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UM Clergy Meet And Organize To Spend Big Bucks Homosexualizing Denomination


CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE

From the Reconciling Ministries Network


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For information contact: Jenn Williams, RMN Media Coordinator, (773) 736-5526

LGBT (and Allied) United Methodists Convene, Strengthen and Expand Coalition, Pursue New Strategy

August 9, 2001

Chicago, IL–Over 400 constituents of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) gathered in Tacoma, WA, on July 26-29 for the organization’s 7th Biennial Convocation. This was the first national gathering of LGBT (and allied) United Methodists since last summer’s tumultuous General Conference. Significant actions from the conference include:

Historic first meeting of Clergy Alliance; organization announces a progressive, three-pronged strategy for clergy committed to being a fully inclusive Church. Sixty-seven United Methodist clergy sign on during Convocation alone, thousands eventually expected. (See attached Clergy Alliance Press Release Below.)

The Rev. Douglass Fitch, San Francisco civil rights pioneer and minister of 9,000 member Glide UMC, vows to forge coalition with influential UMC Inter Ethnic Caucus and the LGBT advocacy caucus. (See attached Fitch statement Below.)

RMN issues letter calling the United Methodist Church to accountability in the wake of the UMC’s launch of a $20 million ad campaign that touts "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors." (See attached Call to Accountability Below.)

Openly gay pastors Rev. Mark E. Williams and Rev. Karen Damman were recognized for their courage in coming out to the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference in June of this year.

RMN is committed to harnessing the power of identity politics by forming a broad coalition of constituents dedicated to and advocating for radical inclusion of all people in the Church. The newly formed Clergy Alliance joins United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC), The Parents Reconciling Network (PRN), and Methodist Students for an All Inclusive Church (MOSAIC) under RMN’s umbrella, as well as RMN’s partner organizations, Affirmation and Methodists for Social Action (MFSA). "We are not asking permission. We are setting ourselves to the task of being the Church, while organizing and equipping others to be the Church across the country and the globe," says Marilyn Alexander, Executive Director of the Reconciling Ministries Network.

Founded in 1984, the Reconciling Ministries Network is a national organization of 173 United Methodist congregations, 24 campus ministries, 13 communities and 16,500 individuals which publicly welcome persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities into the full life of the Church.


Press Statement of the Clergy Alliance of the Reconciling Ministries Network

July 27, 2001

The Clergy Alliance of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) became a reality at the July 26-29 National Convocation of RMN held in Tacoma, Washington. Sixty-seven United Methodist clergy representing every region of the United Methodist Church in the United States declared the birth of the movement. Over the next several months United Methodist clergy throughout the denomination will be invited to become part of the Alliance.

The goal and purpose of the Alliance is to provide a network of support and strategy for clergy committed to a fully inclusive church and ministry. The movement will challenge UM Church policies and practices that exclude or discriminate against people because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other condition of identity.

The Clergy Alliance will organize and work nationally and regionally in three distinctive profiles that function like “spokes on a wheel that provides movement toward a fully inclusive church”:

Working within and working to change the denomination’s discriminatory policies and practices regarding sexual orientation and other identities. This effort will attempt to develop and support the fullest ministry of and for inclusion within the parameters allowed by the denomination’s Book of Discipline. It will include participating in denominational legislative and election strategies, sharing resources for permitted inclusive ministry and establishing a network of support and communication. Commitment to radical obedience to the gospel’s mandate for full inclusiveness. This arena challenges the unjust laws and policies of the denomination through non-violent confrontation. The commitment will include both support (financial and other) to those injured by such witness and strategy to develop plans for individual, collective and mass witness.

The establishment of a Professing Church. This “church within a church” draws on the model of the Confessing Church movement that emerged during World War II in Germany in resistance to the national church’s collusion with the Nazi government. The Professing Church will focus on developing the parallel infrastructure and resources needed for full inclusive ministry. It will function as both an incubator and model for an emerging church celebrating the fullness of the diversity created by God. It will be less focused on attempting to directly interact with the denomination than it will be committed to enabling faithful ministry by participating clergy and congregations.

Clergy in the Alliance will be directly involved in one or more of the “spokes” above. They also will commit to support those involved in the other profiles and to support the Alliance as a whole.

