In the short time between the General Conference in Tampa ending in May and our Annual Conference in June, the SWTX Reconciling Ministries Team, the Austin chapter of MFSA and other like-minded folks, both clergy and laity, joined together to form the “Love Your Neighbor” Fellowship. Our AC had not planned any response to GC. Working to address this need, members of “Love Your Neighbor” organized several events at our Southwest Texas Annual Conference in June, creating spaces to talk and witness about the harm done by our church’s exclusive policies.
We had a well-staffed vendor booth which became our compound (thanks to local MFSA & RM Team). We had a Shower of Stoles on display, which attracted much interest (http://www.welcomingresources.org/sosphistory.htm) We distributed over 150 rainbow stoles, along with educational literature. We talked to delegates, many of whom expressed gratitude for our presence. A communion of lament & hope was held for those in need of healing, as well as a dinner off-site for those who needed to gather with others to discuss and process GC disappointments. A copy of the Hamilton-Slaughter amendment (with an added prologue) was turned into a petition, and distributed to delegates. The petition received almost 100 signatures.
Over 185 attended the 2nd annual Peace & Justice Luncheon, organized by local MFSA chapter, where we shared a Tex-Mex meal and listened to the prophetic words of Audrey Krumbach from RMN and Jim Winkler, General Secretary, Board of Church and Society.
At the start the afternoon business session during which Jeff spoke on Saturday, June 9th, we had arranged (with consent of AC leadership) a lighting of a peace candle by Rev Sid Hall, with an inclusive liturgy read by lay delegate Brian Heymans about LGBT equality. During the entire business session, silent witnesses were in a line at the back of the hall holding signs, peaceably gathered, not blocking any exits. Most of the delegates walked past us as they entered and exited the business session, with many smiling at our signs and giving words of encouragement. The GC report was given during the second half of this business session. Jeff’s point of privilege was granted by Bishop Dorff at the end of the GC report, allowing Jeff 3 minutes to speak. Bishop Dorff then led the hall in prayer and closed the session.
Many were engaging in conversations about the importance of inclusivity at our AC this year. Many in our conference are working to help our church welcome ALL to God’s table.
You can read more about these activities here:
Jeff’s point of privilege: https://swtxrmteam.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/southwest-texas-annual-conference-2012-jeffs-point-of-privilege/
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