Monday began with morning prayer and then right into the plenary session. The morning plenary began by dealing with agenda items and passing 9 consent calendars. The body then moved onto a request that was brought by the Council of Bishops.
The request from the Council of Bishops asked for a non-residential president of the Council of Bishops. The legislation involved a change in the constitution which requires bishops to be appointed and serve within a specific jurisdiction. The bishops were asking for a change in language which would allow the election of a “fulltime president of the Council of Bishops.”
The conversation on the floor was heated and split between those who had sympathy with the request and those who believed it was creating a new executive officer for The United Methodist Church. While Bishop Goodpaster, the outgoing president of the Council, assured the conference that the non-residential bishop would have no additional powers beyond that of the current part-time president, delegates worried that this office would obtain new powers. This was a special concern for non-US delegates, who spoke with passion against the measure. In the end, the measure had a majority of the votes cast, but could not obtain the 2/3 needed to approve a constitutional amendment.
A proposal was made to move from the system where bishops are elected to the episcopacy until their retirement to a system where an Episcopal term would be eight years with the possibility of one re-election. Initially the item had received the required 2/3 votes in the legislative committee but had received the required twenty signatures to be pulled from the consent calendar and brought to the floor. After debate on the floor, the proposal did not have the required 2/3 votes to become a constitutional amendment.
In other legislation, two clergy and two lay persons were elected to the Judicial Council. The two lay people are N. Oswald Tweh, Sr. and Beth Capen. The six laity alternates are Sandra W. Lutz, Kurt Glassco, Randall Miller, Deanell Reece Tacha, W. Warren Plowden, Jr. and Reynaldo V. Abdon. The clergy persons elected are J. Kabamba Kiboko and Dennis L. Blackwell.
Jan Love, Kasap Owan, William J. Abraham and Dr. Bill T. Arnold, a clergy delegate from the Kentucky Conference, were elected to the University Senate. The University Senate is made up of 25 voting members who at the time of election are actively engaged in the work of education at an educational institution. The four will serve four-year terms.
The order of the day was a celebration of Higher Education. After a presentation during the afternoon plenary session, a choir from Africa University took the stage and then literally took delegates, bishops and visitors to a reception one floor down as they led a musical procession through the hallway, down the escalator and into the reception.
The choir of Kentucky Wesley College was one of the featured choirs that sang during the reception. The choir decked out in tuxedos and long dresses was one of the most nattily attired and also one of the most well-received choirs. The crowd surrounded the stage and clapped and moved in time with the music of the choir.
The night ended with the evening worship service titled "Embark". The night was hosted by Dr. Larry Hygh and Bishop David Kekumba Yemba preached the sermon.
Annie Haigler and Rev. Gary Graves (second row) on stage during a plenary session. Photo by Cathy Bruce.