Results were released Wednesday from Tuesday balloting at the Annual Conference gathering of the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Delegates wrapped up their three-day meeting mid-day today at the Columbus Civic Center.
About 760 votes were taken Tuesday afternoon on 32 Constitutional Amendments. As with other United Methodist Annual Conferences meeting this spring and summer, the results will now be forwarded to the denomination's Council of Bishops for tabulation; the aggregate votes, or a collection from each Annual Conference, will be compiled.
In spring 2008, delegates meeting at the denomination's General Conference, which meets every four years, approved the amendments by two-thirds majority. Similar to states' ratifying actions of Congress, the annual conferences had their chance to vote.
Since last spring, "district orientation" sessions were led by the Rev. Hal Brady and Charlene Black. Brady is the pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church and Black is an active lay person from Sylvania, Ga. Both led the delegation from South Georgia in May 2008 at the General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.
In Fort Worth, the first amendment passed 558 Yes and 276 No. The South Georgia vote released Wednesday was 109 Yes and 643 No. This first amendment was among the most controversial. It was the result of a 2005 case in Virginia in which a gay man, in a relationship with another man, was denied church membership by his pastor.
The amendment is worded as follows:
"Inclusiveness of the Church - The United Methodist Church is a part of the church universal, which is one Body in Christ. The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth and that we are in ministry to all. All persons shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, and upon baptism be admitted as baptized members. All persons, upon taking vows declaring the Christian faith and relationship in Jesus Christ, shall be eligible to become professing members in any local church in the connection. In the United Methodist Church no conference or other organizational unit of the Church shall be structured so as to exclude any member or any constituent body."
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