Press Releases

Being the Good Samaritan Isn’t Enough

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

Being the Good Samaritan Isn't Enough

By Irene R. DeMaris, M.Div.

A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?” He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”

But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?”

Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

This Sunday at my church, the Rev. Dr. Luke Powery, the Dean of Duke University Chapel, preached for our Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday. His words were prophetic and courageous, I quickly took notes and there is one part of his sermon that struck a nerve with me. He talked about the Good Samaritan, that it was a good first action, but not the last step in seeking justice. Powery brought up that we needed to know why the road was so violent, what was the systemic reasons behind this. How come the others didn’t stop, why did the Samaritan have to pay so much out of pocket to heal the man? He opened up the parable for me and as I sat down to write about the ACA and how it affects women’s reproductive health, I can’t get it out of my head.

Last week we learned that 91% of the 115th Congress identifies as Christian thanks to the Pew Research Center. The religion of the prolific healer, Jesus Christ who healed those who needed him. Yet, in the same week in the dead of the night last week, the U.S. Senate begun its work dismantling the Affordable Healthcare Act and taking us backwards from the Gospel. In a space of Christian majority, the Gospel did not flourish.

We also know now, there are ten senators who identify as United Methodists and eight of them voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act: Jeff Sessions, Tom Cotton, Johnny Isakson, David Perdue, Pat Roberts, John Kennedy, Richard Burr, and Rob Portman. (It is worth noting, two United Methodist senators voted against: Elizabeth Warren and Debbie Stabenow.)

Some of our United Methodist siblings voted against our neighbor. Those we are in communion with, who verbally join in our baptismal covenant, yet do the opposite. What are we to do? Our neighbors who are about to lose their healthcare are hurting at the hands of our siblings.

The stories have flooded our news feeds of people who will be directly affected by the repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act. They grow by the day. You may even have your personal story. As I listen, it’s hard not to lose hope. The ACA was not perfect, it was a first step like the Good Samaritan caring for the man on the side of the road to Jericho. Repealing the ACA is walking by one of God’s beloved children in pain and not doing a damn thing.

Instead of repealing it, we should be addressing it and the systemic issues regarding health care. Why profit comes before people. Why a group of overwhelmingly Christians are ignoring Jesus’ words and actions. A group who knows that the most vulnerable is disproportionately affected by these changes.

I think another part of the parable’s lesson for me is that we also need to call to task the priest and the Levite who walked past the injured man on the road to Jericho. We need to hold those in our communion, who join our baptismal covenant to our Wesleyan heritage of radical love, grace, and justice.

As we move forward into the fight to maintain the ACA, instead of strengthening it, I will leave you with The Social Principles section on Right to Health Care:

Health is a condition of physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being. John 10:10b says, “I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.” Stewardship of health is the responsibility of each person to whom health has been entrusted. Creating the personal, environmental, and social conditions in which health can thrive is a joint responsibility—public and private. We encourage individuals to pursue a healthy lifestyle and affirm the importance of preventive health care, health education, environmental and occupational safety, good nutrition, and secure housing in achieving health. Health care is a basic human right.

Providing the care needed to maintain health, prevent disease, and restore health after injury or illness is a responsibility each person owes others and government owes to all, a responsibility government ignores at its peril. In Ezekiel 34:4a, God points out the failures of the leadership of Israel to care for the weak: “You don’t strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strays, or seek out the lost.” As a result all suffer. Like police and fire protection, health care is best funded through the government’s ability to tax each person equitably and directly fund the provider entities. Countries facing a public health crisis such as HIV/AIDS must have access to generic medicines and to patented medicines. We affirm the right of men and women to have access to comprehensive reproductive health/family planning information and services that will serve as a means to prevent unplanned pregnancies, reduce abortions, and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. The right to health care includes care for persons with brain diseases, neurological conditions, or physical disabilities, who must be afforded the same access to health care as all other persons in our communities. It is unjust to construct or perpetuate barriers to physical or mental wholeness or full participation in community.

We believe it is a governmental responsibility to provide all citizens with health care.

We encourage hospitals, physicians, and medical clinics to provide access to primary health care to all people regardless of their health-care coverage or ability to pay for treatment.

