Foundry’s Team at General Conference 2016

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Who, When, What and Why

Foundry is called to be a beacon for social justice – in our local community, the world, and within our own denomination. As we approach the 2016 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, we are working with allies across the country collectively and individually to share our stories, reach out to those who feel isolated within the church, and support those striving to see progressive steps coming out of this quadrennial gathering.  General Conference takes place May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon.

As our advocacy work has evolved since General Conference 2012 we have realized that it involves much more than developing and supporting legislation to change the discipline on LGBT matters. The petitions Foundry submitted to General Conference this year address the broader needs of our social justice ministries, including homosexuality, homelessness, bullying, and suicide. We have also broadened our support at General conference to include witness, hospitality, worship, and communications.

The Foundry LGBT Advocacy team will be working in Portland to support the activities of the Love Your Neighbor (LYN) Coalition. LYN is a partnership of 13 United Methodist Church-related groups working for a just, inclusive and grace-filled denomination.


Who’s Going?

The team of Foundry members and friends going to Portland, Oregon for General Conference includes:

  • Senior Pastor Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli, a General Conference delegate
  • Executive Pastor Dawn M. Hand, wearing two hats  -- a reserve General Conference delegate and working with the General Commission on Religion and Race
  • Associate Pastor Ben Roberts, a volunteer with Love Your Neighbor
  • Director of Family Ministries Thom Dumas, a volunteer with Love Your Neighbor
  • Cassandra Lawrence, a volunteer with the General Commission on Religion and Race
  • Sarah Chacko, a volunteer with the General Commission on Religion and Race
  • Logan Alley, who will be consecrated as a Deaconess and who is volunteering for United Methodist Women

In addition, the following lay members, including four friends from other Baltimore-Washington UMC churches,  will be volunteering with LYN:

Jan Lawrence Lindi Lewis  Ann Birkel
Terry Birkel Jill Barker Michael Crosswell 
Ray Goodrow Paul Newhouse Eddie Gouge 
John Harden Jane Northern  Matt Hansen 
Louise Franklin Patrick Corey  Paul Keefer 
Nick Beadle Jim Early  Jim Pritchett 
Dan Vock PJ Taylor  Tracy Collins 
Ellen Bachman (Metropolitan UMC) George Kahl (Grace UMC)   
Sherie Koob (Middletown UMC)               Mike Koob (Middletown UMC)   


When Are They Going?

Foundry folks will be present at General Conference for varying periods of time between May 6 and May 21. Most of the team is staying in one of four rental houses or in a hotel near the convention center. The team deeply appreciates Foundry’s financial support including underwriting housing and Portland local transportation. Lay members are paying their own travel costs.


What Will They Be Doing?

General Conference is more than legislation and the work of our team in Portland reaches far beyond support of legislative efforts. Foundry representatives will be participating in many pre-conference witness opportunities and providing various forms of support for other activities during the conference.

One of the biggest ministries we are engaged in this year is networking and sharing our stories with others, building relationships with other participants, both those who think like us and with those who don’t. Members of the team are also engaged with:

  • the Central Conference hospitality team, meeting arriving delegates. This provides us the opportunity to understand the perspectives of those in social settings vastly different from ours.
  • four different legislative committees  -- Judicial Administration, Church and Society 1, Ministry and Higher Education, and Consent Calendar -- as they discuss matters that impact our church across the board, such as church structure, human sexuality, abortion, homelessness, finances, and guaranteed appointments.
  • the Love Your Neighbor Coalition, a partnership of 13 United Methodist Church related Caucus groups working for a just, inclusive and grace filled denomination. The team is supporting ministry, witness, communications, legislative, and hospitality teams.



On Monday morning, May 16, the team will pause from advocacy work to celebrate with Logan Alley and Helen Ryde who will be consecrated as deaconesses in the church. Logan, of course, is a Foundry member, married to T.C. Morrow. Helen is known to many Foundry members, from her work in the Northeast Jurisdiction for the Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN); she is now Southeastern Jurisdiction Regional Coordinator for RMN.


What will we consider success at General Conference?

We have talked much about what “success” in Portland will look like, realizing that significant movement to the language in the Book of Discipline is not likely.  Here’s what we have agreed on:

We stand together as United Methodists who are larger than the disputes we have internally about church structure and human sexuality.

Success is following Christ’s example in forming relationships with those God puts in our path.

Success is moving beyond the threat of schism in the United Methodist Church.

Success is sharing our stories with at least one person who is impacted positively by them.

Success is being a part of the decisions that will help shape the focus of our church for the next quadrennial and witnessing the love of Christ in the actions of the General Conference.


What support can members of the Foundry community provide?

The witness of Foundry’s team in Portland is only possible because of the love and support of the Foundry folks who aren’t there in person but are there in spirit.  What the team needs is:

  • your witness and encouragement to delegates you may know from other conferences as they consider their votes on the many petitions they will consider, and
  • most of all, your prayers and moral support while we are gone and your welcome when we return.


How can we follow the team’s work at General Conference?

T.C. Morrow is the team liaison to Foundry and will be posting status and activity reports from Portland.

Here are some of the places you can find postings from T.C. and others:

  • For updates from Foundry members volunteering with the Love Your Neighbor Coalition, be sure to check out @FoundryUMC and
  • Also, for a prayer and quote each day from volunteers who are members of Foundry and other churches in the Baltimore-Washington Conference, visit @BWARMtweets and
  • For in-depth coverage on LGBTQ related matters at General Conference, you can follow the Reconciling Ministries Network on Twitter at @RMNetwork or Facebook at
  • For updates on a variety of social justice matters including LGBTQ inclusion, check out @LYNCoalition on Twitter.


~ Written by Jan Lawrence, member of the Foundry team at General Conference and the Inclusion Advocacy Ministry Team.