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Just Resolution: Bishop Talbert
Equity Social Values Plus Fund Announcement and Action
Tomorrow is Religious Freedom Day!
MFSA on the Road!
Progressive Ponderings:News and Job Openings
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Issue 1       

15 January 2015  


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Icon of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Icon by Robert Lenz

Every January it happens: the commemoration of the birth of civil rights leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Personally, I'm thankful for Bishop Woodie White's annual "birthday letter" to Dr. King, giving perspective of what's working and what's not working in regards of racism in America. Others might be re-reading the "Letter from Birmingham Prison," "I Have a Dream," or maybe even "The Drum Major Instinct." Perhaps you're reading the Vital Conversations posts from the General Commission on Religion and Race. Others are taking to the streets to stand against racist policies and practices.

No matter what we do to celebrate the work of Martin Luther King, Jr., lets us not forget that his work was foundational for work we still have left to do.

We still need to overcome institutional racism in policies and practices (even in our United Methodist Church)!

We still need to overcome white privilege (even in this organization)!

We still need to build bridges and deepen relationships for a broad progressive movement for justice and peace!

Thank you, Martin, for the foundational work you set before us. May we live into your legacy of love and hope.

Chett Pritchett
Executive Director
Just Resolution: Bishop Talbert
Bishop Melvin Talbert. Photo by Reconciling Ministries Network
In early January, the College of Bishops of the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church announced they had reached a just resolution in the complaint filed against Bishop Melvin Talbert for performing the marriage ceremony of Bobby Prince and Joe Openshaw in Birmingham, Alabama in October 2013. You can read statements from Reconciling Ministries Network, which Bishop Talbert has served as a member of the board. MFSA's executive director, Chett Pritchett, has also weighed in on this news.

Even while we celebrate this announcement with Bishop Talbert and others who have received just resolution decisions, we recognize that clergy in Iowa, Virginia, and other locations are having complaints filed against them for being obedient to God, Scripture, and their call to be in ministry with all people.
Equity Social Values Plus Fund Announcement and Action
In December, the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits and Wespath Investment Management held a webinar for their new Equity Social Values Plus Fund, a fund specifically set up to encourage socially responsible investments. We are awaiting the announcement of those corporations in which the fund holds investments (had not been announced as of 4pm ET on January 15, 2015).  In accordance to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, the fund generally does not invest in companies that derive more than 10% of their revenue from gambling or from the manufacture, sale or distribution of alcoholic beverages, tobacco-related products, pornography, weapons, or the management or operation of prison facilities.However,
it is still unclear if this new fund will be divested from fossil fuels and/or companies involved in the illegal occupation of Palestinian lands.

Still, it is important to show the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits that United Methodists want a socially responsible plan while we still work for divestment around specific injustices.

Tell the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to Make the New Equity Social Values Plus Fund Available through LifeStage! Are you a LifeStage plan participant who wants to reduce your investments in companies with terrible environmental and human rights practices? The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits just launched the new Equity Social Values Plus (ESVP) Fund, which adds some environmental and human rights criteria to its current screening criteria. While not a substitute for full divestment from abhorrent companies, it represents a step in the right direction. However, the ESVP Fund is not currently an option within the LifeStage plan. Please take a moment to write the the Board. Tell them, "I'm a LifeStage plan participant, and I want the option to invest in the ESV Fund through LifeStage."
Tomorrow is Religious Freedom Day!

Prior to the passage of the Bill of Rights, Thomas Jefferson penned the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Passed in 1786, this piece of legislation stated "no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." In 1992 Congress enacted Religious Freedom Day to celebrate this statute. Currently, conservative religious voices are laying claim to religious freedom and using religion to justify the denial of civil liberties to others-a practice that is contrary to the establishment of religious freedom. 

At MFSA, we believe that you can be progressive AND a person of faith. Join us on Friday, January 16 on Twitter between 2pm and 3pm ET, as we, and other members of the Coalition for Liberty and Justice, help create a public narrative about what religious  freedom is and isn't. Using the hashtag #ReligiousFreedomIs, you can retweet MFSA's tweets or create your own.  

MFSA On The Road!
Sunday, January 25: First UMC, Evanston, IL
     Chett Pritchett, Executive Director, preaching
Progressive Ponderings
Methodist Federation for Social Action
212 East Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC 20003