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Annual Conference 2018 Resolutions

Members to the 2018 Annual Conference will consider seven resolutions submitted by groups or individuals. They include:

Proposed Baltimore-Washington Conference Mission Statement

Title: Proposed Baltimore Washington Conference Mission Statement
Budget Implications: None
Rationale: This proposed Mission Statement will bring greater alignment between the mission statements of the global United Methodist Church, the Baltimore Washington Conference, and local United Methodist faith communities. It also emphasizes and clarifies the Conference’s main purpose, which is to support and equip local faith communities. This simple, clear statement will guide and focus the work of the Conference, particularly in relation to local faith communities.
Submitted by: Bonnie Scott and Jen Ihlo, Chair, on behalf of BWC Discipleship Council
Resolution: Adopt the following as the BWC Mission Statement:
“To inspire and equip local faith communities to develop disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Effective Date: July 1, 2018

Resolution that the Baltimore-Washington Conference examine the relationship between Africa University and the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Title:

Resolution that the Baltimore-Washington Conference examine the relationship between Africa University and the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe.

Budget Implications: Estimated maximum $5,000 for local travel reimbursement, meeting expenses, and publication expenses.
Rationale:

The list is long, publicly-known, and well-documented of moral, ethical, economic and human rights offenses committed by the ruling party and ruling elite of the Republic of Zimbabwe. It includes self-enrichment by the kleptocracy, looting of the country’s treasury, destruction of the economy, murder of an estimated tens of thousands of political opponents, and the deaths of an inestimable hundreds of thousands of children and adults from hunger, preventable disease, lack of medicine, contaminated water supplies, and otherwise unsanitary and inhumane conditions.  The tragedy of Zimbabwe in the history of nations is that all of this suffering and death has occurred in a country with one of the highest literacy rates in Africa, as well as one that is rich with natural resources and arable land.

The United Methodist Church and the Baltimore-Washington Conference market proudly and prominently their support of Africa University within Zimbabwe. The Baltimore-Washington Conference spends approximately $57,000 each year in support of Africa University through General & Jurisdictional Apportionments.  In addition, over the years, there have been many non-budgeted special appeals to the Conference, the collections of which have far exceeded this yearly contribution.

In the public descriptions of Africa University and through past presentations to the annual sessions of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, little is known of the relationship between the University and the Zimbabwe government. Not surprisingly, nothing is found in University publications and descriptions that decry the suffering of the host country or comment on or criticize the policies and performance of the Zimbabwe government.  The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), which has operations in Zimbabwe, addresses the suffering and conditions within the country but not the political root causes or framework.  It is naïve to think that church-sponsored and other non-governmental organizations can continually criticize a blameworthy government and then hope to operate long-term in that authoritarian state.  Yet, as history has shown countless times, religious silence in the face of tyranny and oppression ends poorly for those who could have spoken up—but did not.

On January 21, 1992, Africa University was chartered by official proclamation of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Robert Gabriel Mugabe, a leader who will be remembered for the extraordinary number of years that he maintained a corrupt, destructive and bloody regime. For years and to this day, the Board of Directors of Africa University has contained members from Zimbabwe who have been appointed to their official positions by former President Mugabe.  This includes a current member who is under investigation for corruption and one whose doctoral degree is openly challenged in the press. An argument can be made that an educational institution should remain above all political concerns and criticism. But the Africa University board membership alone calls into question the application of that principle.  Given our long history of financial and otherwise support for Africa University, this Conference should expect a full explanation and description of the exact nature of the past and current relationship between Africa University and the Zimbabwe government and whether our financial gifts in any way lend credibility or material support to the Zimbabwe government or its representatives.

Submitted by: Douglas M. Schmidt, lay member, Grace United Methodist Church, Baltimore, Maryland.
Resolution: Be it resolved that the Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church empowers our bishop to appoint a volunteer committee, which will have experience in and knowledge of African history and politics as well as of finance and education, to examine the relationship between Africa University and the government of Zimbabwe. The committee will assess the relationship against ethical and operational best practices for higher educational institutions and report its findings with any recommendations to the Conference on or before the 2019 annual session of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
Effective Date: June 4, 2018

Resolution to Amend the Moving Policy

Title: Resolution to Amend the Moving Policy
Budget Implications: $30-40,000 (estimated by Paul Eichelberger). Included in our current budget of $160,000, we already fund a tax liability allowance for pastors whose moves are less than 50 miles. 
Rationale: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017 eliminates the exclusion for qualified moving expense reimbursements. Moving expenses covered by the conference are now considered taxable income. This resolution provides a tax liability allowance to all pastors who receive a move covered by this policy.
Submitted by: Rev. Jeffrey Paulson, Chair, Conference Moving Committee
Resolution:

Be it resolved: That the Annual Conference approves the following change to the Moving Policy:

¶5500. Moving Committee.—

6.         Due to the tax liability incurred by covered moving costs moves of less than 50 miles, active pastors whose expenses are covered under this policy who will move less than 50 miles shall be provided with a tax liability allowance equal to 30% of the Conference financial liability for the move.
Effective Date: January 1, 2018
Co-Sponsor: Rev. Kenneth Hawes, past chairperson, Conference Moving Committee

Love One Another

Title: Love One Another
Budget Implications: None
Rationale: A Call for Inclusive Love
Submitted By:

Rev. Debbie Scott and Rev. Angela Flanagan, Co-Chair Advocacy Committee BWARM

Resolution:

Whereas, we are followers of Jesus,
Whereas, we affirm all people to be of sacred worth, made in the image of God,
Therefore, we commit to loving one another for who God created us to be without qualification.

Effective Date: June 5, 2018
Co-Sponsors:

BWARM Steering Committee

Chair: Jan Lawrence, Laity, Foundry UMC, Washington, DC
Vice Chair: Marge Kumaki, Laity, Hughes UMC, Wheaton, MD
Past Chair: Mittie Quinn, Laity, Dumbarton UMC, Washington, DC
Secretary: Rev. Mary Jo Sims, Elder, Retired,  Arden UMC, Martinsburg, WV
Treasurer: George Kahl, Laity, Grace UMC, Baltimore, MD
Programs Chair: Ellen Bachman, Laity, Metropolitan Memorial UMC, Washington, DC
Advocacy Co-Chair: Rev. Deb Scott, Elder, Senior Pastor at Calvary UMC, Mt. Airy, MD
Advocacy Co-Chair: Rev. Angela Flanagan, Elder, Lead Pastor at Silver Spring UMC, Silver Spring, MD
Convener: Rev. Nancy Webb, Elder, Retired, Charge Conference: Grace UMC, Baltimore, MD
Communications Chair: T.C. Morrow, Laity (Certified Candidate for Deacon), Foundry UMC, Washington, DC
At Large Member: Rev. Andrew Greenwood, Elder, Pastor at Pine Grove UMC, Parkton, MD
At Large Member: Rev. Rebecca Vardiman, Elder, Retired, Charge Conference: Frostburg UMC, Frostburg, MD

Finding Our Way Forward

Title: Finding Our Way Forward
Budget Implications: None
Rationale: To develop a covenant for conversations as we work to anticipate and receive The Way Forward Report and Decision from the Council on Bishops and the Special Session of General Conference in February 2019
Submitted By: Rev. Debbie Scott and Rev. Angela Flanagan, Co-Chair Advocacy Committee BWARM
Resolution:

Whereas, the Council of Bishops has proposed the following Mission for the Commission on the Way Forward:

Mission
The Commission will bring together persons deeply committed to the future(s) of The United Methodist Church, with an openness to developing new relationships with each other and exploring the potential future(s) of our denomination in light of General Conference and subsequent annual, jurisdictional and central conference actions. We have a profound hope and confidence in the Triune God, and yet we acknowledge that we do this work in a climate of skepticism and distrust, from a human point of view. We are a connection, and we admit that our communion is strained; yet much transformative mission across our world is the fruit of our collaboration. The matters of human sexuality and unity are the presenting issues for a deeper conversation that surfaces different ways of interpreting Scripture and theological tradition. The work is meant to inform deliberation across the whole church and to help the Council of Bishops in their service to the next General Conference in finding a way forward.

