National United Methodist convocation to be held in Nashville

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United Methodists working to end the church’s discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) persons will again gather in a national convocation, August 2 to 5, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

The event, the ninth since 1987, will explore the theme Faith, Hope, Love. Reconciling Ministries Network, a national grassroots organization working for full participation of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities in The United Methodist Church and larger society, hosts the national meeting.

"It doesn’t make sense to exclude gay people who want to go to church," said the Rev. Troy Plummer, executive director of the Reconciling Ministries Network. "We are called to confess our faith, proclaim our hope and celebrate our love in Jesus Christ, who invites everybody."

At the last convocation, in 2005, that spirit of celebration aroused protest from the Ku Klux Klan and two church-related groups called Good News and the Institute of Religion on Democracy, working to oppose reforms in the United Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopalian churches. Since then, 60 new groups across the country have formally joined the Reconciling Ministries Network,  which now totals 309 groups and 20,218 individuals in all 50 states.

Every convocation blends teaching, workshops, entertainment and networking, typically attracting hundreds of supporters from across America. This summer, Dr. Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament at Vanderbilt and director of the Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender and Sexuality, will lead daily Bible study. Other leaders will be Miguel de la Torre, David Myers, Gayle Felton, Bishop Sharon Rader, Julian Rush, Grace Imathiu, Michael Yoshii, Trey Hall and Rebecca Voelkel.

"Together," Plummer said, "these faith leaders, authors and artists reflect the diversity of all God loves. Such love constitutes the radical center of what it means to follow the way of Jesus, and these gatherings allow people to experience a loving, welcoming church first-hand."

Entertainment will feature the local GLBT choir, Nashville in Harmony, and a performance of Mrs. Man of God, a humorous musical portraying life from the perspective of the gay partner of a pastor within a church that is not inclusive.

For more information on Faith, Hope, Love visit the Reconciling Ministries Network website at www.RMNetwork.org, call the Reconciling Ministries Network office at 773-736-5526, or email [email protected]