Being the Good Samaritan isn’t enough, moving backwards from the Gospel is also not acceptable. As people of faith, we must protect our siblings who are on the precipice of losing their healthcare. All hands are needed on the road to Jericho. It’s time to stand up and act.

Call the United Methodist Senators who are actively trying to repeal the ACA today!

Senator Jeff Sessions: (202) 224-4124

Senator Tom Cotton: (202) 224-2353

Senator Johnny Isakson: (202) 224-3643

Senator David Perdue: (202) 224-3521

Senator Pat Roberts: (202) 224-4774

Senator John Kennedy: (202) 224-4623

Senator Richard Burr: (202) 224-3154

Senator Rob Portman: (202) 224-3353

 

Irene R. DeMaris, M.Div. is a feminist, lifelong member of The United Methodist Church, and former MFSA intern who advocates for women’s health through a faith-based lens.

MFSA Statement on Recent US Election

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Dear Justice Seekers,

For 109 years, MFSA has been a prophetic voice for justice-seeking people of faith in The United Methodist Church, in our nation and the world. We will continue to be that voice. We are a voice for peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. We are a voice working against racism and white privilege. We are a voice for reproductive health and justice. We are a voice for a healthy planet. We are a voice against colonialism, militarism, and misuse of power. We are a voice of inclusion for all God’s children, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We are a voice that welcomes our migrant neighbor. But most importantly, we are a voice at the crossroads where these concerns for justice intersect.

We believe the recent decisions made by President-elect Trump with respect to leadership in his administration speak against the very foundation of our justice seeking faith. We are alarmed. We believe these individuals have not shown the necessary skills for leadership and whose past words and actions have not represented the values of civilized society. As justice-seeking people of faith, we stand opposed to not only one individual, but the emerging pattern that President-elect Trump is building a cabinet founded on white supremacy, fear, and bigotry.

MFSA calls our church to expand its understanding of the radical call of the Gospel to be an inclusive, justice-seeking, risk-taking Body of Christ. We live out our belief that to be faithful witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to be involved in the transformation of the social order. Therefore, we call The United Methodist Church, the Council of Bishops, congregations, and its members to join us in taking active steps to publicly “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”

Experiences of injustice do not happen in a vacuum, and therefore it is imperative to: develop the most effective strategies to create space for understanding privilege; organize in an intersectional framework led by marginalized communities; and build effective systems of resistance and cooperation to take action for justice. We invite you to join us in this work.

We invite United Methodist leadership including our bishops, clergy, and lay leaders to join us in signing the “Faith Leaders Call on Republican officials to reject Mr. Trump’s Cabinet of Bigotry” letter distributed by Faith in Public Life. You can find the link here: https://goo.gl/J9zXSx

We call on all Justice-Seeking People of Faith to join us by:

  • Contacting your legislators to express as a justice seeking person of faith your concern that the leadership of our nation must reflect justice for all people.
  • Speaking and working against the narrative that privileged communities are being oppressed when they are asked to acknowledge the ways their privilege perpetuates bias and injustice.
  • Committing to create opportunities for education and advocacy to publicly and actively resist white supremacy, white privilege, and implicit bias in your communities.

If you are so moved, we invite you to support the work of the Methodist Federation for Social Action, so we can continue to be a voice for justice for all people.

Seeking Justice Together,

The Staff and Board of Directors, Methodist Federation for Social Action

MFSA Condemns Racism at United Methodist Youth Event

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016
MFSA Condemns Racism at United Methodist Youth Event
November 15, 2016
 
The Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) condemns the acts of racism that took place at the Pilgrimage youth event sponsored by the North Carolina Annual Conference. The recent U.S. Presidential Election has drawn back the veil and emboldened the hate based bigotry built into the very foundation of the United States. We furthermore condemn the acts of racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia and antisemitism that have increased in recent days. Therefore we call The United Methodist Church, the Council of Bishops, congregations, and its members to take active steps to publicly “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves."
 
MFSA believes all experiences of marginalization and injustice are interconnected because the struggle for justice is tied to concepts of power and privilege.  We recognize that injustice works on multiple and simultaneous levels.  From our earliest days, we 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 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 that use a call for unity as a veil for discrimination.
 
