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Central UMC, Detroit Joins Reconciling Congregation Network

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  • U.M. Cornet
    CALLED OUT INFORMATION SERVICE ... The Reconciling Congregation Program is pleased to announce the recent decision of Central United Methodist in Detroit,
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 28, 2000

      From the Reconciling Congregation Program FlashNet:

      The Reconciling Congregation Program is pleased to announce the recent
      decision of Central United Methodist in Detroit, Michigan. Last Sunday, in
      a special church conference, the congregation voted overwhelmingly in
      support of a statement of reconciliation and to join the national network of
      the Reconciling Congregation Program.

      The decision by this historic United Methodist congregation increases the
      number of Reconciling Congregations to 166, United Methodist congregations
      dedicated to full inclusion of all people into the community of faith.

      Incorporated in 1822, Central United Methodist church is the "mother church
      of Methodism in Michigan" and has a long and proud history of justice and
      peace advocacy.

      In the early 1830s, Central was the site of a courageous act of "hands-on
      activism," when the, then Michigan territory, became the first in the nation
      to outlaw the death penalty. Members of the congregation stood on the roof
      of the church and witnessed the last legal execution. After the hanging,
      church members climbed down from the church, tore down the gallows and
      dumped them into the Detroit River. It was one of many proud moments in
      this congregation's long history.

      In 1918 there was the case of Dr. Ossian Sweet, an African American dentist
      who had moved into an all white neighborhood. A threatening mob gathered
      around his house while police stood by doing nothing. Dr. Sweet and his
      family, members of Central Church, were hostages in the house. When the mob
      moved towards them, a confrontation occurred resulting in the death of one
      of the members of the mob. Dr. Sweet was charged with murder. The famed
      defense attorney Clarence Darrow defended Dr. Sweet and gained an acquittal
      from an all white jury.

      During the 1960s, Central was a frequent host to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
      as he traveled through the country. In fact, in 1968 King delivered his
      last sermon at Central before his death in Memphis. The sermon was entitled
      "The Meaning of Hope" and remains a strong memory for many members of the

      The downtown congregation has been a vital part of Justice and Peace
      advocacy in Detroit and also houses the Swords Into Plowshares Peace Center
      and Gallery.

      Central's statement of Reconciliation speaks of their decision as consistent
      "with our ongoing mission and commitment to overcome racism, sexism, ageism,
      and classism." They declare their joining of "the witness to open the
      doors of the United Methodist Church to the participation of all people,
      regardless of sexual orientation, by declaring itself to be a Reconciling
      Congregation." In what is a clear rebuke of the denomination's exclusionary
      language, the congregation affirms that "it is incompatible with Christian
      teaching and scripture to discriminate against anyone."

      Good news indeed! Let us celebrate another community being on the path
      towards a fully inclusive church!

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