2012 – 2013 MFSA Local Program Focus

With General Conference behind us and the November Election and the 83rd Texas Legislature ahead of us, this year’s focus for the SWTX Chapter of MFSA will include State and Federal issues.  Upcoming meeting topics include the following:

  • Voter ID Laws – What is the possible impact in Texas and other states on the November election?
  • Death Penalty – What is our response?  Seminar with Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, in October.
  • Environmental Stewardship – What is “fracking” and what is its possible environmental impact?
  • Immigration – How do churches respond?
  • Racism – How can we become involved in local actions to improve racial relations?
  • Gun Control – How do we start a conversation about guns and violence?

Some of our action items will include volunteering for voter registration, BOPA recycling event, Pride Parade, MLK March, and legislative actions.  Join us as we explore the possibilities of change as we work together for social justice!

Next Chapter Meeting – Thursday, September 13

September MFSA Meeting Will Focus on
“Possible Impacts of Revised Texas Voter ID Laws”

Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Rd, Austin, TX 78756

September 13, 7:00pm

Forty-seven years ago (August 6, 1965), President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the historic Voting Rights Act (VRA) into law to prevent voter discrimination.  But as we have seen, the law is not just history; it remains vital TODAY to ensuring that every American can cast a ballot and have it counted (League of Women Voters, August 2012).

The 1965 Voting Rights Act aimed to end literacy tests and other requirements that prevented people, many of them African American, from voting.  Opponents of the new voter ID laws argue that requiring photo identification presents a significant barrier to casting a ballot.  Supporters say it is no different from current laws that require people to register to vote. The fate of Texas’ new voter ID law is now up to a three-judge federal panel in Washington, D.C.

Texas is among eight states to require official photo identification in an effort to stop what officials say is voter fraud.  Opponents of the laws say they disenfranchise poor, minority and disabled voters.  The law, SB 14, requires voters to show one of a very narrow list of government-issued documents (not including Social Security, Medicaid, or student ID cards) to vote.  Gun licenses, however, are acceptable I.D. to vote.

The Justice Department in March rejected the Texas law, passed in 2011, using the state’s own statistics to show about 600,000 registered voters lack a state-issued driver’s license or identification card.  SB 14 amended an earlier voter identification law.

Join us as Rev. Richard Bates leads a discussion with Texas State Representative Eddie Rodriguez (invited) about the possible impact the new voter ID laws may have in Texas and other states in the upcoming Presidential election.

We will gather in the Fellowship Hall at Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Rd, Austin at 6:30pm for snacks & mingling.  The program begins at 7:00.  We hope to see you there!

MFSA Encourages You to Help with Voter Registration

In preparation for the November 6 Presidential election, MFSA will be participating in registering voters during the month of September.  The last day to register for the Presidential election is October 9.  To register voters, you must first be certified by the county.  For Travis County, one-hour voter registrar training workshops are held the first Tuesday of each month at 5501 Airport at 10:30, 12:30, and 6:30.  http://www.traviscountytax.org/goVotersVDR.do

Volunteers from MFSA will be registering voters on Saturdays – September 15, 22, 29, and October 6.  If you are interested in helping with this effort, please contact Jan Dawes jdawes@grandecom.net.

Building Bridges – Brick by Brick

Efforts to Improve Racial Relations in Austin

The “Building Bridges: Brick by Brick” project, led by Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton and Mike Manor, began as a collaboration between law enforcement agencies and community groups with a focus on improving communication, and developing and expanding relationships with the diverse communities of Austin. It has now grown into a community-wide initiative that involves representatives from school districts, health and human services, faith communities and others. Travis County Sheriff’s Office Building Bridges: Brick by Brick is a community agenda initiative that formed from a 2005 grant awarded to the Travis County Sheriff’s Office from the National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC). A group of more than 60 Travis County community members met in February 2006 during a one day summit and made the recommendation to “optimize building bridges”  with the neighborhoods, law enforcement and faith based groups to create meaningful and sustainable conversations. Thus the Building Bridges: Brick by Brick community agenda became reality. You are invited to attend a public forum on Friday, August 17.

 Building Bridges: Brick by Brick

Hosts – Forgiveness Friday Forum

Panel Discussion With Christian Churches Collaborating For Change – 4Cs
A Criminal Justice Coalition of Churches

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mt. Zion Baptist Church

2951 East 14th Street; Austin, Texas

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

TOPIC:“The 4Cs- Bridging The Church, Re-Entry and Forgiveness

Other opportunities to be involved:

“Courageous Conversation” the first Saturday of each month fosters dialogue among people throughout the community to develop better understanding and to dispel stereotypes.  St. James Episcopal Church Founder’s Hall, 1941 Webberville Rd., 9 -11:30.

At weekly Friday forums, activists from churches, law enforcement, NAACP, AISD, ACC, and other organizations, report on progress of ongoing projects. 9 -10am at the NAACP office at 1704 E 12th St.

From Jan Dawes:  “Most of the efforts are concentrated in East Austin, and the people I’ve talked to are eager to have wider participation.  As always, if you have questions, comments, or would like to carpool, please let me know.”  jdawes@grandecom.net.

Austin’s Pride Parade 2012 – September 22

Celebrate Inclusivity

Join other SWTX Conference Methodists and MFSA in the 2012 Austin Pride Parade on Sept 22 at 8pm!

Walkers will walk in support of full inclusion of LGBT persons in the United Methodist Church and in society.  Limited seating in convertibles will be available for anyone who would like to ride in the parade.

This year, entries will line up at the Capitol and proudly march down Congress Avenue and through the 4th Street Warehouse District. Limited free parking available at First UMC lot, and also at the surface lot next to the Texas Oil and Gas Association building, next to the FUMC Family Life Center, 13th and Lavaca.  Carpooling is encouraged.

Austin Pride Parade site here:  http://www.austinpride.org/#!events

We will be wearing t-shirts with the ‘Love Your Neighbor’ logo on front, each participant church in a different color of the pride rainbow:  Trinity (red), University (orange), First (green), Saint John’s (blue).  Order shirts from Joy Butler – joylbutler@gmail.com.

T-shirts are $10 per participant.  Register by Sept 1.  Or, you can wear a shirt that is one of the colors of the rainbow.  If your church is not participating, you are still welcome to march with us!

Contact phaedra.chandler@gmail.com or revbates1@gmail.com for more information.

Caravan for Peace Rally & Dinner


Public Rally
Texas State Capitol, south steps
Saturday, August 25, Austin, TX
12:00 – 3:00 pm

Community Dinner
St. James’ Episcopal Church
1941 Webberville Road, Austin
6:00 – 8:30 pm

The Caravan will be at the Capitol on August 25 from 12-3.  Check Facebook for more information:  https://www.facebook.com/CaravanForPeaceATX

Purpose of the Caravan

The War on Drugs has contributed to over 60,000 deaths, 10,000 disappearances, and 160,000 internally displaced people in Mexico.  Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity is providing an opportunity for the victims of the War on Drugs and their loved ones to share their stories in hopes that all who hear will gain a new perspective on how US drug policy affects lives abroad.

The Caravan will travel to 22 US cities and will be in Austin, Texas on August 25 where the Caravanos will be rallying at the Texas Capitol Building.  We hope that you will join them so their cry will be heard loud and clear: “NO MORE BLOOD! NO MAS SANGRE!”  http://www.caravanforpeace.org/caravan/

Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team presents A Night Of Hope

Bastrop County  – One Year Later 

Join us for A Night Of Hope on Tuesday, Sept. 4th, the one-year anniversary of the Bastrop County Complex Wildfire, where we take a look at the past year and how far we’ve come in recovery with keynote speaker Judy Maggio, anchor at KEYE, and special performances by Hannibal Lokumbe and Chubby Knuckle Choir.   The presentation will be at 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort & Spa.

Individual tickets are $75, plus tables of 10 are available at various sponsorship levels.  Donations raised will continue the works to help people recover.


For tickets or sponsorships, you can send your check made out to the BCLTRT to PO Box 1975, Bastrop, TX 78602. For more information, call Jennifer Long at 512-461-9418.


TCADP Month of Faith in Action on the Death Penalty

A House Concert with Sara Hickman and Shelley King

Please join the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) and friends on Sunday, September 16, 2012 for a special night of music, food, and fellowship! Singer-songwriter and TCADP Advisory Board Member Sara Hickman and her family will graciously open their home that evening for a house concert featuring the music of Sara and fellow songstress Shelley King.  You won’t want to miss these two former Official Texas State Musicians when their powerful voices for love, peace, & justice come together!!

