Annual Conference Actions: Peace in the Holy Lands
By Karen Nelson
retired OR-ID Conference elder
Each year at the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Session, among the budgets, appointments, reports, and celebrations are conference legislation items. Many of these actions and standing resolutions are intended to live out the values of The United Methodist Church as it exists in the Oregon-Idaho context. This article is one in a series to highlight legislative items related to social justice and values.
As we walked through the seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, our gaze may have gone toward Bethlehem and the birth of the tiny baby – a birth that is too often celebrated without all the challenges that were happening in the world of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. Unfortunately, then and now, O Little Town of Bethlehem is not a peaceful, quiet place. Today the people of Bethlehem live under a brutal military occupation. The current government of Israel has indicated plans to make this occupation even worse.
Six months ago, the Annual Conference met and passed two pieces of legislation that will help us to speak out for the people of Palestine.
An Action Request titled Identifying and Opposing Apartheid in the Holy Land was brought to the Annual Conference by the Conference Holy Land Task Force. This Action Request asks all United Methodists, “To affirm that apartheid is antithetical to the Gospel message and that we recognize and oppose Israeli apartheid as we strive to ‘resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.’” The Action Request also calls for people to listen to the voices of Palestinians and learn more about the situation in Israel/Palestine.
The second item, a renewal of a Conference Standing Resolution, Aligning Investments with Values Regarding Palestine and Israel, goes along with the Action Request. The resolution states, “We call for all Oregon-Idaho United Methodist boards and agencies, districts, local churches and individuals to prayerfully consider avoiding companies involved in Israel’s occupation of Palestine when making investment decisions, and/or utilizing their purchasing power; and Encourage United Methodists to partner with Jews, Christians, Muslims and other people of conscience working for corporate accountability, human rights, true peace and security for all people in Israel and Palestine, and an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.” This Standing Resolution has impacted Conference purchasing practices and investment policies.
Learn more about the Palestine situation and what you and your church might do by checking out United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR). UMKR hosts a series of informative webinars about life in Palestine.
Contact the Holy Land Task Force for opportunities for speakers to your local church or information about visiting the Holy Lands and seeing both sides of the apartheid division.