May 5, 2004
By Linda Bloom*
(UMNS) — Debates and votes over organizational structure and the budget
implications of mission programs dominated the May 5 agenda of the
United Methodist General Conference.
A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.
Bishop Judith Craig (right) greets Bishop Beverly J. Shamana after Shamana preached for the May 5 worship service.
The morality of church pastors also was considered in a late action May 4.
a vote of 455-445, delegates to the denomination’s top legislative body
amended Paragraph 2702 in the Book of Discipline to clarify language
and give bishops, pastors and diaconal ministers a list of offenses that
could result in a trial.
that will be chargeable, according to the new paragraph, are: a)
immorality, including, but not limited to, not being celibate in
singleness or not being faithful in a heterosexual marriage; b)
practices declared by the United Methodist Church to be incompatible
with Christian teachings, including, but not limited to, being a
self-avowed practicing homosexual, or conducting ceremonies that
celebrate homosexual unions, or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies.
May 5 action, delegates decided to create a new organizational model,
called the “Connectional Table,” to guide the work of the denomination’s
general agencies. However, the assembly rejected a Connectional Table
proposed by the General Council on Ministries and adopted an alternative
plan developed by the General Administration legislative committee. The
adopted plan calls for a Connectional Table that would be smaller and,
according to proponents, less costly than that offered by the council.
voted by a 2 to 1 margin to adopt the alternative plan. The new
Connectional Table will begin operating Jan. 1, and the Council on
Ministries will go out of existence at the end of a transitional period.
on its external operations, the denomination voted to expand its media
effort, which promotes a message of “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open
Doors.” The vote paved the way for United Methodist Communications to
add 18 weeks of additional airings of denominational TV advertising to
its established schedule and to develop a youth component.
the amount of funding made available for the core TV ad campaign was
reduced by more than one-third — from a proposed $33.5 million to $22
million. The youth proposal survived with its requested $5.4 million in
funding intact. Earlier in the week, delegates approved another $2.3
million for a plan submitted by United Methodist Communications to
improve communications for church members in countries outside the
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Bishop S. Clifton Ives presides over a session of General Conference.
other business, General Conference delegates received a May 5 ruling
from the denomination’s high court that said the unwillingness of a
pastor to lead a local church toward full payment of its apportionments
is not a chargeable offense. Apportionments are defined as the funds
each annual conference or local church pays to support international,
national and regional mission programs.
Judicial Council affirmed that encouraging full payment of
apportionments is one of the duties of a pastor, but declared that
holding a pastor “personally accountable” if apportionments are not paid
people were elected to the 25-member University Senate, a body of
professionals in higher education that determines which academic
institutions meet the criteria for affiliation with the United Methodist
from a slate of 13 nominees were the Rev. David Maldonado Jr.,
president of Iliff School of Theology in Denver; Socorro Brito de Anda,
president of Lydia Patterson Institute in El Paso, Texas; the Rev.
Rebekah Miles, professor of ethics and United Methodist doctrine at
Perkins School of Theology in Dallas; and the Rev. L. Gregory Jones,
vice president of the Association of United Methodist Theological
In other business, General Conference delegates:
Rev. Larry Hollon, United Methodist Communications’ top staff
executive, and the Rev. Sung-Ja Lee Moon watch vote totals at the
General Conference votes to continue Igniting Ministry. A UMNS photo by
a special United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, with $3 million to be
raised through apportionments and an additional $5 million to be raised
through the Advance giving program.
to continue the Korean American National Plan, the Asian American
Language Ministry Study and the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino
Ministry. Funds for the plans are included in the budget of the United
Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
two special mission programs, “Holistic Strategy on Africa” and
“Holistic Strategy on Latin America and the Caribbean,” to be funded and
coordinated through the Board of Global Ministries. Delegates also
agreed to mandate a study on the relationship between the United
Methodist Church and autonomous Methodist churches in Latin America and
- Voted to continue the denomination’s initiative on “Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century.”
an office of service for laymen, called “home missioners,” that
parallels the historic office of deaconess for lay women.
a resolution on “charitable choice,” or the use of public funds for
church-related social services and community development programs, which
encourages separate nonprofit incorporation for those groups receiving
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
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