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Navigating Church Restructuring
Love Your Neighbor/Common Witness Coalition
MFSA at General Conference
LYN & MFSA Social Media at General Conference
Volunteer Recognition
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Volume VII  Issue 7                 

29 March 2012




Are you ready for Mission Trip Tampa? The flurry of conference calls, emails, and meetings have ramped up and we're ready to make our way to Sunny Florida. In this edition of MFSA's e-News, we will cover "everything General Conference!" Learn more about MFSA's activities, as well as those we are participating in as part of the Love Your Neighbor Coalition.  We'd love to have you join us for Mission Trip: Tampa. If you can't volunteer, there are other ways to help:

In less than 5 weeks, Tampa will be swarming with United Methodists. Let's help turn that swarm into a buzz that The United Methodist Church stands for peace, the rights of the poor and people on the margins, progressive movements in society, and justice within our own denomination! 

National CalltoActionAlternativeNavigating Church Restructuring  

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!: The Road to Church Restructuring 


By Rev. Steve Clunn, Coalition Coordinator

When it comes to church restructuring, I can't tell you how many times I have asked myself over the last year, "which will win out in my beloved United Methodist Church, faith or fear?" We are so afraid of our churches declining and dying out, that we are willing to adopt the idea that we must do something, anything. Thankfully, faith that is bigger than our fears, is liberating, rejuvenating and can lead us to places we couldn't have dreamed possible otherwise. So my friends and fellow lovers of this United Methodist Church, as we approach General Conference, I ask, will our faith or our fears guide us? Read more on our website. 

National Love Your Neighbor/Common Witness Coalition 

Love Your Neighbor: Tabernacle 

A tabernacle is a dwelling, a temporary shelter, and in our faith story the tabernacle is not only a tent sanctuary used by the Israelites during the Exodus, but also how the Gospel of John describes Jesus as among us.


It is fitting as we mark forty years of the "incompatibility" wilderness, that the Love Your Neighbor coalition's center of activities will be a tabernacle located across the street from the Tampa Convention Center where the General Conference of The United Methodist Church is being held. In this large air-conditioned dwelling, we will host delegates, organize volunteers, eat, pray, strategize, plan, and launch action.


Speakers include both young adults and retired bishops, central conference leaders as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender leaders. Leaders will bring their experience on ordination equality, marriage equality, immigration, nonviolent action, church restructuring, gender equality worldwide, and more. Translators will be working in French, Portuguese, Shona, Zulu, Tagalog, Cebuano, Bicol, and Ilocano to expand our welcome. A partial list of presenters includes: Albert Otshudi Long, Julie Todd, Lorenza Andrade Smith, Bishops Ott and Rader, Rifat Kassis, David Weekley, Garlinda Burton, and Brad Laurvick.


Love Your Neighbor: Worship


Love Your Neighbor welcomes Dr. James Cone as our preacher at our noon service on April 29 at the Straz Performing Arts Center. Dr. Cone will speak from his life experience and connect that experience to our hopes today. Dr. Cone was recently interviewed by Bill Moyers on his book, The Cross and the Lynching Tree. The worship service will be "streamed" and posted online.


Our worship team is coordinated by Rev. Delyn Celec. Delyn was a part of the denominational worship team leading General Conference in 2008 and continues her work at Shenandoah University. This past year she was "extraordinarily" ordained by Church Within a Church.


Rev. Tanya Linn Bennett, professor of worship at Drew University, is designing our service. Tanya most recently designed the amazing services reconcilers experienced in Ohio at Sing a New Song.


Love Your Neighbor: Send Your Prayers to General Conference

The Love Your Neighbor Tabernacle needs your prayers...literally. As we (continue to) transform our church and world into the full expression of Christ's inclusive love we'll physically transform the fence around the Tabernacle into a prayer wall. Just as the Good Samaritan bound the wounds of the person who fell among robbers, our prayers and witness offer healing and hope to our world over run with physical and spiritual violence.


Reconciling churches, communities, campus ministries and individuals are invited to send fabric prayer strips for the Love Your Neighbor prayer wall. If you or a member of your community journeys to General Conference, send your fabric prayers with them for the wall. If you can't make it to the tabernacle, mail your prayer strips to the Reconciling Ministries Network office or Howard Johnson Hotel (mailing information below) and a Love Your Neighbor volunteer will attach your prayers to the wall during General Conference.


How to get involved:

  • Create a fabric prayer strip
    • Select a fabric or use scraps you have from other projects
    • Written prayers show up best on bright colored fabric (patterned or plain)
    • Cut a strip of fabric no larger than 2 inches wide x 30 inches long
    • Write your prayer on one side of the fabric
      • Permanent markers work best but bleed through fabric so remember to protect your writing surface
  • Celebrate in Worship
    • Invite members of the community to write prayers on fabric strips during a worship service. Use a song or the Litany of Loving to frame your action
  • Send your prayers
    • Commission volunteers to carry your fabric prayer strips to the tabernacle when they volunteer at General Conference
    • Mail your fabric prayer strips to the RMN office or Love Your Neighbor hotel (Howard Johnson) according to arrival date
      • Arrive March 23, 2012 - April 18, 2012 - Reconciling Ministries Network c/o Meg Carey, 3801 North Keeler Ave, Fl 3, Chicago, IL 60641
      • Arrive April 19, 2012-May 2, 2012 - Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel, c/o Meg Carey (LYN office), 111 West Fortune St, Tampa, Florida 33602

MFSA at General Conference   
Beyond the work that MFSA is doing as part of the Love Yourn Neighbor/Common Witness Coalition, we will also be raising awareness of issues that are central to our mission as an organization.

MFSA Witness: Setting A Plumbline 
 Throughout General Conference, there will be a unique opportunity to see a plumbline in action. Our witness team has developed a way to share the words of the prophet Amos in a visible way. If you're at General Conference, keep your eyes open for plumbline sightings!



MFSA Witness: Thinking Outside the Bottle 
We know the days in Tampa will be hot and possibly humid
. It will be important for delegates and volunteers alike to stay hydrated. MFSA will be providing reusable water bottles for use at General Conference and beyond, asking United Methodists to pledge to opt for public tap water instead of bottled water and support the efforts of local officials who prioritize strong public water systems over corporate bottled water profits, not to mention the environmental impact of disposable bottles.


MFSA Witness: 40 Days of Prayer  

As part of her internship with MFSA, Wesley Seminary student, Heather Kramer, has designed a 40 day prayer calendar for delegates at General Conference. The first 10 days can be used while in Tampa, and the remaining 30 can be used after returning home. This calendar could also be used again during seasons of discernment and preparation. 


MFSA Gathering: Out of the Wilderness  
SAVE THE DATE AND TIME: Saturday, April 28, 2012; 5:00PM

Location: TBA (likely the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel) 

Join MFSA for hors d'oeurves and non-alcoholic beverages, learn more about our mission, and how you can become more active locally, nationally, and globally. 

LYN & MFSA Social Media at General Conference
General Conference 2012 will be like none other when it comes to social media. Technology has changed everything! If you're following from home, check MFSA's website for regular blog postings, as well as our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Also, check out our Coalition partners as they'll be posting on a variety of topics.

If you're going to be in Tampa, you can get in on the action, too, especially if you're on Twitter. Remember to use the following hashtags:
#umc (General UM hashtag)
#gc12 (Official General Conference hashtag)
#gc12love (hashtag for the Love Your Neighbor/Common Witness Coalition)
#mfsa (hastag that is specific for MFSA events/witnesses)
Volunteer Recognition
It takes a lot of work to make MFSA's presence at General Conference a success. We would like to take the time to celebrate some of those who have committed time and energy to this effort.

Mary Lynn Regan Clunn has the daunting task of serving as Housing Coordinator. From working with the hotel to communicating with individual volunteers, Mary Lynn deserves a hug from every volunteer at General Conference!

Rowland Curry is a member of MFSA's Southwest Texas Chapter and the MFSA Board of Directors. Rowland is serving as Hospitality Coordinator of the Love Your Neighbor Tabernacle. From sunrise to sundown, Rowland will be the volunteer wrangler in all matter related to the Tabernacle.  

Tracy Merrick is a member of MFSA's Western Pennsylvania Chapter and Treasurer of MFSA's Board of Directors. Because of Tracy's deep commitment to The United Methodist Church, he worked tirelessly to coordinate MFSA's response to the Call to Action legislation.

Nina Nichols
, pastor of Christ Church UMC in Troy, NY, has served as Legislative Coordinator. Nina's keen eye and knowledge of United Methodist polity has been a welcome gift to MFSA.

Vicki Woods, retired clergy in the New England Conference and co-president of the MFSA Board of Directors, is serving as Witness Coordinator. Vicki's knowledge of General Conference activities and sense of justice have created a perfect blend of witness activities. 
Methodist Federation for Social Action
212 East Capitol Street, NE
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