Conference body addresses all AC resolutions, petitions
With Saturday’s lunch delayed by 30 minutes and an adopted motion to suspend Conference rules in favor of a more expedient deliberation period, the members of the Upper New York Conference address all Conference resolutions and the majority of the General Conference resolutions and petitions that were submitted for the Conference’s endorsement. Those General Conference resolutions that were not addressed will be addressed by written ballot.
Because of a rule in the Organizational Motion that was approved on Wednesday, the eight resolutions and petitions related to human sexuality were voted on by paper ballot on Thursday, following approximately two hours of conversation circles.
The remaining Annual Conference session and General Conference session resolutions and petitions were brought before the body on Saturday. Prior to Petitions & Resolutions Committee Chair Hudda Aswad reading the first resolution aloud, Conference Director of Connectional Ministries the Rev. Bill Gottschalk-Fielding made a motion that all Annual Conference session resolutions and petitions not taken up by the body before the close of the session be referred to the appropriate Conference board, committee, or team and that the maker of the resolution or petition be given voice but not vote at that organizational body’s meetings.
His motion further called for the Conference Secretary to submit to General Conference session all GC resolutions and petitions also not taken up by the body – as a courtesy to the original author – with no declaration of Upper New York’s support or opposition.
“Folks have invested time and heart in these … but we are probably not going to get to all of them,” Rev. Gottschalk-Fielding said. “We need to have the topics in these resolution discussed.”
The Rev. Merle Showers, retired, expressed strong opposition to that motion, suggesting that time management should be to blame.
“I think we waste so much time here on the floor on items that do not need to be before this Conference,” he said. “I am so sorry that you are doing this.”
The Rev. Steven Clunn, serving on extension ministry, offered an amendment that was supported. It called for all unresolved resolutions and petitions for AC and GC sessions be placed on a ballot, for a “yes” or “no” vote. That ballot would be sent through the U.S. postal mail to each eligible voting member of the Conference by June 30, and must be received – not postmarked – by the Conference by July 17; the results would be posted on the Conference website by Aug. 7 and entered into the official record.
The motion as amended was then approved.
In an effort to expedite the morning’s proceedings, lay member Matthew Williams moved to suspend the Conference rules, “In order to create a more perfect union and to honor the writers of all the resolutions and petitions before us,” he said.
His motion called for debate for each petition and resolution be limited to one speech for and one speech against, and that each of these speeches be granted a maximum of two minutes. The submitter of the resolution or petition would be granted two minutes to speak prior to debate and one minute post-debate.
His motion also called for “an intentional moment of silent prayerful reflection” prior to voting for the resolution or petition.
Listed below are the resolutions and petitions, what they called for, and the results of the body’s action:
UNYAC2015.2: Change to the Rules of Order, withdrawn
UNYAC2015.4: Locations for Annual Conference Sessions, not approved
This petition called for the Annual Conference sessions, beginning with the Annual Conference session in 2017, “to be held in odd years in Syracuse and in even years within the Albany, Buffalo, or Rochester regions (i.e.: Syracuse/Albany/Syracuse/Buffalo or Rochester – or other regions if it is proven possible).”
UNYAC2015.5: New Faith Community Lay Representation at Annual Conference, withdrawn
UNYAC2015.6: Income Inequality, referred to the Conference Social Holiness Committee
The resolution called for the Conference Committee on Social Holiness “to prepare and send letters on behalf of Upper New York Conference to state and federal legislators who represent districts within the Conference boundaries, conveying our support for such legislation, with appropriate rationales” and the Conference Board of Trustees, local church boards of trustees, and church members who hold corporate stock “be encouraged to vote their proxies against executive pay plans that far exceed human needs and to write to boards of directors of any mutual funds they own urging similar action.”
UNYAC2015.7: Creation of Bridging Team, approved as amended
The petition called for the Conference Leadership Team to create a bridge team in fall 2015 that would create civil discussion around divisive issues – (amended to add) by the entire Annual Conference – such as authority of the Bible, human sexuality, marriage, ordination, and Israel/Palestine.
UNYAC2015.8: Creation of a Voting Process and Process of Reporting Outcome of Votes, referred to the Conference Sessions Committee
The petition called for the Conference to “obtain counts of votes for and against divisive issues and announce the percentage of votes for and against and a narrative reflecting the voice for and voice against, thus providing a true representation of what the Conference is saying” to be implemented at the 2015 Annual Conference session.
UNYAC2015.9: Resolution to Support the Turtle Island Trust and the People of Ganienkeh, approved
The resolution called for the Conference to support the people of Ganienkeh Territory and the Turtle Island Trust in their ongoing efforts to establish peace with justice by asking New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman to honor the 1977 Turtle Island Trust Agreement, which established the Turtle Island Trust as a tax-exempt charitable land trust, resolving the differences between the people of New York and Ganienkeh Territory. A copy of the resolution would be sent to Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Scheiderman.
