Story by Rev. Angie Kotzmoyer
Pastor, Park Hill UMC, Denver CO
Provisional Elder, Mountain Sky Conference
As a young clergy person of the Mountain Sky Conference, currently serving as Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Outreach at Park Hill United Methodist Church, I had the privilege and honor to attend the Young Clergy Leadership Forum hosted by the General Board of Church and Society on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. this January. I was one of 50 young clergy to attend the forum and 1 of 3 young clergy from the Mountain Sky Conference. The goals of the forum included connecting young clergy with the ministry of Church and Society, providing a space to share knowledge and experience, and creating bridges for future ministry collaboration.
From my perspective, this is how the goals of the forum are met:
During the forum, I had the privilege to meet the General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe, and her Assistant General Secretary, Rev. Neal Christie. Rev. Henry-Crowe and Rev. Christie walked us through the 2020 revised Social Principles of the United Methodist Church. I learned that Church and Society took an eight-year journey to revise our Social Principles. This revision process created a teachable document that the whole global church can use. This document is a very Wesleyan expression that helps us speak to and advocate for the issues of our current day. The Social Principles allow communities of faith to have an expansive worldview of justice and respond to the needs of their neighbors, contributing to Wesley’s idea of social holiness. The 2020 General Conference will be the body that approves the final version of the 2020 Social Principles. If you haven’t read the 2020 revised Social Principles, you can access them here: https://www.umcjustice.org/news-and-stories/social-principles-2020-607
Mark Harrison is the Director of Peace with Justice at the General Board of Church and Society. He spoke with us on “Ending Endless Wars in the Middle East” and taught us about the Iran War Powers Resolution (S. J Res. 68). “This bipartisan legislation offered by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Sen Mike Lee (R-UT) requires the removal of US armed forces from hostilities against Iran that have not been authorized by Congress. It does not prevent the U.S. form defending itself against an imminent attack. In short, the United States should not go to war with Iran unless Congress authorizes it. This is in keeping with the U.S. constitution (Harrison).” Harrison not only taught us about this legislation but taught us young clergy how to lobby our senators and that is exactly what we did! Once we learned from Harrison on how to lobby this legislation, we headed off to our Senators offices to do the work. Rev. Peter Lee and myself visited Senator Michael Bennet’s office and spoke with his legislative aide, Dana Shubat, about the Iran War Powers Resolution. We learned from Dana that Sen. Bennet supported this Resolution and we had a lovely conversation with her about the work she does for Sen. Bennet. (This resolution was passed, see NY Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/us/politics/iran-war-powers-trump.html?auth=login-facebook&referringSource=articleShare )
Dana also gave us U.S. Senate passes to the Impeachment Hearing for Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. So not only did I get to lobby my Senator on an important issue, but I also got to witness history by attending an hour-and-a-half of the Impeachment Trial.
Rev. Dr. Clayton Childers taught us about the important work of “Moving from Charity to Solidarity.” In this presentation, we learned the difference between "mercy ministries" and "justice ministries" and how our church communities can partner in both and really learn to lean into addressing the root causes of issues by being in solidarity with the marginalized.
There is currently a conversation with Church and Society to find a time for them to come to the Mountain Sky Conference to lead workshops on the Social Principles and “Moving from Charity to Solidarity.” Be on the lookout for this exciting opportunity and how we are creating bridges for future ministry collaboration with Church and Society.
Thank you, Mountain Sky Conference, for sending me as one of your young clergy to this amazing forum! I am forever grateful for this learning experience that will make me a better pastor.
Rev. Kotzmoyer (she/her/hers) is a Provisional Elder in the Mountain Sky Conference and serves the diverse and reconciling community of Park Hill United Church in Denver, Colorado as the Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Outreach. She is also the Co-Convener for the Mountain Sky Conference Queer Clergy Caucus with her good friend and colleague, Rev. Sharon Langfeldt.