CLAIMS THE NAME OF
A RECONCILING MINISTRY CONGREGATION
In May of 2011 First United Methodist Church Conference voted unanimously to become a member of the Reconciling Ministries Network. This has been a long and intentional journey by the congregation. It began over 20 years ago when the church first reached out to the AIDS community. This partnership with the Shepherd Wellness Community continues when their dinners are held at the church on the first and third Fridays of the month.
Our LGBTQ brothers and sisters are vital members of our church family. Many of these folks are active in the leadership and ministries of First United Methodist Church.
God was nudging us to consider if this was the time to enrich our hospitality and strengthen our advocacy for our brothers and sisters who are LGBTQ. Thus, in 2009, a discernment group, "The Conversation Continues", was formed. This led to multiple opportunities for the congregation to explore, raise questions, and share this journey of discernment.
We facilitated 4 different study groups using the CLAIMING THE PROMISE curriculum. Participants have attended from throughout the Pittsburgh area. This group also proposed and it was accepted to provide leadership at the Pittsburgh District United Methodist Lay Academies using the United Methodist Curriculum on homosexuality: THE CHURCH STUDIES HOMOSEXUALITY. This enrichment class was offered at both the fall and spring sessions in 2011 and will be offered in 2012.
Legislation to the 2012 General Conference was written by members of the church toward language changes and more inclusiveness in the discipline. Nine members of the church attend the conference RMN group meetings and are strategizing how to both effect positive outcomes for the legislation, provide healing supportive opportunities, and how to begin to make the message known more widely throughout the conference.
Seven members of the church attended the SING A NEW SONG convocation in August of 2011. This inspiring, challenging, and uplifting event was co-sponsored by the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) and the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA).
Additionally witnessing and social events, such as picnics, participation in the Pride Parade and Festival, have been held and will continue to be planned. We have placed the book, HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE BIBLE, in gathering places where LGBTQ folks are known to congregate. The Conversation Continues group meets regularly and discerns what ways we can continue to support and provide a safe place for LGBT. You are welcome to join the group and share their wisdom and experience.