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|Volume VII Issue 9 ||
27 April 2011
I came to MFSA in the beginning of 2009--not too long after a difficult General Conference--in the midst of a campaign to pass a package of constitutional amendments that would restructure our denomination, moving us toward becoming a more equitable, less US-centric, church. Having just returned from serving in the German UMC, I was grateful to find myself among people passionate about helping our church to do better, beginning the long process of bringing our structure up to speed with the global nature of our church. As word came that those and other justice-making amendments were being defeated, I realized I had a decision to make: either accept the apparent immovability of the UMC, or commit to a movement of hopeful struggle.
It has not been easy, but two years later, I cannot express how grateful I am for the invitation to be a part of the struggle. From the OnFire justice immersion trip on the US/Mexico border, to a Hate Crimes Symposium in New York City, from the Global Young People's Convocation in Berlin, Germany, to the beginnings of an MFSA chapter in the Mississippi Annual Conference, I have met United Methodists committed to the vision of a healed, renewed and fully inclusive church. As I prepare to begin seminary at the Boston University School of Theology, seeking ordination as elder in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, I am so glad to have found many lifelong partners in the struggle for justice through the Methodist Federation for Social Action. I don't know where ministry will take me, but I know MFSA will be there--a voice of hope to and for the UMC.
So why are you in MFSA? Is it the empowering history, the motivation to act, the commitment to nonviolence? Is it for the experience of progressive theology in action, celebrated in statements such as the recent one from Black Clergy and Scholars? For the fellowship at national events like Sing a New Song, or within the denomination at Student Forum?
Visit our blog to read stories, or write your own and tell us about it on Facebook and Twitter. (Find us in both places at MFSAVoices.)
Grace and peace,
MFSA Outreach and Communications Coordinator
We are now less than a year away from the opening of the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, FL. During the dates of General Conference one year out (April 25-May 4), we are encouraging members and friends to share reflections on their involvement with MFSA. Each day we'll feature one or two blogs from MFSA members and friends writing about their experiences, and we're asking everyone to join in. If you have a blog, you can write a post and share it with us on Facebook
Visit the MFSA blog
to read these great stories:
"Inspiration and Hope
" by Rev. Becca Clark"Cooperation, Collaboration, Coalition"
by Rev. Troy Plummer"The Methodists are Here!"
by Chett Pritchett"The Connection within the Connection"
by Bishop Cliff IvesAnd MANY MORE to come!
|Chapters and Partners|
The Radical Origins of the
Methodist Federation Tradition
The Virginia chapter of MFSA reports that former MFSA executive director George McClain (1973-1998) "hit a home run" with his April multimedia presentation of "The Radical Origins of the Methodist Federation Tradition." The interactive production explores the cultural, historical, and theological roots of the Social Gospel movement in the Methodist tradition in a very engaging manner. It includes 50 images and a dozen "appearances" by historical figures, as well as song and audience participation. MFSA national is encouraging other chapters to explore this valuable resource in chapter retreats and events. George would be delighted to "take the show on the road." Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-273-4941.
|McClain presents at MFSA's Voices of Faith in 2007|
Take Action for Healthy, Toxin-Free Homes through Chemical Policy Reform
Clean your room. Eat your vegetables. Wash behind your ears. Stand up straight.
Moms give plenty of good health advice, going to great lengths to make sure you stay healthy. Yet, even with years of training, admonition, and prayer, toxic chemicals trespass on our homes and undermine our mothers' best efforts to keep our families healthy. Everyday products such as cleaning supplies, toys, food packaging, and furniture contain toxic chemicals that get into our bodies. In fact, despite pregnant mothers' best efforts to abstain from potentially harmful foods, drinks, and activities, we know toxic chemicals trespass on 99% of mothers' wombs and breast milk. These chemicals are linked to an array of health problems, including pre-term delivery, miscarriage, birth defects, developmental disabilities, predisposition to diabetes, uterine fibroids, endometriosis, and breast cancer.
