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Family Planning, Religious Freedom, and SCOTUS
Looking Toward General Conference 2016
Upcoming Events
Progressive Ponderings:News and Job Openings
Justice Journey: Palestine
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Volume IX
Issue 5                            

20 March 2014 



I looked deeply into Fred Phelps' eyes that hot summer evening in Fairmont, West Virginia. It was July of 2000 and Arthur "JR" Warren had been brutally murdered. Black, gay, and developmentally challenged, the 26 year old Warren was brutally murdered by two acquaintances. They left his body on the side of the road to create the appearance of a hit-and-run.

It was difficult to look into Phelps' eyes that evening not because of his vulgar signs or violent slurs coming from his mouth, but because I knew Fred Phelps had a history of standing for civil rights. He was a well-known Topeka civil rights attorney who would take cases that no other lawyers would touch. He worked alongside NAACP leaders in discrimination lawsuits. Knowing that Phelps had a history of work in civil rights made it that much more difficult to understand why he was protesting this brutal death.

A lot of emotions are swirling with today's announcement of the death of Fred Phelps. Some have responded with words of retribution toward Phelps and his family. My response is one of grace and gratitude. If grace is true, then God's love is welcoming Fred among the saints.

If grace is also true, the life of Fred Phelps is a reminder that grace can be convicting. We cannot allow ourselves to be comfortable in our own hubris. We cannot stand for LGBT justice without working to overcome racism and white privilege. We can't work to overcome poverty without understanding corporate greed and colonialism. We cannot offer or accept grace without expecting that we will also be transformed.

Justice, in the Christian sense, should always be restorative, not retributive. It's tough to remember that in times like this, but I keep alive the hope that each of us can be transformed through holy conversation.

Rest well, Fred. Rest well, all who sojourn for justice.

Grace and peace,  
Chett Pritchett 
Executive Director 
Family Planning, Religious Freedom, and SCOTUS
On Tuesday, March 25,  the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) will hear cases imperative to allowing women affordable access to contraception through their employer's health plan. Two companies, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, believe that they can claim religious freedom as a reason for denying employees coverage for reproductive health services. For many women on the margins of society, access to contraception and other forms of reproductive health are key when they are on the precarious balance between poverty and sustenance. 

Indeed, this is an important conversation happening in the United States and around the world. Central to the upswing in conversation about religious freedom is that it is permissive to discriminate based on one's country of origin, gender, or perceived sexual orientation. At MFSA, we believe discrimination has no place in the conversation about religious freedom and betterment of the common good.
West Facade of the US Supreme Court. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
If you live in the Washington, DC area, please come to the Faith Rally for Family Planning and Religious Freedom at 8am on Tuesday, March 25. You can learn more at

If you can't be in Washington, please follow @MFSAVoices on Twitter or the hashtags #NotMyBossBussiness and #ReligiousFreedom to learn more during the day's events.
Looking Toward General Conference 2016
That's right. You read it correctly. In 25 months, The United Methodist Church will be gathering for General Conference in Portland, Oregon.

The Methodist Federation for Social Action, as part of the Love Your Neighbor Coalition, is preparing to work on legislative priorities, beginning with Annual Conference 2014 and moving toward General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2016.

If you or others in your Conference have submitted social justice legislation for this year's Annual Conference, please consider forwarding a copy of your legislation to Rev. Steve Clunn, Love Your Neighbor Coalition Coordinator. Once potential legislation is pooled and reviewed, we can have a better picture and create a stronger strategy moving forward.

It won't be long until the strains of "And Are We Yet Alive?" fill the air.
Upcoming Events

March 21-24:Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Arlington, Virginia- "Resisting Violence, Living Peace" MFSA staffer, JD Gore, will be present during these days of skills building and capacity building for a more peaceful world.

March 22: "Finding Justice in the Holy Land at Home" - First UMC, Portland, OR, featuring author Mark Braverman. Sponsored by Oregon-Idaho Chapter of MFSA

March 25: Faith Rally for Family Planning and Religious Freedom, Lutheran Church of the Reformation, Washington, DC. Sponsored by Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, The Religious Institute, Methodist Federation for Social Action, Catholics for Choice, National Council of Jewish Women, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Office.

April 3-6: Student Christian Movement-USA National Leadership Training Program in Chevy Chase, MD

April 12: Following Jesus, Overcoming Discrimination - Conversations on the Intersections of Heterosexism, Racism, and Religion. Duncan Memorial UMC, Ashland, VA. Featuring Rev. Gil Caldwell. Sponsored by Virginia Chapter of MFSA, with co-sponsors An Altar for All, Virginia Chapter of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, and Virginia Reconciling United Methodists. Register here.

Sunday, March 23: Chett Pritchett, Executive Director, preaching at Sudbury United Methodist Church in Sudbury, MA

Saturday, May 10: Chett Pritchett, Executive Director, California-Pacific MFSA Chapter Gathering

Progressive Ponderings
Justice Journey: Palestine 


Methodist Federation for Social Action
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