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Volume VII  Issue 11                 

12 July 2012




This week I had lunch with our auditor. But it wasn't just any lunch about financial reports (note: We had a good audit - no findings!). Mollie invited me to attend the 5th Annual Awards Luncheon of the  Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project which provides pro-bono legal assistance to people in DC, Maryland and Virginia who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit, and, in doing so demonstrates that wrongful convictions are not isolated or rare events but instead arise from systemic defects. I was blown away by hearing from Damien Echols, one of the  West Memphis Three, who served 18 years on death row (14 of them in solitary) and his calm, but emotional recognition of those who helped secure his release and the reconciliation that has resulted. Jesus' teaching about visiting those in prison became crystal clear to me as he spoke. Thanks to innocence projects around the world, justice is being sought, dignity is being restored, families are being reunited, and individuals are able to bring their whole-selves to participate as active citizens of our society once more.


Restoring dignity. Creating wholeness. Isn't this what justice is really about?


Justice work isn't limited to the legal world. At MFSA, we strive to be a voice for peace, dignity, and wholeness. Help us add more voices to a growing chorus:

  • forward this email to 5 friends who might not know anything about MFSA
  • donate to support the work of MFSA across the globe  
  • pray for peace -in our hearts, our homes, our communities, and in broken places across the world


Yours for peace and justice,

Jill A. Warren

Executive Director

National CalltoActionAlternativeAnnual Conference Reports   

BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON: The BWC MFSA Chapter co-hosted a dinner with BWARM. MFSA staffer, Chett Pritchett, spoke and the God's Foolish One's Awards were given to Rev. Nancy Webb and the BWARM Steering Committee. Much conversation on the Conference floor surrounded on developing supportive housing throughout the Conference and the Bishop's address in which he noted his support for LGBT persons in the life of the Church.

Aloha abounded in and around the MFSA with fresh fruit, fair trade coffee and drinks and the best bargains for used books through their sale, many of which are finding their way to  Union Theological Seminary in Manila. The Annual Conference overwhelmingly its support of "We Will Not Keep Silent" and the General Conference delegation shared their statement,  Be the Hope, affirming God's grace for all . The MFSA Chapter luncheon recognized Rev.Jeanne Roe Smith with the Mildred Hutchinson Award, and April Herron with the Bert All Award. MFSA Executive Director, Jill A. Warren, added irreverentness to her presentation, requesting those gathered to "tweet their vaginas" ({ }) in support of reproductive health legislation in Michigan in which Representatives were not allowed to use the word "vagina" on the House floor.

  In a point of personal privilege, a clergy delegate decried the harm that was done to our LGBT brothers and sisters at General Conference and asked for a "DO NO HARM" prayer circle to take place at the end of the General Conference report. 145 clergy and laity, whether LGBT or allies came and stood in unity. A resolution that sought to undermine the work of progressive movements in the Conference was defeated almost 3-1. MFSA Executive Director, Jill A. Warren, and her husband, Rev. Robert Schoenhals, were presented with the DeWitt Award from the Detroit MFSA Chapter.


FLORIDA:  Rev. Steve Clunn, MFSA's Coalition Coordinator, spoke at the MFSA dinner and got to celebrate in their support of the  Florida Farm Workers. Rev. Pam Cahoon, who was awarded the chapter's "2012 MFSA Plumb Line Award" for her work in combating hunger and poverty across Florida. The Florida Annual Conference also adopted a resolution to encourage local congregations to participate in Creation Care Task Force initiatives.


IOWA:  In concerned responses to the 2012 General Conference, two moments of personal privilege were taken from the floor, during which time nearly half of the room (both members and visitors) stood in silent solidarity with this call to Do No Harm. MFSA staffer, Rev. Jen Tyler attended the  Iowa MFSA Chapter's annual awards banquet, this year honoring Rev. Marvin Arnpriester, Jo Ann Heerdt and Rev. Bob Williams. Dr. Jennifer Harvey of Drake University was the featured speaker.


MINNESOTA:  In a vote of 400-169, the Minnesota Conference voted to support a resolution stating their opposition to an amendment to the Minnesota state constitution redefining marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment will be voted on in Minnesota this coming November. The Minnesota Conference also voted to support GCORR's "Drop The I-Word" Campaign. Jen Tyler represented MFSA and met with progressives interested in the work we do.


MISSISSIPPI: Rev. Steve Clunn, Coalition Coordinator, visited one of MFSA's newest Chapters where over 3 dozen energetic, social holiness activists gathered at a house party to worship, debrief around General Conference 2012 and DREAM about the future of United Methodism in Mississippi.   