Seating is limited, so purchase your tickets today!  Proceeds from this house concert will benefit TCADP and its upcoming event featuring Sister Helen Prejean.  Four VIP packages are available for $200 – these include front-row seating at the house concert for two people plus admission to an intimate reception with Sister Helen Prejean before her speaking event on Friday, October 12 at St. Edward’s University in Austin.  This small, invitation-only reception will take place from 5:45 to 6:45 PM at St. Ed’s.

WHEN:        Sunday, September 16, 2012, 5:00 to 7:00 PM

WHAT:        House concert featuring Sara Hickman and Shelley King, plus potluck supper

WHERE:     The Home of Sara Hickman and Lance Schriner, Austin, Texas 78704 (the street address will be provided upon completion of your ticket purchase)

WHY:           To benefit TCADP’s work to end the death penalty in Texas!

General Admission Tickets (1 per person) are $50.

Tickets and VIP packages can be purchased online from TCADP or by sending a check, payable to TCADP, to: 2709 S. Lamar, Austin, TX 78704.  If paying by check, please indicate “Sara Hickman concert” in the memo line and tell us how many seats you’d like to reserve; also, please provide an email address and/or phone number with your check so that we can contact you with more details about the concert.  Seating is limited, so purchase your tickets today!

A Faithful Conversation with Sr. Helen Prejean on the Death Penalty

On October 12 at St. Edward’s University, Jones Auditorium at 7:00pm,  Sr. Helen Prejean will host a conversation with Dr. John Elford, Senior Pastor of University United Methodist Church and Rev. Nestor Menjivar, pastor of Principe de Paz (Prince of Peace) Baptist Church.

Sister Helen turned her experiences with death row and the Louisiana execution process into a book that was nominated for a 1993 Pulitzer Prize. Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States was number one on the New York Times Best Seller List and was developed into a major motion picture.

The conversation will include the challenges of moving Texas away from a culture of vengeance toward a culture of accountability that does not rely on the death penalty; how faith leaders and people of faith can take a more proactive role in educating their congregations about this issue;  and  the challenges of addressing the death penalty from the pulpit.  As Sr. Helen states, “I realize that I cannot stand by silently as my government executes its citizens. If I do not speak out and resist, I am an accomplice.”

Reserve your tickets today! Free to the public.  You will receive a confirmation email that will serve as your ticket!

RSVP-A Faithful Conversation on the Death Penalty w/ Sr. Helen Prejean  http://tcadp.org/sr-helen-prejean-conversation/

International Day of Peace – Friday, September 21

The International Day of Peace, a.k.a. “Peace Day” provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date.  It was established by a United Nations resolution in 1981 to coincide with the opening of the General Assembly. The first Peace Day was celebrated in September 1982.  In 2002, the General Assembly officially declared September 21 as the permanent date for the International Day of Peace.

By creating the International Day of Peace, the UN devoted itself to worldwide peace and encouraged all of mankind to work in cooperation for this goal.  During the discussion of the U.N. Resolution that established the International Day of Peace, it was suggested that:

Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples…This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace.

Since its inception, Peace Day has marked our personal and planetary progress toward peace. It has grown to include millions of people in all parts of the world, and each year events are organized to commemorate and celebrate this day. Events range in scale from private gatherings to public concerts and forums where hundreds of thousands of people participate.

Anyone, anywhere can celebrate Peace Day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, or just sitting in silent meditation. Or it can involve getting your co-workers, organization, community or government engaged in a large event. The impact if millions of people in all parts of the world, coming together for one day of peace, is immense.

International Day of Peace is also a Day of Ceasefire – personal or political. Take this opportunity to make peace in your own relationships as well as impact the larger conflicts of our time. Imagine what a whole Day of Ceasefire would mean to humankind.

