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"Radical Grace" and "Radical Welcome" Called for by RMN Exec

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    Radical Grace and Radical Welcome Called for by National RMN Executive Troy Plummer By Paul Beeman Reporter for the Pacific Northwest Reconciling
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 21, 2004
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      "Radical Grace" and "Radical Welcome" Called for by National RMN
      Executive Troy Plummer
      By Paul Beeman
      Reporter for the Pacific Northwest Reconciling Ministries Network

      DES MOINES, WASHINGTON, FEB. 15 -- In the United Methodist
      Church, "we still argue about who is pure enough to sit on our new
      pew cushions," the Rev Troy Plummer told more than 150 Pacific
      Northwest United Methodists here today. "But we are on a journey
      toward justice, and it's a long haul," he said.

      Plummer, the new national executive director of the Reconciling
      Ministries Network, spoke at a second annual rally called, The
      Gathering, held at the United Methodist Church in this Seattle
      suburb.

      The Gathering drew more than 150 United Methodists from across
      Washington State, members who affirm what Plummer called, "God's
      radical grace," and who call for the denomination to extend a "radial
      welcome" to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians,
      accepting them into all levels of the church's life and ministry.

      The Pacific Northwest Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) is a unit
      of the national grassroots organization. It 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.

      Expressing his hope for the church's open future, Plummer said it
      will be like the Berlin Wall, which once divided East from West
      Germany. "Because of a lot of people's hard work, that wall was there
      one day, and gone the next. As we keep working, I believe the wall
      dividing 'properly straight' United Methodists from gay members
      will simply disappear one day soon. But," he cautioned, "it's up to
      us."

      Plummer said the efforts of RMN United Methodists in the Pacific
      Northwest, as of those in Northern Illinois, "are pockets of hope"
      for eventual justice and equality throughout the church. "We are
      agents of transformation; through our efforts we are changing the
      ways the church does business," he said. "Keep pulling the church
      along with you, and let the light spread."

      Plummer, a pastor and psychotherapist from Texas, has headed the
      RMN's national office in Chicago since October, 2003.

      He was joined at the opening plenary session by Amy Stapleton,
      national organizer for the Methodist Federation for Social Action
      (MFSA), Washington, DC. She cautioned about proposed changes to
      tighten anti-gay rules in church law, coming before the General
      Conference meeting in Pittsburgh April 27-May 7.

      Ms. Stapleton warned that at the General Conference four years ago in
      2000, "while [we liberals] were demonstrating [for gay rights], the
      conservatives were taking over the church."

      But she reported hopefully on a recent impartial survey of the nearly
      the 1,000 General Conference delegates recently elected and who will
      assemble soon. It divided them into three categories: conservative,
      moderate and progressive, reporting that 65% were either moderate or
      progressive. This, she said, augurs good news for those of us seeking
      legislation to welcome sexual minorities in the church, and certainly
      wanting to prevent tighter restrictions against them.

      A moving spirit behind The Gathering was Larry Fox, of Whidbey
      Island, WA, convener of the Pacific Northwest Reconciling Ministries
      Network. "I really think what God asks of us is just to enter into
      the conversation [about homosexual persons and matters] with an open
      mind and heart," he said. "I know I learn something new every time
      people come together around this issue."

      The Gathering honored one of its leaders, now a General Conference
      reserve member, Amory Peck, of Bellingham. As immediate past convener
      of the PNW RMN, an etched vase was presented to her by her
      predecessor, Deborah Maria, now of Oregon.

      The vase was inscribed: AMORY PECK, Christian Pacesetter for justice
      and equality. Coordinator, 2001-2003, PNW Reconciling Ministries
      Network. United Methodist Leader, local district, conference,
      national.

      A series of workshops provided the educational component of the
      conference, with subjects like: dealing with hate, congregational
      responses, legislation at the coming General Conference, welcoming
      transgender persons, youth issues, and other themes.

      Larry Fox commented with satisfaction on the leadership and quality
      of the sessions. He reflected, "It's very satisfying to have people
      respond with comments like 'So many good workshops, it was difficult
      to choose,' and 'We needed more time to learn more and have deeper
      conversations in the sessions'. To me that signifies people opening
      their minds and hearts," he said.

      Fox expressed the hope that some of the workshops might be replicated
      in local congregations or district gatherings. "Hopefully, some who
      attended will be inspired to invite one [or more] of these workshops,
      or some form of it, into their local congregation," he said. "The
      Network stands ready to assist in helping that happen."

      "One of our major goals is to provide resources [to congregations]
      and provide support to people in the pew willing to open their hearts
      and minds," Fox concluded.

      FROM: Paul Beeman
      815 S. 216th St. #55
      Des Moines, WA 98198
      (206) 870-2055
      Fax (206) 878 8433
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