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LGBT (and Allied) UMs Convene, Strengthen and Expand

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    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE From the Reconciling Ministries Network ... FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 9, 2001 For information contact: Jenn Williams, RMN
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 9 5:30 PM
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      CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE

      From the Reconciling Ministries Network
      ------


      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
      August 9, 2001
      For information contact:
      Jenn Williams, RMN Media Coordinator, (773) 736-5526

      LGBT (and Allied) United Methodists Convene, Strengthen and Expand
      Coalition, Pursue New Strategy

      Chicago, IL�Over 400 constituents of the Reconciling Ministries
      Network (RMN) gathered in Tacoma, WA, on July 26-29 for the
      organization�s 7th Biennial Convocation. This was the first national
      gathering of LGBT (and allied) United Methodists since last summer�s
      tumultuous General Conference. Significant actions from the
      conference include:

      *Historic first meeting of Clergy Alliance; organization announces a
      progressive, three-pronged strategy for clergy committed to being a
      fully inclusive Church. Sixty-seven United Methodist clergy sign on
      during Convocation alone, thousands eventually expected. (See
      attached Clergy Alliance Press Release Below.)

      *The Rev. Douglass Fitch, San Francisco civil rights pioneer and
      minister of 9,000 member Glide UMC, vows to forge coalition with
      influential UMC Inter Ethnic Caucus and the LGBT advocacy caucus.
      (See attached Fitch statement Below.)

      *RMN issues letter calling the United Methodist Church to
      accountability in the wake of the UMC�s launch of a $20 million ad
      campaign that touts "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors." (See
      attached Call to Accountability Below.)

      *Openly gay pastors Rev. Mark E. Williams and Rev. Karen Damman were
      recognized for their courage in coming out to the Pacific Northwest
      Annual Conference in June of this year.

      RMN is committed to harnessing the power of identity politics by
      forming a broad coalition of constituents dedicated to and advocating
      for radical inclusion of all people in the Church. The newly formed
      Clergy Alliance joins United Methodists of Color for a Fully
      Inclusive Church (UMOC), The Parents Reconciling Network (PRN), and
      Methodist Students for an All Inclusive Church (MOSAIC) under RMN�s
      umbrella, as well as RMN�s partner organizations, Affirmation and
      Methodists for Social Action (MFSA). "We are not asking permission.
      We are setting ourselves to the task of being the Church, while
      organizing and equipping others to be the Church across the country
      and the globe," says Marilyn Alexander, Executive Director of the
      Reconciling Ministries Network.

      Founded in 1984, the Reconciling Ministries Network is a national
      organization of 173 United Methodist congregations, 24 campus
      ministries, 13 communities and 16,500 individuals which publicly
      welcome persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities into
      the full life of the Church.

      ---------------------------
      July 27, 2001
      Press Statement of the Clergy Alliance of the Reconciling Ministries
      Network

      The Clergy Alliance of the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN)
      became a reality at the July 26-29 National Convocation of RMN held
      in Tacoma, Washington. Sixty-seven United Methodist clergy
      representing every region of the United Methodist Church in the
      United States declared the birth of the movement. Over the next
      several months United Methodist clergy throughout the denomination
      will be invited to become part of the Alliance.

      The goal and purpose of the Alliance is to provide a network of
      support and strategy for clergy committed to a fully inclusive church
      and ministry. The movement will challenge UM Church policies and
      practices that exclude or discriminate against people because of
      their race, gender, sexual orientation, or other condition of
      identity.

      The Clergy Alliance will organize and work nationally and regionally
      in three distinctive profiles that function like �spokes on a wheel
      that provides movement toward a fully inclusive church�:

      Working within and working to change the denomination�s
      discriminatory policies and practices regarding sexual orientation
      and other identities. This effort will attempt to develop and support
      the fullest ministry of and for inclusion within the parameters
      allowed by the denomination�s Book of Discipline. It will include
      participating in denominational legislative and election strategies,
      sharing resources for permitted inclusive ministry and establishing a
      network of support and communication.
      Commitment to radical obedience to the gospel�s mandate for full
      inclusiveness. This arena challenges the unjust laws and policies of
      the denomination through non-violent confrontation. The commitment
      will include both support (financial and other) to those injured by
      such witness and strategy to develop plans for individual, collective
      and mass witness.

      The establishment of a Professing Church. This �church within a
      church� draws on the model of the Confessing Church movement that
      emerged during World War II in Germany in resistance to the national
      church�s collusion with the Nazi government. The Professing Church
      will focus on developing the parallel infrastructure and resources
      needed for full inclusive ministry. It will function as both an
      incubator and model for an emerging church celebrating the fullness
      of the diversity created by God. It will be less focused on
      attempting to directly interact with the denomination than it will be
      committed to enabling faithful ministry by participating clergy and
      congregations.

      Clergy in the Alliance will be directly involved in one or more of
      the �spokes� above. They also will commit to support those involved
      in the other profiles and to support the Alliance as a whole.