Connections Live! 2012 Conference

Dr. Robin R. Meyers, author of The Underground Church,
to speak at conference for progressive Christians
Temple, Texas
September 28-29

Registration Deadline –  September 5

The public is invited to attend Connections Live! 2012, a gathering of progressive Christians on Friday evening and Saturday, September 28-29, 2012 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Temple, Texas.  Host of the conferenceis Barbara Wendland of Temple, a lay United Methodist who writes and publishes the internationally circulated monthly letter Connectionshttp://www.connectionsonline.org/.  She is also the author of Misfits: The Church’s Hidden Strength.

The featured speaker will be Dr. Robin R. Meyers, senior pastor of Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.  Dr. Meyers is also a professor at Oklahoma City University and is author of The Underground Church (2012), Saving Jesus from the Church (2009),and Why the Christian Right Is Wrong (2006).  Of the Underground Church book, Bill Moyers has said, “The contents of this book are explosive and could turn the world upside down.  About time!” Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said, “Read this book if you dare.”

The event will be an opportunity for thoughtful, forward-looking Christians to meet in person, in order to:

  • reassure each other that even though our views may be in a minority in our churches or communities, we’re not alone;
  • see how we might promote needed change in the church and the world; and
  • plan how to support each other in concrete, practical ways.

Registration information is available at http://www.connectionsonline.org/Connpdf/2012%20all%208%20pp%207-21%20rev.pdf.

A Night Under One Sky – October 9, 2012

Night Under One SkyTuesday, October 9, 20126:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum.

Presented by iACT – Interfaith Action of Central Texas

A Night Under One Sky has become a truly beloved tradition in our community. It celebrates the notion that there is common ground we can all walk in search of peace and harmony in this world.  The setting is magical.  The food is delightful.  The music is inspiring.  The conversation is uplifting.



Faith and Reason Workshop in San Antonio

OCTOBER 12 – 13, 2012




Amy-Jill Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences.  She holds the B.A. from Smith College, the M.A. and Ph.D. from Duke University, and honorary doctorates from Christian Theological Seminary, Drury University, the University of Richmond, the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest, and the University of South Carolina-Upstate.

This seminar is in partnership with THE WORK SHOP, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Temple Bethel, Trinity University, Oblate School of Theology, Church of Reconciliation, The SoL Center at University Presbyterian Church, all of San Antonio, Texas, and Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX.

COST:  $35.00    

To register, visit www.faithandreason.org  or

The D. L. Dykes, Jr. Foundation

UMC Conferences Respond This Summer to GC2012 Actions

Conferences Reject Church’s Stance On Gays

The following is excerpted from the UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert July 18, 2012

Rejecting the denomination’s stance on gay rights and same-sex marriage were important issues for at least 15 United Methodist annual (regional) conferences this summer.

United Methodists from Washington and the northern panhandle of Idaho approved legislation supporting the Marriage Equality Act.  The law was signed by the governor in February and would have made Washington the seventh state to allow same-sex marriage.  The law was set to go into effect June 7 but Referendum 74, an anti-gay marriage measure, got enough signatures to put the initiative on the November ballot and put the law on hold.  During the June 21-24 meeting, delegates also approved a resolution to address “a lack of congruence between the denomination’s hardened stance against homosexuality and its historic affirmations of the rights for all people.”  The Rev. Sandy Brown, pastor at Seattle First United Methodist Church, said the church’s stance is “wrong, stupid and evil.”

At the Iowa conference June 2-5, more than 500 signed a “Do No Harm” covenant stating the denomination’s top lawmaking body made decisions that violated John Wesley’s first General Rule by failing to acknowledge that members of The United Methodist Church are divided on homosexuality.  A second document, “Covenant of Conscience,” supports same-sex marriage.

Members of the Minnesota Annual (regional) Conference, meeting May 30-June 1, voted to send a resolution opposing a proposed amendment to the Minnesota state constitution that only a union of one man and one woman will be recognized as marriage.  The proposal will be on the November ballot.  “Hundreds of thousands of current and potential United Methodists in Minnesota would benefit from equal protection of civil rights,” the resolution’s sponsors said.

