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3023The Reconciling Ministries Network Special Digest

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  • umcornet
    Nov 1, 2005
    • 0 Attachment
      Excerpts related to the Judicial Council rulings of October 31 (which
      is most of yesterday's digest)

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      The Reconciling Ministries Network
      Special Digest
      Monday, October 31, 2005

      =================================================================================================
      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. It Is A Time To Gather Together
      2. Resources For Devotion
      3. Honoring Prophets
      4. Prayer Litany
      <SNIP>
      ***********************************************************

      1. IT IS A TIME TO GATHER TOGETHER

      All Saints Eve 2005 is a sad day. Comfort will not come easy. As we
      prepare to name the losses to the church on all Saints Day, the
      Judicial Council has lengthened the list considerably. In decisions
      released today, a majority of the Judicial Council of the United
      Methodist Church removed the credentials of Rev. Irene Beth Stroud and
      allowed the reinstatement of a clergyman that refused to accept a gay
      person as a member declaring his action permissible.

      We call upon all United Methodists to respond in prayers offering care
      to those in denial, shock, grief, dismay, or anger. We encourage you
      to gather together.

      The decisions of the Judicial Council create a tragic moment in the
      history of our United Methodist Church. The outcomes were surprising
      in their severity and in their disregard for United Methodism. The
      harshness toward clergy continues a pattern; the harshness toward lay
      members is shocking. Be careful. Often such discriminatory rulings
      unleash long-harbored hatred.

      "At the RMN office we received an email that said we should be
      horsewhipped as well. The UMC has lost sight of its mission, it has
      lost sight of its Wesleyan heritage, it has lost sight of the Gospel
      of Jesus Christ. It has discarded its integrity even as it has
      discarded us," said Sue Laurie outreach coordinator for
      RMN.

      Beth Stroud is a pastor of tremendous gifts. These gifts were
      acknowledged by every person in every step of this process. The
      prosecuting counsel repeated it again on October 27. He opened by
      saying, "We affirm the wonderful pastoral gifts that Rev. Stroud
      brings to the table." But he said that this is about the
      law.

      Then the Judicial Council went where no body of the United Methodist
      Church has ever gone before. They offered to clergy the discretion to
      deny membership to a class of persons judged to be unacceptable. This
      is a slippery slope to applying pastoral prejudice in a variety of
      situations and has great implications for the future of the UMC.

      As we minister within our congregations, we will encounter many
      emotions: righteous anger and impatience, despair, grief, surprise,
      and hopelessness. There will also be those who wonder why we are so
      surprised -- for this describes a reality that they have been living
      under for a long time.

      At this time we need to gather together. We are calling upon
      Reconciling United Methodists to speak up as they never have before.
      This Sunday is All Saints Day in our Churches. In the call to worship,
      in the prayers, in the preaching, in the sacraments, in the singing
      and in the benediction, let us be authentic in our witness -- let us
      decry the swirling, toxic waters of the UMC and stand firm on the Rock
      that is Jesus Christ.

      We especially keep in our prayers those who are isolated and do not
      have Reconciling Congregations or Communities to gather with at this
      time. Please listen to this pastoral message by Dr. Joretta Marshall
      (RMN board chair, elect) delivered to Bering Memorial UMC on October
      30th: http://www.beringumc.org/wit.htm .

      Caution, toxic: This link lists the Judicial Council's rulings.
      Prepare yourself with prayer before diving in.
      http://archives.umc.org/interior_judicial.asp?mid=&3&SN=01&EN=32&JDMOD==VWL

      =================================================================================================
      2. RESOURCES FOR DEVOTION, Rev. James Preston

      Suggested scriptures:

      Romans 8: 31-39 (Nothing can separate us from God's love in Christ)
      Luke 24: 13-35 (Two friends who are hopeless experience the living
      Christ and hope)
      Psalm 121 (God is our strength and protector)
      Psalm 23 (God is with us in all times of life—even the dark valleys)
      Psalm 130 (God's people cry out from the depths of despair)
      Exodus 1: 8 – 22 (When oppression grows more evil, God's people
      respond to save lives)

      Suggested hymns:

      United Methodist Hymnal:
      375 There is a Balm in Gilead
      458 Dear Lord, For All in Pain
      309 On the Day of Resurrection
      707 Hymn of Promise

      Faith We Sing:
      2136 Out of the Depths
      2199 Stay With Us

      Prayers:

