RMN Email Digest - 2004-09-01
The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest
Wednesday, September 1, 2004
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. 20 Years of Welcome! What Is Your 20?
2. RMN Marriage Webpage with new Gay Marriage Resource
3. Unity Resolution or Irreconcilable Differences?
4. Reconciling Wesley UMC of Fresno Creates Counter Ceremony
5. The Dollars and Cents of Gay Marriage
6. Let us pray with you
7. Miracle Moments
1. TWENTY YEARS OF WELCOME: WHAT�S YOUR TWENTY?
In the Spring issue of Katalyst, Co-Founders Mark Bowman and Beth Richardson remembered the stories of new beginnings and purpose of 20 years ago and related it to our journey today, saying, �It was and still is, a radical message. �Everyone has a place at this table...� are words spoken every Sunday prior to the Eucharist at Edgehill UMC. This message is spoken in different ways at Reconciling Churches and by Reconciling United Methodists. This message transforms lives -- of people who have felt themselves cast out by the churches of their childhood. This message saves lives -- of LGBT people who have lost hope, lost their center, lost the knowledge that they are -- and always have been -- beloved children of God.�
Certainly this year�s Watermarked theme emphasizing baptism has brought and continues to bring healing and hope, saving and transforming lives. This radical message that we are beloved, named and claimed by God, and that God keeps the promises made at baptism are still just being heard for the first time bringing incredible grace.
As we remember 20 years, we look forward to the future. We invite you to honor 20 years of transforming hostility to hospitality and advancing the cause of full inclusion for persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities (ASOGI). Not just to self-contentedly think about it, or cherish a fond memory, or wander through an old wound that somehow turned to wonder by God�s grace, but by making a recommitment: to action, to creation, to love, to life, to reconciliation.
Here are some ideas:
* Write and send to RMN your own response to the following: �As transforming agents for a fully inclusive church, the reconciling movement must emphasize _____________.� Invite 20 others to do so as well!
* Tell the story of your connection to RMN ministries to 20 others. Download the basic pamphlet to give to them and invite them to become Reconciling United Methodists. Wait while they fill out the form and return it to the RMN office for them.
* Review your congregation�s efforts as a reconciling ministry. How have you continued to work for justice? What are the next steps to deepen your reconciling process? [The process does continue after joining/enrolling!] Gather 20 people to have this conversation.
What is your 20? If these don�t fit, follow your passion. Create your own 20 and let us know what they are!
Perhaps a combination? (Example: 5 conversations + 5 new RUMs + a 5-week reconciling study + 5 new pledges for RMN)
What will your 20 be?
2. RMN MARRIAGE WEBPAGE WITH NEW GAY MARRIAGE RESOURCE
This new resource is available to download from the RMN website as either a PDF or Word file. Also available at the same location are several support articles, examples of services for same-gender couples, and strategies of various reconciling congregations that have sought to creatively follow the letter of the law of oppressive statements in the UMC Discipline and push for justice at the same time.
From Gay Marriage: Americans today who search the Scriptures for �a Biblical solution� to uncertainties about gay marriage find it impossible to locate a solitary sacred blueprint for �The Family.� Instead, they find variability, flexibility and difference, as if God assigns to each of us the sacred task of upholding the scales of justice-holiness in our moment of history. Scholars who examine the sources of tradition with an open mind often echo the Bible�s overarching concerns for �covenant, grace, empowering, and intimacy� in any theology of family. (p.4)
3. UNITY RESOLUTION OR IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES?
As a national grassroots organization, RMN continues two decades of ministry and advocacy to enable the full participation of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities (ASOGI) in the United Methodist church, both in policy and in practice. While the Unity Resolution from the final day of General Conference spoke of the hope of our denomination and allowed for disagreement, it did not erase the harm of the continued sin of heterosexism in the policies of our church.
The Unity Resolution:
"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 of Jesus Christ throughout the world."
We work daily to put into practice what is not yet present in UM policy -- person by person, community by community, congregation by congregation, network by network, resource by resource. In this work, we claim the strengths of diversity and the hope of the Gospel in seeking justice. In that hope, we stay in reconciling conversation remembering that Christ breaks down dividing walls of hostility creating one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and reconciling both groups to God in one body through the cross (Ephesians 2: 12-18).
