Chapters

In This Moment…

Monday, January 30th, 2017
Beloved Justice Seekers,
        
In this moment, it is hard to not let darkness of despair and fear overcome Epiphany's light. There are days when it seems that we are in a perpetual state of lent – lamenting the realities we are facing with the new presidential administration. I think back to hearing the news of our presidential election. I spent the days following that news at Facing Race, the largest conference focused in racial justice, surrounded by thousands of folks dedicated to seeking justice. Over the past few days I've surrounded myself with thousands of queer and trans people organizing, dreaming, and resisting together. I can't think of a better place to be in light of what was happening and is continuing to happen in our nation. 

As I prepare for what lies ahead and the paths of resistance we will each walk, I'm grounded in the thought that our priority must be to care for our bodies and each other. We do not have to lean into platitudes of unity at the sake of our own sacred worth. Our fundamental desire to thrive and the vows we take at our baptism call us to look inward, resist injustice, and serve all! We commit to our own personal rejection of the evil powers of this world, accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist, and finally put our trust in Christ promising to serve a church for all people. As we step into this new season our welcome must be intended for those pushed from the center – the source of privilege – in our communities. We must resist the ways we are complacent in maintaining privilege. We must bring others along with us in this struggle. 

From our earliest days, the Methodist Federation for Social Action identified as a movement energizing people to be agents of sacred change in the church and the world. We believe that the root of justice lies within people of faith in grassroots communities called to engage in collective liberation. It requires storied relationships, resilience in the midst of oppression, and resistance to all that stands in the way of love. Our intersectional lens reminds us of the words of Methodist and civil rights leader, Fannie Lou Hamer, who said: “nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” Our lived experience tells us sacred change is only possible in a movement that is boundary breaking and refuses to be silenced by the powers and principalities of our day. 

Your partnership in this movement has made and continues to make sacred change possible each and every day. We have faced difficult days in the history of our movement. We stood up and resisted when the church refused to integrate, we stood up and resisted when the government used fear to attempt to silence us in the McCarthy era, we stood up and resisted when the church said no to women’s ordination, we stood up and resisted when the government said no to women's suffrage, we stood up and resisted dangerous child labor practices. Our legacy of resistance is faithfully long. We will continue our legacy of standing up and resisting. No matter whom the powers and principalities are we will accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice, and oppression. 

In order to do so we need your help. In the coming year we need to increase our staff to increase our capacity to resist. Please consider making a donation to the Methodist Federation for Social Action today to help us continue our legacy of resistance.

It is our commitment to faithfully look within ourselves, our movement, and our world to renounce the wickedness we perpetuate, to resist the injustice in our world, to trust in God’s grace and to serve Christ through a church open to ALL people. Will you join me in making sacred change possible with a gift to MFSA!

Seeking justice,
Joseph Lopez
He, Him, His
Nominations and Governance Co-Chair
Board of Directors
 

 

You’re right President Obama, it’s time to close Guantanamo

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Last Friday I stood in an orange jumpsuit and black hood, carrying a sign with the name of a detainee who had died at Guantanamo. It was only for an hour, but a profound hour to think about the men that are being held in our name.

This Friday I again joined a Close Guantanamo vigil over the lunch hour in Washington, DC. Between the two Fridays, during a press conference on Tuesday, April 30, President Obama restated his belief in the need to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. 

I appreciate President Obama responding to a question about the hunger strike at Guantanamo that started in February and now reportedly includes 100 of the 166 detainees. It is a hunger strike born of the desperation of men being held in indefinite detention, 86 of whom have been cleared for transfer but Congress has put up roadblocks for the transfers. While I appreciate President Obama’s recommitment, which he had stated during last year’s campaign as well, I am waiting to see words turn into action. The President has blamed Congress for the roadblocks, but he signed the bills into law and has not used the powers the Administration has to certify individuals for transfer.

I have no doubt that a number of the men held at Guantanamo are guilty of war crimes and should be tried, but how long are we going to embarrass ourselves and not transfer men who have been cleared for transfer? Every day that the detention center stays open is another day of reminder of the sins of torture that have taken place there.

So as tourists walked by snapping pictures of the White House, I was present in vigils to let President Obama know that we support his desire to see Guantanamo closed and encourage action to back up his words. I was with fellow colleagues with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), members of Witness Against Torture, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, and more. On April 26, we were joined by Col. Morris Davis (ret.), former Chief Prosecutor of the Guantanamo military commissions. Col. Davis launched a Change.org petition this week that now has over 125,000 signatures.

Later on Tuesday after the President’s remarks in the press conference, 38 religious leaders released a public letter sent to the President and all members of Congress, describing the desperate situation at Guantanamo and calling on President Obama and Congress to back the President’s words with action by expeditiously moving to close the Guantanamo detention center. My colleague Laura Markle Downton read the letter, coordinated by NRCAT, at the vigil this Friday. I shared the following prayer. It is not the lament that has been just on the edge of my mind and unable to get into full sentences, but I offer it for your prayer and reflection:

God of the open spaces like this plaza and God of the closed cells like at Guantanamo, we give thanks that you have created each person in your image, each person with dignity and worth.

We pray that you may help all people remember that each and every person is your beloved child.

