Group says, "Let two new denominations be born!"
From the Church Within A Church
"To BE Church in a fully inclusive way."
August 31, 2004
Dear Friends in Christ,
General Conference 2004 is a matter of record. Jurisdictional
Conferences with their election of bishops have come and gone. Where
are we as a denomination? Where are we as a church?
The United Methodist denomination is clearly split. The question is
not so much whether that is or is not the reality as it is what to do
The Church Within A Church Movement was organized in February of
2002, in response to the General Conference of 2000, and is now
focused even more clearly since the results of the 2004
Conferences. We came together with a sense that the denomination's
direction on inclusiveness was not exactly hopeful. Attacks were
being made on the Commissions on Religion and Race and Status and
Role of Women. Those attacks were not successful but they haven't
stopped. Most apparent has been the now repeated intransigence and
deepening rejection of persons based solely on their sexual
orientation. Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender persons and their
allies have not been afforded even the respect of recognizing that
there is a difference of perspective within the denomination.
The hypocrisy of declaring that the United Methodist Church is a
denomination of "Open hearts, Open minds and Open doors" is deeply
offensive. To declare on the last day of the 2004 Conference
that "as United Methodists we remain in covenant with one another,
even in the midst of disagreement, and affirm our commitment to work
together for our common mission of making disciples throughout the
world," adds further insult to injury.
We affirm that there are faithful folks and movements whose intent
remains focused on reforming our denomination.
But Church Within A Church recognizes that there are a growing number
of United Methodists who feel that the best stewardship of their
resources for the struggle for full inclusiveness should not be
directed primarily at continued legislative reform. Some of those
believe that an institutional split -- as amicable as possible -- is
where we should be. Let two new denominations be born! Others feel
that it may not yet be time to separate institutionally but we should
be prepared for that eventuality, should it occur. Still others see
the primary call to be one of living out the vision of the fully
inclusive church without heavy investment in efforts of reform.
The Church Within A Church Movement can offer a place of opportunity
for progressive people in all three of those postures. We have
already begun to consider, explore and implement:
1. Initiating and supporting congregations who may or may not be
United Methodist but who will be Wesleyan in their understanding and
fully inclusive (by race, gender, sexual orientation, ability and
status) in their ministry, constituency and leadership. The one new
congregation in that model already begun and growing is Bloom in the
Desert Ministries in California. Other congregational models are
being developed and encouraged.
2. The possibility of "irregular" ordination leading to gainful
employment for qualified LGBT persons -- done in the spirit and model
of the first ordination of women priests in the Episcopal Church.
3. Development and sharing of models for the blessing of same-
gender covenant relationships.
4. The creation and distribution of progressive, liberal
Christian education curriculum for children and adults. Such
curriculum unapologetically teaches the scriptures in their
affirmation of the goodness of all creation and our accountability to
both celebrate and enable the awareness of that goodness.
Pilot projects of this work have already begun.
All of these plans spring from the movement's Action Plan which
states: We commit ourselves as disciples of Jesus Christ to full
inclusion of all persons without regard to status or economic
condition and celebrating race, color, national origin, sexual
orientation and gender identities.
To move forward with considering, refining, and implementing these
plans, the Church Within A Church Movement will have a national
meeting on October 15 and 16 in Chicago, Illinois. Part of our
agenda we will be to develop further avenues of full participation of
all people, and explore the implications of the new denominational
discipline. We would like to invite you to be there. If you are
interested in receiving details about the meeting, please return the
enclosed form [CORNET ADDED NOTE: No form is attached to this
email. If interested, contact Greg Dell] The form also provides a
way for you to become part of this movement whether you will or will
not be able to be present for the meeting.
We look forward to hearing from you soon! God's grace is alive and
Grace and peace,
c/o Broadway United Methodist Church
3344 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
P.S. Please circulate this letter as widely as possible. Thanks for
Marketing and Development Coordinator
Church Within A Church - "To BE Church in a fully inclusive way"