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Brother Martin Wasn't Born to Settle Down
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Volume IX
Issue 15  

11 September 2014 


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Thirteen years ago, I was working at a Metropolitan Community Church in the Maryland suburbs of Washington when the plane crashes at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon shocked the world. For days, many of us were speechless. We grieved for the dead, but we also grieved for what our world had become.

Today, that world is a reality. After wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States government is still using neocolonial philosophies to undergird foreign policy. Last night's announcement by President Obama to use directed air strikes to quell ISIS defies even the most favorable interpretation of the just-war theory. While the President's plan doesn't include use of ground troops, this next round of violence in the Middle East is marked with an open-ended time-frame. In his speech last night, the President remarked, "This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven." Strong words from the winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.

More weapons, more bombs - these are not answers to peace in a region plagued with violence. We knew these were not the answers in 2001, we know they are not the answers today. We marched and we protested - and we need to be prepared to do the same once more.
Chett Pritchett, current MFSA executive director, marches with Rev. Amy Stapleton, former Field Organizer for MFSA in 2002.

Formed to be people of peace and justice, it is time for us to raise our collective voices to let our leaders know that action for peace is preferable over action for war. May we work for the day when we don't grieve for the dead, but celebrate the living.


Chett Pritchett
Executive Director


Brother Martin Wasn't Born to Settle Down
"Brother Martin wasn't born to settle down Brother Martin wasn't born to settle down,
settle down  
He was born to rise  
Like relief to the cure, like the shore to the water line."


These words by singer-songwriter Namoli Brennet pierce my soul today. Of course, Brennet was writing about civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. But today, I listen to these words over and over as news reached me of the death of Bishop Martin McLee, Resident Bishop of the New York Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church.  


Bishop McLee's ministry took him from New York to Texas to Massachusetts and back to New York. Although many addressed him as "Bishop" since he was elected to the Episcopacy just two years ago, many simply knew him as "Martin." Martin, the listener; Martin, the joy-bearer; Martin, the preacher and prophet; Martin, the singer; Martin, the mentor; Martin, the leader.


Martin's deep, deep faith often brought his prophetic leadership to the center of his ministry. In 2000, he became pastor of the historic Union United Methodist Church, which just a few months before voted to become the first historically black United Methodist congregation to welcome people no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. As District Superintendent of the Metro Boston Hope District of the New England Conference, Martin worked with clergy seeking to provide new places for new people. He wasn't afraid to engage with young leaders and he embraced social media as a way of connecting to those with whom he was in ministry. As Bishop, Martin didn't shy away from the prophetic. In 2013, he issued a statement to the New York Conference regarding violence against LGBTQ persons. And earlier this year, he guided the just resolution process in a complaint against former dean of Yale Divinity School, Thomas Ogletree, and he dismissed a complaint against Sara Thompson Tweedy.


Ministry is a difficult and lonely place. I can only imagine that Martin's experience of ministry was doubled when he became an episcopal leader - a clearly progressive episcopal leader.  My thoughts and prayers are with Martin's family, his friends, with the people of the New York Annual Conference, and with the Northeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops as they seek to fill the shoes of a genuine, loving leader. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.  


If Namoli Brennet knew Martin McLee, I think she'd still write those same words about him. He wasn't born to settle down. He - like each of us who follow Christ - are born to rise. May Martin's life be a witness of hope to a Church seeking hope and a world seeking justice. May we all be a little unsettled as we rise with Brother Martin.   


Blog by Chett Pritchett, found at  

March with MFSA for Climate Justice

Join MFSA and other United Methodists on Sunday, September 21 as we march for climate-change action in New York City! The People's Climate March is happening just prior to the United Nations' Climate Summit, asking the public and private sector to take more responsibility for curbing climate change.  


United Methodists contingents will gather at 9:30am at The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew just a few blocks from the march's staging area. Buses are coming from all over the country - hope to see you there!

MFSA On The Road!
September 15: Plumbline Lecture, Foundry UMC,         
     Washington, DC

October 3, 4: In The Midst of New Dimensions Conference, Lexington, MA. Co-sponsored by MFSA. Staff will be present.

Sunday, October 26: Journey of Faith UMC, Round Rock, TX
     Chett Pritchett, Executive Director, preaching

November 2: Trinity UMC, Austin, TX
     Chett Pritchett, Executive Director, preaching

November 9: Centenary-Chenango Street UMC, Binghamton, NY - 20th Reconciling Anniversary
     Chett Pritchett, Executive Director, preaching
Progressive Ponderings
Turn Up the Heat Update 
Many thanks for those who have participated in MFSA's Turn Up the Heat campaign to support the work of the Love Your Neighbor Coalition Coordinator position. Our goal is to raise $15,000 by October 1 - and thanks to your generosity, we are over the 50% goal! If you've not had the opportunity to donate, check out our campaign and donate! No amount is too small!

Methodist Federation for Social Action
212 East Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20003