Free Methodist General Conference Resolutions and Critique of GC Part II

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.

GC15-logo-header-homeThere 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.

Resolutions

______________________________________________________

Pastoral Ministry Resolutions (Google Drive Folder)

Church Governance (Google Drive Folder)

Church Values (Google Drive Folder) 

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5 thoughts on “Free Methodist General Conference Resolutions and Critique of GC Part II

  1. Just a few responses to the questions raised. First, I do believe that all resolutions are now accessible for those with log in credentials. I will remind all that in former days, long before there were on-line capacities, resolutions were sent only to delegates. it was permissible for delegates to share with others who had interest then, just as it is now permissible. I think it is just as open as ever, though different.

    Second, re resolution 401 on site selection for the GC venue, for many years the Book of Discipline stipulated that the G.C. itself would determine the location, but for many years it simply was not done. For lots of reasons, the most important of which are in the whereas sections of the resolution itself. The resolution which was approved by the BOA replaces the old with a new paragraph which simply affirms the way, in fact, we have been doing it for years.

    Third, there is lack of understanding in the post as to the process. Four years ago, a reorientation of the G.C. was approved by the delegates of the GC and by the BOA at that time. That reorientation became part of our standing rules. it stipulates that only resolutions that rise to the level of constitutional or critical missional import will be forwarded to the full G.C. for action. All the others will be processed by the BOA. Which means, we do not expect any of them to come before the full G.C. (but see later) This year there was only one resolution forwarded to the full G.C. All the others were processed by the BOA. A report was sent to delegates about these actions. During the first session, per the rules, any resolution that has been acted upon may be brought before the Body for reconsideration. If the Body agrees by majority vote to reconsider it, the full G.C. will do so. Now, among the resolutions that were acted upon by the BOA there were important issues as you observed, some of them constitutional. But all of these would surely have been referred to the Study Commission on Doctrine by the G.C. with directive to report back At least that has been the pattern almost without exception. And, that is what the BOA did with those matters. The entire point of this reorientation is that the expense and massive effort to convene such a gathering could be put to other and better uses than simply deciding changes to the Book of Discipline, uses that would actually clarify and unify and resource the church for carrying out its mission. So, the process is not over-programmed in our view, it is reoriented and refocused on matters that we believe will be more helpful for the church in its mission. One may disagree with whether that is so, but if one does I would hope there would be clarity on what the point of the reorientation actually is.

    Fourth, since there is, then, only one resolution that will come before the whole Body, as of this writing, we sincerely believe that an hour will be sufficient time for the whole Body to consider it. There also are, as you note, up to three hours in the afternoon, should additional time be needed for other resolutions that could be considered.

    Fifth, it seems a bit cynical, at least to me, to expect that so many people will leave the G.C. early that a quorum would not be possible to process any resolutions on Thursday afternoon. If, indeed, that happens we will have seriously miscalculated and sadly failed in the whole point of this historic gathering. That is, I suppose, a possibility, but we are confident of the leading of the Lord in this and do not expect anything of the sort. We expect that this gathering will be a watershed event for the FMC, not because of who–in human terms–planned it but because of the One who has blessed it. That is our prayer!

    Respectfully,

    David Kendall

      1. Oh and just checked the GC15 group is up on the password protected website, but nothing is posted in and hasn’t been since I began checking the day delegates were granted access. I also had to wait at least two weeks for a login and password. Not easy access to encourage free discussion.

      2. Here is what I do. Go to FM Connect page after log in. Click on Teams, upper right tab. Then click on GC 15, then click on Resolutions. Then click on Libraries. You will see in the drop down menu documents. Click and you will see folders for BOA Nominees; Bishop Nominees; and Resolutions. They should be there.

        . I hope this helps.

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