Article IV of The United Methodist Church Constitution, a foundation of our Book of Discipline, “Proclaims the value of each person as a unique child of God and commits itself to the healing and wholeness of all persons.” Our United Methodist Constitution further declares “that the sin of racism has been destructive to its unity throughout its history” and mandates the UMC “confront and seek to eliminate racism, whether in organizations or in individuals, in every facet of its life and in society at large.”  In our denomination, we experience this as white privilege including unconscious bias, colonialism, and xenophobia. 
 
“Now is not the time for calls to forgive or unify. Before we can have unity, we need healing. Before we can have healing, we need reconciliation. Before we can have reconciliation, we need repentance. Before we can honor repentance, we need confession! Until we the church, and its members can confess, it is our duty to resist the evil and injustices of racism and to name white supremacy’s attempts to re-center the needs of white people’s shame, guilt, and fragility.” Joey Lopez, MFSA Board of Directors
 
The statements that have been released by both the event leadership and the annual conference give the same weight to voices of white privilege as to the discrimination experienced by hispanic/latino/a/x young people; this perpetuates white supremacy and racism.  Civil rights activist and labor organizer Cesar Chavez said, “The fight is never about grapes or lettuce. It is always about people.” The words shared this weekend by latina student pastor Stacy Guinto-Salinas were not merely politics; they were a prophetic witness to what it means to be a people of faith seeking justice together. 
 
As an organization, MFSA will continue to educate our board and membership in anti-racism, bias, and white privilege. We commit to creating space for education and advocacy to publicly and actively resist white supremacy, white privilege and implicit bias for our membership and their communities.
 
In solidarity with the Hispanic/Latino Committee The North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and the MARCHA Youth Consejo, we call upon MFSA communities, justice seeking people of faith, the Council of Bishops and conference leadership to:

  • Create Sanctuary churches
  • Invest time, money, and other resources to support the work of the General Commission on Religion and Race in your annual conference, local church and communities at large.
  • Speak and work against the narrative that privileged communities are being oppressed when they are asked to acknowledge the ways their privilege perpetuates bias and injustice. 
  • Prioritize and center the voices and experiences of marginalized communities in any conflict
  • Increase funding and institutional support for racial/ethnic ministries and new church starts. 

Experiences of injustice do not happen in a vacuum, and therefore it is imperative to: develop the most effective strategies to create space for understanding privilege; organize in an intersectional framework led by marginalized communities; and build effective systems of resistance and cooperation to take action for justice. We invite you to join us in this work.

May it be so,
The Staff and Board of Directors
Methodist Federation for Social Action
 

Statement on Commission on a Way Forward and Recent Judicial Council Rulings

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016
November 1, 2016
 
Beloved Justice Seekers,
 
From our earliest days, we 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 that use a call for unity as a veil for discrimination.
 
“As a queer layperson of color in The United Methodist Church I am disheartened by the choices of our bishops and judicial council. However, the liberation of LGBTQ people in the church and the world will not come from an institution that has strived to erase the existence of our lives and experiences. Our liberation will come from building relationships in our local communities, our resilience to continue to exist in the church when we are told the Church’s table is not large enough, and when we harness our collective power to resist the sin and temptation to oppress others. As queer people in the church, we must hold on to our love for God. We must also hold on to the ways we have learned to love ourselves, despite church teachings, so that we can better love – in word and deed – our neighbor.”  — Joseph Lopez, MFSA Board of Directors
 
“I feel betrayed by those who committed to seeking a way forward but have offered business as usual. The imbalance of power represented on the commission will uphold the status quo. We cannot continue to say we want a way forward when we are willing to leave so many behind, even in the formation of our Commission. This reflects our broader institutional practice of trampling underfoot the same people that oppressive powers trample. The ways of exclusion and silencing are not God’s ways. How will we be different? From the bottom up, we have to reclaim the faith that listens for God in the places where the powers say it cannot be, and dare to be transformed by what we hear. Our witness is the most powerful thing that we have as people of faith. Let us use this witness to change our present reality to more fully reflect God’s kin-dom.” — Rev. Elyse Ambrose, MFSA Board of Directors and UMC Queer Clergy
 
We call justice-seeking people of faith…

  • To pray for those on the commission, especially the LGBTQ persons that have made themselves known and for those who have not, whatever their reasons.
  • To pray and be in solidarity with Boards of Ordained Ministry and Annual Conferences that are faithfully pursuing non-conformity with any policies that stand in the way of love. 
  • To challenge your bishop and church leadership to uphold and continue the commissioning and ordaining of openly LGBTQ clergy, and the support of openly LGBTQ lay leadership.
  • To step out in faith and advocate for LGBTQ people in your communities. There is an increased attack on the lived equality of LGBTQ people by state governments throughout the U.S. These laws create a culture that have contributed to the death of more than 20 transgender people of color this year alone.
  • To connect and build deeper relationships within your own faith community. The work of reconciliation must begin within ourselves and our own communities first. 

