The Monthly Update

September 2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

This Monthly Update contains more information on the conferences that are being held across our United Methodist connection, and disturbing information from Virginia and North Carolina.

The pro-homosexual "Hearts on Fire" conference scheduled for the Labor Day weekend at Lake Junaluska As we had mentioned in the "August Update" this event is sponsored by Reconciling Ministries, a group within our denomination that is actively promoting the full acceptance of homosexual practice. In the last letter we sent you on this, we had written:

Speakers include two active bishops, Bishop Minerva Carcano and Bishop Susan Morrison, and one retired bishop Bishop Richard Wilke. Also included in the speaker listing is Beth Stroud, a lesbian clergywoman from Pennsylvania who declared herself "self-avowed and practicing," lost her credentials, and then had them reinstated again.

The Rev. Karen Oliveto will also speak. She is the clergywoman from San Francisco who performed eight same-sex ceremonies, seven at City Hall and one at Bethany United Methodist Church, during the time that the City Council ruled such marriages "legal"...

According to a letter received from Mark Tooley, Executive Director for UMAction, other participating bishops will be Melvin Talbert, Joseph Sprague, Sally Dyck, and John Schol. That this place would be used by a group such as this in the promotion of their efforts to normalize homosexuality in the United Methodist Church is distasteful to me. We need to remember that we should love the sinner and hate the sin. This is, assuredly, true. But we must be vigilant in our awareness of what the intentions of these people is and not deceive ourselves. If they are successful in their efforts to gain acceptance for homosexual "marriage" and ordination, we will see an accelerated decline in our denomination and a massive exodus of members. The effects on the Boy Scouts and all of America will be extremely damaging.

If you wish to register your concern about this event, please call or write:

  1. 1. Mr. Jimmy Carr, Executive Dir. of Lake Junaluska, P. O. Box 67, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745.
    Telephone: 828/452-2881, extension 701.

  2. 2. Ms. Joetta Rinehart, P. O. Box 67, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745-0067.
    Telephone: 828/452-2881, extension 743. E-mail:

  3. 3. Bishop Charlene Kammerer, SEJ Connectional Table, P.O. Box 1719, Glen Allen, VA 23060.
    Telephone: 804/521-1100, extension 102. FAX: 804/521-1171. E-mail:

If you do contact one of these people to register your objection to this event, please be courteous and state your position with clarity. Then ask the person what specific action will he/she take?

Again, we appreciate so much your standing with us at this time. We ask that you keep this situation, the United Methodist Church and us in your prayers.

In His service,


Allen O. Morris,
Executive Director

September 2005 Update

Bits and Pieces from across the United Methodist Church

When the Great Scorer comes to write against your name,
he marks not that you won or lost, but how you played the game.

- Grantland Rice

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Of Interest.

Methodists Will Host Pro-Homosexual Rally Over Labor Day

(AgapePress) The official retreat center for the Southeast Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church is taking heat for its plans to host a convocation put on by major pro-homosexual caucus groups within Methodism. The Labor Day weekend conference at Lake Junaluska in North Carolina will focus on how to lobby to overturn the church's teachings on marriage and sex, and lobby for the acceptance of same-sex "marriage" and practicing homosexual clergy. Called "Hearts of Fire," the conference is being organized by the pro-homosexual Methodist group Reconciling Congregations. According to that group's website, one forum will "explore the development of transgender and gender queer spirituality" as well as the "sources of gendering." Participants are encouraged to "come with a robust interest in all things gender, whether or not they themselves are gender non-normative."

Mark Tooley directs the United Methodist Action program at the Institute on Religion and Democracy in Washington, DC. He believes Lake Junaluska should not be renting the facility to Reconciling Congregations, which he describes as one of the UMC's most vocal critics on marriage and sexual ethics. "Obviously this is very disturbing to a lot of United Methodists, in that Lake Junaluska is owned by what is probably the most conservative and most theologically orthodox part of the church," Tooley observes. He says Lake Junaluska itself has its own internal standards that say it will not rent a facility to groups that do not support basic church teachings. "It seems highly inappropriate to rent those facilities for a rally for same-sex 'marriage,' homosexual clergy, and various exotic forms of sexual expression," he adds.

