Epworth UMC, in Rehoboth, DE held a special Church Conference this week. The reason? To decide whether or not the congregation should affiliate with the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN).
RMN is a network of indiviuals, churches, and campus ministries who feel that the UMC's policy and doctrine are at odds. They also lobby for ordination of practicing homosexuals and homosexual marriage.
Officially, the Church states that the "practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidiates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church." This is in the Book of Discipline, Prargraph 304.3, Regarding the ministry of the ordained.
In 2000, a Resolution was adopted affirming the "inestimable worth of each individual" which you can find here. In a nutshell, this resolution acknowledges that the church has an obligation to be in ministry to all persons, and that lifestyle issues shouldn't come into play.
I think this is where RMN gets a little confused. There is not in consistency here, folks. There is only grace. The Church is acknowledging that sin is sin is sin is sin. God sees it all the same, he is just as grieved by lying as he is by murder. It is we who, in our extremely limited ability to comprehend Him and His creation, who have created this sort of sin hierarchy.
The Church is not being inconsistent, the Church is trying to effectively minister to all persons. At the same time, the Church is acknowledging that our clergy should be better equipped to lead, by being freed from certain hindrances. And unrepentant, continuous sin is a hindrance. Pastors are called to celibacy in singleness and fidelity in marriage. Shoot, we are all called to this, and many fall short. (I did, not secret there) The difference is this: what do you do about it? Do you make it right; or do you say that the Church was limiting you? Do you repent, correct, and move forward; or do you dig in your heels and demand that the Church look the other way?
RMN is the easy way out. So is banishment. It's easy to say, "There is nothing wrong with this, come on in." Just as it is easy to say, "You are damned, an abomination. Get out." What is diffficult, challenging, and ultimately the most rewarding to say, "Come in, be loved, and be transformed by Christ and His love for you."
What are we afraid of? I have never known the UMC to shy away from ministering to people. Whay is stopping the Church from reaching out with compassion and without compromise? Where is my Church?
I was once told that I "limit God" by holding fast to certain Biblical truths. Aren't RMN the ones who limit Him? By not accepting the life-altering freedom He offers us?
I wanted to do a little happy dance this morning when J told me the news... Tony Snow as WH Press Secretary. (Or should that be Press Administrative Professional? Is he a big P or little p professional? And should we set aside a week to be aware of this? I think I covered all bases there)
Why do I want to do a happy dance?
1) Tony Snow is way cute. Sorry, I have to put that there. I mean, I will totally be happy to watch press conferences now.
2) Tony Snow will, hopefully, bring some intellectual honesty to the WH. He is most definitely NOT an ideologue, he is simply a conservative. I know that this job involves a huge amount of simply toeing the line, however, as a journalist (and not a career politico), Tony subcribes to a certain code of ethics.
3) I have missed him on Fox News Sunday. We don't have cable, so I cannot watch his other show, but Fox News Sunday is carried on the regular Fox stations. Not that I often get the opportunity to watch WH press conferences, but at least I stand a fighting chance.
There is a downside to this, I know. It is unlikely that he'll be able to fill in for Rush, and he is my favorite guest host. Ah well, it's only for a couple of years.
Slurping soup or coffee or any other hot beverage should be illegal!!!!!!!!!!
"Just because Kelly says it's so, doesn't mean it's so."
Jon, that does not apply to you. If I say it's so, consider it so.
Because that is not the message being sent by AFAN for the 2006 AIDS Walk. Before I go any further, I want to clarify how much I support AFAN's mission and applaud their efforts.
Ok, back to why I am upset by this morning's antics.
First and foremost is the timing. Did they deliberately schedule this for 10:00 on a Sunday morning? I volunteered months ago, whilst J and I were still without a church home; otherwise I too would have been counted out. I just wonder if they aren't discouraging the participation of the Christian community? Perhpas they think we wouldn't be interested? (Trust me, the timing wouldn't have kept the Westboro Baptisit kooks away if they really wanted to be there.) Not EVERY church worships Sunday mornings, but it is by far the prevailing time for corporate worship. So EVERYONE WALKS, except those "churchy types." (BTW, I did see a couple of Habitat friends. However, while Habitat is a faith-based initiative, it is VERY loosely thus)
Secondly, there were The Holy Order Sin City Sisters. Now, I am not Catholic, capital "C," but I was mildy offended, nonetheless. It wasn't simply the fact that these men are mocking a Vocation that grated, it was their cavelier use of the word "Holy." Again, I support much of their work, even that with which I disagree-- simply because I celebrate the differing voices in this fight-- but Holy? This is the very opposite of holy. They are not solemn, they are not reverent, they are not "set aside." They do, however wear false eyelashes, carry sparkly purses (and the occasional whip), and pass out sticker "blessings."
