Methodist Federation for Social Action

North Carolina Conference

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Reports of Inclusive Conversations / Petitions

Weekend of Inclusive Conversations

Wilmington: 5th Ave UMC. Thursday night, January 24.

Bill Braswell gathered the five panel members from the LGBTQIA + community to share their stories. Bill opened us up with prayer and explained that this would be a time of sharing stories, not a focus on the upcoming General Conference with the various plans being considered. Helen Ryde, Southeastern Coordinator from the Reconciling Ministries Network, helped to frame the conversations by utilizing the Gender Unicorn handout that explains Gender Identity, Gender Expression, Sex Assigned at Birth Physically Attracted to, Emotionally Attracted to, and one’s sexual orientation. A short time for questions was provided at the end. Bill closed the meeting in prayer and the panel members, and many audience members stayed around for conversations in the sanctuary of the church at the conclusion of the event.

Raleigh: Avent Ferry UMC, Saturday, January 26.

Attendees were greeted as they entered the narthex to the sanctuary at Avent Ferry with a handout, rainbow crosses, and refreshments. As the program began, we were greeted by Rev. Donna Thompson. Rev Thompson shared about Avent Ferry’s journey of the All Means All group becoming a Reconciling Community and then the entire church becoming a Reconciling Church. Helen Ryde led those in attendance utilizing the Gender Unicorn like she did in Wilmington, NC on Thursday night. Helen continued the program by explaining the various options before General Conference 2019 delegates. She went through the logistics of General Conference including the planned schedule. She shared her story to the group attending the conference. After a short break, folks who were interested in learning more about how to create a Reconciling Community or lead their churches to become Reconciling Churches met with Helen Ryde. People in the audience shared how their churches had moved to become a Reconciling Church. Many people stayed afterwards to talk and share their stories.

Durham: Epworth UMC, Sunday, January 27. Journeying Toward Justice Event.

A sign on the street at the entrance to Epworth UMC said: “Helen Ryde, LGBTQ Stories of Hope, Jan 27, 3pm,” greeted attendees as they pulled in the driveway to Epworth UMC. Attendees were greeted at the door by a contingent of Epworth members. In Epworth’s sanctuary, Rev. Karen Whitaker began the Journeying Toward Justice event with a scripture reading and prayer. She briefly described Epworth’s journey in the area of welcoming LGBT folks to the church. The sanctuary was filled. Helen helped set the stage as she had done in Wilmington and Raleigh at the earlier events. Helen and Phillip Jefferson, member and administrative board chair at Avent Ferry UMC shared their stories by including their histories in the church utilizing the journey toward justice theme of the afternoon. They took turns taking the audience on their respective journeys. Phillip described growing up in the church in Florida and the 3 Methodist Churches on the island. He shared about the differences in those churches and how the church made a difference in his life as he went to college, selected a major of study, and began his career. Helen described growing up in the UK and how the church had influenced her life in many ways. A short time of questions and answers was held, and refreshments were served as individual conversations continued in the church’s fellowship hall.

Raleigh: North Raleigh UMC, Monday, January 28.

Rev. Duke Lackey and Rev. Alan Felton opened the event with prayer and preaching. Rev. Laurie Hays Coffman and Rev. Paul Stallsworth modeled how to be in conversation with each other, sharing their journeys in the church and stating their positions regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the United Methodist Church. Participants were gathered around tables throughout the worship space with overflow chairs filled around the walls of the room. After Laurie and Paul spoke, attendees were encouraged to talk at their tables about what they had heard from Duke, Alan, Laurie, and Paul and to share with each other what they were feeling. A brief period of questions and answers was held and Sam Isley, a gay lay person in the United Methodist Church who was attending the event was invited to briefly share his story which included pointing out to the audience that the United Methodist Discipline declares that he is incompatible with Christian teaching. Conversations continued in the room after the event concluded.

--Sam Isley, Treasurer/Membership Secretary for MFSA NCC

A way people can act in light of the results of General Conference 2019 View and Sign Petition

MFSA NCC and Fairmont United Methodist Church are doing a one-day mission trip to Whiteville NC on Saturday April 6th. We will be working on cleaning up homes that were damaged by Hurricane Florence and hear about the intersection of climate change and poverty.

Sign Up for One Day Mission Trip

For further information they can call 919-606-5674 or email

Weekend of Inclusive Conversations and the Way Forward

MFSA RUMNC Inclusive Conversations Jan 2019 Helen Ryde Jan 2019

The North Carolina Annual Conference Chapter of Methodist Federation for Social Action and Reconciling United Methodists and Friends of NC, in association with Avent Ferry United Methodist Church and as part of Epworth United Methodist Church’s “Journeying Towards Justice” series, is sponsoring a weekend of discernment over human sexuality and where The United Methodist Church is headed with LGBT inclusion the weekend of January 26-27.

