UMNS Photo by John Goodwin
From Faith in Action, Church & Society Newsletter
TAMPA, Fla. — The United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-setting body, voted to make an addition to the Preamble to the Social Principle that addresses diversity of opinion. The vote followed a lengthy debate sparked by a minority report to replace wording approved earlier during the General Conference by a Church & Society committee.
Intent of the original petition was to maintain unity while acknowledging diversity of opinions.
The intent of the original petition was to maintain unity while acknowledging diversity of opinions, explained the Rev. Tracy Malone, chairperson of the Church & Society "A" Committee from the Northern Illinois Conference, when she brought the petition before the General Conference plenary.
The original petition to add new wording was submitted by the Pacific Northwest Conference. It was approved by the Church & Society Committee 42-29 with two abstentions.
The minority report streamlined the wording of the legislation approved in committee. The minority report stated: “We affirm our unity in Jesus Christ while acknowledging differences in applying our faith in different cultural contexts as we live out the Gospel.”
Opponents to the minority report asserted that it did not reflect the original petition’s sensitivity concerning diversity of opinion. Proponents of the minority report said the Church & Society-approved changes lengthened the preamble unnecessarily.
An amendment offered from the plenary floor to the minority report added a sentence to it. The amendment, which was approved, reads: “We stand united in declaring our faith that God’s grace is available to all, that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” This sentence precedes the minority report statement.
The addition to the Preamble to the Social Principles was approved by a vote of 632 to 302 (67.7% to 32.3%).
The revised Preamble follows. The addition is in boldface type.
Preamble to the Social Principles
We, the people called United Methodists, affirm our faith in God our Creator and Father, in Jesus Christ our Savior, and in the Holy Spirit, our Guide and Guard.
We acknowledge our complete dependence upon God in birth, in life, in death, and in life eternal. Secure in God’s love, we affirm the goodness of life and confess our many sins against God’s will for us as we find it in Jesus Christ. We have not always been faithful stewards of all that has been committed to us by God the Creator. We have been reluctant followers of Jesus Christ in his mission to bring all persons into a community of love. Though called by the Holy Spirit to become new creatures in Christ, we have resisted the further call to become the people of God in our dealings with each other and the earth on which we live.