But Joetta Rinehart, a spokeswomen for the retreat and convention center, says she believes the mission of Reconciling Congregations is compatible with the denomination's Book of Discipline. That book of law for the UMC affirms God's love for homosexuals, but calls homosexual practice "incompatible with Christian teaching."

The IRD spokesman supposes that should a group from the gaming or tobacco-growing industry wish to rent the facility, it would be turned away in deference to the UMC's beliefs regarding gambling and smoking. "But for some reason," he notes, "opposition to the United Methodist teachings on one of the foremost issues confronting our culture today -- the definition of marriage -- did not disqualify [this] event."

Tooley is urging United Methodists -- especially those in the Southeast -- to express their displeasure with the retreat center. "I would challenge Lake Junaluska to remain faithful to the church of which it is a central part, to carry out and be faithful to its own internal standards, and not to rent its facility to a group that is dramatically and very publicly opposed to the church's teachings on issues that are very important to both the Church and society right now," he says.

Among the seven liberal bishops scheduled to speak at the event is Joe Sprague of Illinois, who has publicly denied the virgin birth, blood atonement, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Also expected to speak is Beth Stroud, an openly lesbian Methodist minister from Philadelphia who was recently defrocked. Musical entertainment on the last evening of the four-day rally is to be provided by Jason & deMar.

- Received by E-mail from one of our associates.

+ UM Pastor in Virginia forced out of pulpit for asking a man to stop homosexual practice before joining the church

"Pastor Out of Pulpit"

The minister of the South Hill United Methodist church has been placed on an involuntarily leave of absence after he allegedly told a local gay man that he was not eligible to join the congregation. A source close to the circumstances said the homosexual man was told he could join the congregation if he quit practicing the act, but that the man refused to repent of his homosexuality and refused to quit having sex. The source said the man’s refusal to change his lifestyle is why the Rev. Ed Johnson would not welcome him and why Johnson was ultimately forced to leave the church by his superiors. Church officials either refused to comment or said that Johnson was forced to leave temporarily because he would not follow the orders of higher-ups in the church. According to District Superintendent William Anthony Layman, who presides over the Petersburg district to which South Hill belongs, Johnson was instructed last week at the annual Conference for the Virginia United Methodist Association that he would no longer be the minister of the South Hill church. [Layman refused] to comment on the situation further. Layman said Johnson is taking the leave of absence "for one year" and that "it may be more. It depends on whether or not he works with the conference on what we ask him."

The source – who asked for anonymity for fear of causing more trouble among those close to himself said Johnson was forced to take the involuntary leave of absence because he refused to allow a "non-penitent" homosexual join the church. The source sided with the embattled minister in the dispute. "The church that is opposing Ed believes it is a rights issue, that this person has a right to become a member given the [United Methodist] Book of Discipline and the rules they maintain according to [Methodist] rules, anyone willing to come to the church and who is willing to take our vows can join," said the source, who is versed in Methodist practices. "The vows state that one will renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of the world, and repent of their sin."

The source said he is sympathetic to John’s struggle. Ed’s thinking if someone who is not recognizing that it is a sin, how can they engage and take the first vow? The source said Johnson did not feel it was a rights issue, but instead a moral one. Johnson didn’t flatly refuse membership to the gay man, the source said "He postponed membership with the statement that he was open to wanting to talk further with him. If [the gay man] moved towards repentance, the membership would be on the table." "Very early on, back in February, a statement was made that Ed was refusing to accept a gay man. He is not on a crusade against homosexuals. [The man] was an impenitently practicing homosexual. He is a person who engages in it without a sense of contrition."

But Virginia United Methodist Bishop Charlene Kammerer countered that no Methodist minister, including Rev. Johnson, has the authority to exclude anyone from joining the church. "For Rev. Johnson, it’s a matter of conviction that gay persons who are still living in a homosexual relationship are not eligible to join a Christian church. I believe our Book of Discipline has a different interpretation." Said Kammerer. She said the church bars practicing gays from the clergy, but not from the laity (The church also prohibits same-sex unions.) "Rev. Johnson would disagree with that interpretation of that Discipline and I believe he would do so [based] on his Biblical understanding," said Kammerer.

