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    From The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest, Thursday, November 3, 2005 OPEN LETTER FROM RMN FOR UM CONGREGATIONS [Please read to your congregations Sunday
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 3, 2005
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      From The Reconciling Ministries Network Digest, Thursday, November 3, 2005


      [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 contacts—beyond 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
      than whole.

      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
      the gospel.

      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

      773.736.5526 Phone
      773.736.5475 Fax

      Email: rmn@...
      Or visit us on the web at www.RMNetwork.org.

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