OPEN LETTER FROM RMN FOR UM CONGREGATIONS
- From The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest, Thursday, November 3, 2005
OPEN LETTER FROM RMN FOR UM CONGREGATIONS
[Please read to your congregations Sunday November 6 and forward this
Flashnet to as many persons as possible. This message must go beyond
your usual contactsbeyond those you already know are reconciling.]
An Open Letter to United Methodist Congregations
Grace and peace to you from the Reconciling Ministries Network:
Like many of you, we find ourselves grieving for our church and
yearning for a sacred reminder of God's dependable love and grace.
Pain, alienation, and anger are being felt in response to the recent
decisions made by the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church.
Know that you are not alone in your feelings. Know, as well, that we
are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who remind us of God's
Spirit, alive within us.
The Judicial Council responded to two situations that set disturbing
precedents. In one situation, it reversed an appellate court
decision, ultimately resulting in the denial of Beth Stroud's call to
ordained leadership in the United Methodist Church. Beth's deep
integrity and her gifts for ministry were affirmed through all of her
church trials. Yet, she has been denied her ordination based solely on
her openness about living in a committed and faithful partnership with
another woman. In the other decision, the Judicial Council supported a
local pastor who denied membership in a United Methodist Church to
someone because a gay person would not promise to live a life of
celibacy. For the pastor, this signaled that the man was "unrepentant."
These events are calling us to rediscover the depth of our
faithfulness to be a sanctuary for all of God's people. Around the
nation, people in the United Methodist Church are awakening, arising,
and reaffirming our common commitment to open hearts, open minds, and
open doors. There is a new urgency for local churches to be unwavering
in their commitment to the full inclusion of all persons in the United
Methodist Church, as signaled through our baptism and membership vows.
We are mindful that there are persons this day who do not feel that
they have a sanctuary to call home. Every local United Methodist
Church needs to boldly proclaim that we are a place where all are welcome!
Now is the time for churches that have always been active as
welcoming sanctuaries to remain faithful and true to the gospel.
Likewise, now is the time for churches that have been silent or quiet
to find their voice and to join in this struggle for the soul of our
church. We invite you to join us in three specific ways.
First, continue to pray for the saints of our faith who stand with
courage, integrity, and strength. Let us remember Beth Stroud and
Chris Paige, their families and friends, and the First United
Methodist Church of Germantown, Pennsylvania in our prayers. Let us
remember as well all of those who have been denied ordination in the
past, who have left ordained ministry because they were not welcomed,
and all who currently live as ordained leaders in ways that are less
In prayer, let us remember those who have left the church or who feel
as if they can no longer remain in the church, those who have no
church to call home, those who struggle everyday to find a way to live
and be at peace with the church. Let us remember all of the
Reconciling Congregations among us and their ministries of welcome, as
well as all of those churches that express the open call of the
gospel. Let us be in prayer for those who seek sanctuary, hoping to
experience the grace of a living God.
Second, we encourage you to continue to be a local United Methodist
church that proclaims the grace of God and that welcomes all into its
sanctuary. The Bishops have clearly spoken and empowered churches to
be open and affirming. We encourage you to draw upon the resources of
Scripture, tradition, reason and experience to live out the gospel in
your place. Take extra steps this day to ensure that people feel
welcomed to your sanctuary and community.
Third, we invite you to actively witness to the gospel by standing
boldly in solidarity with those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual,
transgender, their families and their friends. Join the Reconciling
Ministries efforts, keep updated through our website
(www.rmnetwork.org), and remain allies with those who are working to
express God's grace to all. We will actively work to change the Church
structures and to address the ambivalent attitudes expressed through
our church's polity and practice. In particular, the language of
incompatibility must be eradicated. Take stands where you can and make
bold decisions with faith.
We are United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender
identities making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of
the world!! We remain in one another's prayers as we work to live out
On behalf of the Reconciling Ministries Network Board,
Troy Plummer, Executive Director
Sue Laurie, Outreach Coordinator
Jeff Spelman, Board Chair
Joretta Marshall, Board Chair-elect
For additional information you may contact the Reconciling Ministries
Network office at:
Reconciling Ministries Network
3801 N. Keeler Avenue
Chicago, IL 60641
Or visit us on the web at www.RMNetwork.org.
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