In previous years the General Conference resolutions that approved by the Board of Administration (BOA) to go to the delegates for final approval were posted on the Free Methodist Church of North America’s website. This year each delegate was given a login to password protected website for FMC employees. Unfortunately, almost as soon as it was announced the resolutions were posted, the website experienced technology problems (date) and as of (date) they are still unavailable for delegates to view. As a delegate I was only able to view them by asking my conference secretary to forward them. I hope all conferences take the same measures so there is plenty of time for every conference to review and discuss resolutions prior to Orlando.
There are numerous things about this year’s general conference that really bother bother me. See schedule here: GC Schedule 2015
- Location (see earlier post and resolution 401 for the bishops’ decision on how to select future venues for general conferences). The 2011 Book of Discipline ¶4060 section D notes that “The determination of location for the subsequent General Conference shall be considered prior to final adjournment of a regular General Conference session. Careful consideration will be given to use of Free Methodist Facilities.” Yet, The Book of Discipline seems a bit contradictory when it states the Board of Administration has the power to change the time and place of General Conference (¶4320, sec. M). Who really has the power to plan General Conference? The new resolution 401 doesn’t clarify that. One of those paragraphs needs to be removed and that isn’t in the resolution
I recommend delegates consider a NO vote for resolution 401 as it strips away even more power from the delegates who represent the people in their conferences. This conference needed a larger venue because it is trying to make General Conference into a much larger event than it was meant to be. Perhaps it is time to plan two events a fellowship/training event for the denomination (like IYC for teens) and a smaller event for General Conference so business can get done.
- The fact that delegate sessions are ALL scheduled for the final day of the conference, July 16, and the only two sessions that will definitely happen are in the morning (bishop election and ONE hour only to discuss and vote on resolutions. Later in the day there is an “as needed” session scheduled from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. that same day. However, for any session with delegates there has to be a quorum present. It could be possible that by scheduling the last (as needed) session so late on the last day that people will leave and there won’t be a quorum—meaning no business conducted.
Someone can clarify this in comments but I read that at the last General Conference the delegates approved the Board of Administration reviewing and giving initial approval to all resolution related to church policy and governance. It was an attempt to streamline decisions. However, I believe resolutions regarding the mission of the church were not to be reviewed. If I am right why were resolutions on abortion, spiritual gifts and core mission also reviewed by the Board of Administration? I ask someone to clarify and if you were a delegate explain this point to me. I’m still trying to understand the rationale of the vote. As a new delegate it seems to give a lot of power to the Board of Administration and make delegates little more than a rubber stamp.
- The event is so over programmed and, whether it is intentional or not, there is little to no time for delegates to discuss resolutions prior to the voting session. Historically, the time the delegates met was an important time to discuss and vote on some of the resolutions that delegates were concerned about. Even B.T. Roberts had resolutions voted down. Now, it feels like we are a rubber stamp with no power to mobilize if we disagree. This is not in line with the 2011 Book of Discipline which clearly states in ¶4010 section B “The General Conference is the primary legislative body in the church.”
I have posted the resolutions approved by the Free Methodist Board of Administration below. They are posted by topic – church administration, values of the church, and pastoral ministry. I have also posted them by number as an attachment in the Free Methodist Feminist Google Drive folder if you find that easier to refer to. I feel that this denomination was founded on openness. One of the founders’ problems with the Methodist Episcopal Church was lack of inclusion of the laity and treating the poor like second class citizens. As 21st century Free Methodist we are treading down a dangerous path of creating a church that runs like a business and puts a few in power to the exclusion of many. I can’t do much, but I can post the resolutions to spread information.
Pastoral Ministry Resolutions (Google Drive Folder)
Church Governance (Google Drive Folder)
Church Values (Google Drive Folder)