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May 08 GC Newsletter

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  • UM Affirmation
    Affirm! TABLE MANNERS Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Concerns GC 2000 Daily Newsletter May 6, 2000 Affirmation
    Message 1 of 1 , May 7, 2000
      Affirm! TABLE MANNERS

      Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay,
      Bisexual, and Transgendered Concerns
      GC 2000 Daily Newsletter May 6, 2000


      Affirmation Statement

      The following statement was adopted at the general
      membership meeting Sunday May 7:

      That Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian, Gay,
      Bisexual and Transgendered Concerns supports its
      members and others who, as an act of conscience, take
      part of the Soulforce witness.

      ---------------

      Look At Our Hearts - Fasting For Truth

      Affirmation invites you to join us in a fast for
      truth, a bodily prayer that the General Conference
      might hear God's pleadings for justice and truth.

      The United Methodist Church has proclaimed a lie for
      28 years, that the practice of homosexuality is
      incompatible with Christian teaching. This lie
      undergirds violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual,
      and transgendered people. It is profoundly evil,
      untrue, and a deadly sin against our brothers and
      sisters.

      While the special prohibitions that curtail our full
      participation in the United Methodist Church may be
      understood as "internal" business, the lie is not. It
      destroys life far beyond United Methodism. It must
      stop.

      We are United Methodists. We have chosen a very
      United Methodist witness - to fast from food until the
      General Conference either repudiates the lie or
      adjourns. We will fast in your midst, witnessing to
      our deep conviction that God is calling the United
      Methodist Church to change its language at this point.

      We ask you to pray about joining us in this witness as
      you are able. We insist that those fasting with us
      must take special care of their health. We provide a
      column with advice in this newsletter and have a
      physician available to consult about your special
      health circumstances.

      Our hunger for truth aches in our hearts and growls in
      our bellies. Please, talk to us, talk to each other,
      pray for guidance, and join us in our determination
      that we will remove this deadly language.

      ---------------

      Fasting Guidelines

      Fasting and feasting are nutritional extremes.
      Methodists have a long history of fasting dating back
      to John Wesley and the early Holy Club at Oxford. The
      Holy Club practiced absteminy -- the withholding of
      both food and fluids. Modern day fasters such as
      Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr. would withhold food
      while ensuring fluids were maintained.

      Medical concerns center around fluid status with
      preservation of kidney function and maintenance of the
      blood sugar levels. Our Methodist fasting must
      include plenty of water and possibly some fruit juice.

      Methodists with diabetes have special considerations
      due to the need to maintain the proper blood sugar
      levels. The focus for diabetics is on making
      adjustments in their medications to compensate for
      reduced food intake. We advise all United Methodist
      that are participating to speak with their private
      medical doctor before beginning this fast. We can
      offer suggestions on an emergency basis only when a
      conversation with your private medical doctor is not
      possible.

      Before doing the fast, check with your doctor.

      Make sure you drink plenty of water.

      If you're a diabetic, check your blood sugar often.

      It is not right that fasting witnesses should become
      permanently injured as an outcome of this high act of
      this moral conscience.

      We recognized that there will be pain involved. It is
      that pain which we will present to the church.
      Rainbow Armbands

      Beginning this morning, United Methodist delegates,
      volunteers, visitors and friends will begin wearing
      rainbow ribbon armbands. This represents our
      steadfast commitment to the free inclusion of Lesbian,
      Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered people in the life of
      the church, and to the reversal of the church's
      discriminatory policies against them. The ribbon used
      to make the armbands is taken from ribbon which
      surrounded the Convention Center with love at the
      conclusion of the RCP Rally and Communion Service last
      Saturday.

      ---------------

      A Lifelong Methodist: Ramona's Story

      ---

      I didn't expect to run into Larry here at GC. There
      are so many people spread over so many hotels and
      there's just so much work to be done. He handed me
      this copy of his mother's story. He's here to hand
      copies to delegates. I read it and asked him if we
      could run it in the newsletter.

      I thought the story was moving, but I didn't start to
      cry until I typed it. There's a woman in my church
      that could tell the same story.

      Larry told me that one person refused to take a copy
      of his mother's story. He told that person, "You can
      ignore me, but don't you ignore my mama's story!'

      Please don't ignore Larry or his mama.

      ---

      Ramona was baptized at the alter of First Methodist
      Church 70 years ago. She married Stan in this
      sanctuary, and in the fellowship hall she celebrated
      her 50th wedding anniversary. She taught Sunday
      School, spent a decade as MYF Sponsor, and served
      uncounted terms on church board. She baked 10,000
      cookies for fund raisers and rolled out miles of
      noodles for church dinners. First Methodist has been
      the spiritual center and anchor of her life and she
      has supported it with her prayers, her presence, her
      gifts, and her service. It was there for her at
      difficult times: the sudden death of each of her
      parents, the automobile accident that took her closest
      friend, her husband's heart attack.

