Confessing Movement report, Saturday

Saturday, April 28, 2012 – Day 5 at General Conference

Reports are coming in from legislative groups and their subcommittees.  Each of these reports will be forwarded to the plenary sessions that will start dealing with petitions on Monday, April 30.  Here are a few that will be of interest to Confessing Movement supporters.

1) A strong statement against pornography, submitted by the General Board of Church and Society, was approved by the subcommittee.

2) Petitions to change the definition of marriage to something other than a covenant between one man and one woman have not been approved by subcommittee.

3) After a time of holy conferencing and a long debate, a motion to delete the words “we believe the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” passed by a vote of 14-12.  However, as they often report on TV on the night of elections, “all the precincts are not yet counted.”   About 100 supporters of Common Witness, the group lobbying to change the church’s position, crowded into the room.  One African delegate indicated he felt he was uncomfortable.  The petition will be forwarded to the whole legislative group and then to the plenary.  Defenders of the Biblical stance on sexuality feel this vote will be overturned in the larger committee.

4) A petition to study transgenderism failed 8-45.

5) A vote to remove the prohibition against using church money to advance homosexual causes failed 1-21.

6) The vote is not yet finalized on a resolution for the church to withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), but a preliminary vote in subcommittee passed.

7) A motion for the funding of seminary education in the Central Conferences to the tune of 5 million dollars for the quadrennium passed the legislative group.  This was instead of petitions that would cut the percentage of Ministerial Education Funds (MEF) going to U.S. seminaries in order to fund overseas seminaries.

8) Petitions which affirmed the pastor’s role in determining readiness for church membership have passed subcommittee.  This topic became a major issue when a pastor in Virginia delayed membership to a practicing homosexual.  He was removed from his pulpit by a bishop who said he did not have the right to deny anyone membership.  The judicial council then overruled the bishop’s ruling and the pastor was restored.  These petitions clarify and strengthen the pastor’s responsibility and right.

9) Legislation overturning guaranteed appointments for pastors has passed subcommittee.  The legislation will allow easier removal of ineffective pastors.

10) The issue of term limits for bishops (appointed for eight years but need to be reelected for the next eight-year term) failed by a close margin of 25-28.  This is sure to be debated further.

11) Legislation that would require 40% of faculty at United Methodist seminaries to be United Methodist, with reduced funding if less than that, has passed subcommittee.

All of this legislation will need to be approved or disapproved by the plenary session of all delegates but these first votes are an indication of which way the conference is leaning.