I chose the Methodist church in 1996. To be honest, my husband and I had moved and the nearby church, Oak Hill UMC, had three services and a good youth program. It seemed perfect for our two boys. I loved the UMC’s tag line “open hearts, open minds, open doors” and so we joined. I quickly fell in love with the Methodist Church and Wesley’s teaching. I have always been committed to making sure the church is a place of justice and inclusion, and that commitment has pushed me to lead a Sunday School class which was the first class to become Reconciling at Oak Hill UMC in 2014.
I have decided to run as a delegate to the General Conference because I love my church and I still believe in a hope-filled future for the United Methodist Church. After much prayer and discernment, I believe that our greater Methodist church is at an impasse and we need to quit fighting and start negotiating. We need to dedicate ourselves again to being disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. And we need an amicable way to move forward. I had the honor of attending the UMC Next Meeting in Kansas City with 600 leaders from across the country to talk about what is next.
As a trained mediator, experienced business leader, and engaged Methodist, I feel I can bring leadership, conflict management and strategic planning skills to the table.
LEADERSHIP - I am the founder of Rifeline, a public involvement firm that started out of my car and now has 19 full time employees. I have also served on nearly every committee within our church including being Church Council Chair twice. Starting something new takes leadership, vision, hard work and tenacity. I have honed those leadership qualities throughout my life.
CONFLICT MANAGEMENT - I received mediation training from the UT Law School, along with Group Facilitation Training and Family Dispute Resolution courses from the Dispute Resolution Center. My company specializes in resolving issues between neighbors and project planners as well as homeowners and construction firms. I have successfully facilitated hundreds of meetings and advisory groups focused on water plants, roads, transit, parks, schools and highways. Given the impasse the UMC currently finds itself in, I think we can all agree that it will take leaders trained in dispute resolution to envision a way forward and, – in the words of Isaiah (43:19) – to seize this opportunity to “do a new thing.”
STRATEGIC PLANNING - When I am not calming people down, then I am busy getting them excited about the next big thing. I have worked on nearly every major ballot initiative in Central Texas since 2004 to build schools, parks, libraries, roads and transit. My most impactful campaign involved working with Senator Kirk Watson to improve health care for all in Central Texas. Proposition 1 launched the UT Medical School and changed how we deliver health care to our most vulnerable residents.
I do not believe that being LGBTQ is a sin or a choice. Even if it were a sin, I do not understand why a church would pick out that sin as being any different from the hundreds of others. I know I am much better with my husband than without him. I wouldn’t want to deny that joy to anyone else. I am out in the community everyday working with all types of people throughout Central Texas on projects that address problems for the common good. I know it is hard work but I believe that together we can work toward a common good for those within our church today, and more importantly, those that we hope to bring into our churches in the future including our children and grandchildren.
I am committed to the 4 tenets developed at UMC Next:
I long to be a passionate follower of Jesus Christ, committed to a Wesleyan vision of Christianity, anchored in scripture and informed by tradition, experience and reason as I live a life of personal piety and social holiness.
I commit to resist evil, injustice and oppression in all forms and toward all people and build a church which affirms the full participation of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.
I reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation.
I will work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restrictions and penalties in the Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons. I affirm the sacred worth of LGBTQ persons, celebrate their gifts, and commit to being in ministry together.
Lynda Rife founded Rifeline in 2002. With more than 25 years of experience, she is a seasoned specialist in the areas of public involvement, community affairs, government relations, and grassroots and grass tops political strategy. Her company has grown from a one-women show to a staff of 19.
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