According to the 1984 Discipline of the United Methodist Church, the church believes that "homosexual persons, no less than heterosexual persons, are individuals of sacred worth and that all persons need the ministry and guidance of the church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with other and with self."

According to the source, at the beginning of the year, Associate Pastor Lee Warren, second in command at South Hill United Methodist, filed a complaint about the situation to Layman. Warren and Layman then counseled Rev. Johnson for several months but could not get him to change his mind. Layman then submitted a complaint to Bishop Kammerer, who submitted it to the board of ordained ministry.

The complaint will be heard later this year before the board of ordained ministry. That board could either reinstate Johnson or affirm the leave of absence.

Meanwhile the church – filled with community leaders and business people – is hurting from the rift and the volatile differences of opinion. Said one member who supports Johnson, "heavens, no, I won’t leave, not at this point. If I don’t hang in there and try to correct what I feel is an error then I have no right to be involved in it." The woman asked not to have her name printed.

Warren, the associate pastor, is in the pulpit in Johnson’s absence.

The fracas at the South Hill church is a microcosm of what’s happening on the national and international level in nearly every mainline Protestant denomination in the past decade, Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Episcopalians have also wrestled with the issue of homosexuality and how much to condone – condemn – the practice.

Ironically, it was the United Methodists who just a few years ago began using the catchphrase "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors," as part of their national advertising strategy. Some saw this as a nod to inclusivity, including gays.

Nationally, the denomination has more than 8 million members. [Editorial note: "…and declining." The phrase "Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors" is one we first saw at the 1996 General Conference in Denver when the pro-homosexual doors initiated their "open doors" campaign; it is ironic that church officials work so hard to "open the doors" for the pro-gay folks but are relentless in trying to exclude those of us in the revival movement within the United Methodist Church.]

- Source: E-mail. Steve Beard; Good News Magazine; Robbie McMillian; Meckelnburg Sun; July 2005

+ Bishop Spong Tells Religious "Progressives" to Stick It to Conservatives

Contrasting his own sense of divine love with the ostensible "hate" of conservative Protestants and Catholics, Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong insisted, "I don't want to denigrate any human being." But Spong lashed into traditional Christians in a scorching speech to Michael Lerner's Conference on Spiritual Activism on July 21 in Berkeley, California. He hailed Lerner as a "major force for peace in our nation and the world." Hundreds at a conference cheered and applauded as he mocked traditional Christian and Jewish beliefs about God and the Bible. Warning against this supposed "tribal" religion, Spong insinuated a connection between conservative Christians and Islamist terrorists. He noted, as if it were some kind of proof, that both Osama bin Laden and George W. Bush "invoke" God.

Spong, who is the retired Episcopal Bishop of Newark, has long been a biting polemicist on behalf of liberal religion, writing books suggesting that the Virgin Mary was a prostitute and St. Paul a "self-hating gay man," while denying that Christ was divine and rejecting a personal God. "It's time to name evil as evil when sounded in pious accents of biblical religion," Spong declared blazingly. "In the 21st century ... my nation seems to be walking religiously back into religious attitudes that I spent a lifetime trying to escape."

Spong's Episcopal denomination is one of America's fastest declining. His own Newark diocese, during his 24 years as its bishop, lost 40 percent of its membership.

Growing churches in America and around the world are theologically orthodox, which disturbs Spong greatly.

"We have a pope who says [moral] relativity must be combatted," Spong lamented. "Protestant leaders say homosexuality is a sin. A cardinal denounces evolution." "Conservative Roman Catholicism and evangelical fundamentalists are growing," Spong noted with worry. His explanation of the trend was: "Hysterical people are seeking security." Condemning popular religion that "masquerades as Christianity," Spong sneered that he did not want to walk into "what's called a Christian book store," listen to a "Christian" radio station or be "identified with the Christian vote," when these labels apply to people "bashing homosexuals"….

Spong fretted that the Bible in America has become a "force in public policy as an arbiter of right and wrong." Those who quote it make "fascinating points" and "assume the Bible is always right," he observed.

