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United Methodist petitions cover range of issues

 


United Methodist petitions cover range of issues

Carol Winn Crawford, Louisiana, speaks during a session of the church and society legislative committee during the 2004 United Methodist General Conference in Pittsburgh. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.

UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey

Carol Winn Crawford, Louisiana, speaks during a session of the church and society legislative committee during the 2004 United Methodist General Conference.

May 13, 2004

By Linda Bloom*

PITTSBURGH (UMNS) - Delegates to the 2004 United Methodist General Conference approved a number of legislative petitions that never came up for debate during the April 27-May 7 assembly.

That's because the petitions - on topics ranging from domestic social concerns to international issues to guidelines for church life - were voted on as a group after being placed on a "consent calendar." Those items had few opposing votes, either for concurrence or nonconcurrence, from the legislative committees that processed them.

Some consent calendar items corrected, tightened or updated language currently found in the Book of Discipline, the denomination's book of law and Social Principles, or updated or replaced existing resolutions in the Book of Resolutions.

Several petitions approved on consent dealt with the issues of war and terrorism. Replacing and updating an existing resolution on terrorism was one that condemns all acts of terror but also opposes the use of indiscriminate military force to combat terrorism and policies, which, in the name of combating terrorism, violate civil and human rights.

The Rev. Paul Matheri, traveled from his home in Naivasha, Kenya, to attend the  2004 United Methodist General Conference in Pittsburgh. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.

UMNS photo by Mike DuBose

The Rev. Paul Matheri, traveled from his home in Naivasha, Kenya, to attend the 2004 United Methodist General Conference in Pittsburgh.

A new and related resolution on "Refugees, Immigrants and Visitors to the United States" notes that the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, have provided a basis for unjust treatment of some immigrants and made it difficult for some visitors to enter the country. An obvious example for United Methodists was the fact that some international delegates were unable to obtain visas to attend General Conference.

Updated language in the Social Principles, Paragraph 165.C, on "War and Peace" now rejects war "as an instrument of national foreign policy, to be employed only as a last resort in the prevention of such evils as genocide, brutal suppression of human rights and unprovoked international aggression."

A new resolution opposes all unilateral first-strike actions and "calls on the president and Congress of the United States to cease and desist from such actions without ramification by, and collaboration with, the United Nations." Another new resolution supports the development of a Department of Peace by the U.S. government. A bill that would establish such a department, H.R. 2459, has been introduced in the House of Representatives.

Delegates voted by consent to retain the current resolution on "Responsible Parenthood" in the Book of Resolutions. That resolution supports "the legal right to abortion as established by the 1973 Supreme Court."

Language on abortion in Paragraph 161.J of the Social Principles was amended to include the sentence, "We particularly encourage the church, the government, and social service agencies to support and facilitate the option of adoption." A new resolution, "Ministry to those who regret a past abortion," encourages pastors and local churches to make referrals and information available for those seeking help with "post-abortion stress."

In a 877-19 vote, delegates passed a resolution supporting compensation for the Comfort Women of Korea, Malaysia, Burma, China, Taiwan, East Timor, Indonesia and the Pacific Islands, who were enslaved by the Japanese military during World War II. The delegates called upon the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries to develop a strategy to urge the Japanese government to acknowledge fully its responsibility and liability. The board will report back to the 2008 General Conference.

Other resolutions adopted by consent call for United Methodists to:

  • Address the problem of binge drinking on college campuses.
  • Engage in further dialogue on issues related to homosexuality and unity of the church "with the hope that our struggles with these concerns will take a more civil character to the benefit of us all."
  • Monitor developments related to genetically modified plants and animals and educate church members on concerns regarding this issue.

More information about the actions of the 2004 United Methodist General Conference can be found at www.gc2004.org, the assembly's Web site.

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.  News media can contact Linda Bloom at (646) 369-3759 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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