      Those adopting the above model for the Alliance named an organizing
      group to select a permanent leadership team and to begin the work on
      developing the work of the Alliance. The organizing group will meet
      in early fall. The Rev. Gregory Dell, pastor of Broadway United
      Methodist Church in Chicago, Illinois and the Rev. Marilyn
      Meeker-Williams, pastor of Bering Memorial United Methodist Church in
      Houston, Texas were named as co-coordinators of the Clergy Alliance.

      ----------------------------
      July 26, 2001
      Statement by Douglass Fitch

      �� Justice and love and mercy are the centerpiece of the Christian
      gospel� and sometimes there is a remnant, there is a group that gets
      dumped on more than anybody else. That�s okay as long as we�re
      getting hurt for doing good and not for doing evil, and God says we
      are blessed.� -Rev. Altagracia Perez (Episcopal Priest)

      We are committed to helping hurting people rather than hurting
      helpless people. The institutional Church leaders and we who have
      been cast aside are all implicated in the story of the Good Samaritan
      (Luke 10). So often religious leadership denies its basic instinct to
      help those who hurt. I remind us: �we are spiritual by nature; we are
      religious by choice.� We who have been oppressed because of race,
      gender and/or sexual orientation are those called to respond to the
      pain, hurt and suffering in God�s word. Where we presently stand is
      outside the mainstream of American Methodism, is where we need to be.
      �A fish does not know it is a fish until it gets out of water.�

      We who make a difference helping hurting people, not hurting helpless
      people. We show compassion to others not because of who they are but
      because of who we are. We are those who see beyond externals to see
      interior qualities that make us human and therefore sisters and
      brothers. In the words of Ghandi, �we must be the change we want to
      see in the world.� We must risk more than what others see as safe,
      care more than what others think is wise; dream more than what others
      think is practical; and expect more than what others think is
      possible. And do it with others whose pain is common to us�Black,
      Brown, Red, Yellow and White.

      Having worked for three or four quadrennial with the inter ethnic
      caucus, I believe it is time to forge a coalition with all of us who
      have experienced underserviced pain and suffering. We too are about
      helping hurting people rather than hurting helpless people. We have
      more in common than we suppose. Toward that end, I commit myself to
      helping that coalition happen. Together God calls us all to
      transformation��to be the change we want to see in the world.�

      Douglass Fitch

      ----------------------------------------
      July 27, 2001
      The Tacoma Call to Accountability:
      An Open Letter to the United Methodist Church
      University of Puget Sound
      Tacoma, Washington

      �I believe when you truly embrace diversity, you embrace God.�
      Text from UMC �Igniting Ministries� advertising campaign

      In light of the United Methodist Church�s (UMC) �Igniting Ministries�
      initiative (www.ignitingministry.org), its national, $20 million
      advertising campaign, we call the UMC to accountability. The
      campaign�s theme �Open hearts, open minds and open doors,� is exactly
      the reality the constituents of the Reconciling Ministries Network
      strive to embody. We wholeheartedly endorse this message and yet
      recognize, particularly for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender
      (LGBT) church members, that the UMC denies them welcome and equal
      participation, specifically in terms of ordination and same-sex
      unions.

      This struggle for full inclusion within the UMC is not new, nor
      limited to LGBT people. The UMC has historically negated and
      continues to discriminate against People of Color and women. Rather
      than reflecting a richly differentiated body, the UMC�s membership
      falls short in reflecting the same diversity that is found in the
      population of the United States.

      As a diverse community gathered from July 26-29, 2001, in Tacoma,
      Washington, for the 7th Biennial Reconciling Ministries Network
      National Convocation, we affirm the core message of the campaign�to
      be a Church that welcomes all people, actively and joyfully and with
      purpose. We dedicate ourselves today and in the future, as we have
      since our founding in 1984, to strive to truly fulfill the assertion
      of the UMC�s campaign. We hereby affirm to:

      Work diligently to create a Church without barriers, in which all
      people, because of their many identities, are welcomed into full
      participation;
      To offer ourselves as a resource for individuals and congregations
      that want to genuinely welcome all people, including LGBT persons to
      Christian community;
      To join with others in the struggle for inclusion and social
      equality.
      We applaud the message of the United Methodist Church�s advertising
      initiative and the many members who are working to make our Church
      one with open hearts, minds and doors. We challenge the Church to
      make real this message not because marketing research has deemed this
      relevant, but because it is a reality that accurately recognizes the
      God given worth of every individual. We celebrate the gifts of the
      gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, and other identities
      with which God has imbued every person and invite others to join us
      in creating a fully inclusive Church.

      Signed,

      United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church
      Clergy Alliance
      Parents Reconciling Network
      MOSAIC--Methodist Students for a Fully Inclusive Church
      Affirmation: United Methodists for LGBT Concerns
      Methodist Federation for Social Action
      Reconciling Ministries Network


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