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UM Bishops Honored For Opposing Church Doctrine And Promoting Homosexuality At Anti-Christian Convo


Tuesday August 26, 2003 The Reconciling Ministries Network announces:

2001-2003 VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS AND CUP OF JUSTICE AWARD NOMINEES and WINNERS

This list was presented at the United Methodist Denominational time during WOW, August 16, in Philadelphia. The award winners were chosen by the Reconciling Ministries Board of Directors and acknowledge Reconciling work since the RMN Convo of 2001.

The VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS takes risks to proclaim the rightness of inclusion for all people in the church, and stands against injustice in places of isolation. These nominees represent ongoing ministries and activism focused on ending the discrimination of LGBT people in the United Methodist Church.

THE VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS NOMINEES:

-- Calvary UMC, Durham, NC, throughout 2002 for its efforts as a church to work hard on its mission despite being in a rather conservative environment. Calvary UMC became a Reconciling Congregation in April 2002. It is the only Reconciling Congregation in North Carolina.

-- Rev. Zan Holmes and Bishop Richard Wilke for pulpit messages urging the United Methodist Church to end the unjust exclusion of lesbians and gays by including them in the full life of the church. As familiar names in the Disciple Bible Study program, they have offered their wisdom on the necessity of inclusion as being integral with biblical witness.

-- Oklahoma's Mission & Service Ministry Team for initiating a Day of Dialogue on homosexuality on Feb. 8th 2003, for the Oklahoma Annual Conference.

-- As an associate pastor at Pittsburgh First UMC for 18 years Rev. Maureen Waun was in active ministry with the GLBT community. As a lonely but persistent voice in the conference, people on both sides repeatedly relied on her to make the witness for inclusion. For many years, she convened the conference's Reconciling Task Force, sponsoring several events to open minds. In 1991, she proposed a Reconciling amendment to the conference's statement against homosexuality, suggesting "we remain open to the teaching of the Holy Spirit on this issue." This was rejected, but publicized by the Pittsburgh press . . . to the dismay of those who rejected it. Rene recounts some of her ministry experiences with GLBT persons in her book, "More than Welcome."

-- Cory Blair Hays Coffman authored and advocated for passage of a resolution in the North Carolina Youth Annual Conference Session for the full welcoming inclusions of all gays and lesbians in every church of the Annual Conference. The resolution passed, but not before a challenge, to which Cory said, "If you vote to amend this resolution, I will withdraw it."

-- Jerry Longwell from the Parents Reconciling Network in Texas reached out to the district's clergy and superintendent and developed the Ministry To Care program (with professional brochure) to provide congregations with resources. He creatively found an angle into a hostile wilderness, used the UMC logo prominently on the brochure, and is already receiving numerous and responsive replies.

-- Pastor Don Sinclair and wife Kathy, Grand Marshall's of this year's Houston Pride, were sent to Houston's Bering UMC to "shut it down", but revitalized it to become the first Reconciling Congregation in the Texas Conference. Coming out of the Ecumenical Institute, he spoke against racism, homophobia and violence.

The Cup of Justice celebrates bold action to invoke justice where injustice, oppression, and exclusion exist.

THE CUP OF JUSTICE NOMINEES:

-- Easter Hill UMC which, under the leadership of the Rev. Phil Lawson, unanimously endorsed a hospitality statement making it the second predominantly African-American congregation to become a Reconciling Congregation. Easter Hill (http://www.easterhill.org) is the leading Justice & Peace congregation in California's Contra Costa county.

-- Dallas Northaven UMC for daring to stand as the lone congregation in the denomination against the injustice of prejudicial sodomy laws by officially joining the amicus brief on behalf of Lawrence v Texas in the US Supreme Court.

-- Arkansas MFSA Chapter for publishing "Sexual Minorities and The Church" which speaks eloquently and boldly to the Arkansas Conference by advocating "that homosexuality is compatible with Christian teaching," affirming all loving, monogamous, intimate relationships . . ." and supporting "persons of all sexual orientations" in their call to ordained ministry.

-- The Virginia RUMs for hosting a workshop in Charlottesville in April 2002 even though members and churches have experienced resistance and opposition for their actions in a very inhospitable area of the Southeast Jurisdiction.

-- Topeka, Kansas Clergy in March 2003 for urging the City Council to add sexual orientation to the non-discrimination law despite past opposition from Fred Phelps. Although there are no Reconciling Congregations in Topeka, nine of the 42 ecumenical signers are United Methodist clergy, acting consistently with the Reconciling prescriptions of the Social Principles.

-- Northern Illinois Bishop C. Joseph Sprague for his unfailing Reconciling stance, especially through recent charges of heresy and publication of his book, Affirmations of a Dissenter.

RMN appreciates the actions of all of the above individuals and groups. There is good work taking place, and it is occurring in many places. This list does not fully convey the wide range of Reconciling activities!

Bishop Richard Wilke and Zan Holmes are proudly awarded the Voices in the Wilderness Award.

Bishop Wilke made public statements for Reconciling at three annual conferences in 2002. RUMs in Texas, East Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania were encouraged by his words as he offered hope for an inclusive UMC of the future. In Texas he urged the annual conference crowd to be more like Houston's Bering UMC (a Reconciling Congregation), and preached on Jesus ministry to the man born that way (John 9). Bishop Wilke also wrote an essay entitled "What does the Bible call us, as Christians, to do on this issue?" for the book, "Finishing the Journey", by Northaven UMC. In this essay, Bishop Wilke says, "When I see two men or two women kneeling together to take holy communion, working diligently for human betterment, and caring for each other across the years, I must pause and believe there is room for them in the household of God." View his essay at http://www.northaven.org/publish.html

The Rev. Zan Holmes is clearly inclusive of GLBT persons in his published sermon, "Check Your Ego at the Door." It ends with a story of a Holmes' family reunion in which Zan instructed a grandson to "get everybody" in the photo. Of course, the child takes the patriarch seriously and exuberantly herds everybody into the family photo. When everybody's gathered for the photo, the boy is nowhere to be found ... until they look outside and see him calling strangers from the street. "Grandpa wants everybody in the picture." Zan then asks the congregation what "everybody" means, prompting them with a potentially excluded group -- "Does it mean women?" And the congregation yells back, "Everybody!" And after about five rounds, Zan asks the people: "Does it mean homosexuals?" And the congregation (sometimes awkwardly) yells: "Everybody." Zan has preached the sermon several times around the country, reaching entire delegates of annual conferences and challenging them to scrutinize the role their own egos play when considering ministries of Reconciliation.

Easter Hill UMC and Pastor Phil Lawson are proudly awarded the Cup of Justice Award.

Easter Hill United Methodist Church became a Reconciling Congregation in December 2002. They state, "All of creation is of sacred worth. All humans are sacred images of God. Easter Hill affirms, without reservation, Jesus' life and ministry of unconditional love. As an inclusive and nurturing Family of families, Easter Hill will continue to welcome and offer hospitality to all persons, regardless of age, race, gender orientations, religious, economic, educational or social status."

Local presentations of the awards are forthcoming.

We are grateful for all of the above ministries and so many more. Please take a moment to give thanks for the excitement and dedication of all of the nominees as they have offered themselves in a partnership with the gospel. Consider yourself as one more Disciple, that is learner, of Jesus Christ. We are thankful for all of our community.


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