From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Changes, additions enlarge policy base

Date 30 May 1996 15:38:12

"UNITED METHODIST DAILY NEWS" by SUSAN PEEK on Aug. 11, 1991 at 13:58 Eastern,

Note 2984 by UMNS on May 30, 1996 at 16:29 Eastern (5441 characters).

SEARCH:   Social Principles, resolutions, issues, General

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Contact:  Joretta Purdue                          270(10-71){2984}
          Washington, D.C.  (202) 546-8722            May 30, 1996

Additions in Social Principles, resolutions
enlarge United Methodism's policy base

     WASHINGTON (UMNS) -- The big issues of homosexuality and
abortion consumed hours of plenary time at the recent General
Conference of the United Methodist Church, but other statements on
social issues that passed quietly will have importance for the
     For example, a new subparagraph in the church's Social
Principles deals with sexual harassment. Reaffirming the statement
that human sexuality is "God's good gift," the new material
defines such exploitation and declares, "Sexual harassment
interferes with the moral mission of the church."
     The complete passage and others are contained in the opening
article of the May 1996 issue of Christian Social Action, just
published by the denomination's Board of Church and Society here.
The entire issue is devoted to coverage of the General Conference
with special emphasis on the social justice legislation and
resolutions passed by the 998 delegates in Denver, April 16-26.
     Other new subparagraphs cited by Lee Ranck, editor of the
publication, affirm organ donation for transplants, advocate
health care as a basic human right and a public and private
responsibility, reject the "erroneous notion that one gender is
superior to another," and encourage the church to provide for
victims of family violence/abuse of all forms.
     A rewritten subparagraph recognizes science as "a legitimate
interpretation of God's natural world" yet asserts "theological
understandings of human experience are crucial to a full
understanding of the place of humanity in the universe."
     A rewritten statement on divorce points up the continuing
obligation of family, church and society to give primary
consideration to the welfare of children.
     New material in the paragraph on the social community upholds
the equal rights and civil liberties of all people regardless of
their sexual orientation. It particularly condemns violence and
coercion against homosexuals and former homosexuals.
     Another addition recognizes the changes that have come to
rural communities as a result of mobility and technology. It asks
that churches regard these changes not as a threat to community
life but as "an opportunity to uphold the biblical call to
community for all persons."
     In the existing materials on the economic community,
additions assert the "right to a job at a living wage" and
encourages employers to pay employees "a wage that does not
require them to depend upon government subsidies such as food
stamps or welfare for their livelihood."
     The church has strengthened its statement against violent
protest in expressing civil disobedience.
     In addition, Ranck notes in another article, 112 petitions
were adopted that created new resolutions or added to existing
     As with most of the changes to the Social Principles, these
petitions were discussed in a legislative committee. Then most
were adopted or rejected via the consent calendar, based on the
committee's recommendation with five or less dissenting votes.
     One petition called for the removal of 57 time-dated
resolutions. Nineteen of the new resolutions replace present
statements, and 13 simply amend existing ones.
     The net increase in size of the forthcoming Book of
Resolutions is about three dozen statements, according to Ranck.
Thus, he says, "United Methodism continues to enlarge its policy
base for action on social issues."
     On the other hand, Ranck points to the adoption of a petition
that limits the life of resolutions to 12 years unless readopted.
     "When does this 12-year rule go into effect?" he asks, noting
that although General Conference legislation is effective Jan. 1,
1997, the 1996 Book of Resolutions will be in print by then. "Will
it include a number of important remaining resolutions adopted in
1984, 1980 and even 1976?"
     Ranck lists the resolutions that were pulled from the consent
calendar for floor debate and summarizes the amendments and
     Shanta M. Bryant, associate editor, writes about the global
nature of the General Conference as a reflection of the church's
worldwide composition and, separately, reports on the role of
caucuses in presenting their perspectives. In addition,
representatives of the Methodist Federation for Social Action and
Good News each offer an analysis of General Conference actions and
activities from their points of view.
     This issue includes several pages of news accounts from the
United Methodist News Service, an editorial and comments from
General Conference participants and observers, but its focus is a
summation of changes in the church's social policy.
     Additional copies of this publication are available for $1.50
each from the Christian Social Action, 100 Maryland Ave. NE,
Washington, DC 20002.
                               # # #


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