Thursday, July 07, 2011

Conference adopts query on climate change, returns query on proper decorum.

The Conference acted on two queries brought to the delegate body on Tuesday, July 5. The Conference returned the "Query: Proper Decorum" brought by Mountain Grove Church of the Brethren and Shenandoah District, and adopted the "Query: Guidance for Responding to the Changing of Earth's Climate" brought by Circle of Peace Church of the Brethren and Pacific Southwest District.

Proper decorum
Following the custom for the moderator-elect to handle one item of business, Tim Harvey presided over discussion of the query on proper decorum. This query petitioned the Annual Conference to have rules of proper decorum relating to persons' positions on issues before the Annual Conference.

The concern arose as for the past few years many people have been wearing things at Conference to signal their stance on contentious issues. The recommendation from Standing Committee was that the query "be returned with appreciation and that the district be referred to the section in the Annual Conference booklet entitled 'Accountability to One Another.' "

Responses from the floor included much discussion of the rainbow and black and white scarves being worn. Some people deplored them for being divisive, but comment was also given that they were helping stimulate good conversations between persons with different views. One delegate reminded the body of the biblical call to mutual submission and respect for one another.

Standing Committee's recommendation that the query be returned
was adopted on a voice vote.
Climate change
The query asked for Conference's position on climate change and for guidance about how individuals, congregations, and the denomination can take concrete action and offer leadership on this issue. Standing Committee's recommendation was that the query should "be adopted and that it be referred to the Washington Advocacy Office of the Global Mission Partnerships"--a program of the Church of the Brethren.

During debate, a couple of amendments were proposed but none were adopted. One would have provided more detail about how the Washington office would handle this assignment and asked that a progress report be made to a future Annual Conference. Another, which was determined to be a substitute motion, would have returned the query to the district. Several spoke in favor of it, most because they did not believe that human-caused global warming has been established as scientific fact. The substitute motion failed when it was put to a vote.

Work on the query had to be suspended for the dinner break and evening worship. Moderator Robert Alley told the delegates to return after worship at 9 p.m. for an unusual night session. After more discussion, the recommendation from Standing Committee was adopted without amendment.

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