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Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute
Prison Economics
The Church on Trial
Progressive Ponderings:News and Job Openings
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Volume VIII Issue 18                          

1 October 2013




It's quiet around Washington, DC today.There isn't the usual buzz around town. The United States Congress seems to be in a battle with the White House over the Affordable Care Act. It's ironic that the very day the ACA began implementation, the US government shut down because funding for the Federal government has been tied to something considered to be divisive.

I can't help but pray for the moral compass of a nation that uses health care access and financial livelihood as carrots in a political power grab. The media messages are clear: this is "us vs. them" game. But you and I both know that nothing is ever that clear. The political events of this past week are more than "us vs. them" because we cannot separate ourselves from the experiences of our neighbors. When one of us is ill and doesn't have effective coverage to help make them well again, we're all ill. When one of us is unemployed, we're all helping make ends meet.

My mayor, Vincent Gray, recently stated that in the event of a government shutdown, he would consider all District of Columbia employees to be essential employees (why the Federal budget impact DC employes is a much longer story). I know Mayor Gray was talking about politics, but there's a theological message in his words: Everyone is essential.

Somehow, we're still struggling with that concept in The United Methodist Church, too. We're struggling with colonialism and what it means to be a world-wide denomination. We're struggling with clergy and Bishops who are living out their covenant to be ministry with all people, yet other clergy and Bishops are declaring them "out of order" when they do so. These experiences are not just "us vs. them;" they are "us vs. us."

It's a sad day when the mayor of a major city understands the concept of interconnectedness before our beloved Church does. I hope you'll pray with me for hope and wisdom and guidance and join countless other faithful people to proclaim from pulpits and pews, from city halls and the steps of Congress: Everyone is Essential!

Grace and peace,  
Chett Pritchett 
Executive Director 
Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute

The Center for American Progress is excited to announce their next Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute to be held in January of 2014. Leaders of previous Institutes received media and messaging training, policy briefings, opportunities to strengthen collaborations, and strategies to help their work and raise visibility.

You can be a part of this exciting training opportunity! Download the application and prepare yourself to participate in a crucial training for organizing faithful, passionate people to organize around the multiple facets of reproductive justice. Deadline for applying is November 1!
Prison Economics
During events sponsored by MFSA during the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, conversation centered on the issue of mass incarceration, private profiteering from prison systems, and the overlapping issues of race and class privilege in the American justice system. Following up on these discussion, here's a video illuminating one way prisons and private corporations are profiting from mass incarcerations.

Meet the Prison Phone Company Profiting Off Love
Meet the Prison Phone Company Profiting Off Love

After watching the video, you can sign this petition to the Federal Communications Commission - but don't stop there! Be sure to email or call your Senator and Representative (once the government shut down is over) and let them know your thoughts!

Profit from Pain Is Inhumane!
Justice in The United Methodist Church: The Church on Trial
Photo from
If you've been following any of the United Methodist media sources, you've probably heard a lot about the very public cases involving Rev. Tom Ogletree and Rev. Steve Heiss. You might have even heard about Rev. Sara Thompson Tweedy. But it's likely you not have heard about Rev. Frank Schaefer of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

The complaint process against clergy within The United Methodist Church begins with the filing of an official complaint with a Bishop. Intentional meetings with the complainant and the clergy person in question attempt to create just resolution to the complaint. If just resolution cannot be achieved, the Bishop will select "counsel" to be the prosecutor for "the Church." If sufficient "evidence" is found, the case may be brought to trial. At any point in the process, just resolution may be implemented.

This brings us back to Rev. Frank Schaefer. In 2006, Frank performed the wedding of his son and his son's partner. In 2013, more than 6 years later, a complaint was filed against Frank, and will now go to a church trial, set for November 18 and 19.

Some state Frank is on trial. Others state love is on trial. But this time, maybe it's the Church on trial, a trial that will continue until The United Methodist Church chooses love over legalism, ministry over mean-spiritedness, and faith over fear.
ProgressivePonderingsProgressive Ponderings
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