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Sunday School Class Votes to Join Reconciling Movement

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    CALLED OUT ... Sunday School Class Votes to Join Reconciling Movement The Adelphi Class at First United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas, has voted to become
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 10, 2003

      Sunday School Class Votes to Join Reconciling Movement

      The Adelphi Class at First United Methodist Church in Austin,
      Texas, has voted to become a part of the Reconciling Ministries
      Network and to join the prophetic ministry of that important

      First UMC, a 2500-member congregation founded in 1840, is the
      oldest Protestant church in Austin and is located across the street
      from the Texas state capitol building. Its location has ensured the
      congregation's prominent role in the life of both the city and the
      state, with numerous governors, state legislators, congressmen, and
      other officials and dignitaries counted among both current and past
      members. The congregation has also produced one bishop, Kenneth Pope,
      who served as senior pastor from 1940 to 1949.

      The Adelphi Class was founded in 1986 as a "young couples"
      class; the current age range of members is 34 to 48 and the class has
      evolved over the years to include married, divorced, and
      never-married persons. The class is marked by a commitment to mission
      outreach; to quality Christian education within the weekly class
      hour; to involvement in the congregation and community; and to
      building strong relationships with each other and with their
      families. Current membership stands at 47, with average weekly
      attendance of 23, and includes many leaders of the church: the class
      numbers among its members several annual conference delegates and
      more than a dozen current or past chairs of administrative bodies,
      including the Staff-Parish Relations Committee, Board of Trustees,
      Children and Family Team, lay ministry council, and conference
      education committee.

      The journey to becoming a part of RMN began in March 2000, when
      then-class president David Mauzy led a multi-week series on the
      upcoming 2000 General Conference and the history of the United
      Methodist Church's actions regarding homosexuality and the role of
      gay and lesbian persons in the life and ministry of the church. The
      series was well received, with record weekly attendance, and in the
      fall of 2001 the class voted to undertake an in-depth study. That
      study included a review of the lessons Mauzy had presented, the
      results of the 2000 General Conference, the history and ministry of
      the Reconciling Ministries Network, and a discussion of the
      possibility of officially becoming a part of RMN.

      In January 2002, 10 class leaders met with RMN's Cathy Knight to
      seek guidance as the class began its reconciling study process. Over
      the next eight months, the class devoted 13 class sessions to aspects
      of homosexuality, church polity, and the reconciling movement. Most
      of the sessions were led by Sherrie Raven and by Beth and Malcolm St.
      Romain, who had succeeded Mauzy as class president. Raven, an
      educator and trained mediator, was particularly well-suited to
      helping the class remain focused and to ensuring that everyone had
      the opportunity to question and to express their feelings in a
      supportive environment.

      The class heard presentations from several members of Trinity
      UMC, Austin's only reconciling congregation, and from others
      involved with RMN, including the parents of gay and lesbian United
      Methodists. Class members had several opportunities to raise
      questions; it very soon became clear that at least a significant
      plurality of the members were in favor of declaring the class to be
      reconciling, but there were concerns. Among the ones voiced most
      persistently: (1) How would the composition of the class change?; (2)
      How might the class's mission projects, programming, and identity be
      impacted?; and (3) How would such a decision by the class be
      interpreted by the congregation?

      By the time a vote was taken, the plurality in favor of becoming
      a reconciling community had grown to an overwhelming majority:
      almost 80 percent of class members voted in the affirmative and
      several others indicated they would support the will of the class
      although they were still unsure where they themselves stood.

      Many members, both before and immediately after the vote,
      indicated how enriching they found the study and the vote to be for
      them personally and how strongly they believed it had changed and
      would continue to change the class in a positive manner. The members
      of the Adelphi Class are excited about the opportunity for continued
      growth and an evolution of the class and the church as committed
      Christians, gay and straight, struggle to make the United Methodist
      Church a truly welcoming and inclusive body.

      Excerpted from Flashnet!
      The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest
      Wednesday, January 08, 2003

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