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Members pass resolutions on mission and church polity

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Members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference considered three resolutions on the first day of the Annual Conference session – one about a local church, one about the Annual Conference, and one about the Global Church.

Salem Baltimore Hispanic UMC named a mission church

In a vote of 523 to 22, Salem Baltimore Hispanic UMC was officially designated as a Mission of the BWC and a Congregation in Transformation.

As a mission church, which is defined in Para. 259.1.a of the Book of Discipline, the congregation will receive financial support and administrative guidance from the Conference and must pay only a portion of its annual mission shares.

The BWC recognizes a Redeveloping Church (in its Policy Manual, Para. 4044.2.c) as a congregation undergoing significant demographic, environmental or visional refocusing which has resulted in the temporary loss of ability for self-support.

This designation recognizes the fact that Salem provides a unique and creative outreach to the growing Latino population in East Baltimore. about the church and its pastor, Cassandra “Cassy” Nuñez.

“Salem is a small congregation that is a beacon of light and witness of God’s love in the Highlandtown neighborhood of East Baltimore,” said Baltimore Metropolitan District Superintendent, the Rev. Wanda Duckett. “This church speaks the message of God’s love and now has the potential to do so even more.”.

BMCR to provide input on the use of proceeds from the sale of closed Black church property

Members also voted in favor of the resolution brought by the BWC caucus of Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR) to have a member of its group work with members of the Conference Board of Trustees to formulate plans on how the sale of Black church property will be allocated. Together, they will formulate strategies on how resources may be best used for the revitalization of existing Black congregations and how new Black faith communities be started in communities with a significant Black population.

Those who opposed the resolution presented arguments that the conference already has systems and structures in place to address the needs of the Black church (which is defined as a church in which 70 percent of the membership is Black) and all of its churches within the BWC. They warned against the unnecessary broadening of bureaucracy.

However, the Rev. Valerie Barnes, chair of the BWC’s BMCR caucus, called upon members to reflect upon the history of the Black church and to pass this resolution, which would foster the work of anti-racism and bring BMCR to the table to be a resource for the equitable revitalization of Black churches.

The resolution passed 337 to 214. The strategic plan that is to be created will be brought before the 2023 Session of the Annual Conference for discussion and action.

Endorsing the Christmas Covenant

A resolution to endorse the Christmas Covenant, expected to come as legislation before the General Conference in 2024, was approved by BWC members. 

The Christmas Covenant would transform the denomination’s existing seven Central Conferences (outside of the U.S.) into Regional Conferences and create a United States Regional Conference.

The resolution, brought forward by the BWC’s General and Jurisdictional delegates, contributes to an anti-colonialist vision of The United Methodist Church. It is expected that each Regional Conference would be able to develop unique sections of the Book of Discipline to meet the contextual needs of their regions.

Those speaking against the resolution worried that allowing the contextualization of the Discipline would detract from the denomination’s unity and take political and spiritual power away from the current Central Conferences, whose members now represent a potential majority at General Conference.

The resolution passed 365 to 176. Learn more about the Christmas Covenant.

BWC members will consider three more resolutions during the plenary session on June 2.