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UM Bishop Ough Comes Out Of The Closet For Homosexuality


Bishop Ough is now clearly out of the closet in his support for homosexuality.

Mike Evans

5. BISHOP OUGH KEYNOTES RECONCILING CELEBRATION

Maynard Avenue United Methodist Church of Columbus, Ohio became a Reconciling Congregation this year. On December 3, Maynard celebrated with other local congregations with food, prayer, music, words by Rev. Troy Plummer, Executive Director of RMN, and a keynote address by Bishop Bruce R. Ough.

Bishop Ough's address was titled Welcoming Jesus and based on Matthew 10:40-42:

(clip) Jesus urges us to practice hospitality as a sign of our commitment to the Kingdom - the Kingdom that Jesus offers to people of all ages, nations, races, classes and sexual orientations. Maynard Avenue United Methodist Church and other congregations represented at this evening's celebration have made the journey (sometimes difficult and costly) from fear, to being fully open to all people. The journey from maintaining that the church chooses whom to welcome, to embracing that God has chosen all to be welcomed. The journey from welcoming with conditions, to welcoming with unconditional love.

Often the word "hospitality" evokes the image of soft, sweet kindness, tea parties or coffee and cookies, bland conversations and a general atmosphere of coziness and politeness. Probably this has its good reasons, since in our culture and in our church the concept of hospitality has lost much of its power. But for Jesus, hospitality meant welcoming everyone - friends and strangers - as if they were holy. As if they were himself.

(snip) Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the One who sent me" (Matthew 10:40). Becoming reconciling congregations and communities of faith is not just about our values of inclusivity. It is not just about being nice, hospitable people. Becoming reconciling congregations is about God. It is ultimately about welcoming Christ and the One who sent Jesus.

Such radical hospitality - welcoming and treating everyone like Jesus - does have its risks. Those of you here tonight know that. We do live in a world, and unfortunately in a church, in which many still believe sexual orientation is only a choice. We do live in a society and a church in which many have made peace with the inherent contradiction between Jesus' message of love and a handful of scriptural references, none of which Jesus used, that condemn homosexuality.

(snip)You see, the risk we face in welcoming all persons is not that they will take something away from us, but rather we will be called to give our lives away. To give our prejudices away. To give our fear away. To give what we have always believed away. To give our control away. If we practice the radical hospitality that Jesus commands us to, we will be the ones changed and transformed. That is the real risk. But it is also the real reward. Jesus says: "Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones will not lose their reward." Our only hope of abundant, freedom living is to open our lives to others, to love and to welcome all people with extravagant and exuberant abandon.

And so I remind us, but more specifically the church, we are not here for breeding purposes. We are here to work. We are here to serve others. We are here to love others. We are here to welcome others. As we leave this celebration tonight, we go to welcome Jesus. Go and welcome all who hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice and acceptance. Go and offer the cup of cold water. Go and be reconciling arms. Tell the person that your hospitality is because Jesus loves you and you want to share that love with others. Go and continue to treat all you meet as the Holy One. Amen.

Full text: http://maynardav.org/BishopOughLetter.htm 

Full newsletter below:

----- Original Message -----
From: "RMN Flashnet" <flashnet@rmnetwork.org>
To: <bassdrone01@bellsouth.net>
Sent: Thursday, January 12, 2006 12:57 AM
Subject: RMN Flashnet 2006-01-11

Flashnet!

The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest Wednesday, January 11, 2006

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RMN MISSION STATEMENT: Reconciling Ministries Network is a national grassroots organization that exists to enable full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the United Methodist Church, both in policy and practice.

*********************************************************** 1. In the New Year: Prayer, Covenant, Priorities 2. Don't Forget Reconciling Sunday Celebrations 2006 3. Remember Martin Luther King, Jr. 4. More Creative Responses to Judicial Council Rulings 5. Bishop Ough Keynotes Reconciling Celebration 6. Let us pray with you 7. Miracle Moments ***********************************************************

1. IN THE NEW YEAR: PRAYER, COVENANT, PRIORITIES

.. Bring us from arrogance to empathy, from indifference to enthusiasm, from fear to faithfulness.

One more thing: Do not let us utter words of agreement too easily, too quickly. Focus our eyes as well as our hearts on what you desire for us. Challenge us to move from complacency to commitment, from clichés to compassion and from old habits to new opportunities.

