Resolutions to be considered at annual conference
A plethora of legislative items awaits clergy and lay members to the 2013 Annual Conference when they meet in Peoria.
In addition to the usual reports, the annual conference will consider a proposed capital campaign for Living Springs Camp, a modification to the Making Dreams Possible Scholarship initiative for Africa University and various social justice issues including a Christian response to violence spurred by the Newtown, Conn. Shooting; environmental issues such as coal miner protection, the impact of factory farming and two resolutions on the issue of hydraulic fracturing technology being used by the oil and gas industry. The conference will also consider legislation to establish a Disciple Bible Study ministry statewide in cooperation with the Northern Illinois Conference and a resolution calling on IGRC congregations to pray for the persecuted church worldwide.
Living Springs capital campaign (Legislative Item 127)
This resolution seeks annual conference approval to raise $300,000 for the construction of a new swimming pool and bathhouse for the campsite with construction to begin once pledges and financial commitments are secured. The resolution further asks for permission to borrow up to 60 percent (up to $180,000) if the entire capital cannot be raised prior to the beginning of construction.
The conference Council on Finance and Administration is urging postponement of the financial appeal until a thorough utilization study is done on the Living Springs campsite. CFA is also opposed to borrowing funds or beginning the project without cash in hand.
Africa University scholarship drive (Supplemental Packet)
At the 2012 Annual Conference, members approved the creation of the Making Dreams Possible Scholarship initiative through the approval of Advance Special #6980, which would provide scholarships to students as funds were raised.
The Africa University Committee is now seeking to change the appeal to endowed scholarships, which will fund students into perpetuity. IGRC currently has four endowed scholarships with AU and two graduate student scholarships that are direct scholarships for a current student. These direct scholarships are fully funded for the student currently receiving it.
The $1 million goal would enable the two graduate scholarships to be endowed and would also add six additional undergraduate scholarships. Each endowed scholarship costs $125,000. The campaign has an annual goal of $250,000 over a four-year period. All contributions given to the Advance Special would be for endowed scholarships if this measure is approved.
Christian response to violence (Legislative Item 201)
This resolution, primarily authored by retired IGRC pastors Howard Daughenbaugh, Gene Mace and Miley Palmer, is the result of a pastoral letter authored by the two following the Newtown, Conn. shootings in December 2012.A total of 36 others have endorsed the resolution.
The resolution calls on strict enforcement of present laws governing possession of firearms, thorough background checks on all gun purchases, a ban on public sales of weapons intended for military and police use, including automatic weapons conversion kits. In addition, the resolution calls for a conversation on mental health issues with the church playing a key role in the conversation; promotion of dialogues on gun safety, violence prevention and keeping children safe; that all United Methodist congregations be gun-free zones; and that pastors and lay leadership claim their teaching role on the issue.
Protection of coal miners (Legislative Item 202)
Legislative Item 202 condemns the actions of Peabody, Arch and Patriot Coal companies, who are seeking to use bankruptcy proceedings to avoid providing health and retirement benefits negotiated with the United Mine Workers of America in collective bargaining proceedings. The resolution estimates a loss of $1.476 million in retirement benefits in Illinois alone.
The resolution calls on a public condemnation of the companies and show support and advocate on behalf of those affected by this action.
Healthy Families, Healthy Planet (Legislative Item 203)
This resolution calls for the endorsement of the General Board of Church and Society’s “Healthy Families, Health Planet” initiative and to work on issues of maternal health and international family planning. The resolution also calls on the annual conference to provide leadership and coordination, “creating awareness, education and advocacy for the well-being of women, infants, and children worldwide.”
Factory farming (Legislative Item 204)
This resolution encourages churches and parishioners to prayerfully examine how their dietary choices contribute to a system of meat production which the authors say “is not kind or painless,” and calls upon United Methodists to lobby legislators for laws that protect and enhance the lives of farm animals and encourage celebration of World Farm Animals Day on Oct. 2.
Fracking resolutions (Legislative Items 205 and 206)
Two resolutions deal with hydraulic fracturing technology being employed in the oil and gas industry and currently is being debated in the State of Illinois.
Legislative Item 205 encourages congregations to learn about the process, participate in the conversation with an eye on preserving God’s creation.
Legislative Item 206 puts the conference on record opposed to fracking that poses harm to human lives and the environment and that these concerns be sent to state legislators debating the issue, asking that public policy and law ensures responsible extraction of natural resources.
Disciple Bible Study agreement (Legislative Item 125)
This resolution establishes an agreement between the Illinois Great Rivers Conference, the Northern Illinois Conference and Disciple Bible Outreach Ministries of Illinois, a 501(c) 3 organization formed by the two conferences to carry out prison ministry in the State of Illinois. The organization was formed as a result of a March 2012 Deeper Still event in Decatur, hosted by the IGRC New Streams Team.
Because of the agreement needed ratification, the legislation can be debated but not amended.
Suffering of the Body of Christ (Legislative Item 208)
This resolution was originally offered at the 2012 Annual Conference, seeking a special conference-wide Sunday, which was ruled out of order by former Bishop Gregory V. Palmer since only the Conference Council on Ministries (or its equivalent) can establish such a conference-wide Sunday.
This year’s resolution does not seek a special conference-wide Sunday. Rather, it seeks to encourage every church to choose a Sunday service at which time “loving prayers for our Muslim persecutors are included,” and seeks that the Sunday service be done yet in 2013.
The Equipping and Connecting Team, in responding to the referral from Bishop Palmer to discuss the issue, suggested that IGRC church pray for peace throughout the world on World Communion Sunday.