      O God of endless love and welcome,
      We come with hearts broken and hurt abounding. We are numb at the
      legal indifference of our church which seeks to sever parts from the
      body of Christ. The rigidity of United Methodism astonishes us as
      official rulings replace grace and hospitality. Comfort and renew
      lesbian women, bisexual sisters and brothers, gay men, and
      trans-gendered friends who have witnessed the slamming of doors by
      the church they love. O God, please forgive our church, The United
      Methodist Church, and those in it who seek to limit the Gospel of
      Jesus. Remind us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd who welcomes all no
      matter who we are. May your Holy Spirit sustain us for the prophetic
      journey which lies ahead. In Jesus name.
      Amen.

      Leader: No words can express how loud the door slammed shut!
      All: No tears can wash away the calculated rejection offered by our
      church!
      Leader: No action can reduce the pain of closed doors, minds, and hearts!
      All: No one. No thing. Nothing can explain away the sinful exclusion
      present before us.
      No one but you, O God, who can heal the sick, find the lost, restore
      the broken, and raise the dead. No one but you, O God.

      =================================================================================================
      3. HONORING PROPHETS, Rev. Laurie Hays Coffman
      Calvary UMC, Durham, NC

      Even as Rosa Park lays in state at the US Capitol, Beth Stroud is
      removed from her place.

      She sat down when the bus driver said move back.
      And when the whites said shut up, she spoke out.
      And when they said sit down, she stood up.
      And when they said you're fired, she found her life's work.
      Today the mother of the civil rights movement lies in honor.
      Our hero and model and quiet saint lives on in us.

      She listened when her maker called her by name.
      And when God said who will go for me, she said here I am.
      And when Jesus said feed my sheep, she said I will.
      And when the Spirit said the truth will make you free, she said
      be it unto me according to thy word.

      And when the church said be quiet, she spoke up.
      And when the conference said stay in, she came out.
      And when the court said you're fired, she found her life's work.
      Today this sister walks in dignity and faithfulness.
      Our hero and model and quiet saint lives still for Christ.

      I believe we shall see
      the goodness of the Lord
      in the land of the living!

      And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
      we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.
      The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
      his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure;
      one little word shall fell him.
      (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, Martin Luther, 1529)

      O God, please speak the word through us.
      Bless Beth and Chris and all who ache with them this day.
      Lead us on toward the light.

      =================================================================================================
      4. PRAYER LITANY, Rev. Trey Hall
      Holy Covenant UMC, Chicago, IL
      *(Still a Reconciling Congregation!)*

      The one who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon."
      Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
      The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints.
      (the final words of the Revelation to John— 22.20-21)

      Come, then, Lord Jesus, and come soon:
      remember your last words to us, testify again to our hearts, speak
      truth in the midst of sin and doubt.

      Come, Lord Jesus,
      into a Church that is not ready to embrace you in each and every
      person: judge us with your burning love.

      Come, Lord Jesus,
      and have mercy on us:
      forgive our ignorance of your call to baptize all people and make
      disciples of all the world; correct our blasphemy of confusing our
      ministry of invitation to the feast with your responsibility to know
      and judge our lives.

      Come, Lord Jesus,
      and heal our diseases, cast out our demons, and turn our water into
      wine: because—in this time and place—we need a miracle.

      Come, Lord Jesus,
      and teach us that your foolishness is wiser than the rulings of the
      powers and principalities:
      give us courage and power to resist evil and oppression in whatever
      forms they present themselves, even in the guise of your servants.

      Come, Lord Jesus,
      into our breaking hearts, and help us not to fall in love with the
      curious sanity of those dark powers, but to respond with repenting
      light, powerful truth-telling, and generous love.

      Come, Lord Jesus,
      and help us believe that you give a hope beyond the Church's worst,
      and that no one can take this life-giving hope from us.

      Come, Lord Jesus,
      you whose thoughts are not our thoughts, whose ways are not our ways:
      strengthen us as we watch for you and the dream that comes on your
      saving wings.

      Come, Lord Jesus,
      live and rise in us now, that we, through you, may be gracious saints:
      salt of the earth, healing of the nations, Gospel witness to the
      Church, love for the world.

      Come, Lord Jesus,
      and make good on your promise to be God for us.

      Come, Lord Jesus.
      Come, Lord Jesus.
      Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

      <SNIP>

      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@...
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