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Gather at the River: The Ball Award
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute
#Not1More Deportation Week of Action
Interfaith Network for Justice in Palestine
Solidarity with The Philippines
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Issue 8        

30 June 2015  


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What a week! I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. Between the Supreme Court rulings on fair housing, health care, and marriage equality, the funeral for Rev. Clementia Pinckney and the President's eulogy, plus recovering from "Methodist Pride" (known to most as Annual Conference) season, I'm barely keeping my head above water. Indeed, we are fully living the cycle of celebration and lament that we encounter in Scripture and in our liturgical life together. 

Some of my friends in the movement for marriage equality have stated they have "worked themselves out of a job." I wish I had their outlook. But in reality, the work of justice is never done; it's just a little easier. In The United Methodist Church, we know we still have work to do. The folks at St. Mark United Methodist Church in Atlanta, GA are acutely aware of this. On Sunday, Rev. Beth LaRoca-Pitts invited those couples who had been legally married to stand in front of the congregation. Some had wed elsewhere and are now able to have their marriage recognized by the state of Georgia. One couple had a ceremony five years before (conducted by your friendly executive director), and had a legal ceremony Friday afternoon. 

None of these ceremonies, however, have taken place in a United Methodist Church. St. Mark is encouraging a hashtag campaign on Facebook and Twitter to raise awareness of the denominational stance on marriage. Post to social media with the hashtag #MarriedInTheUSAButNotInTheUMC. If you would like assistance in posting but need assistance, Greg Gray, a volunteer with Reconciling Ministries Network can help you. 

Incompatibility statements, chargeable offenses, and funding bans still appear in our Book of Discipline. And after some cheering on Friday, we know that employment and housing discrimination, bullying, LGBTQ homelessness, and the rights of transgender persons (among other intersections) are still reasons to keep ourselves engaged in the work of justice.

Now more than ever, MFSA needs your creativity, support and prayers. The Church must be a place of justice, not just equality. It's what God requires.

Not working myself out of a job anytime soon,

Chett Pritchett
Executive Director
In the 1950s, MFSA came under attack during the days of the Red Scare and McCarthyism. Labeled "Methodism's Pink Fringe" by an essay in Reader's Digest, MFSA was also asked to no longer be the Church's voice for social justice. With no apportionment funds from the general Church and no strong support from the denomination, MFSA was buffered by the work of Lee and Mae Ball. Noting the importance of an independent advocate for social change in the Church, Lee and Mae kept MFSA's voice alive by knocking on parsonage doors, participating in civil rights protests, corresponding with prison inmates, and publishing the Social Questions Bulletin (now The Progressive Voice). By 1973, when Rev. George McClain became the executive director of MFSA, the foundation laid by Lee and Mae Ball allowed for renewal and revival of a network of justice-seekers in both the Church and world.

Lee and Mae were never content to remain within the walls of a Church building because they knew they could only find Jesus in the company of the poor and oppressed. They engaged those who were "spiritual, but not religious" long before the Church had words to describe such a belief.

Due in great part to the efforts of Lee and Mae Ball, MFSA was there "when we needed it," and so our highest honor, The Lee and Mae Ball Award, has been given in their memory since 1975 to those whose resilient work is a model of God's grace and hope for a justice-seeking Church and world.

Please submit nominations for The Ball Award here. We will present the award during Gather at the River in August!
Long-time MFSA supporter Rev. Janet Wolf shares that scholarships (especially for college students and seminarians) are available for this summer's Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute at Haley Farm. More information can be found on the Children's Defense Fund website. Preachers, speakers, workshop leaders, and bible study leaders will specifically focus on dismantling the cradle-to-prison pipeline. For more information on scholarships, please contact Rev. Wolf.   

While some say the President has earned their trust and others are setting their sights on the next administration taking office a year and a half from now, there's a quiet rebellion happening in detention centers across the country, a sea change of opinion that's moving with it, and an urgency for the current President to do more.


The week of July 7-11 there will be local actions across the United States to draw attention to the thousands of immigrants in federal detention centers awaiting deportation. Deportation harms families and children. Find (or create) an event near you and add your voice: "Not One More!"

This summer the United Church of Christ General Synod and The Episcopal Church General Convention will be considering divestment and boycott petitions regarding illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine. Jewish Voice for Peace is organizing a campaign to send well-wishes to those organizing for peace with justice. A part of this campaign will help create the first ever Interfaith Network for Justice in Palestine. Please consider signing up and learning more on how we can work across lines of faith and theology to work for peace with justice! 

An International People's Tribunal (IPT) looking into the human rights abuses in The Philippines under the administration of Benigno Simeon Aquino III is set to take place in Washington, DC on July 16-18. The IPT will also look into the role of the US government as represented by the Obama administration. Among the cases to be heard in the IPT is that of the murder of Jennifer Laude, a Filipina transgender woman found strangled to death in a hotel room in Olongapo City after being last seen with US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton last October.


MFSA encourages those who are interested to attend as observers to learn more about the work of justice in The Philippines. Recently, groups in The Philippines and The United States have called for an end to the militarization of indigenous schools in Mindinao and Davao areas. Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco, Resident Bishop of the Davao Episcopal Area, released a statement on June 12 noting these schools, many built by teams from the California-Nevada and California-Pacific Conferences, and the communities surrounding them have suffered from threats, intimidation, and harassment from government supported military units. 

The work of peace with justice is never easy. Our prayers and support are with the indigenous people of The Philippines as they make their story and struggle known. 

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