We call on the Council of Bishops…

  • To live into their prophetic call. It is long past time to claim the sacred worth of LGBTQ people and our families by advocating for our full protection in the communities in which we live.
  • To be vulnerable within your own context. For such a time as this, we need you to boldly express your support and pastoral care for LGBTQ people. What you say or don’t say matters. LGBTQ people need you to be our pastors, too. 
  • To lead the church in our baptismal call to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever form it presents itself – by naming the harm of erasure and exclusion that is done through legislated discrimination woven into the very fabric of our polity.
  • To commission, ordain, and appoint openly LGBTQ clergy. 

In the words of Mark Miller, “No matter what the church says…” as justice-seeking United Methodists, it is our courage in faithfully living out our gospel commission to love God and our neighbor by seeking sacred change and breaking boundaries that we will find a way forward boldly proclaiming…you are a “child of God.”

 
May it be so,
The Staff and Board of Directors
Methodist Federation for Social Action

Press Release: Reproductive Health & Justice Faith Action Network

Thursday, September 29th, 2016
MFSA Board of Directors announces new Faith Action Network focusing on reproductive health, justice and choice. 
 

September 29, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Deaconess Darlene DiDomineck, Interim Executive Director; Irene DeMaris, Chair, Reproductive Health & Justice Faith Action Network

Washington, DC – The Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) announced this week they have approved the formation of the first Reproductive Health & Justice Faith Action Network (FAN). This Faith Action Network is a way for United Methodist advocates for reproductive health, choice and justice to connect, stay informed and organize for change within our denomination and at local, state and national levels. 

This new Faith Action Network will be led by Irene DeMaris, MDIV who is a long time advocate for gender justice through a faith lens and previously served with MFSA as a seminary intern focusing on reproductive justice. DeMaris shares: “It’s more important than ever to begin this work for women and girls from a faith perspective. Our Wesleyan Heritage of social justice and our historic leadership of the Social Gospel Movement require us to take action, to stand with those who are oppressed. Having no United Methodist voice at the table for all parts of women's health, choice, and justice is dangerous.The MFSA has been walking with women from our founding and today, we further affirm that commitment through the creation of our Reproductive Health & Justice FAN!”

The 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church, instructed official United Methodist agencies including the General Board of Church and Society and United Methodist Women to withdraw immediately from membership in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). This ended the denomination’s over 40-year relationship with the coalition, of which The United Methodist Church (UMC) was a founding member. As the remaining United Methodist voice, theMethodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) must further our commitment to reproductive health, choice, and justice both within our denomination and at local, state, and national levels. For the first time since the 1970s, the MFSA voice is positioned to be the strongest United Methodist voice at the table for a women’s right to choose and the time is now for the MFSA and its supporters to be prophetic for women’s reproductive health. After General Conference 2016, many women and those who advocate for women’s health were utterly dismayed. This Faith Action Network will empower United Methodist advocates to be a collective voice for change. 

Ways to get involved:

Donate Today
 
 

Weeping with Rachel

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

“Thus says YHWH: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and bitter weeping. Rachel, weeping for her children, refuses to be comforted, for her children are no more.”  

- Jeremiah 31:15 (The Inclusive Bible)

Beloved MFSA Family,

Our hearts mourn acts of violence committed against black and brown bodies; our prayers join Rachel’s, and we too cry out into the wilderness refusing to be comforted for our children are no more.

In recent days we are once again in anguish but, cannot and will not let ourselves be paralyzed by our fear and feelings of helplessness. This is a time when we are called to listen more, learn more and lead more. We recall and reaffirm our baptismal vows to “accept the freedom and power God gives us to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” We must continually live into our commitments and move to make justice ever more real in our own lives, congregations and communities.