Spong reserved special venom for the American South, where he was raised as a "fundamentalist." "What kind of Bible do they read in the Bible Belt?" Spong asked rhetorically. "Did they not practice slavery? Did they not allow lynchings?" Saying that the South has more military schools than any other part of the United States, Spong further asked, "Is it not the most militaristic part of our nation?" Spong also charged that the South is the most "homophobic" region of the country and that it executes more prisoners than all of the rest of the developed world combined.

Referring to the rise of religious conservatives based in the South, Spong claimed, to the audience's delight, "The old [segregationist] George Wallace vote simply applied perfume and call themselves the religious right."

"Is it possible that a 3,000-year-old book captures the truth of God for all time?" Spong sarcastically asked. In fact, he said, the Bible "assumes as truth the limited knowledge that people had in that period of history." Dismissing orthodox Christians as credulously simplistic, Spong claimed that beliefs about God descending onto Mount Sinai or Jesus ascending into Heaven were based on archaic assumptions of a "three-tiered universe" that placed God and Heaven right above the clouds. Even if Jesus were ascending at the speed of light, he still would not have yet left our galaxy after 2,000 years, Spong chuckled, crediting this clever observation to the late astronomer Carl Sagan.

The Bible calls the Hebrews the "chosen people," Spong mockingly recalled. "If God has chosen people, then he also has unchosen people," Spong warned.

Referring to the Bible as a "book we have called the Word of God," Spong charged that it justified genocide and treated women as property. The Old Testament urges capital punishment for a whole range of sinful offenses, including adultery, he mischievously noted. "How many of you would be alive?" he smilingly asked.

But biblical literalism is on the march, Spong worried. "In our nation there is a religious mentality that would lead us to the past of tribal warfare," he warned. "This is too small a God for our expanding world and consciousness."

[Note: One can be blinded to his own human ignorance. This is an example of where pride can take a person.]

- E-mail received. Mark Tooley; July 22, 2005.

+ Hurricane Cleanup Requires Volunteers

After Hurricane Dennis came through the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf Coast of the United States, funds and volunteers are needed to help rebuild. In Cuba and Haiti, 38 people died, and homes and crops were destroyed, according to the UM Committee on Relief and the Florida Conference. In the Cayes area of Haiti, more than 200 homes are reportedly damaged, 30 destroyed, and 700 livestock killed. The office of Bishop Ricardo Pereira of the Methodist Church in Cuba report eight Methodist churches destroyed in southeastern Cuba. Funds may be sent to UMCOR to aid recovery (Hurricanes 2005 Global, Advance #982523). In the United States, volunteers are needed in Alabama and Florida. UMCOR and the UM News Service report that some volunteer teams already scheduled to provide relief from last year's Hurricane Ivan were reassigned to cleanup work for Hurricane Dennis. In the Alabama-West Florida Conference, First UMC, Atmore, Ala., received extensive damage, including destruction of its organ and Steinway piano. First UMC, Flomaton, Ala., had severe damage to first- and second-floor classrooms and the library resource room. While damage to churches in the Pensacola District was superficial, many church members' homes were damaged. Meanwhile, Texas and Mexico are assessing damage from Hurricane Emily. Texas officials report light damage in eight counties.

United Methodist Bishops. While pleased that G-8 leaders agreed to $50 billion in aid to Africa and $3 billion to the Palestinian Authority, leaders of the Methodist Church in Great Britain expressed concern about the summit's failure to address agriculture subsidies and environmental concerns. In his response to the summit, Bishop Peter D. Weaver (Boston Area), president of the UM Council of Bishops, called upon UMs to pray that we might work together to end poverty; to support the Children and Poverty, Hope for the Children of Africa, and the international ONE campaigns; to become informed about the Millennium Development Goals and related issues; and to relate concerns to President George W. Bush and Congress.[Is this a wise use of bishops’ time and attention? Why don’t they have our United Methodist Church "step up to the plate" and do more to provide meaningful ways for the poor to get out of poverty? They are advising congress and the president while own denomination is declining.] - UMNewscope, July 29, 2005

The United Methodist Judicial Council. United Methodist top court to review case of lesbian pastor