We pray all this through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord.

by Jim Winkler, January 2006 Full prayer: http://www.umc-gbcs.org/site/apps/nl/content.asp?c=fsJNK0PKJrH&b=1335251&content_id={34EF5F85-4B1A-4A8E-AE7D-9226065CCBD9}&notoc=1&tr=y&auid=1327524 

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As printed in the United Methodist Book of Worship:

First, set apart some time, more than once, to be spent alone before the Lord; in seeking earnestly God's special assistance and gracious acceptance of you; in carefully thinking through all the conditions of the covenant; in searching your hearts whether you have already freely given your life to Christ. Consider what your sins are. Consider the laws of Christ, how holy, strict, and spiritual they are, and whether you, after having carefully considered them, are willing to choose them all. Be sure you are clear in these matters, see that you do not lie to God.

Second, be serious and in a spirit of holy awe and reverence.

Third, claim God's covenant, rely upon God's promise of giving grace and strength, so you can keep your promise. Trust not your own strength and power.

Fourth, resolve to be faithful. You have given to the Lord your hearts, you have opened your mouths to the Lord, and you have dedicated yourself to God. With God's power, never go back.

And last, be then prepared to renew your covenant with the Lord. Fall down on your knees, lift your hands toward heaven, open your hearts to the Lord.

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>From Rev. Erin Mysleski: Before the hustle and bustle of this new year gets going. Before you get started on all those New Year's resolutions to exercise more often or improve your diet, take some time to consider your covenant with God. Consider how vital it is to your life. Consider how you can work on it and renew it. As you consider these things, know that God initiated this covenant. Know that God will never nullify it. Know that God breathes new life and love and hope into it again and again.

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2. DON'T FORGET RECONCILING SUNDAY CELBRATIONS 2006

Let us know of your plans! Take pictures and send them to RMN. Reconciling Sunday celebrations often happen in January, in June (Stonewall), in October (Coming Out Day) and on many congregations' anniversary of becoming reconciling. You don't have to be a Reconciling Congregation to celebrate a Reconciling Sunday! This January 22, Mary Taylor Memorial UMC, Reno-First UMC, Walnut Creek UMC and Martinez UMC will have their services.

Resources following the theme Sanctuary For All [including music, scripture, prayer, and children's time suggestions] were mailed out in December. If you missed them, contact the RMN office!

Example Call to Worship: One: From the places of isolation, desert and storm, despair and judgment, Many: Come find sanctuary. O: From the dispersed, urban and rural, inner city and suburb, M: Come find sanctuary. O: From the trials, appeals, general conferences and judicial councils, M: Come find sanctuary.

O: In the sanctuary, remember the promises of baptism, M: Watermarked, permanently and powerfully part of the family. O: In the sanctuary, remember the blessings of the spirit, M: Hearts on Fire, born from above, following the Spirit's lead. O: In the sanctuary, born of water and the spirit, remember the commission, M: Go to the ends of the earth. Spread like wildfire.

O: We your faithful, Watermarked with Hearts on Fire proclaim sanctuary for all: M: We are United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. All: Sanctuary! Sanctuary for All!

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3. REMEMBER MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

Words from Coretta Scott King:

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all a day of service. All across America on the Holiday, his followers perform service in hospitals and shelters and prisons and wherever people need some help. It is a day of volunteering to feed the hungry, rehabilitate housing, tutoring those who can't read, mentoring at-risk youngsters, consoling the broken-hearted and a thousand other projects for building the beloved community of his dream.

Dr. King once said that we all have to decide whether we "will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life's most persistent and nagging question, he said, is `what are you doing for others?'" he would quote Mark 9:35, the scripture in which Jesus of Nazareth tells James and John "...whosoever will be great among you shall be your servant; and whosoever among you will be the first shall be the servant of all." And when Martin talked about the end of his mortal life in one of his last sermons, on February 4, 1968 in the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church, even then he lifted up the value of service as the hallmark of a full life. "I'd like somebody to mention on that day Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others," he said. "I want you to say on that day, that I did try in my life...to love and serve humanity."

We call you to commemorate this Holiday by making your personal commitment to serve humanity with the vibrant spirit of unconditional love that was his greatest strength, and which empowered all of the great victories of his leadership. And with our hearts open to this spirit of unconditional love, we can indeed achieve the Beloved Community of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream.

May we who follow Martin now pledge to serve humanity, promote his teachings and carry forward his legacy into the 21st Century.

