Members of Annual Conference debated and voted on a number of pieces of legislation on Thursday. Here’s a synopsis of some key items that were approved:
- Endorsement of David Bard to episcopacy: Members voted unanimously (through a round of applause) in favor of nominating and endorsing Rev. Dr. David Bard for the office of bishop. The nomination will be forwarded to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference, which will take place July 13-16, 2016 in Illinois. Bard, who serves at First United Methodist Church in Duluth, was also nominated for bishop in 2008. Faye Christensen, who was elected last year as a lay delegate to the 2016 General Conference and who submitted the legislation, told members that Bard has “a deep and abiding spiritual foundation and love for God” and “a strong desire to see the church minister to all people with acts of compassion and justice.” Following the vote, Bishop Ough led members in a prayer for Bard and thanked God for his selflessness and deep humility.
- Hamline UMC as 15th conference historic site: Members voted to designate Hamline Church United Methodist be designated as the 15th Minnesota Conference historic site. The legislation was submitted by the Commission on Archives and History, which noted that this is a continuation of the story of Hamline University and the Market Street Church in St. Paul, both previously noted as conference historic sites.
- Radon testing for parsonages: Members approved an addition to existing standards for church-owned parsonages that includes testing for radon. If testing shows that radon is found to be at an unacceptable level, the congregation must take steps to bring the levels into the acceptable range. The legislation, submitted by the conference’s Equitable Compensation Action Team, indicates that it is recommended that the testing be done every three years. Testing must be done in accordance with the current protocols for radon measurement in homes adopted by the American Association of Radon Scientists and Technicians.
Members defeated legislation that proposed adding $5,000 to the proposed 2016 budget for a program in North Minneapolis that would “help communicate our concern for young persons who may choose to go fight with extreme persons or communities in the Middle East.” They also defeated a proposal to add $100,000 in apportionments to the 2016 budget for initiatives related to all-day kindergarten, health care, a children’s ministry in Texas near the Mexico border, and programs in the Ukraine. And last, they defeated a proposal to call upon Israel to enter into conversations with its neighbors “that will lead to a just and lasting peace.”