Reconciling Kansas January 2000 Newsletter
- CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE
The complete newsletter is reproduced below...
I mostly watched the PBS coverage of the new millennium. It was a very
Reconciling Kansas January 2000 Newsletter
I was probably not the only person whose companion yesterday was ABC TV. I
amazed at the wicked edit from Moscow's Red Square celebration to the
Djibouti camp where Somalian refugees saw no point in celebrating one more
day. I reveled in the entertainment of the Eiffel Tower -- spectacle,
explosion and technology blended to dazzle and captivate for one night only;
there are people like this. But I was touched when Derry sang to Dublin,
Catholics and Protestants too long divided echoing to each other the lyric
"I love you so," "I love you so." I saw more Paris in the crystal ball of
Times Square, the sparkling lights of the Washington Monument, but my heart
was still back in Ireland where music -- architecture thawed into acoustic
space -- let a nation and a world sense the reality of things to come.
I think that's the value of the arts like music and writing. They allow us
to give form to a new idea, and that form (while limiting) allows people to
grasp it, understand it, play with it, share it, and make it real faster
than other arts like architecture. That Irish song started with an idea;
like Carl Sandburg said, "nothing happens unless first a dream."
This montlhy newsletter is another dream of reconciliation, of the time when
the church accepts the reality that God loves all people regardless of
sexual orientation. And yes, it's political, but Christmas and Jesus are
knitted to politics, from the imperial census and tax that sent Mary and
Joseph to Bethlehem, to Herod's phobia of succession that exiled Jesus in
Egypt, and ultimately to the punishment Rome reserved for political
subversives guilty of sedition: crucifixion. Who ever taught you that
following Jesus meant avoiding politics?
And so -- with lights still twinkling on my Christmas tree and carols
still playing on my stereo -- here's the Reconciling news from Wichita, KC,
Chicago, Dallas, Nashville, Vermont and beyond.
As you skim this news, please find at least one thing you can do
personally to promote justice ... whether it's writing a letter, a
story, a poem (seriously), attending a meeting, or sending your pastor
to Dallas! Start the year by turning your dreams into reality and doing one
thing in January to make the world a better place!
WICHITA UNIVERSITY UMC HOSTS HOMOSEXUALITY SERIES
"Beyond Tolerance" is the theme of five presentations and discussions of
homosexuality and the church at Wichita University UMC. The series
begins Wed 5 Jan and continues for five Wednesdays from 630 - 730 pm.
"A wise person once said that Jesus did not teach us to 'tolerate your
neighbor,'" says Gayla Rapp, University pastor. "Instead, Jesus
commanded us to 'love your neighbor.' His words are a challenge to us
when we encounter people whose love and life we do not understand. We
may be able to tolerate such persons, but to love them can be a
"It's time," Rapp explains, "for our community of faith to talk
together, learn together and grow together as we deal with a very
important and very sensitive issue: homosexuality. As we talk, learn and
grow together, we want to see if we can go 'Beyond Tolerance' and offer the
kind of love that Jesus taught."
The series features Paul Bube (professor of Religion & Philosophy at
Kansas Wesleyan University) on "Christian Views of Homosexuality" (5
Jan), Chuck Chipman (retired clergy) on "Homosexuality: A Personal
Perspective" (12 Jan), Sally Morse with "A Mother's Story" (19 Jan),
Fritz Mutti with "A United Methodist Bishop's Point of View" (26 Jan),
and John Krueger ("bishop" of the Kansas/Oklahoma Conference of the UCC) on
"The UCC & Homosexuality" (2 Feb).
Everyone is welcome to attend. University is located just north of the
Wichita State campus at 21st & Hillside -- near the football stadium
MANHATTAN, TOPEKA, LAWRENCE, KC
All Kansas East RUMs are invited to join the RUM Planning Committee on
10 Jan at 7 pm at Prairie Village Asbury UMC (5400 W 75th St). For more
information, phone Valley View UMC at 913.642.4400.
GREG DELL LIVE!
KC Trinity invites you to hear Greg Dell on 22-23 Jan. There will be a
discussion-oriented workshop from 1-3 pm Saturday, a brief discussion
Sunday at 930 am, then Greg will speak in worship at 1045 and afterward chat
informally over snacks.
