During the 2018 South Georgia Annual Conference session, delegates approved a resolution that called on the South Georgia Conference to “affirm the present standards of our Discipline” and referred a second, the “Christian Spirituality Task Force” resolution, to the Office of Connectional Ministries.
During the Tuesday, June 5 business session, a resolution that called on the South Georgia Conference to “affirm the present standards of our Discipline” and also asked that the Secretary of the Annual Conference, within 60 days, share a copy of the resolution and the vote count (431 yes, 179 no) with the head of the General Conference delegation of each annual conference along with a request for the resolution to be shared with the delegations, was passed by the South Georgia Conference.
During discussion, an amendment, proposed by General Conference delegate and Christ United Methodist Church member Larry Price, was approved by the body. The amendment, intended to increase accountability, was added at line 17 of the resolution and reads:
2019 General Conference will affirm the present standards of our Discipline with added accountability for punitive actions if the present standards of our Discipline are not adhered to and found to be blatantly violated within or outside the conference in which the violation occurs. This would restore integrity.
“I think people have been discouraged and confused by all the different plans and by the fact that the Traditional Plan seemed to be left behind all the time,” said Sara Anderson, a lay delegate from Ft. Valley United Methodist Church and one of the drafters of the resolution. “We (the drafters of the resolution) wanted to make sure the people of South Georgia had a voice in that to indicate their thoughts and feelings on (the Traditional) model.
“I have confidence in our delegation and we will just have to wait and see what the bishops release in July. We are praying that there will be clarity.”
Dr. Matt Stewart spoke in opposition of the resolution saying that the resolution, in effect, shuts down conversation and doesn’t allow for dialogue.
“We’ve been asked to pray and converse together,” said Dr. Stewart, pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Warner Robins. “John Wesley’s idea of conferencing was to allow the Holy Spirit to lead and speak in the midst of our being together. We as the South Georgia Annual Conference do not agree on the issue of homosexuality. That is no big surprise. However, we seem to desire with this resolution to shut down the conversation. ... That is not respectful or loving toward one another. How will we ever love the world if we cannot learn to love, respect, and have a conversation with each other?”
Click here to read the resolution in its entirety.
A second resolution, the “Christian Spirituality Task Force” resolution, which called upon the presiding bishop to appoint a task force to study how the conference can more effectively train and educate clergy and laity in the practice of personal and corporate spiritual disciplines and for that task force to consider ministry opportunities that would help deepen people's understanding and practice of spiritual disciplines, was referred to the Office of Connectional Ministries.