Archive for November, 2016

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
 

I Am No Stranger to Fear

Wednesday, November 9th, 2016

Rev. Gil Galdwell

These words from the African American poet, Langston Hughes are words I remembered when Barack Obama was elected, and at 3 am this morning when Hillary Clinton conceded to Donald Trump, I remembered them as well. When Barack Obama was elected, I cried tears of joy. When Donald Trump gave his acceptance speech, I did not cry, I began to fear for the America that our 12 year old grand daughter will spend her teenage years in.

I am no stranger to fear. 83 years ago I began "growing up" amidst the rigid anti-black racism in North Carolina, Texas, and South Carolina. My Methodist preacher father took us to those places where I experienced racial segregation in hospitals, neighborhoods, Churches, busses, trains, restaurants, rest rooms, waiting rooms, stores, schools, at water fountains, at Methodist Mecca, Lake Junaluska, NC, and the refusal of Duke Divinity School to admit me. 

My fear was not for myself, but of a nation and a Methodist Church that so easily lived with the contradiction of its overt and covert racism. And, then when Church and society succumbed to pressure and began to engage in "cosmetic integration", I did not hear nor read heartfelt words that said, "We were wrong. We compromised both the Bible and the Constitution to justify our anti-black racial segregation." 

I had hoped that Ashley and all of us would experience, back-to-back, a black and a woman President. But, instead, evangelical Christians and residents of the Rust Belt and the Bible Belt have elected a President-elect who in word and deed, demeans and diminishes the humanity of women and people of color. 

America, what must we begin to sing/say on the day after, 11.9.2016, Donald Trump was elected President? Not, "America the Beautiful". But, Marvin Gaye's, "What's Going On?" And, James Baldwin's, "Go back to where you started from. Tell the truth about it". We in those racially segregated schools ended our reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance with the words, "With Liberty and Justice for all". We students, our teachers, parents, neighborhoods and Churches and America knew those words were a Lie! 

America, your race-based "change without changing" has been like a "chicken come home to roost" in your election of Donald Trump. Trevor Noah, the South African host of "The Daily Show" in a New York Times Magazine interview says this about South Africa and America. His words will serve as a conclusion to this epistle.

"In South Africa, we're very good at trying to go for the cause of racism. America is the place that always seems to treat the symptoms and not the cause. One thing that never really happened here….was a period where white America had to reconcile what it had done to black Americans". If America had done that, Donald Trump would not have become President-elect. 

(Rev.) Gil Caldwell

Asbury Park, New Jersey/USA

What’s at stake in this election?

Monday, November 7th, 2016

What’s at stake in this election?

Deaconess Darlene DiDomineck

Interim Executive Director

 

Families. Families are at stake in this election. Families that look like my quirky, non-traditional, Jewish-Christian interfaith family and families that look quite a bit different than we do.


Families with a member living with a serious medical diagnosis that depend on the elimination of the pre-existing diagnosis clause in the Affordable Care Act to ensure the continuation of life sustaining health care coverage.


Muslim and interfaith families who fear for their safety with a rise in Islamphobia in this nation.


Working class families who fear for the loss of jobs that pay a fair and living wage with benefits that protect their futures. Families struggling to make ends meet even when working full time.


Families that fear the loss of income when a child is born without access to paid family leave.


Families with Dreamers that fear the loss of the only home they have ever known without access to just immigration reform.


Families that fear for the lives of their black and brown children each and every time they leave the house in the face of police related violence. Families who fear going to church on Sunday morning and bible study on a weeknight for fear gun wielding hate fueled racism will walk through the door.


Families that fear a rise in gun violence and question their children’s safety at school, in movie theaters and at the local shopping mall.


Families that fear the poisoning of their water from lead, oil and fracking.


Families that depend on the legal right to marry the person they love. This legal right protects them, their children and their spouses and extends health care coverage, health proxy and adoption. Families who serve this country with honor and distinction in the armed forces and were extended the same protections of law following the repeal of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Transfamilies who fear their safety as 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 has contributed to the death of more than 20 transgender people of color this year alone.


Have you asked your local, state and federal candidates what they believe on economic justice, racial justice, climate justice, gender justice, reproductive justice, peace in Israel/Palestine, immigration reform, LGBTQIA justice? If not, you still have time. #mfsavoices #votesmatter #christiansvote




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