General Conference 2008: Progressives, Moderates Win Most Offices on General Conference Committees

April 25, 2008

By Bruce Pettit
California-Nevada News Service


FORT WORTH, April 25, 2008 – Progressive and moderate delegates to the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church have won most of the 39 officer seats on the conference's 13 legislative committees, according to an analysis by the Methodist Federation for Social Action.


Among those elected was one California-Nevada Annual Conference delegate. Susan Hunn, lay delegate from Placerville Federated Church, was named secretary of Faith and Order, which looks at theological issues. It is the third General Conference in which she has served on that committee. The secretary keeps the official UMC Archives record of what happens to every petition a committee receives, and dutifully records amendments to the General Conference secretary. Hunn is the agenda chair of California-Nevada's Annual Conference Session.


The Western Jurisdiction also won the chair of Faith and Order with the election of Mary Elizabeth Moore, a clergy member of the California-Pacific Conference.


MFSA's most significant other victory was winning the chair of the Church and Society 2 committee – lay delegate Fred Brewington of the New York Conference. Church and Society 2 has before it almost all the sexuality issues.


MFSA has about 100 people here monitoring the legislative committees – enough to monitor subcommittees also. As the Western Jurisdiction delegates met this morning after the previous evening's elections, there were comments that the election process was much improved over those of previous General Conferences. This time, bishops – who preside over officer elections – slowed the process and invited speeches by each nominee. That change, combined with better organization by Progressives in coalescing votes for their nominees, is believed to have been a factor in the number of Progressive candidates elected.


Angela Brown, a member of Jones Memorial UMC in San Francisco and a volunteer lawyer for the Golden Gate District, was formally nominated by the Council of Bishops today for the Judicial Council, the UMC "Supreme Court." The Bishops nominated nine clergy and six lay for a total of 15 nominees, and 12 more were nominated from the General Conference floor. On Monday, General Conference will elect five Judicial Council members - three clergy and two lay.


Bishops' nominees are considered to have an advantage for election because they are better "vetted."


Significantly, the Bishops did not re-nominate two Judicial Council incumbents seeking re-election. Mary Daffin and Keith Boyette had to be nominated from the floor. Daffin and Boyette voted for the decision in 2005 that allowed a pastor to deny a gay man membership in a local church. They are both on the election slate of "renewal" groups here that advocate for "theological orthodoxy."