The secretary of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church has distributed to annual conferences the corrected ballot for a second vote on a proposed amendment to the UMC constitution addressing women’s equity issues.
Delegates to the 2018 South Carolina Annual Conference, meeting June 3-6 in Greenville, will vote again on proposed Constitutional Amendment I, this time without an error in the text.
Amendment I was among five constitutional amendments approved by the 2016 General Conference. It included a sentence which had been removed by the legislative body. The amendment, which failed by a narrow margin, was one of two which did not pass.
Delegates voted 643-357 in favor of Amendment I at the 2017 South Carolina Annual Conference.
The sentence that should not have been included in Amendment I was removed by a vote of 746-56 of the 2016 General Conference but was inadvertently included in the version that was distributed.
That sentence read:
“The United Methodist Church recognizes it is contrary to Scripture and to logic to say that God is male or female, as maleness and femaleness are characteristics of human bodies and cultures, not characteristics of the divine.”
That sentence should have read:
“As the Holy Scripture reveals, both men and women are made in the image of God and, therefore, men and women are of equal value in the eyes of God. The United Methodist Church acknowledges the long history of discrimination against women and girls. The United Methodist Church shall confront and seek to eliminate discrimination against women and girls, whether in organizations or in individuals, in every facet of its life and in society at large. The United Methodist Church shall work collaboratively with others to address concerns that threaten women’s and girls’ equality and well-being.”
The proposed Constitutional Amendment I – which would have created a new paragraph in the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church – focused on gender justice. It was approved by 31,304 voters (66.5 percent) at worldwide annual conferences and opposed by 15,753 voters. A two-thirds majority is required for passage.
The wording of the corrected ballot itself might prove a bit confusing.
The ballot indicates that, should the proposed amendment pass, it would be added to the 2012 Book of Discipline. That is accurate, since the 2016 Book of Discipline did not exist when the 2016 General Conference met.
The original vote on the amendment was to amend a disciplinary paragraph in the 2012 Book of Discipline. Had the proposed constitutional amendment passed on the first vote by annual conferences, it would have appeared in the 2016 Book of Discipline, which was printed after the 2016 General Conference.
If the corrected proposed amendment passes, it will be added to the Errata Sheet for the 2016 Book of Discipline, and made available to the public.