Conference approves anti-bullying resolution

Sewee sale resolution also passes; third resolution withdrawn

By Jessica Brodie

Annual Conference approved a resolution to oppose bullying in all its forms and to create a safe space for all children of God regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, culture, citizenship, socio-economic status, gender identity, sexual orientation and physical or mental ability.

The resolution, which passed 997 to 180, also calls upon United Methodists to respond to acts of bullying with acts of compassion and take a public stand against hate speech, exclusion, harassment and acts of intimidation and violence.

While there were several amendments (and amendments to amendments), the resolution itself drew little controversy.

As the Rev. Drew Martin, pastor of Lebanon UMC, Eastover, said from the floor, “We’re all opposed to bullying and hate speech because those are inherently unchristian.”

Vicki McCartha, member of Inman United Methodist Church, Spartanburg, said the spirit of the resolution echoed what Bishop Jonathan Holston preached Sunday night: that words can hurt someone, and we need to try hard not to give people more scars.

“Let’s be about the business of protecting the different and the outcast in our society and our church,” McCartha told the body.

The original resolution was modified with amendments urging churches to strengthen Safe Sanctuaries policies to better prevent child-on-child bullying, both by sight and sound, and moving the definition of exclusion to better clarify the intent of the resolution.

The resolution was recommended by the Committee on Resolutions and Appeals after the submitters were modified to include only the 100-plus United Methodists from churches in South Carolina and not the group Reconciling Ministries of South Carolina.

Also at Annual Conference, a resolution was passed authorizing the sale of the property owned by the Board of South Carolina United Methodist Camps and Retreats Ministries (Sewee Coastal Retreat Center.

A third resolution, Supporting, Recognizing and Honoring the Services of Law Enforcement Officers, presented on the floor the first business day of Annual Conference, was withdrawn. The resolution had been submitted by four United Methodist pastors: the Revs. Bob Huggins, Wanda Altman, Tony Rivers and Bruce Adams. Huggins told the Advocate that “after much prayer” and “given the current climate of police brutality,” they have decided to withdraw their resolution for this year. The day the resolution was introduced, a grand jury indicted a former North Charleston officer on a murder charge in the shooting of an unarmed man, and news continues to pour in about an officer under investigation in Texas after allegedly aggressive police action at a teen pool party. The resolution would have called upon the conference to declare their support for and solidarity with law enforcement officers for their invaluable contribution to upholding justice, enforcing the rule of law and protecting the innocent.

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