By Jessica Brodie
This June, Annual Conference members will consider six resolutions, each rooted in solidarity or in healing.
The resolutions—the majority of which were adopted by the Advocacy Area of Connectional Ministries—were submitted by South Carolina United Methodist groups, ministries or individuals and will go before roughly 2,000 clergy and laity at Annual Conference, set for June 4-7 at the TD Convention Center in Greenville.
The six received in time for inclusion in pre-conference materials are Healing from the Legacy of Lynching; Resolution against a Muslim Ban; Resolution against the Dakota Access Pipeline, in Solidarity with Standing Rock; Resolution Supporting, Recognizing and Honoring the Services of Law Enforcement Officers; Resolution to Oppose Human Trafficking and Help End Suicide and Homelessness among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth; and Welcoming the Migrant in our Midst.
Other resolutions can be submitted on the floor at Annual Conference.
Voting members of Annual Conference will have the chance to amend, pass, refer or reject the resolutions by majority vote.
Healing from the Legacy of Lynching
Submitted by the Advocacy area of Conference Connectional Ministries, this resolution encourages every UMC in the state to have a ritual of forgiveness and reconciliation at the site of any lynchings in their community and place a memorial at this site.
The resolution notes that the genocide of native people, the legacy of slavery and social terror and the legally supported abuse of social minorities existed in the United States, and research on mass violence, trauma, and transitional justice underscores the urgent need to engage in public conversation about social history that begins a process of truth and reconciliation in this country.
“Lynching profoundly impacted race relations in this country and shaped the geographic, political, social and economic conditions of African-Americans in ways that are still evident today,” the resolution reads in part.
It notes that many victims of terror lynching were murdered without being accused of a crime. They were killed for minor social transgressions or for demanding basic rights and fair treatment. Share croppers, ministers and community leaders who resisted mistreatment also were lynched.
“Lynching of African-Americans was terrorism, a widely supported phenomenon used to enforce social subordination and segregation,” the resolution reads. “Southern lynch mobs killed more than 4,000 black people between 1877 and 1950. … The risk of racial violence led many African-Americans to flee the South”
Resolution against a Muslim Ban
Also submitted by the Advocacy area, this resolution calls on the annual conference to condemn any and all profiling, stereotyping, persecution and/or banning of any person based on their race, ethnicity, religion or country of origin.
It also calls on the conference to convey to the president of the United States, members of Congress and the governor and General Assembly of South Carolina the church’s desire that no person be denied citizenship, access to federal or state resources or be detained or incarcerated based on their race, ethnicity, religion or country of origin.
The resolution cites Leviticus 19:33-34, “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
“The United States is a land of immigrants, who inhabited a land already occupied by Native Americans,” the resolution reads in part. “All of humanity is made by God and should be welcomed in this land.”
Resolution against the Dakota Access Pipeline, in Solidarity with Standing Rock
This resolution, submitted by the Advocacy area, calls on the annual conference to reject the Dakota Access Pipeline as it is proposed and to call upon other conferences of the UMC to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation against the pipeline.
The resolution cites the Social Principles of the UMC as justification; these principles state, “All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings.”
“The Standing Rock Indian Reservation, by treaty, is the permanent homeland for many bands of the Sioux Nation,” the resolution reads in part. “(It) depends on water from the Missouri River for its life-giving powers; and … the health and welfare of the residents of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation are threatened by the Dakota Access Pipeline.”
Resolution Supporting, Recognizing and Honoring the Services of Law Enforcement Officers
This resolution calls on the bishop and conference to declare their support for and solidarity with law enforcement officers, particularly those who reside in South Carolina.
Submitted by the Rev. Bob Huggins, pastor of Mount Pleasant UMC, Pomaria, the resolution notes that the men and women and their families who serve or have served as law enforcement officers deserve “our highest respect and deepest gratitude, which must be recognized and honored for their selfless and heroic service and invaluable contribution to upholding justice, enforcing the rule of law and protecting the innocent of South Carolina and the nation.”
