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May 12, 2000 GC-080

Daily wrap-up: Delegates race with clock to finish work

CLEVELAND (UMNS) –A ticking clock would have been a good symbol May 12 for the United Methodist General Conference.

As the final day of the 11-day quadrennial session began, delegates had one eye on the long day of business awaiting them, and the other eye on plane tickets in anticipation of the closing worship late in the night. Much of the afternoon was spent on the church’s budget for 2001-2004.

In a variety of other calendar items, the church’s 250-year tradition of supporting schools was affirmed "at a time when public education has become a political battleground." The church, delegates said, has a moral responsibility to strengthen, support and reform public schools.

In another action, the conference mandated that each of the church’s agencies must have on its governing board at least one member from among the three historically black Methodist denominations. The additional members will have voice and vote on the boards.

Continuing the spirit of reconciliation manifest early in the session, the General Conference adopted a constitutional amendment calling for a commitment to eliminating racism in every aspect of the church’s life. The proposal must be ratified by the annual conferences.

Members of annual conference boards of ordained ministry must participate in intensive training to help develop multicultural sensitivity for more effective recruitment and support of United Methodist pastors. Backers of the action said communities surrounding United Methodist churches are becoming more racially and culturally diverse.

A proposed specialized missionary conference for evangelicals in the West was rejected by a 615-312 vote. The push for a new conference came from the Evangelical Renewal Fellowship, whose members feel marginalized in the California-Nevada Annual (regional) Conference.

The Judicial Council held that the church’s constitution does not support creation of a lay assistant category of ministry under appointment of a bishop. The United Methodist Rural Fellowship proposed the idea to address the need for ministers in small membership churches.

After a dinner break, the delegates were back in their places to complete the last of 1,600 calendar items and celebrate a closing worship service.

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-- Robert Lear

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