The case of the Rev. Beth Stroud - who underwent a church trial last year after disclosing that she is a lesbian - tops the fall docket for the United Methodist Church's supreme court. Stroud, an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia, had lost her clergy credentials following a December church trial, but she was reinstated by an appellate court of the denomination's Northeastern Jurisdiction on April 29. The appeals court, voting 8-1, said it overruled the church trial verdict because of two legal errors, while noting that it found "overwhelming" evidence in support of the charge against Stroud. The court said no body of the church had defined the words "practicing homosexual" and "status." The word "status" appears in the church constitution as part of an anti-discrimination clause, which states that the benefits of membership in the church are guaranteed to "all persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status or economic conditions ..." Stroud's supporters argued that homosexuality falls under the "status" designation. The appellate court also said that a key statement in church law - "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teachings" - is a doctrinal statement and not an ethical rule for clergy, and should not be applied to Stroud. In another case, the Judicial Council will consider another request from the West Michigan Annual Conference for a ruling on the addition of domestic partner benefits to the conference's health benefits plan.

- By Neill Caldwell; United Methodist News Service (UMNS); Jul. 27, 2005.

United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.

Methodist Building Issue to Go Before D.C. Attorney General

At its April 2005 directors’ meeting, the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society resolved to seek affirmation of its controversial use of the Methodist Building Endowment Fund. The board planned to seek a ruling from the Attorney General of Washington, D.C., sometime before its fall 2005 meeting. The board affirmed that it will continue to use all income from the Methodist Building Endowment for general expenses, disregarding earlier legal advice and pledges from its own financial statements of several years ago. According to the Methodist Building Endowment Declaration of Trust of 1965, all income from the Methodist Building is supposed to be spent on temperance and alcohol-related causes.

The 1965 Methodist Building Trust Agreement, which transferred the building and other assets to what was to become the Board of Church and Society, stipulated that the income from the trust would be devoted in perpetuity to addressing the "areas of temperance and alcohol problems." The trust then included the Methodist Building, two other real estate parcels, and over $500,000 in stocks. Over the last 40 years, the board has reinterpreted the trust to allow its expenditure on general operating expenses. The board, which functions as the political lobby arm of the United Methodist Church, advocates a wide array of politically liberal causes that are controversial among church members.

The Methodist Building Trust was created over 80 years ago by the church’s old Board of Temperance, which constructed the Methodist Building as a lobby for temperance causes. Today, the Board of Church and Society lobbies for abortion rights, homosexual rights, socialized medicine, environmental causes, and a larger welfare state, while opposing U.S. military actions and much of U.S. foreign policy.

However, in an October 23, 2002, letter to the board’s chief financial officer, the board’s attorney Milton Cerny wrote: "The language of the Declaration of Trust is quite specific. We doubt that it could be realistically interpreted to stretch any further." In that letter, Cerny noted that a previous legal opinion from the 1970s had already stretched the understanding of the Methodist Building Trust to allow for expenditure on not just "temperance and alcohol problems" but also "problems involving public morals, gambling, drug abuse and general welfare in these areas." "We doubt the trust instrument’s language could be interpreted any more broadly than has already been done," Cerny observed. In a November 20, 2002, letter to the board’s general secretary, Cerny observed that the board wished to spend income from the Methodist Building Trust Fund on "general purposes" rather than being "restricted" as "prescribed by the Declaration of Trust." Basically, the board decided that one-third of the income from the Methodist Building would be devoted to spending on alcohol-related concerns, based on the 1965 value of the building being assessed at one-third of today’s value. The remainder would be devoted to general purposes. This policy was restated in the board’s financial statements for 2002 and 2003. However, no budget since then has shown any specific line item for spending on alcohol-related issues. [emphasis added]. Nor has there been any apparent significant increase in programs involving "alcohol, public morals, gambling, drug abuse and general welfare in these areas."

- E-mail received from Mark Tooley, UMAction.

United Methodist Men (UMM). The General Commission on UM Men will move into its own building by the end of the year, announced Gil Hanke, president, during the national gathering of UMM in West Lafayette, Ind. The organization will move into the Nashville, Tenn., offices being vacated by the General Council on Finance and Administration. The commission became independent of the General Board of Discipleship in 1996, but its offices remained housed there. Financing for the purchase will be handled through donations and the UMM's Foundation.

- UMNewscope, July 29, 2005.

