April 5, 2005
|A UMNS photo by John C. Goodwin
Delegates to the United Methodist Church's 2004 General Conference in Pittsburgh consider legislation.
By Linda Green*
Tenn. (UMNS)—Eight proposed changes to the United Methodist Church’s
constitution are being considered this year by annual (regional)
conferences meeting throughout the world.
changes must be ratified by an aggregate two-thirds vote of the 63 U.S.
annual (regional) conferences meeting this spring and the 52
conferences meeting throughout the year in Europe, Africa and the
to the United Methodist Church’s General Conference proposed the eight
amendments during their meeting last May in Pittsburgh. If the annual
conferences approve the changes, the amendments will go to the Council
of Bishops for final ratification.
The denomination has more than 10 million members worldwide, including 8.3 million in the United States.
of the proposed amendments would make possible the adoption of enabling
legislation at the same General Conference where an amendment is voted
upon. Such adoption would be contingent on the required ratification by
the various annual conferences. Currently, enabling legislation cannot
be introduced until at least the General Conference following the
adoption, and subsequent ratification, of a constitutional amendment.
Another amendment states that a fair and open process must be used for the election of General Conference delegates.
amendments relate to home missioners. If the changes are approved,
General Conference would have the authority to define and fix the powers
and duties of home missioners, and home missioners would be appointed
by bishops as members of the annual conference.
Other amendments also address conference membership. One defines clergy members of an annual conference.
calls for the people responsible for promoting the work of the United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries to be members of the annual
conference. The rationale for the amendment states that about 30 percent
of conference secretaries of global ministries are laity. Currently,
unless elected by his or her home church or included under the
conference’s equalization rule, the secretary is not a member of the
2000 General Conference passed legislation listing the lay members of
the annual conference. The 2005 annual conference delegates will
consider an amendment to add the conference director of lay speaking
ministries to the list of lay members in Paragraph 602.4 of the United
Methodist Book of Discipline.
final amendment calls for the deletion of the phrase “and provided
further that this provision shall not apply to annual conferences of the
former Evangelical United Brethren Church during the first three
quadrenniums after union.” The phrase is found in the 2000 Book of
Discipline, Division Two, Section IV, Paragraph 25.4, Article V, and in
the 2004 Book of Discipline, Division Two, Section IV, Paragraph 27.4,
Article V. The phrase, proposed to be deleted, applied to annual
conferences in existence before 1981, making it now obsolete.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.