives and ministries over the years have included appreciated ministry. prayerful, thoughtful consideration of our Holy Bible, our • Bishops being drained of energy by upholding Church Wesleyan heritage, reflection on our experience of the Discipline while regarding it as contrary to their church and world, and our conviction of God’s intention for convictions. a world transformed. • Bishops caught between care for the Church by With this statement of conviction and counsel we seek: reappointing an effective gay or lesbian pastor and • To affirm that the historic tests of “gifts and evidence care for the Discipline by charging them under current of God’s grace” for ordained ministry override any legislation. past or present temporal restrictions such as race, • Seminary leaders desiring greater flexibility and gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. openness from the church in order to advance their • To urge the Church, ecumenical and denominational, mission of identifying, recruiting, enrolling, educating to change the manner in which it relates to gay, lesbian and spiritually forming Christian leaders. and transgendered persons in official statements, • Christian gay men and women understanding judicial proceedings, and in congregational life. themselves called of God to seek ministry opportunities • To declare our conviction that the current disciplinary within their United Methodist family Church home, position of The United Methodist Church, a part of our but having to decide between: historical development, need not, and should not, be • leaving to go to accepting denominations, or embraced as the faithful position for the future. • staying and praying for change, or • To make known our names and shared personal • challenging Church law and accepting punitive conviction on this matter and to encourage other actions. church and Episcopal leaders to do the same. Our United Methodist Church, ashamed and repentant With increasing frequency we observe and experience in the past, ended official and unofficial restrictions on the following disturbing realities and know them to be candidacy, ordination and appointment for reason of race, detrimental to the mission of a Church of Jesus Christ: gender and ethnicity. We believe the God we know in Jesus • Laity and clergy, gay and straight, withdrawing is leading us to issue this counsel and call – a call to transform membership or absenting themselves from the support our church life and our world. of congregational and denominational Church life in United Methodist Episcopal Leaders-Retired Sharon Z. Rader, Donald A. Ott, Beverly Shamana, C. Joseph Sprague, Melvin G. Talbert, S. Clifton Ives, Joe A. Wilson, William Lewis, Forrest Stith, Susan Morrison, Susan Hassinger, Judy Craig, Dale White, William Boyd Grove, C. P. Minnick, Kenneth L. Carder, Roy I. Sano, Joe Yeakel, Kenneth Hicks, Joseph Humper, Monk Bryan, Jesse DeWitt, Jack Tuell, J. Lloyd Knox, Charles W. Jordan, J. Lawrence McCleskey, Marshall L. Meadors, Jr., Franz Schafer, Sheldon Duecker, Fritz Mutti, Cal McConnell, Leontine T. C. Kelly, Robert C. Morgan, Alfred Johnson, Richard Wilke, Danny Arichea
Join your voice with retired bishops and other faithful United Methodists in support of removing anti-gay discrimination in our ordination policies! Visit www.rmnetwork.org/act-now to send a message to your active Bishop as well as to your local pastor. Stand up. Let them know that silence cannot be the voice of our spiritual leadership.
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Welcome Our New Board Members
Brian Adkins is a seminary student at Pacific School of Religion and serves on the board as a young adult representative for MOSAIC. Brian has experience in fund development and in organizing people for action. Ask him about AmeriCorps*VISTA and the International Rescue Committees or his experience on the Soul Force Equality Ride. Jayson Dobney organized in the Dakotas Annual Conference and served there as an out gay associate conference Lay Leader. He is now active in the New York annual conference where he works for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Jayson was a key part of the legislative team at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth. Ask him about historic music instruments.
Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey is the Dean of Students at GarrettEvangelical Theological Seminary. She identifies as an queer Black United Methodist womanist scholar and ordained elder. She is an author, a blogger, and presented a workshop on Black Queer Theology at the RMN Justice and Joy convocation. Ask her about her beautiful grandkids.
Giselle Lawn is a member of St. Mark UMC in Atlanta, GA. She was active in the All Means All campaign visiting with delegates and lobbying for change. After being excluded as a transwoman at two Baptist Churches, she found a welcoming UM congregation. Ask Giselle about lobbying to pass hate crimes legislation and ENDA both in GA and DC. Bishop Melvin G. Talbert has attended every General Conference since 1968 and serves in retirement in many ways including a term as the executive director for Black Methodists for Church Renewal, as an adjunct professor at Vanderbilt and as an interim general secretary for GCCUIC. Ask him about being one of eight children with sharecropper parents.
Rev. Bonnie Beckonchrist is the Lead Pastor at the First United Methodist Church of Arlington Heights, IL. She led two congregations, one small urban parish and one large suburban parish, to become reconciling. She has been actively involved in RMN witness and planning at the ‘96, ‘04, and ‘08 General Conferences. Ask her about the radical hospitality of Jesus Christ!
Welcoming new board members also means saying thank you to those who have completed their three or six-year service on the board in 2010: Larry Duncan-MN, Elizabeth Fimbres-AZ, Will J. Green- MA, Esther Villarreal Houser-TX, Duane Ewers-TN, Randy Miller-CA, Holland Morgan-GA, Elizabeth Okayama-IL, Rosario Quinones-NJ, Sally Sparks-NC, and Ralph Williams-DC. Thank you all — great work!
RMN is to the UMC as a Lighthouse is to a Ship
Fearing blizzard-like conditions, the RMN Board of including Jennifer Soule, who worked tirelessly behind the Directors gathered in Chicago, IL February 17-19 equipped scenes as RMN’s volunteer legal counsel for four years. As with warm hearts and winter the board said good-bye to Jennifer, accessories. Although the glacial they unanimously welcomed a new polity/practices of injustice, Transgender Extension Ministry silence and exclusion threatens who will educate and advocate the relevance of the church we for transgender and gender variant love, the RMN board continues United Methodists. With a critical to be confident in the movements eye on both the calm and stormy of the Holy Spirit to chip away at seas we navigate, the board the homophobic and transphobic generated strategies to approach icebergs in our way - steering our familiar and uncharted territory church towards the warmth of the (including the 2012 General RMN Board Members (From Left-Right, Top-Bottom) full kin-dom of God. Conference and 2011 Sing a New Rev. David Meredith, Jason Dobney, Rev. Bruce Robbins, Like a compass to an explorer, Brian Adkins, Rev. Dr .Daniel Diss, Giselle Lawn, Rachel Birkhahn- Song gathering with MFSA) with Rommelfanger, Dr. Derrick Spiva, Joy Watts, Helen Andrew, the RMN board celebrates the openness to the spirit’s leading Madelyn Marsh, Dr. Pamela Lightsey, Rev. Bonnie Beckonchrist, steadfast direction of past and moving always towards the glow Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, Bishop Melvin Talbert, Vincent Cervantes, Monica Swink, Rev. John Oda current board members/volunteers, of God’s love.
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by Rev. John Oda, RMN Board Chair & Rachel Harvey, deaconess
Reconciling Ministries Network
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Meet Your 2011 Reconciling Ministries Network Board Members - Pg 7
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