New Reconciling Communities in TN & TX

Sojourners Sunday School Class of St. John’s United Methodist Church of Memphis, TN

The first community in the Memphis Annual Conference to openly welcome persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities, the Sojourners Sunday School Class unanimously approved a welcoming statement in March 2011. This class was inspired to stand up against discrimination after a January Believe Out Loud Together training lead by Jurisdictional Organizers Kelley Frances Fenelon and Anthony Fatta.

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Faith Conversations Class of First UMC, Boerne, TX

The Faith Conversations Class draws almost three dozen people weekly to explore faith questions which arise in our modern world today. Over several months, this class has included sexuality and gender topics in their discussions, seeking Biblical and church wisdom on questions of inclusion and welcome. The class noticed beloved LGBT friends and family members in their church and community, and grew into a shared conviction that the United Methodist Social Principles should be changed to reflect God’s inclusiveness.

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Confronting the Hydra

Last night it came first from Huffington Post: President Obama scheduled an unusual 10:30pm EST press event. My curiosity piqued, I searched and speculated on zombie attacks and followed twitters’ varied topics until a consensus emerged: Osama bin Laden was dead, at America’s hand. It felt strange to say that, and the mixture of emotions online and in person was overwhelming: Christians celebrating his death and people saying Christians should not celebrate anyone’s death. As Allan Bevere said on facebook, it represents the complexity of humanity. In the end, a twitter post from csalafia felt the most appropriate: “I do not celebrate, neither do I mourn. Tonight, I exhale.” I did the same.

This morning, head a bit more clear, I reflected on President Obama’s words “Justice has been done.” But what kind of justice?

In Everyday Justice, Julie Clawson articulates that there are two different types of justice:

  • Retributive Justice: punishment of crimes against society. We have a department of justice, justices of the peace, and the Justice League. As Clawson writes “these groups make sure the laws of society are followed…or else.” It’s the “or else” part that dictates this type of justice: if you steal, you are punished and locked away from society. If you murder, you are punished.
  • Restorative Justice: restoration of relationships that have become broken. Clawson writes “instead of only punishing wrongdoers…biblical justice involves healing the brokenness that marred our relationships with each other in the first place.” If a person steals, then you work with them to develop an ethic so they don’t steal again. If a person cheats, then you work to establish trust again in their relationships. There’s a cause that’s a Hydra’s head…then there’s the cause that animates the head. Restorative justice deals more with the root causes of broken relationships than with the active causes (sinful behavior).

In my opinion, retributive justice has been at least partially done this past week: I leave that evaluation to the families of those killed by OBL and to God…both of which have more of a perspective than I do. But the slow work of restorative justice continues.

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SANS Early Registration and Workshops Update

Early Registration Ended May 1st

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Vicki Woods

On Sunday May 1st, early registration for Sing a New Song came to a close. But it is NOT too late to register. Head over to sans2011.org to register for Sing a New Song and join more than 400 United Methodists who have already registered.

Sing a New Song is not only RMN’s 11th Convocation, it is a Convo and a Voices of Faith all at the same time

Workshop Registration Opening Friday

A big part of what makes Sing a New Song such an amazing event is the wide variety of challenging workshops that are offered. Visit http://sans2011.org/workshops/ to see what workshops are offered, a description of each workshop, as well as a bio for each of the people who will be facilitating the workshops. On Friday May 6th you will receive an email inviting you to log back into your Sing a New Song registration to add your workshop choices. To log into your SANS registration you will need the password that was emailed to you when you registered. If you have difficulty signing into your registration, email the RMN webmaster to alert us to any errors or questions.

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Highlights: Jurisdictional Organizers

Name: Daniel Colbert

Where do you live and what do you do when you’re not organizing as a JO?
I live in Washington, DC, and when I’m not organizing, I’m currently looking for a job. Until recently, I worked as a Press Assistant for a Member of Congress.

What ACs are you organizing with?
Peninsula-Delaware and New England

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Name: Christina Wright

Where do you live and what do you do when you’re not organizing as a JO?
I recently moved to Carrollton, GA. I am a doctoral student and teach undergraduate psychology classes at the University of West Georgia. I also work part time as a provisional deacon at St. Andrew UMC in Carrollton, GA

What ACs are you organizing with?
North Georgia, South Georgia, and Holston

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Name: Rev. Troy Plummer

Where do you live and what do you do when you’re not organizing as a JO?
I live in northwest Chicago near O’Hare airport. When I’m not organizing as a JO, I serve as the Executive Director for Reconciling Ministries Network. When I’m not doing RMN ministry, I enjoy time with my partner Walter and our border collie mix Kelly. For pampering, I garden; watch romantic comedies or food network or HGTV; and read adventure sci-fi trash.

