Friday, June 24, 2011

This is a New Song, Just Like the Old Song

Only two months from today until Sing a New Song begins. Have you registered yet? Join us!

by David Hosey
Crossposted at the RMN blog.
Playing guitar is one of the joys of my life. Everytime I pick up a guitar, I am once again amazed and grateful that I can actually make music come out of the thing. It's a little miracle each time.
I also love to write songs. I usually write pretty simple songs, nothing too unusual or amazing, but I love the expression and the voice that writing, playing, and singing a new song offers. Writing or learning a new song provides a new opportunity to once again inhabit the one old, old song that we are all trying to learn how to sing.
The funny thing about the best new songs is that they have a lot in common with the best old songs. They are made of the same notes and chords, try to express the same deep longings and mourning and celebration that the best songs have always tried to express.
This summer, August 25-28, I'm going to be joining with many others to celebrate Christ's inclusive justice and love at Sing a New Song. I'm attending Sing a New Song because I think that it is indeed time for the church to sign a new song to match the fresh Spirit that is moving and blowing in our midst. But just like any new song, the new song that the church is learning to sing has a lot in common with our oldest songs. It is a song about how God loves us--all of us--very, very, very much, and how God is always moving in new and suprising ways to create a new community composed of new and suprising people--people who, like me, never expected that we were loved enough to be here. It is a song about how we are called to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God. It is a song about Christ being willing not only to die but to live and to invite us all to new life.

Ultimately, the new song that we are learning to sing is not about changes to the Book of Discipline, though I care very deeply about that. It is not about stances we take on Israel/Palestine, or on immigration, or on labor, or on any other justice issue, although I care very deeply about those things. It is not about withdrawing investments from companies that systematically violate human rights, or about continuing to support vital missional work in the U.S. and around the world, or about empowering young adults in the life of the church.

These things might all be expressions of our song. Ultimately, though, the new song is about the church becoming the church, becoming the Body of Christ, achingly broken but beautifully whole in a world that tries to cover up brokenness and deny the possibility of wholeness. It is about discovering that God's Spirit is moving and working amongst lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, amongPalestinian Christians and Muslims and Israeli Jews, among all sorts of people that, as it turns out, are not outsiders to be included but are the very vessels of God's dream for our world.

The new song is a lot like the old song. What a joy it will be to learn how to sing it, all over again.

David Hosey is a life-long United Methodist and will be entering Wesley Theological Seminary in the Fall of 2010. From July 2007-July 2010, he worked as a Mission Intern with Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, serving with the Sabeel Center in Jerusalem, Israel/Palestine and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation in Washington, DC, U.S.A. He is an inquiring candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church and also blogs at He is pictured above with other members of an OnFire delegation to BorderLinks in October 2009.

Still Small Voices

by Rachel Harvey, deaconess
Crossposted at the RMN Blog.

There was a moment yesterday during the trial that I thought we’d lost. Rev. Amy DeLong had already been on the stand, modeling grace and integrity in the midst of indecent and violent questioning. The moment we all knew was coming arrived. The council for the church asked, “Does your relationship involve genital contact?” Due to a judicial council decision, the answer to this question determines if a person is a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” All eyes were on Amy as she kept her head high and in the face of an oppressive institution said, “There is no way when you are trying to do me harm that I am going to share with you the intimate details of our lives.”

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was shocked. Not shocked at Amy’s response, but shocked in the next half hour that the church was not permitted to bully Amy into a posture where she’d throw herself under the bus. Shocked that we could and would win. After Amy, the second witness Carrie was called to the stand.

My attitude had shifted when Carrie, of Carrie and Carolyn the lesbian couple whose holy union Amy officiated, took the stand. Carrie began her testimony by sharing why they contacted Amy. They had been turned down by two other pastors to officiate their ceremony. She shared details about the service and why they, a lesbian couple, sought out a pastor for their service. Then Rev. Scott Campbell, Amy’s council, asked a question I expected to hear come from the council for the church – Did Amy have a larger agenda than the blessing of the union? And then Carrie’s unexpected answer broke through the silence, “Yes.”

She blew it, I thought, but then Carrie’s still small voice broken through the fear I’d guarded since the beginning of the trial. “Yes,” she said, “it was about fairness and treating everybody the same.” In one sentence, Carrie broke through the wall of fear I had created to protect myself during this trial. In one sentence, she pulled me from scarcity to God’s abundant love. In one simple sentence, she reminded me that we all have a larger agenda – embodying the gospel of our brother Jesus.