As pastor of Chicago's Broadway UMC (a Reconciling Congregation), Greg
was charged and convicted with illegally performing a holy union for two gay
parishioners. An appeal court sentenced Dell to a one-year
suspension, during which he directs In All Things Charity from the
Broadway campus. Charity is a national petition of UM clergy who will
perform holy unions, and works in coalition with Reconciling,
Affirmation and Cornet. Charity is currently busy preparing for the
Coalition's presence at May's General Conference in Cleveland, where
Dell will represent his Northern Illinois Conference despite his
suspension and loss of voting rights. These judicial developments give
Greg a unique perspective on the United Methodist denomination.
If you're wondering where the United Methodist Church is heading, what
RUMs need to do in these months before General Conference, and how to do it,
don't miss the chance to meet Greg in KC and hear his perspective, vision
and tactical advice.
It's absolutely free! Just show up! Trinity is six blocks east of Main
on Armour (http://www.gbgm-umc.org/trinitymi01/). Make your map by
clicking http://www.mapsonus.com and entering 620 E Armour Blvd KC MO.
WRITE A HYMN OF JUSTICE
Because many Christians are leery of new Christmas carols but love to
sing "old favorites," Alternatives for Simple Living is seeking new
stanzas to add the element of justice to familiar melodies for its
Christmas "Carols with Justice" project.
Entries must be original, unpublished verse(s) in contemporary English
to familiar Christmas carols in the public domain. Parodies, new
translations and paraphrases are not eligible. The sponsors particularly
welcome carols accenting social and economic justice from Biblical
perspectives, including eco-justice. Examples are God's passionate love of
the poor, and Christian action on behalf of the poor through economic
justice like voluntary simplicity. Children's texts are welcome.
Curiously, sexual justice got omitted ... but it seems consistent with
their goal so get poetic!
Texts will be judged on clarity of theme (avoid esoteric ideas and
images), inclusive language and ecumenicity.
The deadline is 31 Jan. Winners will be announced by 31 Mar to be
published in June for Advent use. Additional information is available by
e-mailing alternatives@... or by phoning 1.800.821.6153.
NOBODY BUT YOU
A key ingredient in justice movements is sharing the stories of those
affected by unjust laws. Because Reconciling's theme at next May's
General Conference is about extending the table to welcome all people,
the National Office in Chicago will distribute "recipe cards" to General
Conference delegates throughout Lent, each telling a story from LGBT
persons, their friends and family.
Nobody can tell your story but you.
If church-people don't know an out-LGBT person, it's easy to discount
the injustice; they see the struggle for justice simplistically as an
"issue" or " the homosexual debate." Your story can shift the church's
attention from debates and issues to real people the The United
Methodist Church injures by its policies and the unjust practices they
Please tell your story in 100-200 words, and include your photo. Maybe
you write about how has the church's stance on homosexuality affects
you, or why you're involved in Reconciling, how the sexuality issue is
more than merely an issue for you, or why your faith is important to
you. Maybe you've got a better angle in mind. Whatever you approach,
start drafting your story and beat the deadline of 7 Feb 00. E-mail your
story (and image) to betti@... or mail them to Betti Torrier / 3801
Keeler Ave / Chicago IL 60641.
PERKINS FOCUSES CLERGY ON RECONCILING CHALLENGE
Perkins School of Theology at SMU appears to have had (homo)sexuality
and hermeneutics in mind when planning "Challenge in the Church," the
theme for Ministers Week 2000. Paul Furnish (Perkins) and Richard Hays
(Duke) will lead "A Dialogue on the Bible, Theology & Homosexuality."
Maxie Dunham (Asbury) and Mark Trotter (San Diego First UMC) will lead
"Building Bridges Under Icy Waters: The Church & Theological Diversity."