UNYAC2015.10: Fruits Of Repentance: An End to the Celebration of Columbus Day, approved
Among other items, the resolution called for Conference members to no longer recognize Columbus Day, by which the Conference offices and local churches “will either not observe this holiday or will initiate organizational conversations designed to rename and re-purpose this holiday in accordance with our United Methodist Social Principles (The Book of Discipline ¶162 and ¶162a).”
UNYAC2015.11: Study the Location of the Conference Headquarters in a Local Church Building, not approved
A motion to refer the petition to the Conference Board of Trustees failed; the petition as amended also failed to garner approval by the body. The petition called for the Conference Board of Trustees to meet with the trustees of the University United Methodist Church in Syracuse to explore all options for housing the Conference headquarters there, including in that discussion Conference ownership and management of the University UMC building with studies of the costs of infrastructure upgrades and remodeling, signage, parking, and reception area.
UNYAC2015.12: Health Insurance for All Clergy and Local Pastors, approved as amended
Conference Secretary the Rev. Jeff Hodge later noted that this petition was the first quad-amended petition approved during a session of the Upper New York Annual Conference. The amended petition called for the Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits to explore the option of providing health insurance for all part-time clergy and local pastors as well as students appointed to attend school for their studies and students appointed to charges, part- or full-time, while completing their studies.
Further, the Conference would survey each charge to determine by category where each clergy and local pastor obtains health insurance and the affordability of that health insurance. Those categories include: Healthflex, covered under spouse’s plan, covered by both Healthflex and spouse’s plan, state insurance/not Medicare, Medicare, and other.
UNYAC2015.13: Property Insurance, withdrawn
UNYAC2015.14: Protecting Seneca Lake, approved
The resolution called for the Conference to support “the movement to protect Seneca Lake by continuing to advocate within the political system to prevent gas storage in the salt caverns nearby,” and for The United Methodist Church to “encourage individuals who are called to do so, to join with others to engage in peaceful, nonviolent acts of protest, up to and including civil disobedience, until additional storage of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) and methane in Seneca Lake salt caverns is halted.”
Further, the Conference Secretary would be instructed to send a copy of the resolution to Crestwood Midstream, Houston, Texas, The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the appropriate legislative and judicial bodies of Schuyler County.
UNYAC2015.15: Revise Rules of Fair Presentation of Proposed Actions, withdrawn
UNYAC2015.16: To Create an Open and Fair Communications System, withdrawn
UNYAC2015.17: Formation of Upper New York Conference United Methodist Historical Society, approved
The petition called for the Conference’s endorsement of the formation of an Upper New York Conference United Methodist Historical Society, organized and administered by the Upper New York Commission on Archives and History for a maximum of two years until officers are elected.
GC2016.1: Potential Consensus Among Faith Communities Regarding Income Inequality, affirmed
GC2016.2: Fruits of Repentance: An End to the Celebration of Columbus Day, affirmed
GC2016.7: Prayer And Support For Members Of The Armed Forces And Veterans, affirmed
GC2016.9: Cross Referencing The Book of Discipline with The Book of Resolution, affirmed
GC2016.12: Licensed Pastors Right to be Elected as Clergy Delegates of General Conference, Jurisdictional Conference and Central Conference and Vote on the Constitution, affirmed
On Friday, May 29, one resolution was brought before the body.
UNYAC2015.3: Support a Fair Minimum Wage for New York State, not approved
Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb initially ruled the resolution was not approved, but one member asked for a count of hand votes because the vote was close; the count revealed the resolution was not approved. The resolution called for the Conference to join with the Labor Religion coalition, Hunger Action Network of New York State, and other organizations in calling for a minimum of $15 per hour indexed to inflation and elimination of sub-minimum wage for tipped workers. The resolutions that will be included on the ballot to be mailed to all eligible voters are:
- GC2016.13: Divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard after years of corporate engagement
- GC2016.14: Establishing a Screen to Remove and Avoid Investments in Illegal Settlements on Occupied Land
- GC2016.15: Opposition to Torture
- GC2016.16: Removing Prejudice Against Ministerial Candidates with Disabilities
- GC2016.17: Non-Discrimination In UMC Employee Disability Benefits
- GC2016.18: Not Optional, But Required Additional Member of Joint Committee on Clergy Medical Leave
- GC2016.19: Non-Discrimination in Disability Compensation
- GC2016.20: Ensure Accessibility of Conference Meetings
- GC2016.21: Do Not Invest in Petroleum, Coal, or Natural Gas
- GC2016.22: Create Petroleum and Natural Gas Investment Screens
- GC2016.23: Avoid Investment in the Production of Petroleum, Coal, and Natural Gas