When we fall short and do ill to each other, lift us up and let your justice reign.

On this day, here in front of the White House, a symbol of hope and freedom, we gather to call for the closure of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, a symbol of torture and shame.

We gather in solidarity with those desperate enough to go on hunger strike to make their voices heard. May they know that many voices have lifted up for an end to indefinite detention and closure of Guantanmo.

We pray for President Obama, for strength of conviction and action to close Guantanamo. We pray for others in our government to undue this stain on our country. We pray for the guards and medical staff at Guantanamo, we pray for the detainees, especially those who have been cleared for transfer and languish in the unknown. We pray for the American people and we pray for ourselves, that we may not give in to fear – that through your help O God, we can see a closure of the Guantanamo detention facility.

Amen.

______________________________________________________

T.C. Morrow is Director of Finance & Operations for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and a member of Foundry UMC in Washington, DC.

Widening the Circle

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

There is great goodness and justice happening through some of our existing and new chapters, but as a system and the overarching movement, we are not reaching our full potential.  For example, we value and lift as a priority inclusion of young adults and ethnic diversity, yet the make-up of our membership does not reflect our desires.  Generally, the younger generation shares our values of inclusion, equity and peace, yet our organization’s structure contains unintentional barriers to enter, not allowing easy access for folks to engage. 

The structure for MFSA membership was instituted to align with a different age of society.  Today’s culture and mechanisms for communications are vastly different from when our structure was put in place.  In fact, they have changed dramatically in the last decade!  Yet, our structure is centered on a church governance structure and geographic boundaries, which doesn’t make sense to those not already “in the circle.”  

It is time to draw the circle wider, with different lines and colors.  In fact, let’s remove the lines!  Let’s open our arms and remove the barriers (which might be hard for those of us “in the circle” to see) and develop the next generation of Methodists for social action. 

You can read Tara's full statement here.

Tara Thronson is MFSA's Board of Directors Co-chair. She helped to start the Southwest Texas Chapter and currently resides in Sacramento, California.

Update: Young Adult Scholarships for General Conference

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

As posted before, the Common Witness Coalition is offering 10 full scholarships to young adults looking to spend all 10 days volunteering to monitor legislation with the Common Witness Coalition. In addition, MFSA is offering 10 "matching" scholarships for young adults whose local congregation, MFSA Chapter, campus ministry, district or conference are willing to sponsor them for $1000 to help cover costs of General Conference. You can read more about these scholarship opportunities in our original post.

Thank you! to those who have already applied. For those who intend to but have not yet: GREAT NEWS! We are extending our application deadline to January 1!

So get those applications in – and don't forget to talk to your congregation/campus ministry/local MFSA chapter, etc. about the possibility of sponsoring you!

Young Adult Full Scholarship Application Process

Young Adult Matching Scholarship Application Process

Young Adult Scholarships for General Conference

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

UPDATE: Application Deadline extended to January 1!

 

MFSA, in coalition with Reconciling Ministries Network and Affirmation through The Common Witness Coalition, recognize the need to equip the next generation of UMC leaders in the legislative, judicial, communication and relationship building issues by which policy change is achieved in the United Methodist Church.

 

Thanks to the Arcus Foundation, ten scholarships are available to young adults (ages 35 and under) who are passionate about social justice and inclusive church issues to be deployed alongside experienced leaders as co-coordinators of Coalition efforts to monitor Legislative, Judicial and Relationship Building at General Conference.  

 

In addition to 10 full scholarships, MFSA will match up to $300 for each young adult  (up to 10 young adults)  sponsored by their local congregation, MFSA Chapter, campus ministry, district or conference, to attend General Conference and volunteer with The Common Witness Coalition.

Experienced UMC leaders are ready to pass on the tools that have been effective in the past and to receive the insight that fresh perspective can bring to the process.

Please share freely with young adults, campus ministers, CCYM Directors, Seminary professors, and anyone else who might be interested in developing vital church leadership among young adults!

Young Adult Full Scholarship Application Process

Young Adult Matching Scholarship Application Process

Detroit Annual Conference

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Following the Detroit Annual Conference, which ran from May 19-22, Rev. Rich Peacock has submitted the following summary:  

Our MFSA mini-retreat and banquet were highlighted by information and inspiration from Rev. Steve Clunn, Coalition Coordinator. The Bishop Jesse and Annamary DeWitt Peace with Justice Awards went to Rev. Melanie Carey and Jeannette Bartz. Melanie is fluent in English and Spanish and has been a pioneer in ministry with immigrants including Justice for Our Neighbors and the creation of a new UMC film on a family from Guatemala. Jeannette has concentrated on labor rights and hospitality for people of all sexual orientations.

Almost all of the delegates to General Conference were supported by us. The conference endorsed a petition to General Conference to strike "the incompatible" sentence from paragraph 161.f and to add sentences recognizing that "the church is not of one mind about the practice of homosexuality" and affirming "the call to inclusiveness."

Finally, the conference also endorsed petitions to create a new resolution to expedite the end of the war in Afghanistan, to end funding of hate-based rhetoric in paragraphs 613 and 806.9, as well as to add a subsection upholding the rights of migrants to paragraph 162. Unfortunately, time constraints were dealt with by tabling a number of other petitions on inclusiveness.

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