Whereas, the Council of Bishops has proposed the following Vision for the Commission on the Way Forward:

Vision
The Commission will design a way for being church that maximizes the presence of a United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible, that allows for as much contextual differentiation as possible, and that balances an approach to different theological understandings of human sexuality with a desire for as much unity as possible. This unity will not be grounded in our conceptions of human sexuality, but in our affirmation of the Triune God who calls us to be a grace-filled and holy people in the Wesleyan tradition.

Whereas, the Council of Bishops has proposed the following Scope of the work of the Commission on the Way Forward:

Scope
We should be open to new ways of embodying unity that move us beyond where we are in the present impasse and cycle of action and reaction around ministry and human sexuality. Therefore, we should consider new ways of being in relationship across cultures and jurisdictions, in understandings of episcopacy, in contextual definitions of autonomy for annual conferences, and in the design and purpose of the apportionment. In reflection on the two matters of unity and human sexuality, we will fulfill our directive by considering “new forms and structures” of relationship and through the “complete examination and possible revision” of relevant paragraphs in the Book of Discipline. We will give consideration to greater freedom and flexibility to a future United Methodist Church that will redefine our present connectionality, which is showing signs of brokenness. If we ignore this work, fracturing will occur in more haphazard and even self-interested ways across the church. If we do this work only to address our preferences and self-interest, we will fail to place our complete trust in God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. If we do this work with complete surrender to God’s unlimited imagination and kingdom purposes, we will be blessed beyond our limited human imagination. God remains God; God is with us; God will never let us go. To God be the glory!

Therefore, be it resolved that the Baltimore Washington Conference adopt the Accountability Covenant (slightly adapted) below, proposed for the Commission for the Way Forward for our own work together as the Conference and in our local churches as we work through the proposals of the Commission and any adopted proposal by the Special Session of the General Conference of Feb. 2019.

Accountability Covenant
We covenant to pray for one another, for the Commission, for the United Methodist Church, for the mission of Christ, and for a way forward together.

We covenant to attend all meetings concerning The Way Forward, unless unexpected urgencies prevent us, to prepare adequately for meetings by reading assigned books or papers, to stay engaged and focused, to participate actively in learning experiences and conversations, and to follow through with any assignments or projects that we agree to accept. We will offer our best and highest to the work of the United Methodist Church as servants of Christ and leaders of the church.

We covenant to treat one another with respect, to assume the best in others, to represent one another in the best possible light, to speak the truth with love, and to practice and expect trustworthiness. We will each do our part to offer grace, to create an atmosphere of hospitality, and to moderate our anxiety through mutual encouragement, good humor, and with genuine love for one another.

We covenant to listen actively to others, to seek first to understand rather than to be understood, to ask for clarity or help from others, to remain attentive to cultural, language, and contextual diversity, to be patient with one another, and to foster hopefulness and mutual encouragement.

We covenant to maintain strict confidentiality, and so we will avoid inappropriate sharing of personal information, stories, or perspectives of other members without their consent.

We covenant to avoid harmful speech toward or about others, during our meetings and outside our meetings. We will refrain from blaming others, misrepresenting others, making judgments about others, or using derogatory speech about others or the Commission.

We covenant to avoid the practices of interrupting others, ignoring others, discounting others, speaking for others, or exhibiting dominating or domineering behavior. We shall practice self-monitoring, gently holding one another accountable for divisive or hurtful behaviors.

We covenant to avoid dividing into factions, politicizing our processes, and retreating into camps and silos based on ideology or regional affinities. We will intentionally seek to cultivate deeper relationships with those we do not know rather than merely spend time with those we already know.

We covenant to restrain ourselves from distracting behaviors during our meeting sessions so that we may remain attentive to one another and to our work. We will refrain from checking emails, reading online news, and otherwise letting ourselves become distracted for outside obligations.

