By Rich Peck*
Delegates at the 2012 General Conference in Tampa received two petitions Wednesday with minority reports on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Don House, a delegate from Texas argued against a minority report that called for United Methodist agencies to divest investments in Caterpillar,
Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard until those companies end their involvement in the Israeli occupation.
He likened the effort to blame the cited companies to an effort to blame a company that manufactured a car for a car wreck caused by a drunk driver.
After defeating the minority report, the assembly reaffirmed a resolution opposing Israeli settlements in Palestinian land and added a clause affirming
“the church’s commitment to non-violent response to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and (acknowledging) the need to hear the voices of all those – Muslims, Christian, and Jewish –– harmed by the conflict....”
Proposed amendment referred
The denomination’s Constitution carries a paragraph stating that no “organizational unit of the Church shall be structured so as to exclude any member or any constituent body of the Church because of race, gender, color, national origin, status or economic condition.”
The Commission on the Status and Role of Women asked the conference to begin steps to amend the Constitution to add “gender” to the list, and the assembly added the word “age” to the list of characteristics that cannot used to prohibit membership or attendance.
By a squeaker vote, 443-439, delegates agreed to refer the proposal to the Commission on the Status and Role of Women for further study.
In other business, the assembly:
• Approved a revised judicial trial process for clergy that removes the Committee on Investigation step. Delegates also called for open trials unless the presiding officer decides the trial should be closed. The trial itself is unchanged.
• Observed the presentation of an ecumenical award to the Rev. John L. McCullough, executive director of Church World Service, an international humanitarian agency with programs in development and humanitarian affairs, advocacy for social justice, and refugee assistance around the world.
• Reaffirmed a resolution calling for the phasing out of nuclear weapons production and the closing down of five weapons-producing reactors and the Rocky Flats Plutonium Processing Plant.
• Referred a request to the United Methodist Publishing House that electronic access be provided to the series of 27 booklets titled “Guidelines for Leading Your Congregation.” Delegates were told it will cost $95,500 in acquisition and other costs to provide the service, and the Publishing House would lose $1.1 million in sales.
*Peck is a retired clergy member of New York Annual Conference attending his 12th General Conference, including four times as editor of the DCA and three times as a member of the UMNS news staff.