Alyce McKenzie (Perkins) will lead "The Preacher as Subversive Sage; The
Sermon as Subversive Wisdom." Also featured will be Fr. Charles Curran (now
at Perkins), Mortimer Arias (former UMC Bishop of Bolivia), Joerg Rieger
(Perkins) and Craig Gilliam (McFarland Center). The event is slated for 6-9
Feb. To register, go to
http://www.smu.edu/~theology/minwk/minwk-index.html or phone
HOMOSEXUALITY ISSUES UNDERLIE CONSULTATION ON BIBLICAL AUTHORITY
The "authority of Scripture and the nature of God's revelation" was
officially the topic for a consultation in Nashville, 7-9 Dec 99, but as one
participant observed, "the monster under the table" was
That observation came as no surprise for the 33 participants, who
understood that the underlying reason for the consultation grew out of
dialogues on theological diversity held in 1998 and 1999, in which
homosexuality was identified as the most divisive issue in the UMC.
The participants of those earlier dialogues concluded, in a paper titled "In
Search of Unity," that much of the debate on the volatile issue hinges on
how one reads the Bible and understands God's continuing revelation. As a
result, the General Commission on Christian Unity & Interreligious Concerns
and the General Board of Discipleship jointly sponsored the consultation on
Scriptural authority. Most of the participants were members of the two
agencies' governing boards. In a summary near the close of the three-day
event, Bruce Robbins, top staff executive of Christian Unity, said many UMs
feel "deep levels of distrust and a sense of betrayal." People on both sides
of the issue are distressed at the "huge expenditure of energy on the issue
at the expense of mission and ministry," he said.
Robbins offered several options for trying to resolve the impasse in the
church, including a process for continued dialogue across the church and
models for creating "safe space" for ministry and mission. Despite the large
amount of time spent on issues related to homosexuality in the church, he
said, "I think the need for dialogue is urgent." He noted that the Council
of Bishops is planning such a dialogue and that many annual conferences have
conducted "Christian conferencing."
Rebekah Miles, a professor at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, had
earlier also urged UM leaders to engage in Christian conferencing. "It is
even possible that if we listen well to each other and pray hard and try our
best to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit, we might be given new sight,"
she said. "While we engage in this crucial, even sacred, Christian
conferencing, we cannot forget ... that people come to churches and into our
lives who need not so much our theories about the authority of Scripture but
the transforming word of Scripture itself."
During the conference, frequent references were also made to the
Wesleyan Quadrilateral of scripture, tradition, reason and experience -- and
In the Third World, the quadrilateral isn't enough, said Wesley
Ariarajah from Sri Lanka, currently teaching at Drew University School
of Theology in NJ. "The historical context is a very important factor in
doing theology and should be taken into consideration with the other four."
And there is no one true answer to the question about the authority of
scripture, said David Lull, director of Bible Translation & Utilization for
the National Council of Churches and professor at Wartburg Theological
Seminary in Dubuque IA. Scripture consists mostly of stories that cannot be
reduced to propositions, he said. "The stories of the Bible, which is to
say: most of the Bible, form Christian identity, community and spirituality
by engaging us with our predecessors. These stories are not so much about
'doctrines' as about people and communities and their encounter with God."
Just as there is "no one true answer" to the authority of scripture. Lull
said there is no one true answer to the question "What is God's revelation?"
(UM Newscope 17 Dec 99)
VERMONT COURT BACKS RIGHTS OF GAY COUPLES
MONTPELIER (AP) "Gay couples must be granted the same benefits and
protections given married couples of the opposite sex," the Vermont
Supreme Court ruled today [20 Dec 99]. The court said the Legislature
will determine whether such benefits will come through formal marriage
or a system of domestic partnerships.
"We hold that the state is constitutionally required to extend to
same-sex couples the common benefits and protections that flow from
marriage under Vermont law," the justices said. Whatever marriage or
domestic partnership system is chosen by the Legislature, the court
said, "must conform with the constitutional imperative to afford all
Vermonters the common benefit, protection, and security of the law."
Earlier this month, Hawaii's Supreme Court slammed the door on gay
marriages in that state, once considered most likely to legalize
same-sex unions. Hawaii's high court said the issue was resolved by a
1998 amendment to the state constitution against gay marriages. Vermont was
the only other state whose top court was considering the issue, and today's
ruling had been anxiously awaited by both sides in the highly charged debate
over same-sex marriages.