Yesterday, Amy was found not guilty of being a “self avowed practicing homosexual” and guilty of performing a holy union. This morning, as the trial court begins discerning a punishment for the charge against Amy, I pray my 13 sisters and brothers listen deeply for the still small voices that have and continue to call for justice over, through and beyond fear.

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination. ~Maya Angelou


Rachel is a United Methodist Deaconess appointed to serve as the Associate Executive Director of RMN. Prior to joining RMN in August 2009, Rachel worked for 2 years as a mission specialist with The Advance at the General Board of Global Ministries. As a mission specialist she focused on youth and young adults and created the B1 campaign. From 2004-2006 Rachel was as a US-2 missionary serving as the director of, a Reconciling campus ministry at The University of South Dakota. Rachel has also worked with Response, a magazine of the United Methodist Women and The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew, United Methodist (SPSA) in New York City.

For more information about Rev. Amy DeLong's trial, check out
"The Trial of the Rev. Amy DeLong Sends Clear Message to UMC" by MFSA, RMN, and Affirmation Coalition Coordinator Rev. Steve Clunn,
the RMN blog,
and the Love on Trial website.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Student Forum Experience

When I left out from my home in Arkansas in the wee morning hours of Thursday May 26th, I had not the slightest idea of what to expect at United Methodist Student Forum. When I arrived at the University of Evansville later that evening, my heart rejoiced to be surrounded by so many United Methodist college students striving towards justice. At the opening worship of Student Forum, the United Methodist Student Movement Steering Committee presented participants with the theme song for the 2011 conference. About two hundred United Methodist Students sang with much gusto the refrain of the 2011 Student Forum theme song which called the students to “Overcome divisions and darkness by lighting Christ’s way.” 

The rest of the weekend I was encouraged from meeting so many students living out Christ’s call to social holiness, love, mercy, and justice. Students participated in conferences on how to bring about interfaith dialogue to their campuses, further their leadership skills, learn about environmental justice, participate in yoga sessions, and plan political action through the workshops offered. Between the workshops, I was blessed to be a part of holy conversations that focused on making disciples for Jesus Christ and the transformation of the world. These conversations brought in college students and clergy from all over the United States, Japan, and Liberia to various dining tables, park benches, and dorm rooms on the University of Evansville campus together for discussion on how to further God’s work in our communities. I was encouraged by the attendance for the MoSAIC worship service late Friday night with about half of the students at United Methodist Student Forum attending. Saturday’s legislative session was an intense time in which petitions discussed dealing with ending bullying, having equal rights on the basis of gender identity, making comprehensive human sexuality education a social principle and resolution, and to hold accountable the Steering Committee to contact each Annual Conference as well as including a workshop to address gender and sexuality within the church.  The weekend began wrapping up with the Saturday night worship service aimed to inspire students to carry Christ’s light out into the rest of our world; which was literally done by each participant lighting an individual candle from the service’s Christ candle and walking out of the sanctuary into a courtyard on the campus of the University of Evansville.

Students gather in a circle outside of worship to share
the light of Christ with the world. 

Reflecting back on the weekend spent at United Methodist Student Forum in Evansville, Indiana, I was incredibly humbled to meet so many young United Methodists pursuing justice. I was encouraged to continue fighting the good fight of faith and to grow in a community that seeks to “Do Justice, Love Kindness, and Walk Humbly with the Lord.” Being able to be a part of groups of students who stayed  up until four in the morning organizing for political action and legislative sessions, left me inspired to be a young adult in the United Methodist Church and excited for the future of my beloved church. Leaving Student Forum and going back into my daily routine, I am filled with hope at the future of the United Methodist Church. Meeting so many young United Methodists that will become the leaders of laity and clergy of the future church, I can say that I am hopeful about the future direction and potential within the United Methodist Church.  

Sara Bayles is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, AR where she is majoring in Political Science and Religious Studies with a minor in Gender Studies and Honors Interdisciplinary Thesis focused on Social Justice within American Feminism. Sara grew up in the United Methodist Church and serves as a Student Intern Leader and Gardener at the University of Central Arkansas Wesley Foundation. This summer, Sara will be  working at the General Board of Church and Society in Washington DC in the division of Women's Issues. During her senior year of college, Sara will be serving as a student local pastor at Cleveland and Overcup United Methodist Churches.