Bishop to provide decision of law in response to written request
By Jessica Brodie
GREENVILLE—One of the resolutions submitted to Annual Conference was ruled out of order and not brought before the body at the 2017 session.
Proposed by the Rev. Keith Sweat, a licensed local pastor serving the Mount Bethel-King’s Chapel Charge in the Greenwood District, the disaffiliation resolution calls upon Bishop Jonathan Holston to appoint a Task Force on Realignment to develop a plan to disaffiliate the South Carolina Conference from the UMC and present that plan at Annual Conference 2018. (See the full resolution in pre-conference materials at ac2017.umcsc.org.)
Upon the request for guidance from the Committee on Resolutions and Appeals during the Monday business session of the Annual Conference, Holston stated, “From my perspective, this resolution is out of order and will not be considered.”
Holston added that only the General Conference, not annual conferences, can allow such an action, and for him to be asked to appoint such a task force violates the vows he took to uphold the church and the Book of Discipline.
Sweat said requesting a task force to consider the disaffiliation is not the same thing as withdrawing from the denomination, but Holston disagreed.
“The task force (would be) asking me to do something I believe is not in unity with the Discipline; therefore I do believe it is out of order … and not properly before us,” Holston said.
On the final morning of Annual Conference, Sweat returned to the floor with a written request that the bishop provide “a decision of law on matters germane to actions of the annual conference” per Judicial Council Decision 1340.
Bishop Holston responded that he stands by his decision to rule that the resolution is out of order, as an annual conference cannot vote to violate the Discipline or even study how it might be violated by a task force.
In accordance with Decision 1340, Bishop Holston said, “I will respond to your request and will decide this question of church law.”
Holston said he would respond within the time limit outlined in Para. 2609.6 of The 2016 Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (no later than 30 days of the close of the session).