By Kara Witherow, Editor
Seven resolutions have been presented to the Conference Committee on Resolutions for consideration and vote by the 2022 South Georgia Annual Conference. Resolutions, if approved by the Annual Conference, are statements that represent the position of the conference on a subject.
Two resolutions, submitted in 2020 by members of the Advocacy Committee and its ad-hoc teams, will be considered and voted upon by the 2022 Annual Conference session. Discussion and voting on resolutions were postponed during the virtual 2020 and 2021 Annual Conference sessions and were agreed to be held until the next in-person session.
The first of the 2020 Advocacy Committee’s resolutions, “Say ‘No’ to Single-Use Plastic,” calls on those responsible for planning Conference, district, and local church events to adopt Creation Care practices that focus on waste prevention and waste reduction with the goal of moving toward eliminating the use of all single-use plastics.
The second of the Advocacy Committee’s resolutions, “Resolution on Wage Equality,” denounces “any policies that prohibit, condone, or reinforce the inopportunity for women to be paid less wages than men doing the same job.” It also asks that women be treated fairly in their jobs by getting the same pay as their male counterparts and that other minorities be treated fairly in jobs with pay. In addition, the resolution asks that the church and all of its members denounce policies that do not grant equal employment opportunities and Title IX in education and support and adopt those policies which will help women enter higher paying jobs in fields and occupations that are still off limits to women.
“Our main purpose of both of these (resolutions) is to be not just our brothers’ keeper, but our sisters’, and keepers of this beautiful earth God entrusted to us,” said Denise Rooks, chair of the Advocacy Committee and a member of Harper’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Baxley. “These are the legacies we want our children to inherit.”
South Georgia’s delegation submitted the third resolution, which calls upon South Georgia members, laypersons, and clergy to remember both the content and the intent of the “Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.”
Signed by each lay and clergy member of the current General and Jurisdictional Conference Delegation of the South Georgia Conference, the resolution calls upon the Conference to adopt the resolution and state its intent of being affiliated with a traditional Wesleyan denomination when that path is allowable and wise.
A fourth resolution, “A Resolution for a Called Session of the Annual Conference in Response to a Meeting of the General Conference,” calls for a called session of the Annual Conference if General Conference meets in 2022, to allow the Conference to make decisions in response to the General Conference, to allow churches to petition for disaffiliation, and to clarify how churches that wish to remain United Methodist may do so.
Resolution five, “A Resolution for a Called Session of the Annual Conference in Response to a Decision of the Judicial Council,” would, if passed, provide for a called session of the Annual Conference if the Judicial Council issues a decision regarding the ability of conferences to withdraw from The United Methodist Church. The called session would allow the Conference to make decisions in response to the General Conference, to allow churches to petition for disaffiliation, and to clarify how churches that wish to remain United Methodist may do so.
The sixth resolution, “Resolution to Amend the Disaffiliation Policy of the South Georgia Conference,” proposes to amend the Disaffiliation Policy of the South Georgia Annual Conference to provide for churches to petition for disaffiliation at called sessions of the Annual Conference.
The final resolution, “South Georgia Resolution in response to the Judicial Council declaratory decision stating an AC may withdraw from the UMC,” asks the 2022 South Georgia Annual Conference to vote on three matters.
The issues include “‘To declare our intentions’ to remain together as an annual conference and withdraw from The United Methodist Church to join the Global Methodist Church (GMC),” “to ask Bishop Graves to empower and instruct the Conference Leadership Task Force to develop an orderly process for our AC to live into its ‘declared intentions’ be that to withdraw from the UMC and join the GMC or remain affiliated with the UMC,” and “Having the direction the AC desires to move determined by the majority, churches seeking to go in a different direction, should be released with our blessing at the special called AC provided they have satisfied the following condition prior to the called AC.”
“Five of the seven resolutions coming to this year’s Annual Conference deal with issues of disaffiliation and discerning the future direction of the South Georgia Conference,” said Rev. Jim Cowart, head of the clergy delegation and pastor of Harvest Church in Byron. “There seems to be a lot of interest in our Annual Conference staying together. But at this point, there are several questions that go along with that decision. One, can the Annual Conference leave The UMC as a whole to transfer into a more traditional Wesleyan denomination? And two, is that the preferred future of the Annual Conference or would the majority wish to remain in The UMC? The Judicial Council will give us insights into the ‘can we’ question, but we have to decide the second…where do we want to go from here? These five resolutions are efforts to give every church, member, and pastor in the South Georgia Annual Conference a voice in that decision.”
The resolutions were received and reviewed by the South Georgia Resolutions Committee, which includes chairwoman Rev. Doreen Smalls; lay members Mr. Steve Allen, Mrs. Patricia McRae, and Mrs. Flo Sapp Martin; and clergy members Rev. Kathy Israel-McLeod, Rev. Isaac Salgado, and Rev. Jonathan Brown.
“The committee takes seriously the work of the authors of the resolutions and reviews each resolution with great attention,” Rev. Smalls said. “The Resolutions Committee has already had numerous meetings and may continue to do so leading up to the conference session.”
The committee will present each resolution, a recommendation for it, and rationale behind the committee’s recommendation to the annual conference on Monday, June 6. Each resolution will be voted on by clergy and lay members of the Annual Conference.
Read the resolutions in their entirety here