We covenant to abide by the agreed-upon protocols for sharing news, information, or photos on social media.

Be it further resolved, If conversations have not begun in local churches, they should begin now, this is part of our responsibility as pastors and lay leadership. Superintendents will receive summaries of those conversations at the Fall 2018 Charge Conferences. Addressing the final adopted proposal with our local congregations will also be required. We will report those conversations and work at our Charge Conferences in the Fall of 2019.

Effective Date: June 5, 2018
Co-Sponsors:

BWARM Steering Committee

Chair: Jan Lawrence, Laity, Foundry UMC, Washington, DC
Vice Chair: Marge Kumaki, Laity, Hughes UMC, Wheaton, MD
Past Chair: Mittie Quinn, Laity, Dumbarton UMC, Washington, DC
Secretary: Rev. Mary Jo Sims, Elder, Retired,  Arden UMC, Martinsburg, WV
Treasurer: George Kahl, Laity, Grace UMC, Baltimore, MD
Programs Chair: Ellen Bachman, Laity, Metropolitan Memorial UMC, Washington, DC
Advocacy Co-Chair: Rev. Deb Scott, Elder, Senior Pastor at Calvary UMC, Mt. Airy, MD
Advocacy Co-Chair: Rev. Angela Flanagan, Elder, Lead Pastor at Silver Spring UMC, Silver Spring, MD
Convener: Rev. Nancy Webb, Elder, Retired, Charge Conference: Grace UMC, Baltimore, MD
Communications Chair: T.C. Morrow, Laity (Certified Candidate for Deacon), Foundry UMC, Washington, DC
At Large Member: Rev. Andrew Greenwood, Elder, Pastor at Pine Grove UMC, Parkton, MD
At Large Member: Rev. Rebecca Vardiman, Elder, Retired, Charge Conference: Frostburg UMC, Frostburg, MD

A Fully Inclusive UMC

Title: A Fully Inclusive UMC
Budget Implications: None
Rationale: Living in the hope of a fully inclusive United Methodist Church as we Find Our Way Forward
Submitted By: Rev. Debbie Scott and Rev. Angela Flanagan, Co-Chair Advocacy Committee  BWARM
Resolution:

Whereas the Commission of the Way Forward shared sketches of three models, with the awareness that the Commission and the Council Of Bishops are not restricted to these sketches and are open to learning, listening and improvement. It is likely that additional models or sketches may emerge as this process continues. Here is the summary about the sketches of the models presented to the bishops:

One sketch of a model affirms the current Book of Discipline language and places a high value on accountability.

Another sketch of a model removes restrictive language and places a high value on contextualization. This sketch also specifically protects the rights of those whose conscience will not allow them to perform same gender weddings or ordain LGBTQ persons.

A third sketch of a model is grounded in a unified core that includes shared doctrine and services and one COB, while also creating different branches that have clearly defined values such as accountability, contextualization and justice.

Each sketch represents values that are within the COB and across the church.
Each sketch includes gracious way of exit for those who feel called to exit from the denomination.

Be it Resolved, that the Baltimore Annual Conference would welcome and encourage the adoption of a proposal by the Special Session of the General Conference in Feb. 2019 that would allow for the full inclusion of persons of all gender identities and sexual orientations when it comes to matters of, but not limited to, marriage, performing marriages and ordination.

