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Archive for May, 2012

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Spirit,

Amidst all the inflammatory language, bullying, shocking votes (this morning saw the end to secure appointments for clergy elders), there have also been powerful witnesses for justice including rallies for immigration reform, divestment in Israel, a candlelight vigil for peace. And there have also been gracious moments among colleagues, strangers meeting and feeling united although they speak differently, a flashmob dancing to declare that justice can’t be stopped, and pastoral moments for those who have been repeatedly excluded. There’s also been challenging times of worship such as the Act of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples on Friday night. It was not meant to reconcile differences but to be a first step toward acknowledging the shameful history of how Native Americans were displaced, dismissed, and continue to be discriminated against by the UM structures. It was not intended to make white folks feel guilty but to recognize white privilege and prejudice and help us seek a more justice-filled future. The native speakers offered not only a stirring history lesson but generously offered a broad space for us to be around the same table and develop TOGETHER a way forward.

There have many who couldn’t make the journey to Tampa and have followed along the live streaming (the twitter feed alongside the video gives voice to many concerns including many young adults). One respected voice who chimed in from home was Gil Caldwell, an African American UM pastor in the Northeast, one of those Civil Rights giants who marched with MLK, whose words were read at the “For the Love of God and Neighbor” featuring Dr. James Cone. He felt compelled to share this prayer (which seemed appropriate to our current Mission Impossible worship series as well as this moment of General Conference) :

Creator God, you have over the years enabled and empowered the people called Methodist to do and be what many thought impossible.
I am old enough to remember when racial integration and the ordination of women where thought to be “incompatible with Christian teaching.”
Although, scripture did not change, our understands and interpretations of it did. God, I have not understood in the past, nor do I understand today, why some of my United Methodist sisters and brothers feel they must “protect” scripture and you, from the active presence of persons, who not by choice but by orientation, are same gender loving. Many of us believe that legislated prohibitions reflect the fact that same do not trust the shepherding of Jesus, nor the inclusive love that is of God. My prayer is that the delegates will not make decisions this week that will require services of repentance and forgiveness in the future. We have done that so many times God. When will we learn? God, continue to be present with all of our sisters and brothers in Tampa, may there come this week a spirit of reconciliation as never before. Amen!

Follow the some of the blogs of New England friends and delegation members:

I appreciate those of you who prayed for GC at Saturday’s vigil at the church and urge you all to continue in prayer. There is real harm being done to those lesbian and gay people being called “incompatible”, perverse, promiscuous, pedophiles, criminals, sinners–some delegates openly declare that such people are outside of God’s love. In response: there are many who are mad as heck, who know these are un-Christian, un-fair, un-loving accusations and are committed to fighting this discrimination, but there are many others–parents, gay people, and young people just barely holding on to their belief they are a beloved child of God in the face of such hatred, and their hope for United Methodism is waning… Please hold them in prayer. Please stand up for them and speak loudly for them and for justice when you discuss this week’s conference activities with co-workers and friends. Recent media coverage and articles in Huffington Post, give you an opportunity to speak up!

On a very local note: Thursday’s national day of prayer will be observed by East Longmeadow churches and civic leaders coming together across from town hall on the rotary at 6:00–join us.

Shalom,
Pastor Kelly

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