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Members and supporters of Methodist Students for an All-Inclusive Church (MOSAIC) celebrate a renewal of the baptismal covenant on the edge of the Allegheny River, near Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center, site of the 2004 United Methodist General Conference. The group is pushing the denomination to fully accept gays and lesbians in its churches and pulpits. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

A UMNS photo by Paul

Members and supporters of Methodist Students for an All-Inclusive Church (MOSAIC) celebrate a renewal of the baptismal covenant on the edge of the Allegheny River, near Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center, site of the 2004 United Methodist General Conference. The group is pushing the denomination to fully accept gays and lesbians in its churches and pulpits.

Members of Methodist Students for an All-Inclusive Church (MOSAIC) march to the Allegheny River through the David L. Lawrence Convention Centerin Pittsburgh, site of the 2004 United Methodist General Conference. The group is pushing the denomination to fully accept gays and lesbians in its churches and pulpits. At the end of the march it held a service of renewing the baptismal covenant on the banks of the Allegheny River. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

Members of Methodist Students for an All-Inclusive Church (MOSAIC) march to the Allegheny River through the David L. Lawrence Convention Centerin Pittsburgh, site of the 2004 United Methodist General Conference. The group is pushing the denomination to fully accept gays and lesbians in its churches and pulpits. At the end of the march it held a service of renewing the baptismal covenant on the banks of the Allegheny River.

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Young United Methodists rally for church inclusiveness

By Kathryn Witte*
May 1, 2004 | PTTSBURGH (UMNS)

About 100 United Methodist young adults and supporters rallied May 1 at Smithfield Church to promote an all-inclusive church.

Organizers said the event focused attention on the presence of young adult delegates at General Conference and demonstrated young adults’ desire for the church to be welcoming to people who have often been pushed away. The event was held by Methodist Students for an All-Inclusive Church, or MoSAIC.

Christina Wright, seminary student at Harvard Divinity School and MoSAIC planning committee member, sees the group as a start for a broader movement to get young adults involved in the church as well as responding to issues beyond inclusiveness.

“The overall goal for me is to get young adults involved with the church — to reclaim our heritage,” she said.

A skit set to the song “The Promise” included audience participation and sparked testimonials from the group.

Peggy Laemmel, a seminary student at Union Theological Seminary in New York, was brought up Presbyterian but saw her parents become active United Methodists. She described returning to the United Methodist Church after several years’ absence. “The Methodist Church, for all our sins and faults, is truly one of the best organizations to work toward inclusiveness,” she said.

Her witness to the group, she said, was centered on “speaking to fear (and) using courage to overcome it.”

Called “Witness to the Waters,” the rally moved from Smithfield Church in a procession down Liberty Avenue, to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Robbie Gill, a student at Millersville University in Lancaster, Pa., reminded those present of their baptism and urged them to pray for the delegates.

Participants dipped their hands in river water, running underneath the convention center, and then anointed those standing next to them, saying, “Remember your baptism.” Respondents replied, “I am thankful.”

MoSAIC is an extension ministry of the Reconciling Ministries Network, an unofficial United Methodist group advocating inclusiveness in the church.

*Witte is communications director for the United Methodist Church’s Nebraska Annual Conference.

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7. After May 10: (615) 742-5470.