NEBRASKA:  MFSA staffer Jen Tyler attended the Nebraska MFSA banquet on June 5, honoring Rev Steve Griffith with the MFSA Schlosser Award for Justice. The featured speaker was Darcy Tromanhauser, Program Director of Immigrant Integration & Civic Participation Program at Nebraska Appleseed. Among the biggest issues facing the Nebraska Annual Conference this year was the conference merge with Kansas East and Kansas West. The body voted for the merger with a 70% affirmative vote; the transition into the Great Plains Conference will officially take effect on January 1, 2014.


NEW ENGLAND:  Rev. Vicki Woods, MFSA's Board of Directors Co-President, received the Conference's John Bryan Award for Excellence in Social Justice Action. Heard throughout the hall were echoing words of "she's my mentor", "preach it, Vicki!" and "Amen!".  The Rev. Don and Sue Rudalevige received the MFSA chapter's social justice for their lifetime of work ("the rich get richer, the poor get prison") which tied nicely to time with the Rev. Lorenza Andrade-Smith who was a guest in attendance to speak on her experience of being a homeless pastor.


PACIFIC NORTHWEST:  MFSA staffer, Chett Pritchett, was present to table and attend the Reconciling Dinner, where young adults (including MFSA's Young Adult Scholarship recipient, Matt Lockett) presented their experiences of General Conference. PNW overwhelmingly supported a resolution encouraging support of Referendum 74 so the Marriage Equality Act in Washington State could become law. 


ROCKY MOUNTAIN: Rocky Mountain Annual Conference sent a notification to General Conference in dissent of General Conference action on LGBT issues.


TEXAS: Rev. Steve Clunn met with the MFSA Chapter-in-formation. Over two dozen people showed up for an informal pre-conference gathering/presentation on MFSA's work at General Conference.  


UPPER NEW YORK:  MFSA and RMN co-sponsored a luncheon with keynote speaker Audrey Krumbach, National Field Organizer for RMN, who encouraged members about the good that came out of General Conference 2012. MFSA staffer, Rev. Steve Clunn, was present.   


VIRGINIA:  The Virginia Annual Conference approved resolutions: 1) opposing the mining of uranium throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia was approved. 2) opposing capital punishment in the Commonwealth of Virginia was approved. 3) that included a five-item plan - including restoration of voting rights - to help end stigmatization of ex-offenders who have "paid their debt to society." MFSA staffer Rev. Steve Clunn attended the Virginia Reconciling UM's Breakfast and spoke at the Annual MFSA Chapter about General Conference and MFSA's hopes for the next four years


WEST VIRGINIA:  Resolutions were affirmed supporting passage of an anti-human trafficking law and the establishment of a mineral future fund by the West Virginia Legislature. The Conference also passed resolutions affirming the work of the General Commission on the Role and Status of Women (GCSRW), and one that establishes a Committee on Native American Ministries in the conference. MFSA staffer, Chett Pritchett, met with some MFSAers to plan a presence at Jurisdictional Conference to educate about mountaintop removal methods of coal extraction


WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA:  A resolution on  resolution on divestment of  funds in companies that directly or indirectly support the violation of Palestinian human rights,specifically, in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola.  


WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA:  Members voted to encourage the Pennsylvania General Assembly to oppose a bill that would allow predatory "payday loans" with annual interest as high as 300 percent. MFSA staffer, Chett Pritchett, attended the noontime Reconciling communion services. Conference discussions on human sexuality had a moderate, yet respectful tone, giving hope to many.   

Divestment from the Occupation of Palestine
While The United Methodist Church did not support divestment from companies whose operations directly support the Israeli occupation of Palestine, there have been other successes in which United Methodists have successfully advocated for this approach to bringing justice in the world.

TIAA-CREF, one of America's largest retirement funds, decided to remove Caterpillar, Inc. from its Social Choice Fund portfolio. Caterpillar has come under increasing criticism from human rights organizations in recent years for continuing to supply bulldozers to Israel, which uses them to demolish Palestinian civilian homes and destroy crops and agricultural land in the occupied territories, and to build illegal, Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land.

A portion of the wall separating Palestinians from Israeli settlements. Photo credit: John-Forrest Douglas, 2010. 
After more than two hours of debate on the floor of their General Assembly in Pittsburgh, the Presbyterian Church (USA) opted for "positive investment" in Palestine rather than divestment from corporations supporting occupation. The United Methodist Church opted for this approach at our General Conference earlier this year.

Want to deepen your commitment to divestment, occupation, and ways you can live out your faith as an advocate for the Palestinian people? Attend the US Campaign to End the Occupation's 2012 National Organizer's Conference this September.

Finally, United Methodists who participate in services provided by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits have an opportunity to make their voices heard through a petition from UM Kairos Response. 
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