Resolutions address Iraq, Sudan, inclusiveness
June 1, 2006
By Vicki Brown*
ADRIAN, Mich. (UMNS) - Resolutions condemning the war in Iraq,
genocide in Sudan, and criticizing a recent Judicial Council decision
regarding pastoral authority and inclusiveness were among six approved
by Student Forum delegates.
Of 16 resolutions introduced at the May 25-28 student leadership
development conference, 14 dealt with issues of inclusiveness,
particularly regarding homosexuality. All 16 resolutions were
supported by a majority of the students voting, but only six received
the necessary two-thirds support to become an official position of the
United Methodist Student Movement, which organizes Student Forum.
The Rev. Meg Lassiat, director of student ministries, vocation, and
enlistment at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and
Ministry, said agency staff members take the resolutions seriously.
The resolutions will be forwarded to 2008 General Conference as the
position of the United Methodist Student Movement. The board sponsors
Resolutions are not debated, but instead are discussed in structured
panels, with a student acting as a facilitator asking questions of two
students representing each side.
In the resolution on the war in Iraq, students condemned the use of
torture and declared that fundamental rights endorsed in "The Social
Principles" of the United Methodist Church are threatened by the
Patriot Act. The resolution also urged President Bush to "return to
his United Methodist roots and stop the use of torture for any reason
in any location; to condemn the Patriot Act's threats of infringement
upon privacy and free speech and its abuse of domestic surveillance;
and to act in a matter consistent with United Methodist teachings."
That resolution was supported by 149 students and not supported by 17,
while 11 indicated they were "still discerning."
Judicial Council items
Students approved two resolutions about Judicial Council Decision
1032, which reinstated a Virginia pastor who denied church membership
to an openly gay man. One resolution said the decision deprived lay
people of their rights, removed the United Methodist Constitution's
guarantee of open membership, and undermined the authority of the
bishop and the district superintendent, as well as put minorities in
the church at risk of further discrimination. That resolution passed,
with 119 students supporting it, 31 not supporting it and 28 still
A resolution calling for reconciliation and inclusiveness in the
denomination said that the Judicial Council does not have the
authority to create new rules and regulations. It asked the council to
reverse its ruling on Decision 1032 and urged the Council of Bishops
to take action to create a fully inclusive church. The vote on that
resolution was 124 in support, 30 not in support and 24 still discerning.
Because so many resolutions dealt with issues of homosexuality, a
separate panel focused on what the denomination's Book of Discipline
says about homosexuality, as well as the history of recent rulings.
That panel, attended by more than 100 students, was conducted by the
Rev. Dee Baker, a campus minister at Toledo Campus Ministry Fellowship
at the University of Toledo in Ohio.
The resolutions reflected the students' interest in openness and
inclusiveness, said the Revs. Luther Felder and Ken Bedell, staff
members at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
"I think the message the young people are giving the church is that
they have a particular perspective that the church needs to recognize
on issues young people care about," Bedell said.
Felder said students see the church as a place where flawed people of
varying shapes, sizes and colors come together.
"Regardless of all of our flaws, all of our shortcomings, we all still
belong to the same God. I submit that they are probably pretty
concerned that the church is being exclusive when they themselves have
practiced inclusivity as a generation in ways that exceed what any
previous generation has experienced," Felder said.
At panel discussions on a resolution petitioning General Conference to
strike language in the Book of Discipline barring self-avowed
practicing homosexuals from ordination, Daniel Smith, a student at
Martin Methodist College, Pulaski, Tenn., argued the Bible
specifically says homosexuality is a sin and for that reason the
language should not be removed.
"We believe it's contradictory to Scripture," he said of the
ordination of homosexuals.
However, other students argued homosexuality is not a sin. Calvert
Bryant, a University of Toledo student, said during a panel discussion
that the Bible cannot be taken literally.
"Slavery in the Bible is a good thing, but we don't have slavery now,"
Bryant argued. Both those resolutions received a majority vote but not
the two-thirds needed.
Action on Sudan
Other resolutions approved by Student Forum included urging nonviolent
action against genocide in Sudan. The vote was 167 in support of,
seven still discerning, and four not in support.
Two resolutions endorsing petitions to the 2008 General Conference to
amend the United Methodist Constitution to remove language referring
to race, color, national origin, status or economic conditions in
Paragraph 4, Article IV, and Paragraph 16, Article IV, of the Book of
Discipline received two-thirds support. The resolutions were aimed at
making sure membership of the church, its agencies, programs and
institutions are inclusive.
The resolution on Paragraph 4, dealing with inclusiveness, was
supported by 132 students, while 38 voted not in support and eight
were still discerning. The resolution on Paragraph 16, dealing with
the General Conference's authority in connectional matters, had 124
votes in support, 42 not in support and 12 still discerning.
*Brown is an associate editor and writer in the Office of
Interpretation, United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
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