Those adopting the above model for the Alliance named an organizing group to select a permanent leadership team and to begin the work on developing the work of the Alliance. The organizing group will meet in early fall. The Rev. Gregory Dell, pastor of Broadway United Methodist Church in Chicago, Illinois and the Rev. Marilyn Meeker-Williams, pastor of Bering Memorial United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas were named as co-coordinators of the Clergy Alliance.


Statement by Douglass Fitch

July 26, 2001

“… Justice and love and mercy are the centerpiece of the Christian gospel… and sometimes there is a remnant, there is a group that gets dumped on more than anybody else. That’s okay as long as we’re getting hurt for doing good and not for doing evil, and God says we are blessed.” -Rev. Altagracia Perez (Episcopal Priest)

We are committed to helping hurting people rather than hurting helpless people. The institutional Church leaders and we who have been cast aside are all implicated in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10). So often religious leadership denies its basic instinct to help those who hurt. I remind us: “we are spiritual by nature; we are religious by choice.” We who have been oppressed because of race, gender and/or sexual orientation are those called to respond to the pain, hurt and suffering in God’s word. Where we presently stand is outside the mainstream of American Methodism, is where we need to be. “A fish does not know it is a fish until it gets out of water.”

We who make a difference helping hurting people, not hurting helpless people. We show compassion to others not because of who they are but because of who we are. We are those who see beyond externals to see interior qualities that make us human and therefore sisters and brothers. In the words of Ghandi, “we must be the change we want to see in the world.” We must risk more than what others see as safe, care more than what others think is wise; dream more than what others think is practical; and expect more than what others think is possible. And do it with others whose pain is common to us—Black, Brown, Red, Yellow and White.

Having worked for three or four quadrennial with the inter ethnic caucus, I believe it is time to forge a coalition with all of us who have experienced underserviced pain and suffering. We too are about helping hurting people rather than hurting helpless people. We have more in common than we suppose. Toward that end, I commit myself to helping that coalition happen. Together God calls us all to transformation—“to be the change we want to see in the world.”

Douglass Fitch


July 27, 2001

The Tacoma Call to Accountability:
An Open Letter to the United Methodist Church University of Puget Sound Tacoma, Washington

“I believe when you truly embrace diversity, you embrace God.” Text from UMC “Igniting Ministries” advertising campaign

In light of the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) “Igniting Ministries” initiative (www.ignitingministry.org), its national, $20 million advertising campaign, we call the UMC to accountability. The campaign’s theme “Open hearts, open minds and open doors,” is exactly the reality the constituents of the Reconciling Ministries Network strive to embody. We wholeheartedly endorse this message and yet recognize, particularly for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) church members, that the UMC denies them welcome and equal participation, specifically in terms of ordination and same-sex unions.

This struggle for full inclusion within the UMC is not new, nor limited to LGBT people. The UMC has historically negated and continues to discriminate against People of Color and women. Rather than reflecting a richly differentiated body, the UMC’s membership falls short in reflecting the same diversity that is found in the population of the United States.

As a diverse community gathered from July 26-29, 2001, in Tacoma, Washington, for the 7th Biennial Reconciling Ministries Network National Convocation, we affirm the core message of the campaign—to be a Church that welcomes all people, actively and joyfully and with purpose. We dedicate ourselves today and in the future, as we have since our founding in 1984, to strive to truly fulfill the assertion of the UMC’s campaign. We hereby affirm to:

Work diligently to create a Church without barriers, in which all people, because of their many identities, are welcomed into full participation; To offer ourselves as a resource for individuals and congregations that want to genuinely welcome all people, including LGBT persons to Christian community; To join with others in the struggle for inclusion and social equality. We applaud the message of the United Methodist Church’s advertising initiative and the many members who are working to make our Church one with open hearts, minds and doors. We challenge the Church to make real this message not because marketing research has deemed this relevant, but because it is a reality that accurately recognizes the God given worth of every individual. We celebrate the gifts of the gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, and other identities with which God has imbued every person and invite others to join us in creating a fully inclusive Church.

Signed,

United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church Clergy Alliance Parents Reconciling Network MOSAIC--Methodist Students for a Fully Inclusive Church Affirmation: United Methodists for LGBT Concerns Methodist Federation for Social Action Reconciling Ministries Network

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