Saturday Action at ACS

June 18, 2011

Saturday morning at the California-Nevada Annual Conference Session produced several celebratory moments:

  • The Consent Calendar was quickly adopted on a voice vote.
  • This year's third (and final) Bishop's Award was presented to Bruce Pettit, the longtime administrative assistant for the former Golden Gate District, who is now in retirement.
  • "Kids at Conference" produced some hilarity when Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. invited the "senior" member of the delegation, Tim Meyer, to sit in the bishop's chair and the young man pantomimed being the bishop for a few moments – even pretending to sip from Bishop Brown's coffee cup.
  • There also was celebration of the ministry of Galilee Korean United Methodist Church of Sunnyvale, which after 40 years is closing and joining with FUMC Sunnyvale to create a multicultural partnership church. Bishop Brown commended the ministry of Galilee Korean's pastor, Rev. Duk-Soo Kim. Prayer was offered by El Camino Real District Superintendent Kristie Olah and by Rev. Kim.
Section D Chairperson Myra Geiser reported that Item 14, a resolution in support of California's FAIR Education Act (designed to decrease bullying of LGBT students), was recommended for passage by the section and placed before the body. It was approved.
Rev. Ardith Allread moved that Items 15 and 21 be considered as one Item for purposes of discussion, and that Items 19, 20, and 25 be considered as a second Item for purposes of discussion. The motion received a second and was overwhelmingly approved.
Geiser called attention to the fact that Item 15 was re-worded by the submitting committee so as not to be in violation of the Discipline; it was changed to request that the California-Nevada delegation to General Conference ask the General Conference to enact a change to the Book of Discipline that would allow local church property, including the Sanctuary, to be used to conduct any marriage that is legal within a state or the District of Columbia. 
Approval was recommended by the section on a 50-15 vote.
Section E Chairperson Chuck Johnstone reported that Item 21 was not amended in section and was recommended for passage.
Following some discussion Items 15 and 21 were approved by a show of hands.
Geiser noted that Section D was assigned Item 16 but that it was withdrawn – concluding the report on the work of Section D.
Following a short break, Johnstone reported that Item 19 also was not amended in section, and was recommended for approval on a 61-18 vote. Item 20 was recommended for approval on a 61-16 vote.
Section F Chairperson Jeffrey Kuan reported that Item 25 was recommended for approval by the section on a 56-15 vote.
After a brief period of discussion, Items 19, 20, and 25 were approved by a show of hands.
Returning to consideration of other Items, Johnstone reported on the discussion of Items 17 and 18 in Section E (the section recommended approval of both).
It was moved and seconded that the two Items be combined for purposes of discussion. That motion was approved on a voice vote.
During discussion, an amendment to the Item referring to conduct of clergy was offered, that would request that additional language in the Book of Discipline be removed. It received a second. There was clarification of the decision-making by the authors of the Item. The amendment was defeated on a show of hands.
Another amendment was offered and seconded, that would retain language in the Book of Discipline upholding the morality of keeping to the sanctity of marriage, but would ask that language singling out those in non-heterosexual marriages be removed.
A motion was made to amend the amendment in an effort to reconcile concerns raised on both sides of the original amendment, and received a second. It was defeated on a show of hands.
The original amendment was defeated on a show of hands.
Items 17 and 18 were adopted on a show of hands, to conclude the work of Section E.
Returning to consideration of the work of Section F, section leader Jeffrey Kuan reported that Item 24 was being reported to the body with a recommendation for approval. It was approved on a show of hands to conclude the work of Section F.
Section G Chairperson Gaye Benson reported that Item 13, Prioritizing Alternatives to Military Spending, was placed on the Consent Calendar. She said the Section recommended approval of Item 26, Resolution Aligning U.S. Investments with Resolutions on Israel and Palestine, on a 38-25 vote – after taking the unusual action of allowing speeches on each side of the issue by outside interests (two in support and two in opposition).
In Plenary, there was passionate but respectful discussion on both sides.
A motion to extend the debate by two speakers per side was moved, seconded, and defeated.
The question was called. A vote was taken by a show of hands and it appeared that the Item had been defeated.
Larry George of the Israel-Palestine Task Force said that the task force offers to meet with any church wishing to discuss the issue.
A motion to request a count vote, which requires a two-thirds majority, was made. The bishop determined that the hands raised constituted that number. Tellers were summoned and persons in support of Item 26, and then those in opposition to Item 26, were asked to stand to be counted. The Item was not approved.
While waiting for the count, Heather Leslie Hammer, Chairperson of the Conference Committee on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, announced that CCUIC will continue to pursue dialogue regardless of the outcome of the vote on Item 26.
Benson reported that the remaining Items considered by Section G were placed on the Consent Calendar.
Section H Chairperson Jola Bortner reported that Items 28, 29, 30, and 34 all were placed on the Consent Calendar.
A motion was made and seconded to remove Item 12 from the table. It was approved on a voice vote.
Ardith Allread moved that both the Item and the substitute motion be referred to the Conference Board of Church and Society for further work. It was seconded.
A show of hands on the referral question produced an inconclusive result, and the bishop asked those in favor of, and opposed to, referring the Item to stand. He still could not make a ruling and called for tellers.
Bortner asked the bishop to explain the timetable involved in referring the Item. He did so. Referral would delay action on the Item to 2012, which would be after action is taken on the Farm Bill, on Capitol Hill.
After the Bridges District appointment-fixing, the count was reported. Item 12 was referred to the Conference Committee on Church and Society by a one-vote margin: 197 to 196.
Bortner moved that information about the Item be referred to the Cal-Nevada Delegation to General Conference and to the General Board of Church and Society, for their information. It received a second. The motion was approved on a voice vote.
That concluded the legislative action of the 163rd Annual Conference Session, at 12:29 p.m.
The Nominations Report was approved on voice vote.
Blake Busick of the Conference Vital Congregations Task Group outlined the "building blocks" of a Strategic Plan for Congregational Vitality.
Cory Parish of the Endowment Board presented a check for $1.4 million to the Board of Pensions for Pre-82 pensions and retired clergy healthcare costs – and reported that in addition, the Endowment Board is making a onetime special grant of $100,000 to be used for retired clergy healthcare expenses, along with $84,000 to the Retired Clergy Association, "in support of their great work." The bequests bring the Endowment Board's total giving over the past 30 years to more than $34 million (more than $1.1 million per year!).
There was a brief time of worship to close the Plenary. It was recessed at 1:28 p.m.
The official close of each Annual Conference Session comes at the conclusion of the Service of Commissioning and Ordination.