General Conference 2012 Updates Archives 2

 

Friday, April 27

View photos from April 27.

Day 4 of the 2012 General Conference found the delegates in legislative committees most of the day. That evening everyone participated in an "Act of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples."

The Superintendency Legislative Committee agreed to a proposal from the Council of Bishops seeking a constitutional amendment that would permit them to assign a bishop without a residential assignment to serve as council president. If approved by a two-thirds majority of the assembly, the proposal must still be ratified by two-thirds of all annual conference members voting on the amendment.
The General Administration Legislative Committee is assigned the task of reviewing all structure proposals. In a straw poll, 48 committee members expressed a preference for multiple agencies, and 35 favored the proposal from the Connectional Table that would place nine of the 13 agencies under a single governing body.
Committee members agreed to begin their work with Plan B, an organizational plan submitted by an ad hoc group of delegates that retains four program agencies, continues the General Council on Finance and Administration, and discontinues five general agencies and expenses of 372 board members.
This is only the beginning point. The plan will be changed before presentation to plenary sessions, which begin April 30. Plan B architects already changed their original proposal to allow United Methodist Communications to remain a separate agency. Even if the legislative committee proposes a revised Plan B, a few delegates expect a minority report supporting the Connectional Table plan to be submitted alongside the majority report.
Worshipers were asked to enter into the hall in silence as the Act of Repentance began with a musical Call to Worship by Marcus Briggs-Cloud. Otto Braided Hair recounted, via videotape, atrocities that his grandfather had told him about the Sand Creek Massacre.  
The massacre at Sand Creek is a particularly sad part of Native American history that is entwined with United Methodist history. The massacre occurred when a Methodist governor ordered a Methodist pastor to kill over 160 Native Americans, many of whom were children, women or the elderly. The Massacre occurred a month after the Native Americans had surrendered.
One recurring theme of the evening was that repentance is not just a onetime event. "True repentance will mean a change in lifestyle, a process you do again and again; a process you live out of."
Representatives from the Council of Bishops shared the council's statement of sorrow and their commitment to repentance.
The evening concluded on an emotional note as people were asked to come gather a rock from the "River of Life," a symbolic river of rocks which had been placed throughout the floor of the plenary hall. People were asked to take their stone back to their communities as a reminder to "continue to listen and to walk the journey of healing with one another."

 

 

 

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Legislative committee members vote on proposed legislation on April 26 during the 2012 General Conference. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

Saturday, April 28 (Provided by UMNS Rich Peck)

Saturday, April 28, became a day of rest for members of the Independent Commission and Discipleship legislative committees, while members of other committees picked up speed to process as many petitions as possible before the 9:30 p.m. closing bell. Any legislative proposal not acted upon by adjournment time will not be considered unless 20 delegates pull it up for consideration.

The Committee on Ministry and Higher Education agreed to ask the plenary session to approve legislation that would end guaranteed appointments, but they added a provision for an eight-member team to develop a list of issues and concerns to guide the cabinet and bishop when a full-time missional appointment is not available for an elder.

Cabinets will be asked to report annually to the executive committee of the board of ordained ministry on which elders have not received an appointment and why. Cabinets will also be asked for a report on the age, ethnicity and gender of each elder without a full-time missional appointment. This data will be evaluated by the conference and jurisdictional committees on the episcopacy.

Rally to oppose private prisons

Delegates and visitors gathered under the brilliant Tampa sun for a noon rally against the privatization of prisons, led by the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration.

Participants in the April 28 rally sang “We Shall Overcome” while carrying signs saying, “Profit from Pain is Inhumane.”

The rally celebrated the establishment of a new investment screen adopted by the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits. That screen, adopted in January, forbids board investments in companies that derive more than 10 percent of their revenue from the operation of prison facilities.

The policy change resulted, in part, from requests from the task force.

“We believe that profiting from the incarceration of persons is immoral and antithetical to our Christian faith,” said Bishop Minerva Carcaño, co-chair of the task force, in a letter to the board. “The fact that an inordinate number of persons incarcerated in the U.S. are people of color and persons who come out of poverty raises serious concerns about investments in prisons serving to perpetuate racism and classism.”

“Something is wrong,” exclaimed Iowa Area Bishop Julius Trimble during the waterside rally. Trimble who is co-chair with Carcaño, said, “People are detained for being poor, out of status or because they don’t speak English.”

Desmond Mead, a second-year law student who has been incarcerated, said detention is a “world problem,” not just a Hispanic or black issue.

The Rev. Audrey Warren, pastor of Branches United Methodist Church in Florida City, Fla., and a task force member, said her 150-member congregation includes a number of immigrants. “The immigrant is not a stranger,” she said. “The immigrant is a United Methodist.”

Warren said the problem of private prisons is not a political issue for United Methodists, but a “family dinner table conversation.”

The Detention Watch Network, an advocacy organization, reports that in 2009, some 49 percent of 385,524 immigrants were detained in 30 private prisons, at an average daily cost of $122 per day, or $1.7 billion.

Sunday activities

While there were are no legislative activities scheduled for Sunday, delegates and visitors are invited to worship in Tampa area churches where bishops are scheduled to serve as guest preachers.

On Sunday evening delegates will return to the convention center for a service celebrating the 20th anniversary of Communities of Shalom, the 40th anniversary of the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, Archives and History, five ethnic national plans, Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century, the Four Areas of Focus, Global AIDS Fund, and the Advance. The General Commission on United Methodist Men will note the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts and present a Good Samaritan Award. The evening will conclude with the consecration of 17 deacons and the commissioning of 23 missionaries.

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