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Friday afternoon session

by Neill Caldwell
May 4, 2012

The house was in an uproar after it was announced that the Judicial Council had ruled “Plan UMC” unconstitutional (see related story by Linda Bloom). “We need time to digest what has just happened,” said Bishop Jeremiah Park, who was presiding, in breaking a bit early for the dinner recess. Park also granted a 10-minute recess for delegates to confer.

  • In other business handled Friday afternoon, delegates rejected a motion to suspend the rules so that many of the remaining calendar items that have not been acted on could be added to the Consent Calendar.
  • Delegates paused to honor the General Conference Committee, Gere Reist, Alan Morrison, Marcia McFee and the musicians, vocalists, lights, sound and graphics, plus the many language translators, the Daily Christian Advocate staff, Harry Leake and the United Methodist Communications production team, the 138 pages and marshals, and the Florida host committee, headed by the Rev. Jim Harnish of Hyde Park UMC in Tampa.
  • The General Conference approved Calendar item 453, petition 20927, on using civil litigation as a last resort in settling our differences. A minority report asked that the language be moved to the Book of Reports because it is a United States-related issue and does not belong in the Book of Discipline. Other speakers countered that the problem of being overly litigious is a global problem.
  • Delegates approved Calendar item 457, petition 20489, which relates to family ministries and expands a resolution that would have expired without action. An amendment also adds the words “single persons” to the phrase “family ministries.”
  • Conference Secretary Gere Reist reported the results of several offerings taken this week. The opening worship offering raised just under $16,000 for ministry with the poor and Imagine No Malaria. The offering for the Advance, taken Sunday night, raised $9,933, and the offering Thursday for marshals and pages totaled $11,535.
  • Bishop Sharon Rader led the body in approving several corrections in the nominations for boards.
  • The General Conference substituted the minority report for Calendar item 468, petition 20412, concerning the portability of healthcare benefits for retired clergy who may have served in more than one conference. The action refers the petition to the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits. Lisa King, a lay delegate from Wisconsin, representing the minority report from the Finance and Administration Legislative Committee, said that while they supported the idea, they were uncertain of “the actuarial and financial consequences if passed, and there may be other unintended consequences.”
  • The body approved Calendar item 533, petition 20833, dealing with duties of the Secretary of General Conference in publishing the Book of Resolutions, by adding a complete subject index and an index of scripture verses. But more importantly, the petition stated that future additions to the Book of Resolutions would require a 60% majority vote by the General Conference. “If we are saying that something is the position of the whole United Methodist Church, we ought to have a super-majority vote,” said Bill Junk of Oklahoma in supporting the change.