Today's ruling stems from a suit filed in July 1997 by three couples --
one of gay men and two of lesbians -- after they were denied marriage
license by their local town clerks. The clerks acted on the advice of
the state attorney general, who relied on a 1975 opinion by a
predecessor calling same-sex marriages unconstitutional.
The three couples first filed suit in Chittenden County Superior Court
but a judge rejected their claims. The couples then appealed to the
Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case 13 months ago.
The couples argued that their inability to get married denied them more than
300 benefits at the state level and more than 1,000 at the federal level.
The Supreme Court acknowledged that, saying the benefits included "access to
a Spouse's medical, life, and disability insurance, hospital visitation and
other medical decision-making privileges, spousal support, intestate
succession, homestead protections, and many other statutory protections."
Today's ruling cannot be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court since the
Vermont court based its decision on the state Constitution. The Vermont
Supreme Court is the state's only appeals court.
The decision places the issue before the Legislature, which will convene [in
January] for its 2000 session.
Gov. Howard Dean has declined to state a position on same-sex marriages,
saying that he was awaiting the decision of the court. But the lieutenant
governor, Douglas Racine, and the speaker of the Vermont House, Michael
Obuchowski, have said they favor same-sex marriages.
Today's decision, written by Chief Justice Jeffrey Amestoy, acknowledges the
controversy swirling around the issue of same-sex marriages. It is "a
question that the court well knows arouses deeply felt religious, moral, and
political beliefs," the justices said in their decision.
In 1993, Hawaii's Supreme Court ruled that the state's failure to
recognize gay marriages amounted to gender discrimination. The ruling
set off pre-emptive legislating around the nation. Lawmakers feared that gay
couples would fly to Hawaii to get married and that the 49 other states
would then have to recognize those marriages.
At least 30 states banned gay marriages, and Congress passed the Defense of
Marriage Act, which denied federal recognition of homosexual marriage and
allowed states to ignore same-sex unions licensed elsewhere. (See an
ANTI-GAY FORCES CONVERGE ON VERMONT GOVERNOR
Dr. Laura has urged her millions of listeners to flood the Vermont
Legislative Council and the office of Governor Howard Dean with faxes
and phone calls expressing dismay over the Vermont Supreme Court's Baker v.
Vermont decision. That decision is, of course, wholly consistent with the
Social Principles of The United Methodist Church affirming the sacred worth
of all people and the importance of gay civil rights as a justice issue.
Be a responsible United Methodist and write the Governor applauding the
Vermont Supremes decision and encouraging the Governor to support full civil
rights for lesbians and gays. Address correspondence to Governor Howard Dean
/ 109 State Street / Montpelier VT 05609 / Fax 802 828 3339.
Find more information at http://www.iwgonline.org/alerts/
HEADLINES IN THE NEWS
BARRACKS MURDER OF GAY SOLDIER SPOTLIGHTS DADT POLICY
BRITISH TO END MILITARY'S BAN ON GAYS
CONSERVATIVE TORIES SOFTEN STANCE ON SECTION 28
NEBRASKA COURT AWARDS LOW AMOUNT FOR MURDERED TRANSGENDERED CHILD
REPORT SAYS ANTI-GAY PROP 22 WOULD HARM CALIFORNIA CHILDREN
CALIFORNIA JUDGE REJECTS MISLEADING LABEL; RENAMES PROP 22
LA, SEATTLE PATTERN NEW DP LAWS ON SF MODEL
EXXON-MOBIL RESCINDS DP BENEFITS, GAY PROTECTIONS; BOYCOTT UNDERWAY
MAINE PRESSES FOR GAY CIVIL RIGHTS
KENTUCKY CONSERVATIVES PLAN STATE LAWS TO BLOCK LOCAL GAY RIGHTS
SALT LAKE CITY SCHOOLS PROMISES PRO-GAY PERSPECTIVES ON CAMPUS TO AVOID
AIDS CONTINUES DEADLY MARCH THROUGH AFRICA
SOUTH AFRICA GRANTS FOREIGN-BORN PARTNERS OF GAYS, LESBIANS SPOUSAL
YOU'RE IN CHARGE
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