33 bishops call for removal of “incompatibility clause” from Methodist Book of Discipline

On January 31, 2011, 33 retired bishops of the United Methodist Church published a letter to their colleagues, calling for the removal of language that  deems “the practice of homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching” and bars LGBT persons from full participation in the church.

MFSA applauds this effort to move the church towards full inclusion of all people and hopes that this is another “Watershed Moment” in the life of the UMC.  Read our full response on our website. The text of the bishops’ statement is here.

First of its kind church trial in the state of Wisconsin set for April

A Wisconsin United Methodist Church panel has brought charges against a lesbian minister that could end in her removal from the clergy – but the same committee praised her courage and criticized the church laws that required that the charges be issued.

The case has helped inspire a letter from 32 retired Methodist bishops urging the church to drop its ban on “self-proclaimed practicing homosexuals” serving as ministers.

A church trial has been set for April in the case, the first of its kind ever in Wisconsin.

The Rev. Amy DeLong of Osceola, in northwestern Wisconsin, precipitated the case in 2009 when she agreed to preside at a holy union ceremony for a lesbian couple, and then separately registered with her partner of 15 years under Wisconsin’s Domestic Partnership Law. She reported both actions to the church’s Wisconsin Annual Conference, the governing body for the church in the state, as part of her annual accounting of her ministry.

She said she knew her actions would have consequences.

“I want to help the church to be true to its proclamations,” she said in an interview. “We don’t have to earn our way into God’s heart. We’ve already been accepted.”

The United Methodist Church, the nation’s third-largest denomination, prohibits ministers from performing same-sex unions and allows gay or lesbian ministers only if they’re celibate, or if they don’t reveal their sexual orientation.

Remember the Freedom Rides and connect with MFSA at the JustPeace Annual Gathering

Nearly half a century ago, in the spring of 1961, an incredibly courageous group of individuals left Washington, DC on a commercial bus to embark on a perilous journey to strike down Jim Crow segregation in the Deep South.

Now, fifty years after their historic journey, United Methodists have a unique opportunity to gather in Jackson, MS, to commemorate the golden anniversary of the Freedom Rides and continue the ongoing conversation of racial reconciliation and what it means for us today.
Come join in the 11th annual JustPeace Gathering- Journey Toward the Light.  JustPeace, the Mississippi Annual Conference of the UMC, and the General Commission on Religion and Race of the UMC will co-sponsor the event from 5pm on March 6th to 12 noon on March 8th, at various locations in Jackson, Mississippi.
MFSA staff member Jennifer Mihok will be in attendance and is interested in meeting with MFSA folks who will be attending the event.  Please email Jennifer if you’re planning to attend.  Hope to see you there!  Click here for more information and to register.

Plan to join us at the First Annual MFSA Luncheon and Awards Ceremony Friday, June 10 in Corpus Christi (at Annual Conference)

We are in the early planning stage of our chapter’s first large-scale event to be held at Annual Conference in Corpus Christi on June 10.  The event will consist of a luncheon, a great speaker, and awards for special recognition in social action.  We are partnering with Reconciling Ministries Network to advance the idea of a fully inclusive denomination.

Our speaker will be Dr. Joerg Rieger, the Wendland-Cook Professor of Constructive Theology at Perkins School of Theology at SMU in Dallas.  The title of Dr. Rieger’s presentation is still under development, but it will be based on his new book, “Grace under Pressure: Negotiating the Heart of the Methodist Traditions.”

If you have suggestions for the types of awards we should consider, or names for consideration, please contact Richard Bates, revbates1@aol.com.

We do need volunteers to help with the planning of this luncheon.  We will need help in a number of areas, both in advance arrangements and on site:  publicity, program, awards, financing, and logistics.  If you can help out, please respond to Rowland Curry, rcurry@austin.rr.com.

This should be a great event to share MFSA’s message with others at Southwest Texas Annual Conference.

Books, Books, Books!

We plan to again sponsor the MFSA Book Fair during Annual Conference in June.  We ask our members and friends to contribute their used books dealing with religious, spiritual, or social action topics, and then we offer them in exchange for donations.  This has been our chapter’s major fundraiser during the past few years.  As a result of your kind donations of books and the generosity of the buyers, we made over $700 at the 2010 event.  As you are doing your spring cleaning or going through your library to discard these treasures, please keep us in mind.  In most cases, we can make arrangements to pick them up.  Please let Rowland Curry (rcurry@austin.rr.com) know if you have books to contribute.

Sing A New Song, August 25 – 28

Mark your calendar for the RMN/MFSA Convocation, “Sing a New Song”.
(Reconciling Ministries Network mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.)

Join hundreds of United Methodists singing of and organizing for justice and inclusion for all God’s children as we celebrate in joyful worship designed by Mark Miller and Tanya Bennett.

In word and song, at rest and play, through action and organizing, being church together, “We are called to act with justice, we are called to love tenderly, we are called to serve on another, to walk humbly with God!”

Sawmill Creek Resort
400 Sawmill Creek Drive West
Huron, OH 44839

For more information, see http://www.rmnetwork.org/sing-a-new-song/

MFSA Needs Financial Support as We Prepare for Annual and General Conferences

Please join with us as we connect progressive United Methodists in putting faith into action!

Membership in MFSA is not predicated on ability to pay.  We do not have “dues”.  However, our Chapter and the National Office need funding each year for programs and activities.  Membership gifts and special giving are always appreciated.

MFSA is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization by the IRS.   Membership gifts to MFSA are tax deductible as provided by law.

Here are two simple ways to join or support MFSA:

You can log onto the national MFSA website, http://www.mfsaweb.org and follow the instructions there (you can safely use a credit card).

Or, you can mail a check made out to “SWT – MFSA” to our Treasurer, Janice Curry, at 1509 Mearns Meadow Blvd, Austin 78758.  The suggested annual donation is $60, but any amount is welcome.  Thanks for your support!

Join us!