Full article: http://www.thekingcenter.org/holiday/index.asp 

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4. MORE RESPONSES TO JUDICIAL COUNCIL RULINGS

HERE WE STAND, www.herewestandumc.org, contains many responses and gives the opportunity for you to read and endorse the Here We Stand statement--1,234 endorsers so far. Share this with your congregation and other UM connections--liberals, moderates, and conservatives! Spread the word.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN: "We proclaim our vigorous disagreement with this act of injustice by the highest judicial body of our denomination," said the statement. It was signed by 124 clergy members, including Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., who heads the region. See story: http://rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4292152,00.html  See the ad at: http://www.rmcumc.org/News/Communications/1032ad.htm 

VIRGINIA: 44 Virginia Annual Conference pastors in the Richmond area placed an advertisement in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. In opposition to judicial council rulings, the pastors placed the ad to keep their baptismal vows to "resist, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves."

MARYLAND: First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville, MD (FUMCHY, for short), a multicultural community of faith with an inclusive membership and broad style of style of worship (from traditional to almost evangelical) changed the church sign that faces two busy highways in the Hyattsville to specifically welcome gay and lesbian persons in LARGE letters.

BOSTON, MA: Local Reconciling Congregations joined together and placed a half-page ad of welcome in the regional GLBT newspaper for Christmas.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST RMN: offered two "Longest Night" services to offer a worship experience for our hurting community to pray for God's light to shine through the barriers that conspire to keep sexual minorities on the margins of society and church. The Longest Night Services were held concurrently at Seattle First United Methodist Church and Tacoma First United Methodist Church.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY: Saratoga Springs United Methodist Church started drafting a new resolution to ensure inclusion in the UMC and witnessed publicly, inviting reporters to cover the story. Story: http://www.saratogian.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15762777 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Bishop Beverly Shamana celebrated Holy Communion shared from atop a wooden door -- a symbol that United Methodists in the California Nevada Region support the church-wide theme, "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors," despite a highly controversial church court ruling supporting pastors who deny homosexuals. Bishop Shamana also released "An Open Letter to a Brother in Christ Who Was Denied Membership in Local Church Because of His Sexual Orientation." The letter apologizes for the actions of clergy who have barred the doors to Christian community, and denounces the actions of the Judicial Council. The more than 100 signatories of the letter also clearly state their churches are places of welcome for all people.

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5. BISHOP OUGH KEYNOTES RECONCILING CELEBRATION

Maynard Avenue United Methodist Church of Columbus, Ohio became a Reconciling Congregation this year. On December 3, Maynard celebrated with other local congregations with food, prayer, music, words by Rev. Troy Plummer, Executive Director of RMN, and a keynote address by Bishop Bruce R. Ough.

Bishop Ough's address was titled Welcoming Jesus and based on Matthew 10:40-42:

(clip) Jesus urges us to practice hospitality as a sign of our commitment to the Kingdom - the Kingdom that Jesus offers to people of all ages, nations, races, classes and sexual orientations. Maynard Avenue United Methodist Church and other congregations represented at this evening's celebration have made the journey (sometimes difficult and costly) from fear, to being fully open to all people. The journey from maintaining that the church chooses whom to welcome, to embracing that God has chosen all to be welcomed. The journey from welcoming with conditions, to welcoming with unconditional love.

Often the word "hospitality" evokes the image of soft, sweet kindness, tea parties or coffee and cookies, bland conversations and a general atmosphere of coziness and politeness. Probably this has its good reasons, since in our culture and in our church the concept of hospitality has lost much of its power. But for Jesus, hospitality meant welcoming everyone - friends and strangers - as if they were holy. As if they were himself.

(snip) Jesus said, "Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me, welcomes the One who sent me" (Matthew 10:40). Becoming reconciling congregations and communities of faith is not just about our values of inclusivity. It is not just about being nice, hospitable people. Becoming reconciling congregations is about God. It is ultimately about welcoming Christ and the One who sent Jesus.

Such radical hospitality - welcoming and treating everyone like Jesus - does have its risks. Those of you here tonight know that. We do live in a world, and unfortunately in a church, in which many still believe sexual orientation is only a choice. We do live in a society and a church in which many have made peace with the inherent contradiction between Jesus' message of love and a handful of scriptural references, none of which Jesus used, that condemn homosexuality.

(snip)You see, the risk we face in welcoming all persons is not that they will take something away from us, but rather we will be called to give our lives away. To give our prejudices away. To give our fear away. To give what we have always believed away. To give our control away. If we practice the radical hospitality that Jesus commands us to, we will be the ones changed and transformed. That is the real risk. But it is also the real reward. Jesus says: "Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones will not lose their reward." Our only hope of abundant, freedom living is to open our lives to others, to love and to welcome all people with extravagant and exuberant abandon.

