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Freedom and Christian Faith
Healthy Families, Healthy Planet Training
MFSA Creates Resource for Responsible Tourism
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Volume VIII Issue 13                          

8 July 2013




A lot has happened since the last time I sat down to write the eNews. While the Supreme Court gave their support (guarded though it may be) for marriage equality, they have also acted to strip away provisions of the Voting Rights Act which ensure access to the democratic process for minorities in areas that have historically had racist laws blocking full participation.

In Texas, State Senator Wendy Davis led an 11-hour filibuster in a special legislative session to hold at bay a bill that would dramatically cut access to reproductive and abortion services. When testimonies of Texas women were suspended, Davis filibustered by reading aloud submitted testimonies. After Senate leaders declared she had violated Senate rules and ended her crusade,reproductive justice supporters flooded the state capitol loudly shouted and chanted until after the session ended at midnight, delaying the abortion measure vote.

And in North Carolina, Moral Monday's continue. Clergy and laity (and even some Bishops) continue to gather at the General Assembly. This week unwelcome changes to unemployment stood out as a particularly timely issue, but witnesses at "Moral Monday" rallies have expressed opposition to a number of issues being pushed through the General Assembly, like voter IDs, fracking, education cuts and the rejection of Medicaid expansion.
Civitas: Diverting From Issues That Matter | Moral Monday
Rev. William J. Barker, II: Diverting From Issues That Matter | Moral Monday

These are watershed moments, friends, and MFSAers are showing up! If you ask any clergy person, they'll tell you that 90% of ministry is just showing up. That's the witness of MFSA. Where are the places in need of your showing up? Not just on social media, but actually physically showing up and holding up a plumbline to call for a vision of God's realm that includes everyone. Showing up says those who doubt the power of God's people, we will not be turned back!

So, friends, where will you be showing up this week?

Grace and peace,

Chett Pritchett
Interim Executive Director 
AFreedom and Christian Faith  
**The following comes from Connections, a newsletter prepared by Barbara Wendland of Georgetown, Texas. All thoughts contained are hers. To subscribe, email
Freedom only for some Christians?
In Fourth of July observances, we may hear a lot about "religious freedom" this year. But many currently campaigning on that slogan seem to want freedom only for those who share their interpretation of Christianity. To me, that's anything but free.

Discrimination on religious grounds
The U.S. Catholic Church, for example, is observing what it calls a Fortnight of Freedom, from June 21 to July 4. Bishops describe it as "a two-week period of prayer and action to address many current challenges to religious liberty." One challenge they want addressed is an August 1 deadline for religiously affiliated organizations such as charities, schools, universities, and hospitals (but not churches) to comply with a mandate of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), requiring employers to offer health insurance that covers services such as contraception and sterilization. I see that mandate as ensuring the religious liberty of employees to make their own decisions about health care. By analogy, I would hope that other faiths could not prevent insurers from covering, say, blood transfusions or surgery.

Many conservative Catholics and evangelicals are also currently organizing in explicit opposition to gay marriage and abortion. A draconian law soon to be passed in Texas, for example, threatens to close dozens of women's clinics, many of which primarily provide preventive care and contraception. Where is the religious freedom of low-income women to receive basic care and make their own health decisions?
Healthy Families, Healthy Planet Training


Become an advocate for maternal health- Apply for the Healthy Families, Healthy Planet Advocacy Training!


The Healthy Families, Healthy Planet project is excited to announce that it will sponsor its fourth Ambassador Advocacy Training this fall to engage and empower people of faith from across the United States to respond to the global tragedy of maternal mortality and the unmet need for family planning. The training will be held in Washington, D.C., from October 27th-30th.


Participants will learn about global maternal health, train in effective grassroots advocacy, design action plans for at-home advocacy, and meet with their elected officials to advocate for increased funding for international family planning programs.


We're looking for passionate people of faith who reside in the continental United States to apply. Those interested can apply for the training here. The Healthy Families, Healthy Planet project will cover travel, lodging, and food costs for all participants. To learn more about our training we invite potential applicants to attend an informational webinar on July 9th.


Applications are due by July 15th.  For more information visit the Healthy Families, Healthy Planet website.


MFSA Creates Resource for Responsible Tourism

The Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) has released a document intended to provide tips for responsible tourism for pilgrims to holy sites in Israel and Palestine. Recognizing that what many people call the Holy Land is a living context where people are struggling amidst conflict for human dignity and civil rights, MFSA developed a two-page guide to stimulate discussion and ethical action for groups planning pilgrimages to the Middle East. The guidelines can be found at or by clicking here.

Created by MFSA's Associate for Movement Building, John Daniel (JD) Gore, the guide is meant to recognize that meaningful contact with all people living in the region is a necessity for understanding the context of Jesus' ministry and the ministry of the Church in this region today. "Sometimes tour companies only give one perspective of the contemporary experience of living in this region," stated Gore. "These tips give pilgrims an opportunity to think about how their tourism can affect a broader discussion of economic impact and peacebuilding." Gore serves MFSA through the Mission Intern program of the General Board of Global Ministries. Prior to MFSA, Gore served at Wi'am, a Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, in Bethlehem. "Key to engaging in responsible tourism is working with the Methodist Liaison Office in Jerusalem," stated Gore.


In 2012, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church decided not to support divestment of church funds from corporations profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Instead, General Conference supported positive investment in Palestine. While MFSA continues to support divestment, as called for by Palestinian Christians in the Kairos document, responsible tourism will help pilgrims develop a deeper understanding of the contemporary context and assist United Methodists in living out the mandate of General Conference to engage in positive investment.  


"It is our hope that congregations and annual (regional) conferences seeking to walk in the footsteps of Christ, or engage in Volunteer in Mission work, might use this document as a reference for planning their trips and bringing the work of General Conference to fruition," stated Chett Pritchett, MFSA's Interim Executive Director.  


Since 1907, the Methodist Federation for Social Action has worked to mobilize, lead, and sustain a progressive movement, energizing people to be agents of God's justice, peace, and reconciliation. As an independent, faith-based organization, MFSA leads both Church and society on issues of peace, poverty, people's rights, progressive issues, and justice within The United Methodist Church.

ProgressivePonderingsProgressive Ponderings
FacebookSocial Media Corner
Have you ever wanted to send a text message to a large group of people? Maybe you need to tell participants where to meet to have critical Methodist mass at a protest. Or maybe you want to share where a meeting will be, but you don't want to broadcast it on social media.

You might want to check out websites like GroupMe to help you send a group text and to schedule texts so you don't forget at the last minute!

Here are three important tips about group texting:

*Always, always, ALWAYS get permission to include participants as part of the group text.

*Use group texting sparingly, especially if you're at a rally or conference.

*Don't use group texts as a way to share information. Only use them for reminders!
Methodist Federation for Social Action
212 East Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20003