Legislative Assembly preps petitions for Annual Conference
Rev. Peg Lofsfold opened the 2016 Legislative Assembly by asking the members to contemplate three aspects of Sabbath: Sabbath Rest, Sabbath Rejoicing, and Sabbath Return. She served as the host and coordinator for the assembly as it met at Tigard United Methodist Church on Friday, April 8.
Legislative Assembly serves as a sub-committee of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Session. Rev. Jeanne Knepper, co-legislative coordinator, provided an update to the legislative assembly, “We are here to perfect legislation and make recommendations to the Annual Conference Session. No final decisions are made by this body. “
In the last few years, having a Legislative Assembly has allowed for a shorter Annual Conference Session with room in the schedule for special guest speakers and training time. It also takes discussion of minute details and wordsmithing off the conference’s session floor.
Knepper reminded the group that they are different and diverse. They provide different ages, ethnicity, opinions and geography. They are clergy and lay, men and women, young and older. She encouraged them to use their gifts and participate in robust discussion, being sure to ask questions when they were unclear of process or intent.
Rev. Warren Light, co-legislative coordinator with Knepper, explained that any item with 90 percent approval or disapproval vote from the legislative assembly (except mandated reports, new standing resolutions, and items with budgetary impact) will be forwarded to the Annual Conference in June via a consent calendar. Consent calendars allow items to be dealt with in batches. Items can be removed from consent calendars with a vote of 40 or more people at the Annual Conference.
As the Legislative Assembly began their work, they had a period of questions and answers with the spokespeople of the action requests and standing resolutions. This first section of the meeting provided a time for the legislative assembly members to gain a deeper understanding of the legislation by asking questions and seeking clarification of the intent of the people making the proposals.
After hearing spokesperson statements and getting questions answered, the 24 members of the assembly began the deliberation process. Each of the 17 items were presented for discussion, amendment and vote.
Some items were quickly approved. Many of those were renewals of existing standing resolutions. Standing resolutions are opinion statements by the Annual Conference which churches and church members can use to clarify the shared beliefs of the Conference.
Other items received extensive discussion and were amended by the body. In one case, the assembly found that the practice of not including “major changes” in standing resolutions on consent calendars was not actually in the conference rules. During the dinner break, assembly member Kevin Raines conferred with other members and wrote a resolution to clarify the long standing process in the conference rules.
As the scheduled closing time of 8:00 p.m. came, Bishop Grant Hagiya asked the assembly if they wanted to stop work and resume in the morning. But despite the 85 degree heat the group chose to push on, finally finishing at 9:30 that evening.
The 18 items being forwarded to Annual Conference in June will be available on the conference website on Monday, April 18.
See a list of the Legislative Assembly members.