Five constitutional amendments head to vote
General Conference delegates had their say last year. Now, it's up to the members of annual conferences around the world to determine whether five amendments will become part of The United Methodist Church's constitution. The voting began in Liberia in February.
To be ratified, a constitutional amendment first requires at least a two-thirds vote at General Conference, which happened in May 2016. Then, it must win at least a two-thirds majority of the total voters at annual conferences around the world.
Here is an overview of the amendments:
This amendment declares, "men and women are of equal value in the eyes of God." It goes on to say maleness and femaleness are characteristics of human bodies, not the divine, and asserts The United Methodist Church will "seek to eliminate discrimination against women and girls, whether in organizations or in individuals, in every facet of its life and in society at large." If ratified, it will become a new Paragraph 6 in The Book of Discipline.
Inclusion in membership
This amendment would add gender, ability, age and marital status to the list of characteristics in Paragraph IV, Article 4 that do not bar people from membership in the church. Learn more about the amendment supported by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, Discipleship Ministries, the DisAbility Ministries Committee and United Methodist Women.
This amendment to Paragraph 34 specifies elections of delegates to General Conference, as well as jurisdictional and central conference meetings, will include open nominations from the floor at annual conference sessions. The measure also calls for the election of delegates "by a minimum of a simple majority of the ballots cast."
This amendment to Paragraph 46 states central conferences are to elect bishops at a regular, not an extra, session of the central conference "except where an unexpected vacancy must be filled."
If passed, this amendment to Paragraph 50 says General Conference can adopt provisions for the Council of Bishops to hold individual bishops accountable. It keeps primary responsibility for a bishop's accountability where he or she is elected, while also creating a mechanism for the Council of Bishops to step in for global accountability if needed.
Adapted from an article by Heather Hahn, United Methodist News Service writer. Read the full article.