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Letter from Troy Plummer, RMN Network

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    Thursday, May 6, 2004 Reconciling Friends, We have had a wonderful witness at General Conference. Our Watermarked: Witness of Assurance continues to wrap the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 6, 2004
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      Thursday, May 6, 2004

      Reconciling Friends,

      We have had a wonderful witness at General Conference. Our
      Watermarked: Witness of Assurance continues to wrap the conference in
      the language of baptism. Baptism affirms radical equality and radical
      grace naming us Beloved Children of God. Baptism also initiates us
      into the church and commissions us into ministry. We continue to
      trust in the faithfulness of God to the action God takes in our
      baptism. We continue to challenge the church for breaking the
      promises of baptism for forsaking integrity in relationship to its
      Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender members.

      The church continues to practice the sin of exclusion. The church has
      also chosen to lie. By refusing to acknowledge "Christians disagree
      on the compatibility of homosexual practice and Christian teaching"
      by 55%-45% margin, the church lied. The percentages themselves show
      the division we experience. Faithful United Methodists do disagree!

      In hopes of just a crumb (because a crumb might taste pretty good
      when we haven't gotten anything in a while), reconciling delegates
      with heavy heart negotiated to the tiniest portion giving the church
      the chance to take the smallest step of improvement. The church

      The institution of the church failed. And yet, we have experienced
      Church each day in the witness we have been giving to conference.
      Some of the miracle moments include:

      * The transformation of a dingy gym into a welcoming space! With the
      Shower of Stoles, balloons, and a rainbow from wall to wall, the
      space became home for Reconciling Ministries Network, Methodist
      Federation for Social Action, and Affirmation for a Common Witness.

      * The daily water witness of water bottles for delegates in the
      afternoon labeled H2O (Hearts to Open). Thousands of bottles were
      distributed—some even included hand written notes from MOSAIC

      * The daily baptismal remembrance witness when white robed volunteers
      held water bowls for delegates to remember their baptism as they
      entered each morning. Many chose to somehow dip their hands in the
      water and give themselves a fresh Watermark to remind them of God's
      love and grace.

      * The overflowing lunch crowds at the transformed Smithfield gym
      space to hear speakers such as Bishop Kelly, Bishop Tuell, Bishop
      Yeagel, Rev. Gil Caldwell, Rev. Dr. James Forbes, and Delegate Mike

      * A Parent's breakfast that created tears of gratitude when Bishop
      Melvin Wheatley was honored with the Hilton Award for service on
      behalf of the LGBT and allies community. Bishop Mutti and his wife
      share their family story including the loss of two sons to AIDS.

      * A lively student march and rally ending in baptismal remembrance
      that flowed into a family reunion where family members shared ending
      with an address by Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto celebrating the commitments
      of loving couples.

      * A Reconciling worship service with celebratory music, the preaching
      of Janet Wolf and Bishop Sprague doing two baptism (One being his
      grandchild!) while we sang "Rain down, rain down, rain down your love
      on your people. Rain down, rain down, rain down your love God of

      * Tuesday of the second week started a daily prayer witness with
      volunteers lining the entrance in prayer (standing, kneeling,
      sitting, eyes open, eyes closed). Spontaneously we broke into
      song "What does the Lord Require of You?" that reverberated through
      the entry area. Many entrants were brought to tears,
      others sang along. It continues to be a powerful witness.

      From these meager descriptions, I hope you can sense how reconciling
      persons from across our church have come to Pittsburgh and created
      church together. And not just for themselves, but to feed the
      conference itself!

      Today Soulforce in collaboration with our bishops gave us the gift of
      space to walk on the conference floor and create a "River of Life"
      processional. Hundred of Reconciling volunteers surrounded the
      delegates, singing and giving them small cardboard Baptized in Christ
      coins "Washed with the water of baptism, Led by the Spirit each day,
      This shell in my pocket reminds me that Jesus will show
      me the way."

      Surely, Jesus WILL show us the way! Creating church wherever we go,
      we are beloved Watermarked Children of God permanently and powerfully
      part of the family!

      Rev. Troy Plummer
      Executive Director
      Reconciling Ministries Network
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