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Decision No. 1047

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October 26 2006
In Re: Review of Bishop’s Decision of Law in the Minnesota Annual Conference Concerning Whether the Annual Conference Can Belong to the Minnesota Religious Coalition Reproductive Choice.

Digest of Case

The Minnesota Annual Conference may officially join the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Statement of Facts

The 2006 regular session of the Minnesota Annual Conference adopted Item #533 which authorized the Annual Conference to officially join the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. A clergy member submitted a written question of law as follows: “Was the adoption of Action Item #533 in accordance with the Book of Discipline if the MN [sic] Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice supports a position on abortion that is different from that found in our Social Principles?” The Bishop ruled that the Minnesota Annual Conference could officially join the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

Jurisdiction
The Judicial Council has jurisdiction under Paragraph 2609.6 of the 2004 Book of Discipline.
Analysis and Rationale
The Bishop’s decision of law is affirmed. Paragraph 161(J) states that The United Methodist Church does not affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control and rejects it as a means of gender selection. It further states that the church opposes the use of late-term abortions known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and calls for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger. This paragraph is clear on the church’s stance on abortion, but it in no way prohibits a conference involvement with an organization that may differ with the position of The United Methodist Church. An annual conference may hold membership in organizations it determines to be appropriate to its work and not in violation of the Book of Discipline. Some examples of this include regional and state ecumenical bodies, organizations on various social issues such as prison reform, children’s initiatives and environmental concerns, Scouting programs, appropriate organizations in central conferences, and various other mission and outreach agencies.
Decision
The Minnesota Annual Conference may officially join the Minnesota Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. October 27, 2006 Mary A. Daffin and Shamwange P. Kyungu were absent.

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