CLICK HERE for the current edition of our newsletter, The Trinity View
To the Saints that are in Los Osos,
June is busting out all over, especially if you’re a Rogers and Hammerstein fan. Many might think Moon-June-Spoon as it was traditionally thought of as the best month for a wedding. For those who need a national holiday, June has Flag Day. For those who want to see more equality in the world it is celebrated as Pride Month, and has Juneteenth – Juneteenth, June 19, celebrates the announcement in 1865 of the abolition of slavery in the state of Texas. For others it’s the end of school, the beginning of summer, the start of beach weather, Father’s Day and even more.
For United Methodists, and UM pastors in particular it is “Annual Conference Season.” Some will say goodbye to congregations as they move to a new church in July. Some will retire. All will, or are at least supposed to, attend Annual Conference. Annual Conference is the time when all of the pastors within the Conference bounds, and an equal number of lay delegates elected by churches, districts, and some other entities gather to do our annual business. For clergy especially it can be a time to touch base with colleagues and friends we might see only once a year.
Last year all the Annual Conferences voted on five amendments to the constitution of the United Methodist Church that were proposed at the 2016 General Conference. Amendment 1 called for the church to specifically uphold gender equality; Amendment 2 more specifically called for removing bars to membership inclusion for persons of various conditions; Amendment 3 concerned the manner of electing delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference; Amendment 4 had to do with the way that bishops are elected and Amendment 5 had to do with Bishop’s accountability. All needed a 2/3 majority of the total of voters at all of the 131 Annual Conferences worldwide.
While the General Conference vote on Amendment 2 was barely over the needed 2/3, the votes on all of the other measures were overwhelmingly in favor of the measures. Numbers three through five passed easily world-wide. Gender equality and Membership Inclusion both failed to pass by the required majority. This rightly caused sadness and outrage in many places including our own Western Jurisdiction. I cast my vote in favor of all the amendments, as I’m sure our lay delegates did.
The bad news, the thing that shocked me was that the two failed amendments did not receive a 2/3 vote from our Annual Conference – not because of opposition but because there were apparently less than 2/3 of the Cal-Pac delegates who attended the session where the vote was taken. That is, to say the least, embarrassing. The good news is that because of an error in the way that the gender equality amendment was presented, it will come up for a re-vote at the Annual Conferences this year and hopefully will pass and our denomination become a little more just, and like the reign of God.
You may be aware that there are many issues and problems confronting our United Methodist denomination and that the direction of our future is anything but certain. I invite us all to be in prayer for our bishops, Annual Conferences and the upcoming special General Conference in February of next year.
There is a second reason that I decided to write on all of this. June 5 is Election Day in California and there are important things and people on the ballot. I urge us all to show up and make our voices heard. For want of a nail…