What ACs are you organizing with?
This campaign I organized for the West Ohio Annual Conference and co-organized with Siobhan Sargent the Florida Annual Conference.

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St. John’s UMC Responds to Storms and Flooding

from United Methodist Committee on Relief blog May 3, 2011

As weather emergencies have been taking place throughout the Memphis Conference all during April and now into May, churches are reacting and responding in many ways.

St. John’s UMC in midtown Memphis is seeing and feeling the effects in its neighborhood and throughout the city as waters rise from the nearby Mississippi River.

“When disaster happens, whatever form it takes, we tend to feel helpless, like we just want to do something to help. But we also know that there are specially trained responders who need to assess the situation and make a plan for what help is needed and how to provide it, said Renee Dillard, Associate Minister of Discipleship Ministries at St. John’s.

On Sunday, May 1, members of St. John’s decided to help in the way it thought was “best” at the time, said Renee – by making donations to Advance #3021326 (U.S. Spring Storms 2011) of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), the global humanitarian aid organization of The United Methodist Church.

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Supporting UMCOR’s response to emergency victims of tornado, flood, etc.
caused by the Spring Storms of 2011 in the US visit UMCOR:
Spring Storms 2011 Donation

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Two New Career Opportunities

RMN Opportunity: Director of Development and Operations

Dealing to Submit Resumes – May 15th

RMN is thankful for the service of Rev. Carl Davis in this role over the past two years and wishes him well as he launches the development program in his new position at the Center for Conflict Resolution in Chicago on May 1st. Carl’s good work has laid a great foundation for the next Director of Development and Operations. The position will be housed at our offices in Chicago. Salary dependent upon experience. RMN seeks to have a new Director of Development and Operations on board during or before June 2011. Our best candidates for working at RMN come from referrals. Please use your networks to let others know of this opportunity to change our church and world! Spread the word!

Send resumes to RMN Careers

Job Description – RMN Director of Development and Operations


Part Time Coordinator for LGBT Advocacy at Foundry UMC

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There is an immediate opening within Foundry United Methodist Church for a Coordinator for LGBT Advocacy. The Coordinator is responsible for organizing Foundry’s LGBT advocacy efforts and programs. The Coordinator works with the appointed clergy, staff, lay leadership, ministry teams, and volunteers to develop and implement quality programs to address Foundry’s goal of ending discrimination against LGBT people within the United Methodist Church. The position includes fundraising and event planning responsibilities.

The position is composed of a total of 20 hours a week, days to be determined. Compensation is based on experience. If you are interested in applying for this position, please submit a resume and cover letter to Bob McDonald, Director of Membership Services.

Download the Complete Job Description – Part Time Coordinator – Foundry

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Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference

2011 marks the third year of TransFaith leadership being involved in planning spiritually-themed events in and around the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference (PTHC).

  • June 2-4, 2011 (Thursday to Saturday, plus pre- and post-events)
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Registration is FREE
  • PTHC is the largest transgender-specific conference in the world
  • Yes! Family, friends, and allies are encouraged to join us!
  • More at http://www.trans-health.org

TransFaith Caucuses (pre-event)

Gathering at Old First UCC on June 1, 2011 from 2pm-5pm, this pre-event will allow for transgender people of faith and our allies to gather and connect as we arrive in Philadelphia — allowing for those relationships to deepen as the conference unfolds. Learn more!

Public Pre-Event

This free, public conference pre-event will begin at 7:30pm on Wednesday, June 1, 2011, at Old First UCC and is co-sponsored by the Transgender People of Color Coalition. This panel presentation on gender diversity among indigenous people offers an exciting opportunity to consider how spirituality and identity intersect in some less visible cultural contexts. Learn more!

Spirituality Workshops

Spirituality content at PTHC 2011 (Thursday, June 2 – Saturday, June 4, 2011 will include offerings for transgender people, as well as for allied clergy, mental health professionals, family, and friends.

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