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2634Church Within A Church Calls for United Methodist Separation

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  • umcornet
    Sep 1, 2004
      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
      about it!

      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,

      Gregory Dell
      National Coordinator
      c/o Broadway United Methodist Church
      3344 N. Broadway
      Chicago, IL 60657
      Phone: 773-348-2679

      P.S. Please circulate this letter as widely as possible. Thanks for
      your help!

      cathy knight
      Marketing and Development Coordinator
      Church Within A Church - "To BE Church in a fully inclusive way"
      Phone: 312.282.1556