The first part, on Saturday, January 26th at Avent Ferry United Methodist Church, includes conversation on sexuality but also on the Way Forward (The United Methodist Church will meet in St Louis Feb 23-26 to decide on LGBT inclusion) and about to become part of the Reconciling Ministries Network. That is from 9 am-1 pm.

The second part, on Sunday, January 27th at 3 pm at Epworth United Methodist Church, will be about inclusive conversations around sexuality and gender identity conducted by Helen Ryde, the Southeastern Coordinator for Reconciling Ministries Network. She will also be leading the discussion on Saturday.

  • Avent Ferry United Methodist Church, 2700 Avent Ferry Rd, Raleigh, NC 27606
  • Epworth United Methodist Church, 3002 Hope Valley Rd, Durham, NC 27707


The Gift of Our Sexuality and the Church's Response

MFSA NCC, the Reconciling United Methodists of NC, and the Conference Board of Church and Society are sponsoring an Inclusive Conversations event “The Gift of Our Sexuality and the Church’s Response” at Fifth Avenue UMC in Wilmington on Thursday night, January 24 beginning at 7:00.

The event will be a time for LGBTQ United Methodists to share their stories particularly about their relationship to the church. Not designed to discuss or debate A Way Forward, this will be a listening, sharing event with opportunity at its conclusion for questions. Everyone is invited.

Inclusive Conversations Plus

Saturday, September 15th 2018, 10 am-1 pm
9 am-10 am check in time with light continental breakfast.

Conversations and education about the LGBTQ community, gender identity (pronouns) leading to decisions that The United Methodist Church will be making in St. Louis in late February about LGBTQ inclusiveness and the various plans that will be on the table.

Location: Avent Ferry United Methodist Church, 2700 Avent Ferry Rd, Raleigh NC 27606.

No charge for the event.

Contact information: and 919-606-5674.

Hosted by the North Carolina Conference chapter of Methodist Federation for Social Action and Reconciling United Methodists and Friends NC

Gayle Felton Love Thy Neighbor Lunch 2018

The North Carolina Annual Conference chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action and Reconciling United Methodists and Friends NC are proud to sponsor the fifth annual Gayle Felton Love Thy Neighbor Lunch on Friday, June 15th at 12 noon, at the Holiday Inn in Greenville.

Cost is $15 in advance and $17 at the door. For students: $10.00 and $12.50 at the door. You can register online at Eventbrite (tap below) or mail checks payable to MFSA NC, PO Box 18311, Raleigh NC 27619-8311.

There will be a communion service following the lunch.

Eventbrite - Gayle Felton Love Thy Neighbor Lunch 2018

Gil Caldwell

Our Luncheon Speaker Reverend Gil Caldwell

Retired United Methodist minister, and a lifelong activist in the Civil Rights Movement from the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer to the 1968 Poor People’s March. Gil is author of numerous books and blogs on social justice, including his latest collection, Something Within. Gil served several historic Black churches in the Northeast, including Union Methodist in Boston and St. Mark’s in Harlem. He also served as Associated General Secretary to the General Commission on Religion and Race in Washington, D.C., and as Executive Director of the Ministerial Interfaith Association of Harlem. Gil helped found several significant organizations on the forefront of erasing bigotry within the church, including the Black Methodists for Church Renewal, the National Conference of Black Churchmen, and United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church, which works toward equality in ordaining Methodist ministers who are gay or lesbian. He served as a national board member of PFLAG and is a co-founder of Truth in Progress.

Gayle Felton
Gayle Felton

The lunch is named in memory of late Reverend Dr. Gayle Carlton Felton who passed in 2014 at the age of 71. She was champion for the rights of women, African Americans, and the LGBTQ community. Here is more about her

Gayle was a native of Pinetops, NC. She graduated with a B.A. in History from North Carolina Wesleyan College where she was the first valedictorian of the newly opened college. Gayle taught high school history and civics in Edgecombe County before answering the call to ministry.

She received her Master of Divinity and Doctorate degrees from Duke University. After teaching religion at Meredith College for two years, she returned to Duke where she taught in the Divinity School for over a decade, guiding and influencing a generation of pastors and others serving the United Methodist Church. Gayle’s scholarship largely focused on the history of Methodism with special emphasis on the sacraments.

Among her published works are This Gift of Water, By Water and the Spirit, This Holy Mystery, United Methodists and the Sacraments, and The Coming of Jesus. She was also the editor of How United Methodists Study Scripture and the writer of numerous studies and other works used across the United Methodist Church. She was a frequent participant in United Methodist General Conferences and was appointed for many years to the General Board of Discipleship.

Gayle had a deep commitment to social justice, working to integrate the public schools in Edgecombe County and as a pioneer in building the Reconciling Movement, a group advocating for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the United Methodist Church. She was honored to serve as the national board chair of the Reconciling Ministries Network. Gayle also was a role model for women seeking ordination in the United Methodist Church, working tirelessly to remove many of the obstacles she herself had to overcome in becoming an ordained elder.