The FIRE Ministry and Epworth’s affiliation with the Reconciling Ministries Network fall under the umbrella if the Inviting All Ministry Team. When Epworth says that our doors are open to all, we truly do mean all. The practiced inclusion of the LGBTQ community has enriched Epworth for over 25 years. The Inviting All Ministry Team is proud to support this ministry.

FIRE – Faithfully Inviting and Reconciling Everyone

 

FIRE

FIRE (Faithfully Inviting and Reconciling Everyone) is the Reconciling Task Force of Epworth UMC. FIRE, in partnership with the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) of the UMC, 

In April 2006, Epworth voted to become a Reconciling Church by affiliating with the RMN. This means that Epworth is intentional about mobilizing United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our church, and our world, into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.

FIRE was born at Epworth in 2013 to share the message of faithful hospitality to all. The FIRE team hosts a table in Fellowship Hall the first Sunday of each month to update members on team events and RMN developments. Stop by to have your name added to the growing list of FIRE team members and to order a colorful FIRE stole. For more information, contact FIRE co-chairs Daniel Foskey and David Hagelin.

 

Here is what is happening in the Reconciling world:

­- In anticipation of General Conference in Portland, OR, in May of 2016, RMN is advancing new legislative strategies, including protecting LGBTQ lay employees and advocating for LGBTQ youth. These efforts align with its longstanding position that the UMC should remove prohibitions on all LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriage. RMN has filed four petitions and two resolutions to comply with the deadline for legislation to be considered by the GC.

– The Board of Ordained Ministry of the New York Annual Conference on February 20, 2016, voted as a body to welcome LGBTQI candidates into the ordination process without fear of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. The NY Annual Conference in 2014 had adopted a “vision of a beloved and just community” declaring that “sexual orientation and gender identity are not and will not be considered in the evaluation of candidates by the Board of Ordained Ministry…  Quite simply, discriminating against married persons regardless of the gender of their spouse or against those who hope to be married is not the path we believe God is calling us to walk.”

– The Rev. Cynthia Meyer, who has served the UMC for 25 years, “came out” to her congregation at Edgerton United Methodist Church in Edgerton, Kansas, during a sermon in February 2016.

­- The Rev. Benjamin Hutchison was forced to resign from Cassopolis (Michigan) UMC in July 2015 after acknowledging to authorities of the West Michigan Annual Conference that he was in a relationship with another man.

– Rev. Benjamin Hutchison married his partner, Monty Hutchison, on July 17, 2015. Ginny Mikita, Michigan attorney and candidate for ordination as a deacon in the West Michigan Conference of the UMC, was officiant. As an expression of her commitment to Rev. Hutchison and to protect other UM clergy attending the ceremony, Ms. Mikita used credentials secured online through the

Universal Life Church. On August 27, 2015, District Superintendent Rev. Bill Haggard informed her that her candidacy for ordination and her membership in the UMC were being revoked because three UM clergy in other states had demanded disciplinary action. The stated rationale is that Ms. Mikita relinquished her standing in the UMC by obtaining an online designation to perform the marriage ceremony. She maintains that she alerted her pastor and the chair of her district committee on ordained ministry to her intentions before the Hutchisons’ wedding. 

– The Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference in June 2015 voted to recommend that all churches in the conference have at least one restroom in each church building designated as single-user, gender neutral, accessible and lockable by 2020. These bathrooms are important for the safety, comfort, and accessibility of many, including transgender individuals who don’t feel safe or comfortable using a gendered restroom. For some churches, this may simply require updating signage to designate a restroom as gender neutral.

in Winter Park, FL, in early 2015 after rumors spread they were a same-sex couple. Without explicit protections against job discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, lay persons employed by local churches – often serving out a call to ministry – have no protection against discrimination, and local churches face no accountability from the denomination for the refusal to hire or decision to fire employees based on their identity or relationships.

–  On July 17, 2014, the Judicial Council of The United Methodist Church announced that they would appeal the decision of the NorthEastern Jurisdictional District Appeals Committee to reinstate the credentials of the Rev. Frank Schaefer.

–  On June 25, 2014, Rev. Schaefer announced that he had accepted a position with the Isla Vista Student Ministry in Santa Barbara after his transfer to the United Methodist Church’s California-Pacific Conference. Bishop Minerva Carcano of the California-Pacific Conference announced that she spoke with Bishop Peggy Johnson of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference and agreed to transfer Schaefer to California-Pacific Conference at Schaefer’s request effective July 1, 2014.

  • FIRE has opened a FACEBOOK page to help you stay connected. “Like” us on FACEBOOK…. click here
 

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