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Reconciling Kansas January 2000 Newsletter

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  • U.M. Cornet
    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE The complete newsletter is reproduced below... I mostly watched the PBS coverage of the new millennium. It was a very moving
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2000
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      CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE

      The complete newsletter is reproduced below...

      I mostly watched the PBS coverage of the new millennium. It was a very
      moving experience.

      CORNET moderator
      --------------------

      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
      challenge."

      "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
      uphold.

      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
      1-888-THEOLOGY.


      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
      homosexuality.

      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
      its nuances.

      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
      overview at
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/issues/index.html?storyline=167)


      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
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4208

      BRITISH TO END MILITARY'S BAN ON GAYS
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4217

      CONSERVATIVE TORIES SOFTEN STANCE ON SECTION 28
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4212

      NEBRASKA COURT AWARDS LOW AMOUNT FOR MURDERED TRANSGENDERED CHILD
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4200

      REPORT SAYS ANTI-GAY PROP 22 WOULD HARM CALIFORNIA CHILDREN
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4227

      CALIFORNIA JUDGE REJECTS MISLEADING LABEL; RENAMES PROP 22
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4201

      LA, SEATTLE PATTERN NEW DP LAWS ON SF MODEL
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4168

      EXXON-MOBIL RESCINDS DP BENEFITS, GAY PROTECTIONS; BOYCOTT UNDERWAY
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4192

      MAINE PRESSES FOR GAY CIVIL RIGHTS
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4211

      KENTUCKY CONSERVATIVES PLAN STATE LAWS TO BLOCK LOCAL GAY RIGHTS
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4181

      SALT LAKE CITY SCHOOLS PROMISES PRO-GAY PERSPECTIVES ON CAMPUS TO AVOID
      LAWSUIT http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4179

      AIDS CONTINUES DEADLY MARCH THROUGH AFRICA
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4171

      SOUTH AFRICA GRANTS FOREIGN-BORN PARTNERS OF GAYS, LESBIANS SPOUSAL
      RESIDENCY RIGHTS
      http://www.datalounge.com/templates/news/record.html?record=4182


      YOU'RE IN CHARGE

      Reconciling Kansas posts this digest around the beginning of each month to
      keep Reconciling United Methodists informed. To suggest stories or report
      what's happening in your area, complain, add your name to the list, or
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