News Archives

Resolutions address Iraq, Sudan, inclusiveness

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
The Rev. Meg Lassiat
June 1, 2006

By Vicki Brown*

ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS) — Resolutions condemning the war in Iraq, genocide in Sudan, and criticizing a recent Judicial Council decision regarding pastoral authority and inclusiveness were among six approved by Student Forum delegates.

Of 16 resolutions introduced at the May 25-28 student leadership development conference, 14 dealt with issues of inclusiveness, particularly regarding homosexuality. All 16 resolutions were supported by a majority of the students voting, but only six received the necessary two-thirds support to become an official position of the United Methodist Student Movement, which organizes Student Forum.

The Rev. Meg Lassiat, director of student ministries, vocation, and enlistment at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, said agency staff members take the resolutions seriously. The resolutions will be forwarded to 2008 General Conference as the position of the United Methodist Student Movement. The board sponsors Student Forum.

Resolutions are not debated, but instead are discussed in structured panels, with a student acting as a facilitator asking questions of two students representing each side.

In the resolution on the war in Iraq, students condemned the use of torture and declared that fundamental rights endorsed in “The Social Principles” of the United Methodist Church are threatened by the Patriot Act. The resolution also urged President Bush to “return to his United Methodist roots and stop the use of torture for any reason in any location; to condemn the Patriot Act’s threats of infringement upon privacy and free speech and its abuse of domestic surveillance; and to act in a matter consistent with United Methodist teachings.” That resolution was supported by 149 students and not supported by 17, while 11 indicated they were “still discerning.”

Judicial Council items

Students approved two resolutions about Judicial Council Decision 1032, which reinstated a Virginia pastor who denied church membership to an openly gay man. One resolution said the decision deprived lay people of their rights, removed the United Methodist Constitution’s guarantee of open membership, and undermined the authority of the bishop and the district superintendent, as well as put minorities in the church at risk of further discrimination. That resolution passed, with 119 students supporting it, 31 not supporting it and 28 still discerning.

A resolution calling for reconciliation and inclusiveness in the denomination said that the Judicial Council does not have the authority to create new rules and regulations. It asked the council to reverse its ruling on Decision 1032 and urged the Council of Bishops to take action to create a fully inclusive church. The vote on that resolution was 124 in support, 30 not in support and 24 still discerning.

LINK: Click to open full size version of image
A UMNS photo by Vicki Brown

Student Forum 2006 participants attend one of the many workshops offered during the leadership event.
Because so many resolutions dealt with issues of homosexuality, a separate panel focused on what the denomination’s Book of Discipline says about homosexuality, as well as the history of recent rulings. That panel, attended by more than 100 students, was conducted by the Rev. Dee Baker, a campus minister at Toledo Campus Ministry Fellowship at the University of Toledo in Ohio.

The resolutions reflected the students’ interest in openness and inclusiveness, said the Revs. Luther Felder and Ken Bedell, staff members at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

“I think the message the young people are giving the church is that they have a particular perspective that the church needs to recognize on issues young people care about,” Bedell said.

Felder said students see the church as a place where flawed people of varying shapes, sizes and colors come together.

“Regardless of all of our flaws, all of our shortcomings, we all still belong to the same God. I submit that they are probably pretty concerned that the church is being exclusive when they themselves have practiced inclusivity as a generation in ways that exceed what any previous generation has experienced,” Felder said.

At panel discussions on a resolution petitioning General Conference to strike language in the Book of Discipline barring self-avowed practicing homosexuals from ordination, Daniel Smith, a student at Martin Methodist College, Pulaski, Tenn., argued the Bible specifically says homosexuality is a sin and for that reason the language should not be removed.

“We believe it’s contradictory to Scripture,” he said of the ordination of homosexuals.

However, other students argued homosexuality is not a sin. Calvert Bryant, a University of Toledo student, said during a panel discussion that the Bible cannot be taken literally.

“Slavery in the Bible is a good thing, but we don’t have slavery now,” Bryant argued. Both those resolutions received a majority vote but not the two-thirds needed.

Action on Sudan

Other resolutions approved by Student Forum included urging nonviolent action against genocide in Sudan. The vote was 167 in support of, seven still discerning, and four not in support.

Two resolutions endorsing petitions to the 2008 General Conference to amend the United Methodist Constitution to remove language referring to race, color, national origin, status or economic conditions in Paragraph 4, Article IV, and Paragraph 16, Article IV, of the Book of Discipline received two-thirds support. The resolutions were aimed at making sure membership of the church, its agencies, programs and institutions are inclusive.

The resolution on Paragraph 4, dealing with inclusiveness, was supported by 132 students, while 38 voted not in support and eight were still discerning. The resolution on Paragraph 16, dealing with the General Conference’s authority in connectional matters, had 124 votes in support, 42 not in support and 12 still discerning.

*Brown is an associate editor and writer in the Office of Interpretation, United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or

Related Articles
Students advised to cast nets into deep water, join church
Forum examines faith, ecumenical work and justice
New Format Should Draw More Students to Student Forum 2006
Students will hone leadership skills at annual forum
Young seminarians struggle with stereotypes, build network
United Methodist Student Movement
Young Seminarians Network
United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry