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.
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.
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!
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!
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.