From the Pacific North West Reconciling Ministries Network
By The Truth, Made Free
On Sunday, February 16, 2003, almost one hundred fifty reconciling
United Methodists met in Des Moines, Washington. We were gathered
for "By the Truth, Made Free," the first annual convocation sponsored
by the Pacific Northwest Reconciling Ministries Network.
The day, full of enthusiasm and joy, occurred despite a challenge by
a newly formed group "Faithful Christian Laity." FCL, a group of
eight laypersons working under the guidance of the Confessing
Movement, had anticipated, as they stated in their news release, that
the day would be an "egregious instance of dissemination of doctrines
contrary to the established standards of doctrine of the United
Methodist Church" and had called for church authorities to
investigate and possibility cancel the event.
The keynote speaker for the event was the Rev. Ignacio Castuera,
pastor of St. John's UMC, in the Watts area of Los Angeles. Rev.
Castuera, a highly regarded progressive voice in the United Methodist
Church, spoke on God's two greatest gifts to each of us, our brain
and our sexuality, and said that our task is to understand the truth
God is trying to teach us through this embodiment.
Participants in the gathering chose among a series of workshops.
Offerings included "Leaning on the Strength of Scripture," a look at
Biblical passages that give strength and guidance to those engaging
in the struggle for justice for sexual minorities; "The Cost of
Membership," exploring the responsibilities implied in the sacrament
of baptism, and; "The UM Book of Discipline and Homosexuality," a
history of the General Conference actions on the issue of
Emotional highlights of the day included the camaraderie of the meal
(where, as one evaluation stated, we "shared good Methodist food" --
soup and homemade desserts), the spiritual connection of communion,
and the soaring exhilaration of music. The day ended with everyone's
voices joining in "God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the
eagles soar, we your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and
ever, now and ever more."
As Rev. Castuera was ending his communion reflections, he stated,
"Every Sunday God cries as God sees that churches are not inclusive."
He asked us to "leave here a bit disturbed, for life is messy and
difficult." But, he also called on us to "energize one another, to go
out to do Christ's work."
Amory Peck, convener
PNW Reconciling Ministries Network
CORNET Note: More information about the group Faithful Christian
Laity" is on the Unofficial Confessing Movement website
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