"Radical Grace" and "Radical Welcome" Called for by RMN Exec
- "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
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
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
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,
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
Fax (206) 878 8433