A closer look at the UMC Constitution

A closer look at the UMC Constitution


If you are a member of Annual Conference, I hope you have read the document describing the amendments to the United Methodist Church's Constitution that we will be voting on at the conference session. These amendments may look too obscure to be anything but a cure for insomnia, but actually they are quite important. These have all passed a General Conference vote with at least a 2/3 majority. In order for them to become part of the Constitution, they must receive an affirmative vote of 2/3 of all the members of all the annual conferences in the connection. Every Oregon-Idaho member counts: our numbers of “yes” and “no” votes will become part of the aggregate vote for the whole church.
If you have read all the petitions and their explanations and feel totally ready to vote, you don’t need to read the rest of this. But if you would like to know the opinions of your General Conference delegates, keep reading.

Donna Pritchard and Jan Nelson
on the floor of General Confernce 2016

Donna Pritchard and I were the voting delegates in Portland. Some of our reserve delegates also participated in this discussion: Jeremy Smith, Josh Hauser, Clay Andrew, Mark Bateman, David Armstrong, and Norm Dyer. Here are our recommendations.
Amendment I, adds new language affirming the equality of women and men.
Yes: 8  No: 0
Amendment II, amends list of people who cannot be excluded from the church
Yes: 7  No: 1
One person would vote no due to the fact that this list does not also include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Amendment III, clarifies rules about election of General Conference delegates
Yes: 7  No: 1
One person does not believe that the church should dictate election procedures to central conferences just because this is the way that seems most fair in the US. Others believe that it is important to have the same procedure in all conferences. The original petition for this amendment came from one of the African central conferences, so apparently the need was felt in the place this rule would most affect.

Amendment IV, amends the rules for electing central conference bishops
Yes: 7  No: 1
The objection to this amendment was similar to that for Amendment III.
Amendment V, changes the rules for accountability of bishops
Yes: 0  No: 8
This rule change could allow the Council of Bishops to hold its members accountable in cases of misconduct. However, we believe it could also be used to stifle the prophetic voices of bishops.
Any of the delegation members listed above would be glad to discuss these amendments with you. I hope you will prayerfully consider your votes on these amendments before the Friday shared plenary session when the voting will take place.
I look forward to seeing you in Portland! It should be an exciting week of new friends and new ways of doing annual conference.
Jan Nelson
Conference Lay Leader
Lay delegate to General Conference, head of delegation

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Jan Nelson

Jan Nelson is the Lay Leader of the Oregon-Idaho Conference. She was a delegate to the 2016 and 2019 General Conferences and 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference. Jan is on the Ministry Leadership Team, Jurisdictional and Conference Committees on Episcopacy, and the Holy Land Task Force. She is also Chapter president of the Oregon-Idaho Methodist Federation for Social Action. She lives in Salem, Oregon.

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