We recognize the great diversity of opinion and of strategies within our welcoming constituency and also within the United Methodist denomination. Two examples follow from Church Within a Church and from Good News both responding to General Conference and the Unity Resolution:
* FROM CHURCH WITHIN A CHURCH (CWC):
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 about it! (SNIP)
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. (SNIP)
Some of those believe that an institutional split -- as amicable as possible -- is where we should be. Let two new denominations be born! (SNIP)
CWC Contact Information:
Gregory Dell, National Coordinator
* GOOD NEWS, BLAMING WESTERN JURISDICTION, CONTINUES SEPARATION PATH:
�In recognition of the threats to the unity of the United Methodist Church today, Good News will begin to examine and explore the issues raised by the proposal for amicable separation and the resolution on unity during the 2004 General Conference.� (Snip)
�This exploration will be a major emphasis of Good News' renewal work during this current quadrennium.
"What was deeply troubling to our board members at our recent meeting were the reports of what has happened in just the three months since that Unity Resolution was passed," added Heidinger.
"First, the 2004 Western Jurisdiction approved a Committee on Theological Education and the Ministry, which has as one of its responsibilities 'to deepen the knowledge of scripture... by developing a curriculum that includes and affirms new and diverse understandings of traditional theological language, particularly on scriptural authority, atonement, and the reality of God'; second, every episcopal candidate interviewed in the Western Jurisdiction was reported to have disagreed publicly with the church's stance on homosexuality; third, a delegate from the California/Nevada Annual Conference announced at the Western Jurisdiction Conference that some 49 retired pastors had offered to do same-sex unions if called upon, implying this was a safe and effective way to circumvent church law; and finally, the July 31, 2004 edition of the Arizona Republic, in an article introducing newly-elected Bishop Minerva Carcano to the Phoenix Area, noted that she 'supports full inclusion of ga!
y and lesbian church members, including gay marriage.' One must ask how a 'Unity Resolution' has any meaning whatsoever or how the Western Jurisdiction sees itself as being 'in covenant' with the rest of the church in light of these recent actions," Heidinger said.
4. RECONCILING WESLEY UMC OF FRESNO CREATES COUNTER CEREMONY
Sunday's event -- a counter ceremony at a church to celebrate the vows of gay and straight couples -- will push Fresno into a combustible national debate over gay marriage. Fueled by competing and passionately held views on religion, politics and sexuality, the debate has become about whether gays have the right to the legal and social benefits afforded by state-sanctioned marriage. San Francisco officials advanced the debate this year when they issued about 4,000 marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Their marriages, however, were annulled when the California Supreme Court ruled this month that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom overstepped his authority when the city issued the licenses. (Snip)
The Rev. Larry Patten, who is organizing the counter church ceremony, says Mayor Autry is using freedom of speech to promote an exclusionary stance on marriage that ignores gay couples. (Snip)
Wesley United Methodist Church in northeast Fresno is having a service Sunday for gays and heterosexuals to renew vows. Some of them made vows in civil unions or domestic partnerships while others did so without formalizing their relationships, says Patten, lead pastor at Wesley United Methodist.
Patten says he and other clergy organized their event because "vows are very important" and same-sex couples are being denied the right to exchange them in marriage.
Patten rejects Autry's contention that the mayor can be a supporter of the gay community as he participates in a public event defending heterosexual marriage.
"Mayor Autry and I are in positions of incredible power," Patten says. "We are heterosexuals in a world in which, if we are married, we suddenly have access to over 1,000 laws that are set in motion to protect us. We just have this power, and we take it for granted." (snip)
By Doug Hoagland, The Fresno Bee
Full Story: http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/9048969p-9946675c.html
5. THE DOLLARS AND CENTS OF GAY MARRIAGE
Gay marriage challenges society. It roils contemporary politics and raises moral objections for some. But on economists' screens, it barely registers.
That's because legalizing gay marriage isn't that costly in economic terms. In fact, research suggests it should save money for federal and state governments. And for corporate America, the costs of extending benefits to the partners and families of gay employees are small.
Did you ever wonder why more and more companies, state and municipal governments, and colleges and universities are granting benefits to gay workers' partners and children?
One big reason: It's cheap.
�On average, it would add 1- 2% tops - to employers' benefit costs,� says Susan Sandler, editor of a newsletter, HRfocus, for the Institute of Management and Administration in New York. (by David R. Francis)
Full Story: http://news.findlaw.com/csmonitor/s/20040830/20040830081500.html
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@....
�Now during those days Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God� ~ Luke 6:12
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@....
Selected Miracle Moment(s) for this week:
- Largest wedding in UK for 70 gay couples was held in at Manchester Pride.
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 194 United Methodist congregations, 26 campus ministries, 20 Reconciling Communities, and over 18,000 individuals. Organizations involved include the Parents' Reconciling Network, 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
Or visit us on the web at www.RMNetwork.org.
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