Audre Lorde once said: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master's house.” We need a new narrative and a new structure.  More importantly we need a new set of tools for us to build new houses.  The racism within our houses of worship, our houses of government and even the houses our movements reside within cannot be dismantled with the same tools we’ve used for centuries. It’s time to have a new conversation — a conversation that looks within our own movement first at the ways we continue to perpetuate a racist system. Only then will we be able to build a new house, one where the beloved community can call home.  

“Racism is the combination of the power to dominate by one race over other races and a value system that assumes that the dominant race is innately superior to the others. Racism includes both personal and institutional racism. Personal racism is manifested through the individual expressions, attitudes, and/or behaviors that accept the assumptions of a racist value system and that maintain the benefits of this system. Institutional racism is the established social pattern that supports implicitly or explicitly the racist value system.” (Par 162.A 2012 Book of Discipline)

MFSA calls upon ourselves and our progressive partners, along with local churches, annual conferences, and all denominational bodies, to confess and condemn the sins of systemic and personal racism, and to engage in the hard work of repentance and reconciliation.  To assist in this, we recommend the resources and work of the General Commission on Religion and Race.

As an organization, MFSA will continue to educate our board and member leadership in anti-racism, bias, and white privilege. As we seek to increase racial diversity among decision-makers and prioritize anti-racism in our programs and ministry, we also will call The United Methodist Church, its general boards and agencies, and its leadership to join us in sacred change. In doing so, we hope to embody the beloved community to which Christ calls us.

The work for racial justice must go deeper than statements and endless pastoral letters. James Cone once said: “sympathy does not change the structures of injustice.” We invite you to partner with us in committing to listen more, learn more, and lead more. Linked here are resources to help you and your communities begin and continue to have conversations about race, racial justice, and white privilege as well as organizations committed to racial justice that you might consider partnering with locally.

 
Seeking Justice,  
Your Staff and Board of Directors
Methodist Federation for Social Action

Memo to Justice-Seeking People of Faith: Make a Mark on Your Jurisdictional Conference

Friday, July 1st, 2016

What is a Jurisdictional Conference?

Every four years The United Methodist Church in the United States meets to elect new bishops and select members of general boards and agencies. Our bishops and general boards and agencies are tasked with shaping the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church. We are divided into five areas known as jurisdictions: Northeastern, Southeastern, North Central, South Central and Western. This July 11-16, jurisdictional delegations elected by each Annual Conference will gather at their quadrennial meetings to engage in this important work.

Bishops play an important leadership role in ordering the life of the church and helping set the direction to fulfill its mission in the world.  All bishops share in teaching, equipping, and encouraging mission and service.  All bishops are members of the Council of Bishops, which collectively is charged with the general oversight and promotion of the temporal and spiritual interests of the entire Church. (The bishops elected this year may take part in convening a special session of General Conference that will deal with queer discrimination and, possibly, restructuring the church.)  Bishops are specifically assigned to preside over the work of an Annual Conference.

General boards and agencies are created by the General Conference and administer or carry out the programs and directives adopted by General Conference.

What can we do as MFSA?

As justice-seeking people of faith we believe the ministry of the church must be intersectional in nature fulfilling our baptismal covenant to accept the freedom God gives us to resist evil, oppression and injustice in whatever form they present themselves. To do so we need leaders at every level of our denomination from our local churches to our episcopal offices who seek to fulfil that covenant. Below are some critical guidelines from MFSA for justice-seeking leadership (You can find a formatted printable version here.). Here are three ways you can use these guidelines to help make your own jurisdictional conference more just:

  1. Find out who are members of your annual conference’s delegation for jurisdictional conference, and email (even better, hand deliver) to them a copy of MFSA’s Guidelines for UMC Leadership.
  2. Find out which of your delegates are on the “Nominations Committee” of your Jurisdiction. These are the people who actually make the nominations for boards and agencies. Email (even better, hand deliver) to them a copy of MFSA’s Guidelines for UMC Leadership.
  3. Find out who is running for bishop in your jurisdiction. Consider using these guidelines within your own local MFSA group to make endorsements of these individuals. Then make sure voting delegates know about your endorsements!

May we be agents of sacred change, God being our guide!

Methodist Federation for Social Action

Guidelines for UMC Leadership

We need bold prophetic leaders that are Christ-centered.