Effective Date: June 5, 2018
Co-Sponsors:

BWARM Steering Committee

Chair: Jan Lawrence, Laity, Foundry UMC, Washington, DC
Vice Chair: Marge Kumaki, Laity, Hughes UMC, Wheaton, MD
Past Chair: Mittie Quinn, Laity, Dumbarton UMC, Washington, DC
Secretary: Rev. Mary Jo Sims, Elder, Retired,  Arden UMC, Martinsburg, WV
Treasurer: George Kahl, Laity, Grace UMC, Baltimore, MD
Programs Chair: Ellen Bachman, Laity, Metropolitan Memorial UMC, Washington, DC
Advocacy Co-Chair: Rev. Deb Scott, Elder, Senior Pastor at Calvary UMC, Mt. Airy, MD
Advocacy Co-Chair: Rev. Angela Flanagan, Elder, Lead Pastor at Silver Spring UMC, Silver Spring, MD
Convener: Rev. Nancy Webb, Elder, Retired, Charge Conference: Grace UMC, Baltimore, MD
Communications Chair: T.C. Morrow, Laity (Certified Candidate for Deacon), Foundry UMC, Washington, DC
At Large Member: Rev. Andrew Greenwood, Elder, Pastor at Pine Grove UMC, Parkton, MD
At Large Member: Rev. Rebecca Vardiman, Elder, Retired, Charge Conference: Frostburg UMC, Frostburg, MD

Resolution to Close Centre Street UMC, Superintendent’s Report

Title: Resolution to Close the Centre Street United Methodist Church, Cumberland, MD
Budget Implications: None
Rationale: Local Church voluntarily transfers title to Conference Trustees
Submitted By: Rev. Conrad O. Link, Cumberland-Hagerstown District Superintendent
Resolution:

Whereas, in the Cumberland-Hagerstown District, the congregation of Centre Street United Methodist Church on the Centre Street UMC Charge, located at 217 N. Centre St, Cumberland, MD 21502, has served God faithfully through the United Methodist Church for many years, and

Whereas, in recent years the congregation has experienced a decline in membership and financial stewardship, and it is no longer feasible to keep it open and operational as a church, and

Whereas, during a Church Conference on April 22, 2018 and a Church Council Meeting on May 8, 2018, between sessions of the Baltimore-Washington Conference, the leaders of Centre Street United Methodist Church voted to voluntarily transfer title to all its real and personal, tangible and intangible property to the Conference Board of Trustees following procedures set forth in paragraphs 2540 and 2541 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church (2016);

Be it resolved, that the Baltimore-Washington Conference does hereby declare Centre Street United Methodist Church closed as of June 30, 2018, and

Be it further resolved, that the Conference Board of Trustees are authorized to take possession of the real and personal, tangible and intangible property of Centre Street United Methodist Church and to make a determination of how the property may best be used for the Kingdom of God.

Effective Date:

 June 30, 2018

Policy to be Used Upon the Death of a Clergyperson

Title: Policy to be Used Upon the Death of a Clergyperson While Serving as the Appointed Pastor of a Local Church

This is the revised text of the resolution first submitted to the 2016 Annual Conference Session.

Submitted By: Rev. Deborah L. Scott, Calvary UMC, Mt. Airy, MD
Rev. Sarah A. Schlieckert, Melville Chapel UMC, Elkridge, MD
Resolution:

Whereas, the death of a pastor actively serving an appointment is a tragic and grievous event, and

Whereas, decisions made in times of shock and intense grief are difficult and sometimes made based on emotions; and

Whereas, specific written policies can provide much needed direction and guidance for members of the pastor’s family, the local church, and the District Superintendent,

Be it, therefore, resolved that the BWC cabinet, in consultation with the Conference’s Board of Trustees, the Conference Council on Finance & Administration (CF&A), the Executive Committee of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the Conference Chancellor, and the makers of this motion, shall create, on or before August 30, 2017, a best practices checklist for use by local churches and the Conference upon the death of a pastor appointed to serve a local church; and

Be it further resolved that this Best Practices Checklist shall be posted on the BWC website; and

Be it further resolved that the BWC shall adopt the following policies to be followed upon the death of a pastor appointed to serve a local church:

1. As soon as possible after the death of pastor appointed to a local church, the District Superintendent shall be notified, and he or she shall then immediately notify the Bishop. Notification of the District Superintendent shall be the responsibility of (a) each other clergy person (if any) serving the same local church under appointment by the Bishop, or (b) if no other clergy person is under appointment to that local church, by the Chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee (“SPRC”) of the local church.