      That was then, but this is now. Now Ramona withdraws
      from every conversation that becomes personal and
      avoids classes or discussion groups that might be
      probative. She no longer raises her prayer request
      and never answers truthfully when asked, "How are
      you?" She feels uncomfortable being hugged by the
      pastor. Ramona needs the church now more than she
      ever has. Unfortunately, it's not available to her.

      The church has put her between the ultimate rock and
      the hard place. She is aching, incredibly sad, and
      wants help from her God. But to have any help, any
      understanding, she must start by telling the pastor
      her son is gay. Her sweet son who also was baptized
      at this same altar, who grew up at the pipe organ
      bench, youth leader and president of MYF, who loves
      and is loved by this church. All her life, she has
      protected her children's emotions and lives with her
      own. She cannot tell her pastor. How can she open
      her boy up to the condemnation and judgment the pastor
      has preached as the church's stand for "the danger of
      moral decline" and "respect of family values." What
      about the value of her family? Her child is nothing
      like those portrayed in her pastor's sermons. His is
      gentle, a school teacher, and serving in a Methodist
      church. He comes home to play organ at church. That
      would end.

      Christ, through the ministry of the church, offers
      comfort and peace. But this grace is not free. Not
      for Ramona. The Methodist Church has exacted a price
      for God's grace. A price Ramona cannot pay. And
      although she is alone in her isolation, so are eight
      more families at First Methodist.

      Ramona and Stan now discuss leaving their church of 70
      years. In many ways, they have already left. They
      probably won't leave. They probably should.

      ---------------

      God's Healing Love: A True Story

      By: Mary Padilla

      The story I want to share is that of my spirit-brother
      Michael Jacobino. A gay young man with all of life
      ahead of him. He had AIDS, and I capitalize it to
      stress the point of its impact on many lives,
      including mine. While Mike was sick, I would visit
      and take him to his doctors appointments. He could
      barely walk. He was stubborn to a fault and tried to
      keep living all the way till the end. He called me at
      work to tell me he had chosen to take final sacrament
      and let Jesus in his heart. He never really believed
      but something changed his mind. I'd like to think it
      was the power of the love he received from us his
      friends. Prior to Mike dying, I had asked him if he
      could do me a favor. That favor was to come back and
      tell me that my belief wasn't in vain. That the good
      work of love is all that matters on this sometimes
      very cold planet. Well about a month after Mike died,
      I had a serious car accident; I had bruises that the
      doctors said would take months to go away. My car was
      totaled. I shiver as I think of what happened, three
      days later. Mike came to see me, he kissed my
      forehead and grasped my hands. He said he loved me in
      unspoken words. I jumped up and ran around the whole
      house looking for him. Then the still small voice
      within reminded me of what I had asked him to do. I
      had forgotten by then. I cried for hours, but what
      happened in the next two days was even more of a
      miracle. My bruises had disappeared. God had sent
      Mike to remind me of what I asked him to do and to
      heal me at the same time. This is my story; Mike was
      gay as I am. God chose to use Mike to bring me healing
      and love. If being gay is so sinful, how did Mike get
      to come back and show me what I asked of him, God is
      love and love has no barrier, love has no face, no
      sexuality, love is all of us together working to
      proclaim it as it is, unconditional, never failing and
      always there.. This is why I continue in this
      struggle for total inclusion. I want to be a
      minister, ordained as I am. I just can't see myself
      being ordained and lying to my God and my Church about
      my sexuality. Many have done this and I feel for
      them. This Church has got to change and I believe it
      will. I love being a Methodist. I love the teachings
      of John Wesley. I will always be a Methodist! I wear
      Mike's ring as a reminder of what happened. I wanted
      to bring something of Mike with me in his honor. I
      am presently Lay Leader and Lay Delegate to Washington
      Square UMC in NYC. I am also a member of the National
      Affirmation Council. I love what we do and I will
      continue to do it until the day I can say I am a gay
      ordained Methodist Pastor.

      ---------------

      Enlightenment: It Can Happen
      To Anyone

      by Jack Hooper, former pastor of the largest UMC in
      the Southwest Texas Conference, Alamo Heights UMC in
      San Antonio. First printed in The Spark, the RCP at
      Trinity UMC, Austin, Texas. April/May 1999. Used by
      permission of the author


      It's been a long, exhausting journey. Is it over? I
      don't know. All I can say is that I have at last
      accepted homosexuality as a given portion in the
      diverse mix we call humanity. Viewing my past in the
      most favorable lot, I would say that I have not been
      as accepting of homosexual men and women as I might
      have been, and I now regret that.

      What brought about this change? Taking the time to
      observe and then admitting the obvious difference in
      people. Conversations with those who were for and
      against, especially Sid Hall. But most of all, my
      friendship with a gay man since retirement.