The resolution states that 1,531 officers died in the line of duty during the past 10 years, an average of three deaths every week or 153 per year, and that recent statistics rank South Carolina 50th out of 51 in having the worst crime rate, just ahead of New Mexico and just behind Washington, D.C.
“Law enforcement officers in this state and throughout the nation are routinely called upon to serve and protect their fellow citizens by responding to horrendous events and acting heroically to save the lives of others,” the resolution reads, noting that a number of clergy and members of the South Carolina Conference are current or former members of law enforcement. “It is incumbent upon public officials and the law-abiding public to proactively support our law enforcement officers who regularly face threats of violence and danger, routinely putting their lives in jeopardy to defend others which may potentially result in injury, disability or even death to keep our neighborhoods safe, enforce the rules of law, protect our property and respond in times of crisis.”
Resolution to Oppose Human Trafficking and Help End Suicide and Homelessness among LGBTQ Youth
Signed by more than 150 United Methodist clergy and laity across the state, this resolution calls upon people to support LGBTQ youth in a number of ways: to bear witness to the value of all life by not remaining silent when this value is questioned or dehumanized; to oppose the practices of human trafficking and slavery in all its forms and urge our churches, committees, campus ministries, and all other United Methodist organizations to create safe space for each and every child of God; to respond to acts of prejudice, harassment, bullying, abuse and violence with acts of compassion, justice and liberation; and to intentionally support and minister to all at-risk youth regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
It also calls upon clergy to provide counseling and emotional and spiritual assistance to the families of LGBTQ youth to help them better understand and value their youth and to make the home a safe space that is free of ridicule, bullying and physical and verbal abuse, as the desire for escape by running away from home or by suicide is lessened through acceptance and the enduring love of family and of God.
The resolution cites Paras. 161G and 162J of the UMC social principles, which support basic human rights and civil liberties for all people regardless of sexual orientation and which oppose commercialization, abuse and exploitation of sex.
“Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers; questioning youth are two times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers; and 40 percent of transgender adults report having attempted suicide,” the resolution reads in part, noting LGBTQ youth often run away or are turned out of their homes because of discrimination, name calling, rejection and abuse. “During the first 48 hours after running away or being turned out of their homes, one in three homeless youth are recruited by a trafficker into commercial sexual exploitation.”
The resolution states that 58.7 percent of LGBTQ homeless youth have been sexually victimized and are roughly 7.4 times more likely to experience acts of sexual violence than heterosexual homeless youth. They also commit suicide at higher rates (62 percent) than heterosexual homeless youth.
Welcoming the Migrant in our Midst
Finally, this resolution—submitted by the Hispanic Latino Ministry Task Force and adopted by the Advocacy area—calls upon the South Carolina Conference to work toward eliminating racism and violence directed toward newly arriving migrants from all parts of the world; to express opposition to any immigration policy that excludes refugees solely on the basis of their religion or national origin; to celebrate the re-creation of a Hispanic Latino Ministry Task Force and the formation of an immigration task force by the conference to help provide guidance to churches seeking to be in ministry to immigrants in South Carolina.
It calls on churches to educate and equip their members to provide hospitality and welcome to migrants and refugees in their communities; to take further actions and advocacy for just policies through prayer and discernment; and to engage and educate its members by participating in events sponsored by the task force such as Pentecost Journey.
It also calls on the conference to urge political leaders and policy makers to assure our laws affirm the worth, dignity, inherent values and rights of immigrants, and for the bishop and conference secretary to forward a signed copy of this resolution national and state congressional delegates.
“The state of South Carolina is made up of many immigrants who have migrated to our state seeking safety, security and prosperity,” the resolution reads in part, noting many of these immigrants attend or lead United Methodist churches, and many provide agricultural labor for produce and other goods that sustain this state. “We know so well that we have benefitted by their leadership.”
The resolution notes that Jesus was an immigrant, and the book of Leviticus commands people to love the immigrant, who “shall be to you as the citizen among you” (19:33-34).
To read the resolutions in full, review the pre-conference materials at www.umcsc.org/ac2017, or visit the Advocate’s website at www.advocatesc.org.
By Jessica Brodie