2. Also soon as possible after the death of pastor appointed to a local church, the Chairs of the SPRC and Board of Trustees for that local church shall secure the pastor’s office in the local church (with possible office lock change), and shall further identify and secure any and all of the pastor’s files, documents, and belongings of any description, including electronic devices (such as, without limitation, mobile phones, computers, iPads or other tablets, and thumb drives, disks or other electronic storage devices) that may be located elsewhere on the church premises, for subsequent review and delivery to the appropriate persons.  The same persons will undertake to identify and retrieve any church records and other church property that the pastor may have kept in his or her home (whether a parsonage or otherwise), with care being exercised to involve and obtain any necessary consents from the pastor’s surviving family members or other persons who may occupy the same premises.

3. As soon as practical, but not more than 10 days after notification of the pastor’s death, the District Superintendent (or his or her designee, who must be an Elder in Full Connection), together with the Chair of the local church’s Board of Trustees (or his or her designee, who must be a local church trustee or a member of the local church’s SPRC or Finance Committee), shall review the contents of the Pastor’s office, along with the files, documents, devices and belongings that have been gathered from other locations in the church building(s) pursuant to ¶ 2, above, and determine which files, documents, devices and belongings constitute records or other property of the local church, and which files, documents, devices and belongings constitute the properly of the pastor.  To preserve the confidentiality of any privileged communications, the contents of any files or devices that are reasonably likely to contain such communications (e.g., files relating to particular parishioners, pastoral counseling records) shall for purposes of this process be reviewed solely by the District Superintendent or his or her designated Elder in Full Connection, and then only to the extent necessary to determine whether the material constitutes the property of the local church or of the pastor.  All files, documents, devices and belongings that the District Superintendent and the Chair of the local church’s Board of Trustees (or their designees) agree are records or other property of the local church shall be retained for safekeeping by the Chair of the local church’s Trustees (or his or her designee).  All files, documents, devices and belongings that the District Superintendent and the Chair of the local church’s Board of Trustees (or their designees) agree are not records or other property of the local church, but belonged to the pastor, shall be provided to the District Superintended and retained by him or her for safekeeping, pending transmission, as appropriate, to the pastor’s family, to the successor pastor appointed to serve that local church, to the files the Conference maintains on clergy members, or otherwise.  All local church financial records, in whatever form, shall remain in the possession of the local church, but an inventory of all such records shall be made under the supervision of the District Superintendent and the Chair of the local church’s Board of Trustees (or their designees), and copies of such records shall be provided to the District Superintendent upon request.

4. The Conference, through the personnel identified below, shall take the following steps:

a.    The District Superintendent, in consultation with the Bishop, the Cabinet and the SPRC, shall arrange full pastoral coverage for the local church until an interim pastor is appointed.

b.    The District Superintendent, in consultation with the Conference’s Executive Minister of Call and Clergy Care and the Chair of the SPRC, shall provide or ensure support for grief and transition issues for the local church congregation, the pastor’s family, and the newly appointed pastor.

c.     In the process of providing near-term pastoral coverage and appointing a new pastor to the local church, the Cabinet will identify whether the deceased pastor’s family is living in a church-owned parsonage and/or may need assistance with relocation, and otherwise take into account the needs of the deceased pastor’s family but also the best interests of the congregation and newly appointed pastor.

d.    Pay the moving expenses for the surviving spouse/family, on par with those allowed for pastors under existing conference moving policies, provided the surviving spouse/family is living in the church owned parsonage and the parsonage is needed for the use of the local church’s new pastor;

e.    The District Superintendent, with support from the Conference’s Director of Human Resources & Benefits, shall inform the surviving spouse/family about all benefits to which they are entitled.

5. In connection with Item # 4(c), above, it is the sense of the annual conference that, whenever possible, all reasonable efforts and arrangements should be made to allow the surviving spouse/family to remain in the parsonage or continue to pay a housing allowance for up to 120 days after the pastor’s death.

 


A PDF of the 2018 resolutions, with line numbers for easy reference, is also available.