      He and I accidentally met one day, and I discovered
      that he had the gift that the little church, which I
      was serving as interim pastor, so desperately needed.
      When I asked if he would be interested, he replied,
      "Only if I can meet with the PPR Committee and tell
      them who I am and that I am gay." He did, and in a
      very honest way told them the story of his life,
      answering every question in the most forthright
      manner. The committee was so impressed with him that
      all their anxieties were allayed.

      He not only became my coworker, but my friend as well.
      I admire him greatly for his honesty and integrity
      and most of all for his deep, deep faith in Jesus
      Christ as his Lord and Savior. He is a loving person
      who refuses to harbor animosity towards anyone.

      For me, he is a mirror in which I see myself as the
      needy one and the window through which I have come to
      view all other homosexual men and women. I no long
      find a homosexual person threatening or unacceptable,
      but like all other human beings, some with whom I can
      connect and we easily become friends and others with
      whom it is difficult.

      Having arrived at this place, I feel so happy to be
      able to relate to gay men and women as fully human and
      to love them just as they are, as I pray they are able
      to relate to me and love me just as I am.

      With good humor some of my friends ridicule me because
      I'm always saying, "Why can't we just love one
      another?" Simplistic? I don't know. But that's O.K.
      I know when I am my best self. It's when I remember
      God loves me-- my unlovable self-- just as I am, and
      forgives me every day of all my sin and invites me to
      go forth and "love everyone as I have loved you." So
      what right do I have to judge anyone? Next time you
      see me, will you remind me of that? I never want to
      be without that truth foremost in my mind and heart.

      ---------------

      Silenced Witnesses

      The Silenced Witnesses Project is a exposition
      personalizing those who have been killed by acts of
      violence towards the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and
      Transgendered community or those who commited suicide.
      This exhibit will be shown throughout General
      Conference at different locations and times. From now
      until the end of General Conference we'll list each
      day several names from the Silenced Witnesses display.

      Tracy Thompson
      33, transgendered woman.

      Tracy was beaten to death with a baseball bat on a
      dirt road in Cordele, Wilcox County Georgia, March 30,
      1999.

      Melissa Mertz, coordinator for the Victims of Violent
      Assault Assistance Program of Bellevue Hospital in
      Manhattan observed that "...attacks against gay men
      were the most heinous and brutal encountered. They
      frequently involved torture, cutting, mutilation and
      beating, and showed the absolute intent to rub out the
      human being because of his [sexual] orientation."

      Billy Jack Gaither
      39, Gay man.

      Gaither's throat was slashed, his skull was cracked
      open, and his body was burned on kerosene-soaked tires
      in Doosa County, Alabama on Feb. 20, 1999.

      Gaither was killed by Charles Monroe Butler and
      Steven Eric Mullins Mullins said, "Homosexuality is
      wrong. I have found peace with God, but he's [Billy
      Jack Gaither] in hell.

      Henry Edward Northington
      Richmond, Virginia.

      Henry was decapitated. His head was placed on a
      bridge leading to gay bars, and his body thrown into
      river. He was killed March 6, 1999.

      Murder and mutilation, assault and suicide are being
      justified by our words. As a church, we must take
      responsibility for the violent social consequences of
      language we retain.

      Gary Matson
      50, gay man and
      Winfield Scott Mowder,
      40, gay man
      Happy Valley California.

      Matson and Mowder were shot in their bed, July 1,
      1999. Both were active in civic affairs. They
      founded the local Farmer's Market and Children's
      Museum.

      Murdered by brothers Benjamin Matthew Williams (31)
      and James Tyler Williams (29). Matthew Williams said
      to his mother, "My brother and I are in jail for our
      work in cleansing society. I just plan to defend
      myself from Scriptures. . . . I had to obey God's law
      rather than man's law. I didn't want to do this. I
      felt I was supposed to, though. . . . I think God put
      me here as a witness. A lot of people will hear.
      They call what I have done bad. . . . I have followed
      a higher law. . . I see a lot of parallels between
      this and a lot of other incidents in the Old
      Testament. They threw our Lord Savior in jail . .
      .Our forefathers have been in prison a lot. Prophets,
      Christ."

      Scott Amedure
      Michigan

      Shot twice with shotgun at point blank range in his
      own home by Jonathan Schmitz on March 9, 1995.

      Sense of father's testimony: "Better to be a killer
      than a gay boy."

      ---------------

      Its Right in the Bible!

      Ecclesiastes 7:13

      CEV: Think of what God has done! If God makes
      something crooked,
      Can you make it straight?

      NIV and NRSV: Consider the work of God: Who can make
      straight what he has made crooked?

      ---------------

      Communion Service

      You are invited to a daily RCP Communion Service on
      the Mall outside the front of the Convention Center.
      The daily services are at 12:30 PM.

      =====
      Affirmation: United Methodists for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns.
      P. O. Box 1021, Evanston, IL 60204. Web site: http://www.umaffirm.org


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