By an average tally of 94% to 6%, delegates to the 2009 session of the North Georgia Annual Conference voted disapproval of five amendments aimed at restructuring the United Methodist Church into “regional” conferences that would have greater national autonomy.
Final approval or disapproval of the amendments, all of which received a two-thirds majority endorsement at the 2008 General Conference, will be based on the aggregate vote of delegates throughout the 135 annual conferences of the UMC (62 in the U.S., 73 outside the U.S.). More than half of U.S. conferences have already voted.
The North Georgia vote is particularly significant because the North Georgia Annual Conference is the largest annual conference in the United States. The lopsided outcome in North Georgia will have a large impact on the final aggregate total.
Although the aggregate vote will not be officially announced until the Council of Bishops meeting in November, vote totals already released by various annual conferences suggest that the restructuring amendments are not likely to win the two-thirds margin needed for ultimate approval. Indeed, it now seems doubtful that the amendments will even win a majority of the votes cast by annual conference delegates.
Here are the raw vote totals from the North Georgia Conference for the five restructuring amendments:
At a gathering of conservative North Georgia leaders earlier this year, Dr. Ed Tomlinson, district superintendent of the conference’s Atlanta-Roswell District and vice chair of the North Georgia’s 2008 General Conference delegation, argued that implementation of the restructuring amendments would “decimate connectionalism as we know it today.”
Delegates to the North Georgia session also voted disapproval of Amendment I — by 64% to 36% (958 to 544).
During the debate on the amendment, several clergy members of the conference voiced concerns that passage of Amendment I would make it more difficult for pastors to give spiritual oversight regarding the readiness of individuals to take the vows of membership.
Use the audio player below to listen to that debate (13 min).
North Georgia delegates gave strong support — 86% to 14% — to Amendment XVII, which would convey voting privileges to lay members serving on a committee of investigation.
By an 88% to 12% tally, delegates approved Amendment XIX, which would empower qualified “local pastors” to vote on delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Full amendment results from the North Georgia Conference are here. To listen to Bishop Mike Watson announce the results of the voting, use the audio player below (8 min.)
|•||Ed Tomlinson: Proposed amendments would ‘decimate connectionalism’|
|•||Maxie Dunnam, Eddie Fox release videos on proposed amendments|
|•||African UM leader on amendments: ‘We should have been consulted’|
|•||Proposed amendments would separate UMC into ‘national entities’|
|•||John Ed Mathison: Seven concerns about the UMC|
|•||Bill Bouknight: The bad news from General Conference ‘08|
|•||A ‘procedural’ argument against Amendment I|
Related articles and information
|•||Full text of all 32 amendments, showing how each would alter the current language of the United Methodist Book of Discipline—material stricken through would be deleted; material in bold/blue would be added (PDF)|
|•||Voter guide from Concerned Methodists (PDF)|
|•||Worldwide decision: United Methodists to vote on amending constitution | Bill Fentum, UM Reporter (April 10, 2009)|
|•||Which way to a Worldwide Church? (PDF) | Andrew Thompson, Gen-X Rising blog (May 31, 2009)|
|•||Amending away our global church? | Riley Case, Good News (March/April 2009)|
|•||Constitutional Amendments | John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries blog (May 21, 2009)|
|•||A rationale to oppose proposed constitutional changes | Tim McClendon, Columbia District Superintendent, South Carolina Conference|
|•||The worldwide Methodist movement | Eddie Fox, Interpreter Magazine (Web-only article—March 31, 2009)|
|•||Conferences to consider church structure | Linda Green, United Methodist News Service (March 10, 2009)|
|•||Constitutional Amendments 2009 | William J. Abraham, Outler Professor of Wesley Studies, Perkins School of Theology (Southern Methodist University)|
|•||Transcript of the brief General Conference debate on Amendment I (PDF—see pages 2705-2707)|
|•||Amendment I (without the baggage) (PDF) | Andrew Thompson, Gen-X Rising blog (May 18, 2009)|
|•||Inclusiveness and membership decline (on the possible implications of Amendment I) | Riley Case (March 23, 2009)|
|•||Coming soon to your Annual Conference (article on Amendment I) (PDF) | The Kindred Connection (Winter 2009) (This is a publication of an arm of the Reconciling Ministries Network — “We envision a United Methodist Church which…accords all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, full participation in the life of the church.”)|