We need leaders who will prayerfully follow our radically loving, fully inclusive, justice seeking, and boundary crossing God even in the midst of fear and uncertainty. 

We need leaders who are followers of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born of great struggle, challenged the oppressive powers and principalities of his day, overturned the tables in the temple to call out exploitation and corruption, and called children to his side to share sacred stories of faith and hope, justice and courage, love and community.

We need leaders that are led by the movement of the Spirit. Leaders who will answer the gospel call to love our neighbors even when it’s in opposition to the Book of Discipline.

We need bold prophetic leaders who will serve with us as co-creators of justice, and co-sharers in a sacred story of hope and change. We need culturally competent leaders who seek racial, gender, and economic justice. We need leaders who seek a fully inclusive church, one that includes our LGBTQIA siblingswelcomes our immigrant neighbors, and seeks to eliminate the colonialismwoven into the very fabric of our institutional structures. We need leaders who care gently for creation and seek peaceful non-violent resolution to the world’s conflicts.

We need effective leaders, administrators and communicators.

We need leaders with the capacity for adaptive change, the ability to listen with openness and compassion, and who approach leadership with humility and grace.

We need leaders who are effective communicators, who serve with openness and transparency embracing new technologies and ways of connecting in mission and ministry.

We need creative, visionary leadership who see the church for who we are called to be not who we are in this day.We need leadership who mediate conflict assertively and are disciplined not disciplinarian.


PRESS RELEASE: MFSA Executive Director Announces Plan to Move On

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

April 19, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Contact:        Rev. Vicki Flippin, Co-President, vicki.flippin@gmail.com

                        Rev. Dr. Christina Wright, Co-President, cwright1223@yahoo.com

Washington, DC – The Board of Directors of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) announced today they have accepted the resignation of Executive Director Chett Pritchett effective June 10, 2016.

“Under Chett’s steady hand, MFSA has delved deeper into the work of leading and energizing people to be agents of God’s justice, peace, and reconciliation”said MSFA Board Co-Chair Rev. Dr. Christina Wright. “We love Chett and are sad to see him leave, but we are excited for the ways he has discerned God’s call on his life and for what his next chapter holds.”

“Those who know me understand the importance of home and family in my life,” said Pritchett.  “I’m a child of Appalachia and am thrilled to be heading home to be closer to family.” He will be joining the Alumni Relations staff at Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio in mid-June.

A staff member of MFSA since 2011, Pritchett became head of the organization in 2012, first as Interim Executive Director, and later as Executive Director. “With his leadership, MFSA has grown into a deeper understanding of intersectional justice work, increased our engagement on social media, and built stronger relationships and work with our ecumenical and interfaith partners,” said Co-Chair Rev. Vicki Flippin.

As part of this leadership transition the Board has named Darlene DiDomineck as Interim Executive Director. DiDomineck is a Deaconess, currently serving in Philadelphia, PA. She is a graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York, served as a US2 missionary, and worked at the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. The search for a new executive will begin this summer.

“MFSA’s board of directors has great wisdom, knowledge and passion,” Pritchett notes. “Although my departure is bittersweet, this comes at the right time for both MFSA and me. There is a wealth of leadership to propel the organization forward, and create new and exciting ways for United Methodists to proclaim, ‘I am a justice-seeking person of faith!’”

“We are so thankful for Chett’s dedication, vision, integrity, and commitment to MFSA.  We look forward to carrying on MFSA’s legacy of over 100 years while also discerning new and prophetic ways to continue the work of peace, justice, and reconciliation,” Rev. Dr. Wright said.

MFSAs mission is to mobilize, lead, and sustain a progressive United Methodist movement, energizing people to be agents of Gods justice, peace, and reconciliation. To learn more about MFSA visit www.mfsaweb.org.

In Advance of Supreme Court Arguments, Faith Communities Urge Justices to Protect Abortion Access

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS:

Chett Pritchett, Executive Director, Methodist Federation for Social Action

chett@mfsaweb.orgOffice: 202 546 8806

Debbi Dunn Solomon, National Council of Jewish Women, Director of Marketing & Communications
dsolomon@njcw.org
Cell: 347 569 4364 

In Advance of Supreme Court Arguments, Faith Communities Urge Justices to
Protect Abortion Access

WASHINGTON, DC – March 1, 2016 – Because people of faith care about access to abortion, and recognize that women of color, immigrant women, young people, and individuals struggling to make ends meet are most harmed by barriers like those challenged in the US Supreme Court case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, several faith organizations participated in a National Weekend of Prayer for Reproductive Justice, and will rally this week to protect abortion access. In January, 17 faith-based organizations and nearly 1300 religious leaders joined an amicus brief urging the US Supreme Court to protect abortion access in Whole Women’s Health. This case, to be heard by the court on March 2, challenges provisions of a Texas law that place unnecessary and burdensome requirements on abortion providers.