And so I remind us, but more specifically the church, we are not here for breeding purposes. We are here to work. We are here to serve others. We are here to love others. We are here to welcome others. As we leave this celebration tonight, we go to welcome Jesus. Go and welcome all who hunger and thirst for righteousness and justice and acceptance. Go and offer the cup of cold water. Go and be reconciling arms. Tell the person that your hospitality is because Jesus loves you and you want to share that love with others. Go and continue to treat all you meet as the Holy One. Amen.

Full text: http://maynardav.org/BishopOughLetter.htm 

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6. LET US PRAY WITH YOU

Please let us be part of your support and let us know how we might help. One way is to let us pray for you.

We invite you to send your prayer requests to us and be counted in the weekly offering of joys and concerns. You may call (773-736-5526), write (RMN 3801 N. Keeler Ave. Chicago, IL 60641) or email these requests to prayer@rmnetwork.org.

"Now during those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God" ~ Luke 6:12

- Rev. Karen Dammann and Meredith Savage experience the discrimination of the emergency room when carefully planned medical powers of attorney were ignored. Story: http://www.newportnewstimes.com/articles/2005/12/09/news/news04.txt 

- St. Paul's UMC-Vacaville was swamped by a flood on New Year's Eve, causing substantial water damage and loss of property. The entire city was in a State of Emergency evacuating people by boat. The good news is that the water receded quickly, thanks to our new drainage system. The bad news is what we lost: piano, organ, guitar, computer, vacuum cleaners, hymnals, sheet music, Bibles, part of our library, playpen and toys in the nursery, a new case of copy paper, files, costumes, and food for our outreach program. Until we are able to meet in again our church, services are being held in the home of one of our members. (Insurance is through the conference, but the astronomical amount of the deductible ($100,000), makes that recourse out of the question).

Donations and volunteer time are needed, contact: Pastor Sandy Gess, St. Paul's UMC - A Reconciling Congregation 101 West St.,Vacaville, CA 95688 (707) 448-5154 Personal cell : (510) 219-5627

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7. MIRACLE MOMENTS - The Spirit of Inclusion is moving among us.

We include these Moments of significant cultural shifts in the hope these societal events may positively impact life in our Church. The implication is not that these events happen spontaneously or miraculously. These highlights occur after years, even decades of struggle and hard work by many people. We offer them as blessings for our journey. Please send us your Miracle Moments to be included when space allows. Send to Moments@RMNetwork.org.

Selected Miracle Moment(s):

- 250 groups file as "friends of the court", including Latino, Asian, religious groups and the NAACP, for gays marriage equality. Story: http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?2006/01/10/3 

- The NJ governor is expected to sign bills giving inheritance and other rights to gay partners; Lambda Legal calls them "baby steps." Story: http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?2006/01/10/4 

- Washington state Sen. Bill Finkbeiner (GOP) will back a gay civil rights bill that failed last spring, giving it the majority needed for passage. Story: http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?2006/01/10/5 

- Cherokee lawmakers lack authority to block a same-sex marriage, rules the tribe's highest court; the women have yet to finalize their union. Story: http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?2006/01/04/2 

- A state appellate court in Louisiana has upheld a domestic partner plan and registry instituted by the city of New Orleans in the late 1990s. Story: http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?2005/12/20/3 

- The City Council of Indianapolis narrowly approved a measure to ban discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Story: http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?2005/12/20/4 

- A lesbian couple made vows to each other Monday in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and more than 600 other couples will do the same this week in the U.K. Story: http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?2005/12/19/1 

- South Africa's highest court ruled it is unconstitutional to prevent gay people from marrying. Parliament has a year to act on the ruling. Story: http://www.planetout.com/news/article.html?2005/12/01/1 

- Gay marriage is legal in Spain, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and South Africa.

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The Reconciling Ministries Network is a national network of United Methodist-focused organizations advocating for the full inclusion of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities into the life of the Church. Founded in 1984, RMN consists of 207 United Methodist congregations, 28 campus ministries, 31 Reconciling Communities, and over 18,000 individuals. Organizations involved include the Parents' Reconciling Network, Reconciling Ministries Clergy, United Methodists of Color, and RMN's student movement, MOSAIC.

For additional information you may contact the Reconciling Ministries Network office at:

Reconciling Ministries Network 3801 N. Keeler Avenue Chicago, IL 60641

773.736.5526 Phone 773.736.5475 Fax

Email: rmn@RMNetwork.org Or visit us on the web at www.RMNetwork.org.

To subscribe to or unsubscribe from this digest please, send an email to Sarah@RMNetwork.org.

To view past issues of the Flashnet digest, visit http://www.rmnetwork.org/flashnet/.

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