What Happened With Cal-Nev's 27 Petitions?
By Bruce Pettit
California-Nevada News Service
The California-Nevada Annual Conference submitted 27 petitions to General Conference 2008, solely or in conjunction with others. Here is what happened with each of the 27 Cal-Nev petitions.
Conscientious Objection. Cal-Nev's chapter of Methodist Federation for Social Action won a victory with a resolution supporting conscientious objection to military service. The petition also supported "those who conscientiously choose to serve." It was supported in the Church and Society 1 Committee 52 to 0, and adopted by the whole General Conference on a consent calendar.
For Those Caught up in War. Cal-Nev's MFSA Chapter lost, however, on a resolution that read, in part, "The United States has squandered its positive reputation as a responsible member of the global community" by its involvement in
UMC and Peace. Cal-Nev's MFSA chapter asked that Resolution 338 in the Book of Resolutions be renewed for another eight years. The resolution outlines ways the UMC might persistently work for disarmament, oppose military conscription, and promote democracy, freedom, and world trade. But both the Church and Society 1 Committee (56-0) and the full General Conference rejected it.
First Strike. Cal-Nev's MFSA and the General Board of Global Ministries asked that the UMC oppose
Peacemaking. Cal-Nev and nine other annual conferences asked bishops and church boards and agencies to "incorporate peacemaking into their regular programs and budgets." But the General Administration Committee eliminated specific suggestions in the resolution for certain things the agencies could do – leaving it with just the generic reference to peacemaking. The committee then recommended it 52 to 0, and the whole GC adopted it on a consent calendar.
Peacemaking Reporting. Cal-Nev and the same nine other annual conferences asked the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table to report on their peacemaking activities at the General Conference of 2012. General Administration recommended against that 46 to 3, and the whole GC rejected it on a consent calendar.
National Council of Churches. Cal-Nev's MFSA wanted a new resolution for the Book of Resolutions supporting the National Council of Churches and opposing any "arbitrary" capping of or restrictions on the amounts of funds that the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns could award to the NCC. The Committee on Independent Commissions rejected the resolution 31 to 7, and the whole GC rejected it on a consent calendar.
Deacons' Responsibilities. Cal-Nev wanted deacons to be able to administer baptism and Communion, not merely assist elders in those tasks. The Committee on Ministry and Higher Education rejected the idea 73 to 0, as did the whole GC on a consent calendar.
Divestment. Cal-Nev and four other annual conferences wanted the UMC Board of Pensions and General Council on Finance and Administration to divest from companies that profit "from products or services that cause harm to Palestinians and Israelis." The Financial Administration Committee rejected the proposal 50 to 0, as did the General Conference on a hand vote.
United Nations. Cal-Nev and the Board of Church and Society wanted to renew the resolution in the Book of Resolutions that would have the UMC support the United Nations as representing "the best efforts made so far by governments and peoples" toward a vision of "peace rooted in justice." The Committee of Global Ministries adopted the position 76 to 3, and the full GC supported it on a consent calendar.
Online Access to the Book of Discipline. Cal-Nev suggested the Book of Discipline be available online in its entirety at no cost to readers. It was rejected in the Independent Commissions Committee, 31 to 8, and rejected by the entire General Conference on a consent calendar.
Restore Filipino Veterans Benefits. Cal-Nev wanted priority visas to be made available to the children of Filipino World War II veterans who are naturalized citizens of the
Justice for Filipino Veterans. Cal-Nev wanted to renew Resolution 273 in the Book of Resolutions seeking benefits for Filipinos who fought with
Substance Abuse Prevention. Cal-Nev wanted a new resolution in the Book of Resolutions supporting efforts to help local churches prevent substance abuse. It was rejected 49 to 0 in Church and Society 2 and rejected by the whole General Conference on a consent calendar.
Definition of Marriage: Cal-Nev proposed that marriage be defined as a union between "two adult persons" instead of between "a man and a woman." That petition was "bundled" with nine other petitions with the same recommended change. It was the petition from the New York Annual Conference that was forwarded to the conference floor by the Church and Society 2 Committee with a recommendation for rejection (31-23). Plenary rejected the petition 574-298 (66 to 34 percent).
Holy Unions: Cal-Nev proposed that the prohibition on celebrating holy unions in our churches be deleted from the Book of Discipline. There were nine other similarly-worded petitions, and they were all rejected in a consent calendar of many petitions to be rejected. The Committee on Ministry and Higher Education chose, however, to forward to the floor a petition from the West Florida Annual Conference on this issue. That conference petitioned to keep intact the language of banning such celebrations. It passed 568 votes to 312 (65 to 35 percent).
Human Sexuality. Cal-Nev proposed that the phrase about homosexuality being "incompatible with Christian teaching" be removed from the Book of Discipline. It was one of 26 petitions that proposed the same action. The
Funding Promotion. Cal-Nev wanted to remove the Discipline language that said no United Methodist funds shall be spent to "promote the acceptance of homosexuality." There were 11 such petitions from around the country, and they were all bundled for defeat. The Committee on Finance and Administration decided to forward a petition to retain the funding ban – but amended it to say that any advocacy of condemnation of LGBT people is also prohibited. That idea was put forward in another petition, by the Rev. James Lockwood-Stewart of Cal-Nev. So amended it went to the plenary floor on a 33 to 16. General Conference then adopted the language in a show of hands.
Membership. Cal-Nev and seven other conferences forwarded identical wording calling for legislative reversal of a Judicial Council decision of 2005. It had held that a pastor has the discretion to deny local church membership solely on the basis of LGBT. Several other petitions also addressed the issue. The Local Church Committee forwarded a petition from the Oklahoma Conference that omitted mention of LBGT. It said simply that "all" shall be received. It lost narrowly in plenary, on a vote of 436 for and 448 against – a 51 to 49 percent loss.
Inclusivity. Cal-Nev wanted to amend the UM Constitution's Division One, Article 4 addressing the "Inclusiveness of the Church." It wanted "gender, gender identity, marital status, sexual orientation, [and] ability" to be added to a list of factors that would not be a barrier to participation. Twelve other parts of the country had identical petitions; seven more offered similar wording. They were all rejected in a bundle on a consent calendar. Instead the General Administration Committee brought to the plenary floor a broadly worded petition from the Texas Annual Conference: "We are in ministry to all." The Rev. Renae Extrum-Fernandez presented the petition on the plenary floor. It barely received the 2/3 vote necessary for a constitutional amendment – 558 to 276, or 67 to 33 percent, and now must get that from all those voting in annual conferences next year in order to be enacted.
Former Homosexuals. Cal-Nev and nine other annual conferences wanted to remove from the Book of Discipline that the UMC is against "marginalization of former homosexuals" (in accordance with a belief that homosexuality is intrinsic). The identically worded petitions were rolled into one, supported in CS2 57 to 0, and adopted on a consent calendar.
Military Service. Cal-Nev wanted a resolution for the Book of Resolutions that the UMC supports repeal of federal laws that disqualify LGBT folks from the military. It lost 47 to 7 in the CS 2 committee, and the full plenary defeated it on a consent calendar.