Report by Rev. Steve Casteel, 5/3/2012


Rev. Steve Casteel, director, Mississippi Conference Communications and Connection

Today's sessions included several controversial and complicated issues centering around human sexuality and pensions.

The morning session focused on proposed language changes around The United Methodist Church's position on homosexuality from a group led by Rev. Adam Hamilton (pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas) and Rev. Michael Slaughter (pastor of Ginghamsburg UMC in Tipp City, Ohio). The proposal was a declaration that United Methodists just agree that we disagree on this issue and should continue to coexist in respect and love.

After passionate conversation, the Conference did not approve the proposal. As a result, a group of over 300 protesters for full inclusion of gays, lesbians, and transexuals moved to the center of the bar of the Conference. Indiana Bishop Michael J. Coyner, under advisement of the GC Secretary, called for an early lunch adjournment and the hall was cleared. After a series of consultations, Bishop Scott Jones reconvened the delegates for the afternoon session. He moved the Conference into the afternoon agenda and entered in the pension conversation. According to the United Methodist News Service, Rev. Frank Beard (chair of the Agenda Committee) would not comment on whether the issue of sexuality would be brought up later in the Conference.

There are issues that were not addressed. If the Conference does not get to these issues, the current language in the Discipline will remain the same.

In the afternoon session, the Board of Pensions led conversation around two proposed plans for Ministerial Pensions. The Committee recommended an amended version of the current CRSP plan and presented an alternative Defined Benefit plan. The CRSP version was approved by a vote of 819-78. David Stotts (MS AC Treasurer and Director of Finance and Administration) will share a more detailed report later.