Top Row l-r: Nadine Smith (Equality Florida), – Bishop Melvin Talbert and Matt Berryman (Executive Director RMN), – Rebecca, Myra, John, and Kent, – Myra and Janet Bernhard, (from Coronado Methodist Church, Class with No Name RMN Community, New Smyrna Beach)
Middle Row l-r: Reeves UMC, Orlando, – Nu Class attendees with Bishop Talbert, – Helen Ryde, (RMN Southeastern Regional Organizer)
Bottom Row l-r: More Nu Class, – “Remember Your Baptism”
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On February 28, 2015 – Ministry without Fear, a Reconciling Ministries Network event was held at Reeves United Methodist Church (Orlando), under the banner, “All Are Welcome in This Place”.
Nearly 250 Reconciling United Methodists gathered to hear Matt Berryman, Executive Director of RMN address how The United Methodist Church can be intentionally inclusive of the LGBTQ community. The NU class was represented by 6 members and there were 6 additional FUMCO members in attendance. FUMCO’S delegation mirrored the larger gathering with 6 straight and 6 gay people present.
The theme of the daylong event was, “Draw the Circle Wider through a Ministry without Fear”. It was a moving experience with each speaker sharing their experience and their faith as a United Methodist. Remarks will be concentrated on Bishop Talbert’s presentation, although a case could be made for emphasizing any of the four speakers.
Bishop Talbert is a veteran of The Civil Rights Movement, having spent 3 days and nights in the same jail cell as Martin Luther King, an experience that shaped his life forever. He is committed to racial, gender, and sexual orientation inclusiveness….and believes there is room at God’s Table for everyone. The cry for full equality within the UMC is a continuation of the Civil Rights Movement. Bishop Talbert called us all to “Biblical Obedience”. “It is my BOOK too, where none are qualified to judge, but all are COMMANDED to love”. He summarized his remarks: “Will you obey God, or your church…there are consequences. But when you do the right thing, LOVE becomes greater than fear”.
Also speaking were;
Matt Berryman, Executive Director, RMN
Dr. Steve Harper, Dean and V.P. Asbury Seminary, retired
Nadine Smith, Co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida, the state’s largest organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity