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"Faithful Christian Laity" Protest Pro-homosexuality UM Event Worshipping Sex


CALLED OUT

From the Pacific North West Reconciling Ministries Network

By The Truth, Made Free

On Sunday, February 16, 2003, almost one hundred fifty reconciling United Methodists met in Des Moines, Washington. We were gathered for "By the Truth, Made Free," the first annual convocation sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Reconciling Ministries Network.

The day, full of enthusiasm and joy, occurred despite a challenge by a newly formed group "Faithful Christian Laity." FCL, a group of eight laypersons working under the guidance of the Confessing Movement, had anticipated, as they stated in their news release, that the day would be an "egregious instance of dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of the United Methodist Church" and had called for church authorities to investigate and possibility cancel the event.

The keynote speaker for the event was the Rev. Ignacio Castuera, pastor of St. John's UMC, in the Watts area of Los Angeles. Rev. Castuera, a highly regarded progressive voice in the United Methodist Church, spoke on God's two greatest gifts to each of us, our brain and our sexuality, and said that our task is to understand the truth God is trying to teach us through this embodiment.

Participants in the gathering chose among a series of workshops. Offerings included "Leaning on the Strength of Scripture," a look at Biblical passages that give strength and guidance to those engaging in the struggle for justice for sexual minorities; "The Cost of Membership," exploring the responsibilities implied in the sacrament of baptism, and; "The UM Book of Discipline and Homosexuality," a history of the General Conference actions on the issue of homosexuality.

Emotional highlights of the day included the camaraderie of the meal (where, as one evaluation stated, we "shared good Methodist food" -- soup and homemade desserts), the spiritual connection of communion, and the soaring exhilaration of music. The day ended with everyone's voices joining in "God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar, we your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever, now and ever more."

As Rev. Castuera was ending his communion reflections, he stated, "Every Sunday God cries as God sees that churches are not inclusive." He asked us to "leave here a bit disturbed, for life is messy and difficult." But, he also called on us to "energize one another, to go out to do Christ's work."

Amory Peck, convener

PNW Reconciling Ministries Network

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CORNET Note: More information about the group Faithful Christian Laity" is on the Unofficial Confessing Movement website http://www.ucmpage.org/news/faithful_christian_witness.html

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