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Rev. Narcie Jeter: General Conference language barrier

S.C. delegate applauds GC2016 move to translate Discipline into UMC official languages

By Jessica Brodie


Photo by Matt Brodie

PORTLAND, Ore.—One South Carolina delegate stands in strong support of a decision to make the United Methodist Book of Discipline available in all the member languages of the denomination.

The body passed May 17 a petition (60591) to translate the Discipline into the official languages of the church.

Prior to the vote, on May 16, the Rev. Narcie Jeter spoke to the body with a point of information, urging them to translate the Discipline as well as the Book of Resolutions so all can understand.

“This to me is an issue of justice,” Jeter said.

Currently, the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate is available in English, French, Portuguese and Kiswahili. It contains the agenda, rules, delegate listings, petitions, reports, information for delegates and codes of conduct for General Conference.

But as the Discipline and Resolutions books are only available in English, non-English speakers have no context to reference the legislation and have no way to refer back to the original text to truly understand what they are voting on, Jeter said.

“If we’re dealing with global health and we’re deal with environmental issues and a global living wage, (non-English speakers) have no idea where to find it, so if a line is struck out, they receive only the paragraph it’s struck out in and don’t have the context to actually process and learn and clearly have information to vote on,” Jeter said.

Jeter said this is an injustice that can be prevented by just raising the money, and she applauds the decision of the body to translate the Discipline. She is hopeful the Book of Resolutions will be next.

“It’s a cost versus justice issue to me, and no cost is large enough to make it right to have these brothers and sisters not understand,” Jeter said.

After all, she said, the UMC is a global church, and we need to truly be a global church.

“What are we doing as a church if we don’t provide this information to all?” she said. “Why don’t we make access to information available to the world in our languages of The United Methodist Church?

“We have the information. We need to share it.”


About the books

The Book of Discipline outlines the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work and procedures of the UMC. The Book of Resolutions contains the text of all resolutions or pronouncements on issues approved by the General Conference and currently valid.

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