In the New York Annual (regional) Conference, some delegates were so disappointed with the church’s decision not to change the Book of Discipline that they were considering a study about leaving the denomination.  However, two proposals more welcoming to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender persons were approved in their June 2-6 meeting in Hempstead, N.Y.  One calls for a study committee for an inclusive conference and the other affirms the conference’s historic commitment to the “rights and privileges of all persons, including LGBT persons.”  The Rev. Taka Ishii, a retired pastor in the conference, said the basis of the New York petition was the amendment proposed to the 2012 General Conference by two megachurch pastors, which said the church was in disagreement over the issue of homosexuality.  The proposal by the Rev. Adam Hamilton, senior pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., and Mike Slaughter, pastor of Ginghamsburg Church, Tipp City, Ohio, was cited at several conferences as a good compromise that failed during the 2012 General Conference.

The United Methodist General Conference is the only entity that speaks for the church and it meets only every four years in a global gathering.

The United Methodist Church amended its law book in 1972, adding the phrase “homosexuality is not compatible with Christian teaching.”  At every global gathering since, petitions to change that statement have been offered and rejected.

“I was disappointed that General Conference could not even agree to disagree,” said Bishop John Schol in his address to the Baltimore-Washington conference.  “I think there is a Christ-like path that we, as The United Methodist Church, have failed to find.”

Differences on the ‘right thing’

The growing church in Africa had more delegates and added more voices to the 2012 gathering than previous meetings. African delegates joined with U.S. opponents to changing the church’s stance.

Representatives from Good News, an unofficial conservative caucus, reviewing the 2012 meeting said, “It is grievous that General Conference has become a place of such pain and protest. We do not take their tears lightly. … We do not celebrate in their pain.”

Several weeks later, Good News took issue with a sermon by retired Bishop Melvin Talbert at the California-Pacific Annual Conference which he titled, “Do the Right Thing!”

Talbert, preaching the ordination sermon, recalled his own experience as a young pastor as well as the recent history of the church.  He referred to a speech he gave at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference where he encouraged 1,100 pastors who had signed pledges to perform same-sex marriages in the normal course of their pastoral duties to “stand firm.”   “In the name of Jesus Christ, I declare you to ‘take thou authority’ and ‘do the right thing.’  And remember this: You are called by God; and you are confirmed and sent by your church.  There will be times when you will be called and challenged to choose between God and your church because your church does not always ‘do the right thing.’”

In a June 29 editorial published by Good News, “The Sermon of Division and Defiance,” the editors challenged Talbert’s appropriateness to encourage new ordinands to defy church law.

“Friends it can grow tiring to hear the news that there are actually United Methodist leaders who are actively being applauded for wanting to instigate division and discord within our church. But we need you to stand with us to do the right thing,” the article concluded.

California-Pacific, California-Nevada, Rocky Mountain, Desert Southwest and Oregon-Idaho conferences recommitted to their “We Will Not Be Silent” resolution made by the Western Jurisdiction in 2000 and updated in 2004.

The United Methodist Church is divided into five areas known as jurisdictions in the United States while conferences outside the U.S. are divided into similar areas known as central conferences. The seven central conferences are Africa, Central and Southern Europe, Congo, Germany, Northern Europe, Philippines and West Africa.

Three conferences in the North Central Jurisdiction — Illinois Great Rivers, Northern Illinois and West Michigan — expressed sadness at the actions of the 2012 General Conference.

In the Northeastern Jurisdiction, Greater New Jersey will have a conference-wide “Day of Prayer & Healing” on Sept. 30 for those hurt by conversations around human sexuality.

The Arkansas Annual Conference in the South Central Jurisdiction committed “to approach with respect and humility the differences faithful United Methodists have concerning the issue of homosexuality; and to encourage a series of sacred conversations about human sexuality, with a theologically diverse task force.”


NEJ Affirms Statement of Grace and Full Inclusion
Alexx Wood, http://nejstories.tumblr.com
Rev. Scott Campbell, clergy delegate of the New England Conference, submitted to the Northeastern Jurisdiction a resolution stating in part that “the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference affirms its commitment to the civil and ecclesiastical rights and privileges of all persons, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) persons, and declares its passionate opposition to continued distinctions of church law that restrict the rights and privileges of LGBT people in the UMC.”

Specifically, the language of the resolution declares that our “clergy, lay persons and congregations may feel bound by conscience to offer the ministries and sacraments of the church to all persons on an equal basis,” and that even though bound to the Book of Discipline, we are also “bound by Jesus’s commandment to stand with the marginalized and the oppressed in our midst.”

Campbell offered the resolution acknowledging the deep pain around questions of full inclusion in our church.  More than 50 delegates and alternates had signed the petition prior to its presentation at the Conference.  The 227 Jurisdictional delegates affirmed the resolution with 61% of the vote.

While the majority affirmation was enough to pass the resolution, the vote was still indicative of the continued division of the church on this issue. By the end of the break after the vote, a group identifying themselves as the Northeast Jurisdiction Evangelical Connection (NEJEC) expressed their disappointment in the decision by distributing a short statement outside of the conference proceedings.  The statement included a reminder that “the position of the United Methodist Church on human sexuality has not changed.”

The passing of the resolution follows on the heels of a number of Annual Conferences that passed similar statements.  The statement of the Northeastern Jurisdiction was modeled on a similar document issued by the Pacific Northwest Conference.

For the full text of the statement, click here.

Western Jurisdiction: Gay issue stand wrong

The following is excerpted from the UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert July 26, 2012

The Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church has issued a “Statement of Gospel Obedience” that emphasizes Christ’s grace and love is available to all and that The United Methodist Church is in error on the subject of “homosexuality’s incompatibility with Christian teaching.”

Delegates to the jurisdictional meeting July 18-21 voted to extend “extravagant hospitality” to all people including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or persons whose gender expression is ambiguous.

Retired Bishop Melvin Talbert was asked to oversee a Western Jurisdiction grassroots movement that challenges bishops, clergy, laity and local churches and ministry settings to operate as if the statement printed in the denomination’s law book—Paragraph 161F—“does not exist.”

Talbert said he has publicly stated many times that if asked to perform a same-sex marriage he will do so.  He also said the active bishops of the Western Jurisdiction “will be bishops of the church” and uphold church law.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño, president of the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops, said the bishops “are of one mind” during her address to the jurisdiction.

“We believe that our beloved United Methodist Church has been less than faithful to the biblical mandate to accept all God’s children including our LGBTQ(IA) brothers and sisters.  We assume responsibility for preaching and teaching in every place we serve, this good news of Christ Jesus who welcomes all,” she said.

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner, president of the Council of Bishops, noted that she does not want to comment on decisions of conferences.  “I trust in the process of holy conferencing, and I trust that my colleague bishops will act according to their call to serve the church as bishops of the church in the task of oversight for the general church and for the areas they are assigned to,” she said.  The council does not have supervisory authority over the bishops.

The five jurisdictions in the United States met in their regions July 18-21.  Jurisdictions meet once every four years to elect bishops and conduct business.

During the worldwide 2012 General Conference April 24-May 4, the church voted to retain current language in its law book that declares “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”  Other sections of the law book state “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” may not be ordained as clergy and that United Methodist clergy cannot perform same-sex marriage ceremonies and same-sex wedding ceremonies may not be in United Methodist churches.

“We pledge to you that we will continue to work for that day when we, The United Methodist Church, can truly live up to our logo of open hearts, open minds, open doors,” Carcaño said.

The Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church encompasses the eight westernmost regional conferences of the United States, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, Guam, and other territory in the Pacific.

In other action, the Western Jurisdiction apologized for the actions of the 2012 General Conference and said it plans to write letters to the editors in the major newspapers of each annual (regional) conference in the jurisdiction informing them of the apology.

The jurisdiction also suggested the penalty of a suspension for 24 consecutive hours from the exercise of episcopal office for any bishop charged, tried and convicted of ordaining or appointing a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.”  The jurisdiction can only suggest a penalty; the trial court sets the penalty.

The action means the jurisdiction “can no longer passively live with the hypocritical oxymoron of a denomination that declares that ‘God loves all’ while it excludes some people from acceptance and leadership based on sexual orientation,” said Greg Nelson, director of communications of the Oregon-Idaho Annual (regional) Conference.

The action is an effort “to change the conversation” and move forward, he said.

“The Western Jurisdiction embraces the denominational brand promise of ‘Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors’ and is working to make it a reality.

Save the Date – 12th Reconciling Convocation – 2013

Gather with hundreds of Reconciling United Methodists organizing for justice and inclusion for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

Reconciling Convocation

Labor Day Weekend 2013

August 30 – September 2

4-H Youth Conference Center

Chevy Chase, Maryland (Washington, DC Area)