RMN Flashnet 2007-01-31
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Subject: RMN Flashnet 2007-01-31
The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest
Thursday, February 01, 2007
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. General Conference 2008 Planning
2. Repealing All Prohibitory Language
3. Becoming an “Aspirational” Reconciling Conference or Congregation
4. IRD Promotes Anti-LGBT Legislation
5. Let us pray with you
1.GENERAL CONFERENCE 2008 PLANNING
From: RMN Staff & Board, Atlanta , Georgia
To: All Reconciling United Methodists, Churches, and Affiliated Organizations
Re: General Conference 2008 Planning
Over the course of the last two years, the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) has engaged in a series of informal and formal activities aimed at developing a proactive and focused strategy for General Conference 2008. These activities have included:
1. Met regularly with Methodist Federation for Social Action, and other partners to develop general conference strategies.
2. Attended preliminary meetings of Common Witness, the coalition of UMC progressive organizations, formed around general conference strategies.
3. Requested information from RMN members through facilitated workshops at the Hearts on Fire Conference at Lake Junaluska .
From these activities a general consensus has emerged that RMN can and should play a greater leadership role in the development and implementation of a GC 2008 strategy focused on issues of lgbt inclusiveness.
I. Defining Success
Gibran Rivera of the Public Policy Institute in Washington , DC has offered some helpful advice about how to measure successes and failures during times of conservative advancement:
v ADVANCEMENT – Successfully developing and carrying out an action agenda of based on clearly-articulated strategic goals and broadly-shared principles of inclusiveness.
v RESISTANCE – Launching effective efforts aimed at derailing oppressive policies by pointing out inconsistencies in judgments and the ill effects associated with the opposition’s tactics.
v BUILDING/CONSOLIDATION – Taking every opportunity, even in moments of adversity, to tell our story and thereby to reinvigorate current supporters and to invite newcomers to join in principled acts of solidarity.
In assessing our “wins” and “losses” at General Conference 2008, it may be helpful to keep these three criteria in mind because they allow us to evaluate our successes and failures on multiple levels rather than falling into the zero-sum game of legislative advances and losses.
II. Legislative Issues
In January of 2006, RMN and MFSA took the unprecedented early steps of introducing sample petitions around LGBT inclusiveness that were consequently adopted by several annual conferences.
1. Repeal of All Prohibitory Language – As noted above, RMN and MFSA have provided annual conferences with sample petitions aimed at repealing all of the current prohibitive language in the Book of Discipline.
2. Support for Marriage Equality or Civil Unions – RMN and MFSA have forwarded sample legislation that has been adopted by several annual conferences regarding support for same-sex civil unions.
3. Legislative Response to JC Rulings #1032 & 1041 – The repeal of the Judicial Council rulings regarding the ability of a pastor to refuse membership to “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” likely will be the number one priority for RMN’s legislative efforts.
4. Judicial Council Elections – There is a strong sense in some quarters that the majority on the Judicial Council has overstepped their authority by issuing rulings #1032 and #1041. In addition, JC members are elected in a plurality election that is more susceptible to effective coalitions of delegates.
5. Amicable Separation/Schism – Though much of the initial energy around an “amicable separation” or schism that would split the UMC between conservatives and liberals has now seemingly abated, some members of conservative groups continue to support this outcome as a strategic goal.
The majority of proposed GC legislation has yet to be submitted. This means that a full assessment of likely legislative issues can not be complete until July or August of 2007.
III. Strategies to Consider
A. Pre-Conference Strategies
1. Recruiting & Election of Delegates – Working with Annual Conferences to elect progressive delegates
2. Mailings to Delegates and Other Opinion Leaders – Following the elections, send mailings on inclusiveness to delegates
3. Coalition-Building Efforts – RMN will continue to work with other progressive organizations to support their legislative efforts and witness at GC 2008.
B. Legislative Committee Organizing (First Week)
During the first week of General Conference, RMN will focus its strategy on the legislative committees that will deal primarily with issues related to LGBT inclusiveness.
C. Plenary Strategies (Second Week)
Prior to floor debates RMN will work with progressive and inclusiveness-leaning delegates to secure their votes and recruit delegates to speak to pertinent pieces of legislation taken up on the plenary floor.
D. Post Conference Strategies
With so many issues and factors still up in the air, it is difficult to speculate about RMN’s post General Conference Strategies. This section serves as a “place-holder” or reminder that such a strategy needs to be developed.
IV. What You Can Do
1. Run as a general conference delegate or help support someone else’s election – Think strategically about who has the best chance to be elected and can best represent the goals of RMN as well as other supportive organizations like Methodist Federation for Social Action. Help elect supportive and progressive delegates of color.
2. Volunteer or help us locate a RMN GC 2008 liaison/organizer – The liaison/organizer will help support those who choose to run for election and then observe the meetings of the GC delegation from your area, and communicate with the RMN Office.
3. Contribute financially or help to raise funds from your church or conference for the GC effort – We anticipate that this will be RMN’s most expensive General Conference ever as we work to make our message heard.
4. Attend the Faith, Hope, Love RMN Convocation in Nashville August 2-5, 2007 – This will provide an excellent opportunity to become informed, get trained, and prepare ourselves spiritually and mentally for the work to come.
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