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Annual Inclusiveness Conference to be held over Zoom on Nov. 14

October 22, 2020
Photo by Charmaine Robledo for the Mountain Sky Area
Bishop Karen Oliveto preaches at St. Andrew UMC in Highlands Ranch, CO during the first Toward an Inclusive Church conference in 2017.
The fourth Annual Inclusiveness Conference sponsored for laity and clergy by the United Methodist Association of Retired Clergy & Friends (UMARC) will be held virtually over Zoom on Saturday, Nov. 14. The webinar begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 12:45 p.m. (Mountain). This year’s theme is “Building a World that Works for All” that will focus on recent developments within United Methodism, including dismantling racism and diminishing homophobia.

The annual event is chaired by Rev. Dr. Donald Messer, president emeritus of the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO, and Rev. Dr. Harvey Martz, former senior pastor, St. Andrew United Methodist Church, Highlands Ranch, CO.  

Keynote speakers for the free Zoom webinar include Bishop LaTrelle Easterling of the Baltimore/Washington Area and Bishop Karen Oliveto of the Mountain Sky Area of The United Methodist Church.

“These courageous episcopal leaders epitomize what it means to confront racism and homophobia in our church and society,” notes Messer. “As United Methodism struggles for a new identity, mission, and ministry, they offer incredible spiritual leadership and insightful strategic direction.”
 
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As United Methodism faces anticipated schism in the next year, other presenters will provide updates on the state of United Methodism globally and locally. Scheduled lecturers are Rev. Dr. Mark Holland, Executive Director of Mainstream UMC based in Olathe, KS; Dr. David Scott, Director of Mission Theology of the United Methodist General Board of Ministries; and Rev. Jasper Peters, lead pastor of Belong Church in Denver. 

International church perspectives will be offered by Rev. Knut Refsdahl, District Superintendent, Oslo, Norway, and Augustine Bahati, treasurer, Rwanda Provisional Conference, Gisenyi, Rwanda. Bishop Rodolfo A. “Rudy” Juan, president of the College of Bishops in the Philippines, will report on the Christmas Covenant.

Following an address by Bishop Easterling, an interethnic panel will reflect on their experiences dealing with institutional racism in the church and society. Moderating the panel will be the Rev. Dr. Valerie Jackson, pastor of Cameron UMC in Denver, and Dr. Andriette Fields, Chief Operating Officer, Triple Threat Ministries. Speaking will be former Colorado State Senator Lucia Guzman; Rev. Calvin Hill, pastor of Blackfeet United Methodist Parish in Browning, MT; Rev. Bich Thy (Betty) Nguyen, Mountain Sky Multicultural and Advocacy Ministries Developer; and Rev. Nathan Adams, Lead Pastor, Park Hill UMC in Denver.

Two leading senior pastors of large membership churches in the denomination will address key controversial issues facing Christians. Rev. Dr. Rob Fuquay of St. Luke UMC, Indianapolis, IN, will articulate an understanding of human sexuality and the Bible. Rev. Dr. Mark Feldmeir, current senior pastor of St. Andrew UMC, will explore preaching in polarized circumstances.
UMARC affirms the goal of an inclusive church that reflects racial justice and is committed to standing in solidarity with LGBTQ laity, clergy and candidates for ministry, speaking and working to ensure the dignity and safety of all persons in the church and society. Formed in 2016 by retired clergy, it hosts frequent educational forums designed to assist laity and clergy to live into a more inclusive church and society.