Reconciling Ministries Network
The Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) is an organization dedicated to the inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in both the policy and practices of United Methodist Church. It is one of many Welcoming Congregation organizations to emerge in American Christianity in the 1980s.
The group was founded in 1983 as the Reconciling Congregation Program as part of Affirmation: United Methodists for Lesbian/Gay Concerns. It was created as a system for congregations to publicly support lesbians and gay men, and welcome them to full participation in the life of the church both locally and beyond the local congregation. The group was named "Reconciling Congregations" in reference to discussion regarding the need for reconciliation between gay people and the church.
In 1984, the United Methodist Church, at its General Conference, added to its Book of Discipline the statement that "no self-avowed, practicing homosexual shall be ordained or appointed in the United Methodist Church." Affirmation members gathered outside the meeting hall, inviting churches to join the Reconciling Congregations. Soon after, the first two congregations declared themselves to be part of the movement: Washington Square United Methodist Church in New York City, and Wesley United Methodist Church in Fresno, California.
As the program grew, it broke away from Affirmation, becoming autonomous in 1989. The name changed to its current name in October 2000 as a recognition that the diverse ministries the program was serving went beyond congregations.
RMN members have challenged United Methodist policies on same-sex relationships. After pastor Jimmy Creech officiated at a union ceremony for two lesbians, the church in 1996 adopted a policy forbidding any same-sex commitment ceremonies to be celebrated in United Methodist churches or by United Methodist pastors.
In 1999, 95 clergy officiated in a union service for Jeanne Barnett and Ellie Charlton. Later that year, Reverend Gregory Dell was tried and found guilty of violating Methodist policy in officiating at the marriage of two men in his church.
In 2000, 229 members of the Reconciling Ministries and Soulforce were arrested at the United Methodist Church's General Conference. 29 more were arrested when they entered the conference floor to protest against church policies regarding LGBT people. At the 2004 General Conference, some conservative Methodists proposed that the denomination split over the question of inclusion of LGBT people, a proposal which did not meet with wide approval.
In 1986, the Northern Illinois and Wisconsin conferences of the United Methodist Church supported the Reconciling Ministries, but The United Methodist Reporter refused to accept advertising from the group, saying that it violated Methodist policies by "promoting the acceptance of homosexuality." The publication eventually accepted a classified ad from RMN in 1994.
The 2005 convocation, "Hearts on Fire," was held at the United Methodist retreat at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. It received much attention in the press, and was protested by members of the KKK.
The 2009 convocation, "Justice and Joy," was held in Estes Park, Colorado over labor day weekend. Over 500 persons attended, with almost 100 young persons.
The 2013 convocation, "Churchquake," was held in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
The 2015 convocation, "Gather at the River", will be held in San Antonio, Texas in cooperation with other organizations including MFSA. Speakers will include Rev. Frank Schaefer, Marcia McFee, Mark A. Miller, Theon Johnson, Nikilas mawanda, Peter Storey, and Sara Thompson Tweedy.
In 1985, Reconciling Ministries Network began publishing the quarterly magazine Manna for the Journey. The magazine was renamed Open Hands in 1986. In 1988, it received the Award of Merit for publications with fewer than 10,000 subscribers from the Associated Church Press for its second issue, "Living and Loving with AIDS." In 1992, it again received the Award of Merit. The magazine ceased publication in 2002. Complete backissues of the magazine are available for download.
Reconciling Ministries Network publishes a quarterly newsletter, available both in print and online, called Katalyst. Additionally, there is a biweekly "Flashnet" e-newsletter, which is emailed to subscribers and also available on RMN's website.
- "Reconciling Ministries Network: History". Reconciling Ministries Network. Archived from the original on 2007-06-01. Retrieved 2007-04-04.
- "UMC bans same-sex unions". The Christian Century (Chicago) 115 (23): 775. 1998-08-26. ISSN 0009-5281. Retrieved 2007-04-06.
- Zoll, Rachel (2004-05-07). "Church proposes split over beliefs Methodist conservatives say". Oakland Tribune. Retrieved 2007-04-06.
- "Methodist court upholds ruling on gay membership". The Christian Century (Chicago) 123 (11): 15. 2006-05-30. ISSN 0009-5281. Retrieved 2007-04-06.
- "Protests planned as advocates of gay inclusion by Methodists meet". AccessNorthGa. Retrieved 2014-01-15.
- Reconciling Ministries Network — official website