For many religiously affiliated organizations, clergy, and lay people of faith, protecting a woman’s constitutional right to make her own moral decision about abortion, as affirmed by the Supreme Court more than four decades ago in Roe v. Wade, is critical to ensuring women’s health and safety. Faith leaders are also united in respect for diverse beliefs about abortion — and for that reason believe each person must have the ability to make such a deeply personal decision for themselves, without political interference.

As Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women stated, “National Council of Jewish Women participated in the National Weekend of Prayer for Reproductive Justice because we believe every person must be free to make their own faith-informed decisions about their body, health, and future, including in decisions about abortion. Clinic shutdown laws impede this vision of justice by eroding women’s basic human rights to bodily autonomy and personal decision making, falling hardest on women struggling to make ends meet, women of color, and immigrant women with far-reaching consequences.” Kaufman added, “As Jews, we will not stand by while barriers to health care place anyone’s moral agency, health, or basic rights at risk; rather, we will rally to protect abortion access.”

Jon O'Brien, president of Catholics for Choice said, “As Catholics, we believe women have the moral autonomy to make their own decisions about whether and when to have children. Restrictions that either prevent or make it difficult for women to get the care they need are an affront to the Catholic social justice tradition. Access to abortion shouldn't be limited by where you live, where you work, or how much money you have in your pocket. Protecting access to abortion is the moral thing to do.”

“As Unitarian Universalist women, we have steadfastly affirmed the inherent worth and dignity and the right of conscience of all women to make the decision about whether or when to have a child,” says Kirstie Lewis, president of the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation. Lewis added, “This Texas law, which has nearly closed all the clinics providing pregnancy termination there, as much as denies this human right.”

Elizabeth Raider, National President, and Marcia J. Weiss, National Vice President, of NA'AMAT USA affirmed, “NA'AMAT USA strongly supports women's health and the right of women to choose legal abortion without the burden of unnecessary hurdles that impede that right.”

Many faith traditions call individuals to stand for the rights and personal decision making of women, the poor, and other marginalized communities who face inequitable access to key services, including abortion.

Chett Pritchett, Executive Director for Methodist Federation for Social Action highlighted, “From our founding, the Methodist Federation for Social Action has been a voice to the poor and marginalized. Our advocacy for reproductive health, choice, and justice firmly upholds that access to reproductive health options, including abortion, must be available to all people, not just those with economic means. With our historic emphasis on economic justice for all people, we find any restrictions on full health care for all women, including access to safe and legal abortions, unacceptable. The Court has an opportunity to see this law as burdensome, as it creates a barrier to care for poor women, immigrant women, and women of color.”

“A woman’s access to health care, including abortion, should not be determined by her economic status,” said Katey Zeh, Board Chair of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. “Whatever politicians may or may not feel about abortion, they should not exercise their power to deny a woman’s health coverage just because she’s poor. Targeting poor and working class families is wrong. Women who have fewer resources shouldn’t have inferior abortion care,” Zeh added.

Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner, president and CEO of the Religious Institute stated, "Abortion is always a moral decision, and we cannot allow those who would deny people their reproductive rights to claim that theirs is the moral response. The sin is not abortion but forced childbearing. The sin is denying people contraception, reproductive healthcare, and sexuality education. The sin is denying poor women, women of color, women in rural communities the same access to safe, accessible medical services that more privileged women have. The sins are poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia. The sin is ignoring the lives and needs of children who are already born for food, clean water, housing, health care, good education, and for their parents, support and good paying jobs. We pray for a world where all people have the right to make their own private reproductive decisions and obtain safe, legal, and accessible abortion services."