Finally, there was the shirt which I was given to wear. I suppose it is a character flaw of mine, but I am not secure enough to wear this shirt design. AIDS is not strictly a homosexual disease. Years have been spent education the public to this. This year's t-shirt pretty much undid that work. See my Flickr page later for what I am talking about.
Having said this, the walk raised well over $200K for AFAN's prgrams, which include a food bank, educational opportunities, and assistance with medications. HIV isn't the same death sentence it was 20 years ago, but let us not forget that it IS a death sentence nevertheless.
AFAN is filling a gap in the community. AFAN is giving hope in the most hopeless of circumstances. AFAN is reaching out to our own society's lepers. AFAN is, whether they realise it or not, doing the work of Christ. They are not doing it in His name. In fact, one of the biggest sponsors of the AIDS Walk is Penn Gillette, a very vocal atheist.
So why was the faith community not better represented? Was it simply a matter of scheduling? Were we unwanted? Have we made this community believe we don't want to stand with them? And if so, what can we do to better represent Christ to these, His people? How can we be uncompromisingly compassionate? I guess I have the next 11 months or so to find some answers.
Mr Mom, blintz souffle, and lots of boxes.
That is my life these days.
J had to take the baby to the vet. He is such a good dad! She pretty much stayed true to form and hissed when they checked her out. The funny thing is, she always loved going for her kitten series. I think she must be turning into a teenager. I must also comment on how quiet she is this evening-- nothing like a bit of rabies vaccine to calm down our 6 pound tornado!
I am sitting here trying to eat yummy blintz souffle. The trouble is, I don't want to burn my mouth. This could easliy be solved by my waiting a few minutes for it to cool, but I am all about the instant gratitfication. My brother-in-law had something to offer on this subject...
Which brings me to the boxes. Because we are moving. I really hate moving. Really. Hate it. And I don't think that hate is too strong a word for my feelings about moving. Or change in general, for that matter. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the old block, eh?
But, for those interested, this is our new place. And this is the layout. I am looking forward to the new nieghborhood. There are four "lakes" (spring-fed ponds, really) which are stocked with fish. I won't even need a license, since they are private. There is also a beach club of sorts, with a nice lagoon and hammocks and volleyball nets. There are several miles of walking trails and planty of greenspace. Desert shores is one of the earlier master-planned communities in the valley.
It will be farther to work, but much easier for the rest of our life. So I can deal. Plus, I get a new fishing pole out of the deal!
Please take the time to read Peggy Noonan's reflections on the recent march in NYC.
It is a little old, but this is the best use ever of Church Sign Generator.
H/T: D C Thornton
Yes, that's me. I won't slip back into former habits, though. I have done pretty well, I think, with posting regularly. It is a matter of quantity over quality, though.
Here's where my thoughts have been, and later, I shall post more thouroughly on each topic:
1) The Minutemen Project. I was in AZ this weekend, Yuma to be specific, and learned a bit more about them. I have to say, I really don't see them as viglantes, per se. You may be surprised at the diversity present in this organization.
2) Church "marketing," for lack of a better word. Out of Ur, a blog from Christianity Today has some interesting points to raise. I need to do some more reading, however, before I post further.
3) Bravery. Nicole Nordeman wrote a song along these lines. I may have mentioned it before, but I have been pondering the state of the Church in our nation, and wondering if religious freedom hasn't made us soft. Some think it has. Might they be right?
4) Charlene Kammerer. I knew her when. And by when, I mean I knew here when she was merely DS of the Tallahassee District, her first appointment out of the pulpit. She is a Bishop now, and while I disagree with her decision, her reasoning, IMHO, was pretty sound. Now there is a tempest brewing in Virginia.
5) Moving. Yes, we are moving at the end of this month. I hate moving. I mean it, too. I really HATE MOVING!!!
1) He is working the boxing matches.
2) He checking out some of our friends' bands.
3) He is exploring the wonders of Red Rock Canyon.
4) He is at church, playing his bass.
5) He is in Primm, exploring some other wonders.
Yes, that's right. There is a giant Eva Longoria in the desert outside of Vegas. J is thinking that they might need someone to clean the dust off of it from time to time...
I must say, this post makes me chuckle.
At least he isn't beating around the bush! No silly euphamisms here, thankyouverymuch.
Originally uploaded by TheBassPlayersWife.
Last week, I was wondering where our webcam had gone. A quick check of the floor beside our computer desk, and voila!
The next day, same thing. I finally remembered to ask J about it, and he told me that Tele has taken to lounging atop our monitor.
I had not ever seen her do this, so he set out the snap her in flagrante delicto, as it were.
I confess to finding this terribly cute, and am now rethinking the whole flat panel monitor thingy.
At the end of this month, I will initiate a process which will break with at least five generations of women in my family. I will be taking my first offical steps away from the United Methodist Church. Of course, if you know some history, you know that the UMC has only been around since 1968, but before that, when it was just the Methodist Church, and even farther back-- to the Methodist Episcopal Church, Potter women were there.
My Gram refers to herself as a "dancing Methodist"-- when she was a girl, there were rules against drinking, dancing, and cards. Methodists, and the Methodist Church were very active in the temperance movement in general, and Methodist Women were a driving force in the WCTU specifically.
The history, the liturgy, these are where my heart lies. My very identity as a Christian start here. I have strong spiritual roots in this church. It is not easy to walk away from that.
I wanted to be able to stay and fight. I did stay and fight for a number of years. But when a friend asked me why I stayed and I could no longer answer with conviction, I knew something must change. When we were faced with a pastor who, from the pulpit, disputed the very Gospels he was charged to teach we stayed and fought. When faced with a Bishop who actively flouted scriptural teachings, we stayed and fought. When confronted with the apostasy of our pastor, we followed scriptural instructions and fought. We have no fight left in us. We exhausted ourselves spiritually. It is hard to fight the Adversary when he is in your living room.
A friends told me that "it sounds like this ministry needs to die." I was shocked by this harsh statement, and offended. But now I see some of his point. I do want to state, unequivocally, that I do not think the UMC needs to die. But I do think that some branches need to be culled.
Unfortunately, we have geography against us out here. Check out the Desert Southwest Conference website sometime to see what I mean.
I will miss the liturgy. That is probably the hardest part. But I can continue to follow the RCL in my personal study, and if I really want to, I can go sit in on a service anytime. What I cannot do, is be in full communion with a church which allows the Gospel to be abused and abandoned.
My heart will always be in the UMC, but I am afraid my faith is elsewhere.
April 23 is the day I will be taking steps, but it is my opinion that the UMC walked away from me long ago.
Obligatory Kelly Pic
Originally uploaded by TheBassPlayersWife.
In our neverending quest for the cheap and free, J and I headed north on I-15 this weekend. Our destination? Valley of Fire State Park, incidentally, Nevada's first state park.
We are both complete Red Rockophiles, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. My boss did tell us that this is the best time of year to go.
And I could see why.
Valley of Fire is the site of an ancient inland sea (Paleozoic Era, if I remember correctly.) The fossil record alone is pretty interesting. But what was most striking to use was the contrast. The floor of the valley is in full bloom, and ethereal carpet of hazy green. In contrast, the sandstone formations jutting up look like a conquered army of some ancient race of giants.
Of course, upon closer inspection, that green carpet? Not so soft. It is mostly small succelents and creosote bushes. And those felled giants? Nothing so fanciful, simply millions of years of water and desert winds.
I think, however, that flights of fancy are a perfect way to spend a lazy saturday afternoon when spring descends upon the desert.
A recent AP poll indicates that Americans are suffering from a worse case of potty mouth than ever. I know our cat even curses at us, I can see it in her face.
This little blurb got me thinking. I know my own ears and, if I am painfully honest, my own mouth have become significantly desensitized in the last couple years or so. I can never remember my parents using the "queen-mother of dirty words," and yet I have worked two places in the last few years where that word is quite commonplace. I am ashamed to think about how often it has passed my lips.
It was even discussed in our home as something to give up for Lent. Discussed, and then dismissed in favor of shopping and alcohol. Wow. Just writing that looks soooo bad to me right now. I think it is time for a "cuss jar" on Orangewood Lane.
Most families have at least one "cute" story of little pitchers and their big ears. My mum's wakeup call came when I was about 18 months old and trying the climb the stairs in our split-level house. As I struggled with each step, trying to reach the living room from our basement family room, the word was practically wrung from my gut, "S dash-dash-dash."
Yep, time to clean up the act, there! I may not have known what it meant, but I sure knew when to use it.
Our friends and family who have young-uns are already experiencing this one. I don't want any of them to have learned something like that from Aunt Kelly. And so, I think I will go find a bar of Lifebouy, just as a reminder.