Honor Thy Mother. Please call your senators Thursday, May 5 or Friday, May 6 and ask for comprehensive chemical policy reform that upholds our mothers' efforts to keep our families healthy. Visit the National Council of Churches' (NCC) Eco-Justice Programs' website for a call-in script and additional information.
|Middle East Spotlight|
|Seeking Justice, Partnering for Peace, Cultivating Community
You are powerful for the Spirit dwells within. And yet, perhaps like the Prophet Elijah, you feel alone in the work of peace and justice. This gathering is about connecting with others full of Spirit.
Or, perhaps, you are inspired by the power of people's peaceful movements in Egypt recently. You wonder what could be achieved if you partnered with others who share your vision of seeking God's justice by nonviolent means.
Come to explore possibilities for radical transformation in the world through four focus areas: criminal justice, immigration, food justice, and Israel/Palestine conflict transformation.
Come discover ways to partner for peace and cultivate community beyond the gathering and participate in an intentionally diverse group in a creative and welcoming format that explores the nonviolent pursuit of justice in the Christian tradition.
This gathering is sponsored by the Luke 6 Project and will be held at the Stony Point Conference Center in New York from Sunday, June 12 through Wednesday, June 15. To register, call 845-786-5674 or visit www.stonypointcenter.org.
Unprecedented Endorsement by African American UMC Scholars and Clergy Urging Ordination of Homosexual Clergy
Media Contact: Dr. Pamela R. Lightsey, 773-641-4992, email@example.com
From a statement released on April 19, 2011:
"On January 31, 2011 thirty-six retired bishops of the United Methodist Church released A Statement of Counsel to the Church calling for the removal of ¶ 304.3 from The Book of Discipline (2008). Their statement is particularly directed at this paragraph because it serves as part of current UMC polity that prohibits ordination, certification as candidates, or appointments to serve in ministry of 'self-avowed practicing homosexuals.'
"On February 25, 2011 at its 44th Annual Meeting, Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) voted to endorse our retired bishops' statement.
"As committed citizens of God's beloved kingdom, we, the undersigned Black clergy and scholars of The United Methodist Church also endorse the bishops' statement and applaud the action taken by our colleagues of BMCR. The action is an expression of the original intent of BMCR to be a renewing agent within and beyond the United Methodist Church, not just on matters of race, but on justice issues beyond race. The current critical discussion within our church on matters related to sexual identity is the issue beyond race that BMCR should, and is now addressing in a manner consistent with its historic advocacy for civil rights in the midst of unrestrained horrific discrimination."
Read the full statement here.
People of color wishing to sign on to the statement may do so on Dr. Lightsey's blog.
|Sing a New Song|
Early Bird Rate Ends May 1.
Register TODAY for Sing a New Song!
Now is your last chance to get the best deal on attending this summer's Sing a New Song event at the Sawmill Creek Resort in Huron, OH. Don't miss this opportunity to connect with progressive Methodists striving for justice and inclusion in the UMC. Register online at http://sans2011.org. Registrations can be edited later should rooming and meal preferences change, but it's important to reserve your spot and lock in the lowest possible registration rate by May 1.
|Sparks: OnFire in action|
|April 29: Absolute Last Chance to
Register for UM Student Forum
Join United Methodist college students from around the country May 26-29, 2011 at the University of Evansville in Evansville, Indiana for exciting worship, inspiring preachers, legislation development and relevant workshops. Late registrations are being accepted between April 23 and April 29, but will incur a $25 late registration fee in addition to the $75 registration fee. All registrations must be submitted by April 29 (midnight CST). For more information, visit the event website.
Who is OnFire? We are United Methodist young adults reclaiming our Wesleyan heritage of spiritual and social transformation. We are empowering young adults to impact our church and our world. OnFire organizes as the young adult chapter of MFSA. Check out our blog at: www.umonfire.blogspot.com. If you are interested in contributing to the OnFire blog, please contact Shannon Sullivan
|Social Media Corner|
Want to make the conversation PERSONAL? Host a Connecting Voices meet-up in your area, and don't forget to tell us about it!