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Team named to deal with ‘Plan UMC’ inconsistencies

by Heather Hahn
May 4, 2012

The General Conference committee that ensures the Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, is coherent and consistent has found 14 discrepancies in the Plan UMC legislation that restructures general agencies.

On the morning of May 4, the General Conference appointed a transition team to work on the legislation until 4 p.m. EDT and present the legislation again to the full assembly. The team is to include five developers of Plan UMC, five members of the Connectional Table, five board members of the General Council on Finance and Administration, and a youth and young adult General Conference delegate designated by the Division on Ministries with Young People.

As I am writing this post, group members are still being rounded up to join the team. Members of the Committee on Correlation and Editorial Review that found the inconsistencies also are included in the meeting.

Some of the legislative issues the committee spotted:

  • By saying the legislation is to take effect at General Conference 2012, the legislation disenfranchises 21 annual (regional) conferences that already have met this year and will not have a chance to elect candidates for consideration at central conference meetings. Central conferences encompass United Methodists in Africa, Asia and Europe.
  • It is unclear in the legislation whether inclusivity standards for general agencies are applied in the aggregate or for each body.
  • The legislation says United Methodist Communications board should have 28 members, but designates membership should include three bishops, 16 members from U.S. jurisdictions, nine members from central conferences and seven additional members. That equal 35 members.
  • The legislation has discrepancies in the use of the words “may” and “shall” when outlining the committees of annual conferences.
  • Similarly, the legislation says United Methodist Men’s board should have 23 members but designates membership that adds up to 28.
  • The legislation still leaves references to the Connectional Table, which likely should be replaced by the newly created General Council for Strategy and Oversight.
  • The legislation lacks provision for transitioning the Connectional Table to the new General Council for Strategy and Oversight.