The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association said, “Unitarian Universalism has a long history of supporting a broad spectrum of women’s rights including making one’s own decision about a pregnancy. In Texas, lawmakers infringed on the dignity of women who seek access to safe and affordable abortion services by enacting a restrictive law that disproportionately affects the most vulnerable and marginalized among us. As president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, I join with other faith leaders in calling on the US Supreme Court to vote to uphold human rights and reproductive justice and to reverse the Fifth Circuit Court’s decision.”

Lori Weinstein, CEO of Jewish Women International (JWI) also stated, “Every woman deserves the right to make private health decisions according to the dictates of her own faith and conscience, and not be restricted by extreme anti-choice laws. We know that the burden of these dangerous laws falls disproportionately on low-income women, who are struggling to make ends meet, support their children, and rise out of poverty.” Weinstein continued, “Access to comprehensive reproductive health care allows a woman to plan her family, build her economic security, and pursue her goals. It’s time for the Supreme Court to put a stop to these extreme laws and ensure that every woman has the care she needs to build a healthy and secure future.”

As the Supreme Court hears Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt on March 2, people of faith and religious leaders will be present to stand with women and families most harmed by the Texas law, which has shut down nearly half of all abortion clinics in the state. Together reproductive health and justice advocates, clergy, lay leaders, and representatives of national religious organizations will join the Rally to Protect Abortion Access to support continued access to abortion care and to show that people of faith are allies in the movement to ensure abortion rights.

The following organizations sponsored the National Weekend of Prayer for Reproductive Justice, in advance of oral arguments: Religious Institute (lead sponsor); Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA); National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW);  Just Texas:Faith Voices for Reproductive Justice; MCC Global Justice Institute; Metropolitan Community Churches; Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation; Unitarian Universalist Women and Religion; Unitarian Universalist Association; and the National LGBTQ Task Force.

Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) mobilizes clergy and laity within The United Methodist Church to take action on issues of peace, poverty and people’s rights within the church, the nation and the world.

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children, and families and by safeguarding individual rights and freedoms. More information on Facebook and on Twitter at @NCJW.

 

 

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PRESS RELEASE: Methodist LGBTQ leaders respond to General Conference Commission meeting

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2015
Contact: Chett Pritchett, chett@mfsaweb.org
Amy DeLong, loveprevailsumc@gmail.com
M Barclay, m@rmnetwork.org

Methodist LGBTQ leaders respond to General Conference Commission meeting

April 21, 2105, Portland, OR – The General Commission on the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the body organizing the church’s 2016 quadrennial governing meeting, General Conference, invited leaders from LGBTQ rights groups within the UMC to meet with it in closed session on April 20.

Following the meeting, the LGBTQ representatives – Dorothee Benz, Matt Berryman, Bridget Cabrera, Amy DeLong and Chett Pritchett – issued the following statement:

“The issue of whether the United Methodist Church will continue to discriminate against LGBTQ people is of paramount importance to the future and viability of the church, not to mention the well-being of queer people in and beyond the UMC. We are grateful for the commission’s invitation and the opportunity to be in ongoing conversation with them. We ask the commission to take concrete, affirmative steps to prevent the harm suffered by LGBTQ people at past General Conferences from recurring in 2016. Whatever the church’s theological differences, there can be no place for spiritual violence in the church of Jesus Christ.

We also request that the commission schedule the consideration of LGBTQ-related legislation at the very beginning of the plenary week in order for this discussion to receive adequate time.

Further, we insist that any attempt at “dialogue” or “holy conferencing” must begin with the explicit acknowledgement that in the context of discrimination and oppression true dialogue can never occur. Genuine dialogue requires equality, and in the UMC that equality does not exist. One party comes to these dialogues defined as less than the other party, and no amount of vocal wishing for us all to act as “brothers and sisters together” changes that.

We remain open to all discussions that contribute to the process of ending the oppression of queer people by the United Methodist Church, and we will continue to work tirelessly to bring about that day. We are committed to calling the UMC to its highest and best self.”

Dr. Dorothee Benz is the national representative for Methodists in New Directions; Matthew Berryman is the executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network; Bridget Cabrera is the deputy director of Reconciling Ministries Network; Rev. Amy DeLong is the founder of Love Prevails; and Chett Pritchett is the executive director of the Methodist Federation for Social Action.

National Office:212 East Capitol St., NE,Washington, DC 20003 * tel: 202.546.8806 *email: mfsa@mfsaweb.org