In voting on resolutions Oct. 26, members bolstered the BWC’s creation care ministries and endorsed The Protocol, a denominational initiative to address the church’s theological differences over human sexuality expected to come to the postponed 2020 General Conference next year.
Addressing the environment and creating a Green BWC
To address the climate crisis and reverse global warming, members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference heeded the call of the Rev. Rebecca Vardiman and the resolution, which passed in a vote of 456 to 128, to create a “green conference.”
The resolution calls on congregations to:
- Study creation care, using Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action, edited by Pat Watkins, or some other environmental-focused book.
- Support and encourage one or more members to complete Earthkeeper online training (https://umcmission.org/EarthKeepers). The BWC currently has 14 Earthkeepers.
- Create a Green Team that will organize to educate and activate their church in creation care. These teams are encouraged to create relationships with Interfaith Power & Light (org) and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (interfaithchesapeake.org), both of which are important regional partners in creation care.
Those interested in starting green teams are encouraged to visit www.interfaithchesapeake.org/faithful_green_leaders_training_program.
In another environment-related resolution put forward by Mike Koob, conference members voted 450-139 to endorse the passage of the Maryland Environmental Human Rights Amendment and encourage BWC congregations in Maryland to publicize this endorsement.
The amendment states: “Every person has the fundamental and inalienable right to live in a healthful environment, including clean air, water, land, and a stable climate. The state is a trustee of Maryland’s natural resources, which shall be protected, preserved, and enhanced for the benefit of all of the people of this state including future generations.” Learn more.
The constitutional amendment is expected to come before the Maryland legislature this spring and, if passed, will go to a voter referendum in November 2022.
Endorsement of the General Conference Legislation Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation
The resolution to endorse The Protocol that was created to guide the denomination’s response to homosexuality was brought by two individuals representing groups with differing points of view: Greg Witte of the Baltimore-Washington Chapter of the Wesley Covenant Association, and the Rev. Deborah Scott of the Baltimore-Washington Area Reconciling Methodists.
The Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation is expected to be considered by the delegates to the postponed 2020 General Conference, who plan to meet for the world-wide gathering of the denomination in Minneapolis, Minn., Aug. 29 – Sept. 6, 2022. The protocol is expected to lead to the formalized creation of the Global Methodist Church and allow each part of the church to remain true to its theological understanding.
Opponents to the amendment, like the Rev. Mark Gorman, spoke against the idea of schism and separation, asserting that “unity in Christ is a cross-shaped work of love.”
During the debate on the resolution, Ann Brown Birkel, a lay member from Foundry UMC, proposed an amendment that called upon the BWC to “endorse the passage of General Conference legislation that supports global regionalization and an option for a fair and gracious exit expressed in the spirit of the Protocol.” And, to “encourages United Methodist bishops to uphold the abeyance in clergy complaints included in the Protocol.”
The amendment, proponents like Jennifer Milewski of Dumbarton UMC asserted, would embrace the spirit behind the protocol, while embracing the “breadth of ideas that have come forward since.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 323 to 247. The resolution to endorse The Protocol passed by a vote of 501 to 133.
Following the vote, the Rev. Rudy Bropleh, pastor of Asbury UMC in Shepherdstown, W.Va., prayed. “The church is the hope of the world,” he said. “We pray that we will be that hope.”