Zimbabwe. A South African Council of Churches delegation says it will launch an international relief campaign after government security forces destroyed tens of thousands of urban dwellings for poor people in Zimbabwe, according to Ecumenical News International. An initiative to help Zimbabweans left homeless by the two-month-long "cleanup" campaign was launched July 20 in consultation with Zimbabwean churches, the South African Council of Churches said. Methodist bishop Ivan Abrahams, who was in the delegation, said the campaign would provide immediate relief in the

form of blankets, food, water, and medicine to all affected by government demolition. [Note: This is not surprising when our own ecumenical leaders helped to establish the Marxist-dominated Robert Mugabe government. We as United Methodists share in the responsibility for this.] - United Methodist News Service; UMNewscope, July 29, 2005

Annual Conference Reports

Pacific Northwest met June 15-18 at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., under the theme "God's Beloved Community: At One Table." The conference welcomed Bishop Edward Paup; his wife, Carol; and their family and

celebrated the new relationship with the Alaska Missionary Conference to which Bishop Paup is also assigned. Legislatively the conference: 1) urged congregations to take an active role in creation-care as a biblical witness; 2) asked the conference secretary to convey to state representatives and President George W. Bush opposition to recent funding cuts in human services programs and urged programs to provide at-risk persons with tools to meet basic needs; 3) called on the director of youth and young adult ministries to maintain a confidential database of individuals who wish to register as conscientious objectors so congregations can provide support and ministry to those facing conscription; 4) affirmed the Faith Advocacy Network, an online resource of the Washington Association of Churches for mobilizing people of faith in the state and federal legislative process; 5) committed conference-wide support in strengthening all families and helping them achieve stability, acceptance, and equal civil rights; 6) affirmed that the conference is not of one mind on the issue of sexual orientation; and 7) affirmed legislation requiring safe storage of firearms and closing loopholes on sale of firearms. The conference also: 1) called upon elected officials to preserve and protect civil liberties in light of the Patriot Act of 2001; 2) urged local congregations to take an active role in preventing domestic violence and urged support of state elected officials for the Violence Against Women Act 3; 3) voted to protect children against hate and exploitation on the Internet by encouraging parents and guardians to become active participants along with children; 4) voted in favor of antidiscrimination legislation protecting human and civil rights for all, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons; 5) spoke out in opposition to the City of Bellevue, which was considering an ordinance restricting churches from offering sanctuary to the homeless through tent cities; and 6) called for an immediate moratorium on the death penalty. In other highlights, Bishop Paup picked up drum sticks and joined the band of El Dios Viviente UMC as it entertained the conference at the ministry fair. Ethnic music and art infused worship services through the Africa University Choir, Jin Ming Ma's description of her family table in China, Riverton Park Samoan Choir, and artist Midori Thiel's Koto (a traditional Japanese musical instrument) and Kanji (Japanese calligraphy). Early morning prayer was practiced in the Korean tradition through Tong Song Kido (wailing prayer). Membership stands at 59,141, down 1,358 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 24,889, down 361.

- Kristina Gonzalez., UMNewscope, July 29, 2005.

Rio Grande Annual Conference met June 3-5 in Corpus Christi, Texas. Rio Grande members met under the theme "Transforming Our World." The Rio Grande and Southwest Texas conferences shared in joint events this year, making the annual conference an historical one. This was the first time the two conferences formally and intentionally gathered in nearly 150 years. Now 152 years old, the Rio Grande Conference shared in a joint laity banquet. The Rio Grande Conference geographically overlaps the five annual conferences of Texas and New Mexico. At the bilingual joint ordination service, Bishop Joel N. Martinez ordained four Rio Grande elders and one deacon in full connection, one as associate member, and one on the elder track. Well-known theologian, author, and retired Rio Grande elder Justo L. Gonzalez preached. Two pastors retired. A plaque was given on behalf of the conference commission on history and archives to First UMC, Corpus Christi, as the home church of Alejo Hernandez, who in 1871 became the first Hispanic ordained in the UM tradition. The legislative body affirmed and amended a ten-point resolution in which: 1) the conference will reduce from four districts to three; 2) the conference will create a "common table" to succeed the current council on ministries; 3) the conference will create a financial resource table to succeed the council on finance and administration, bringing together the work of pensions, trustees, and equitable compensation; 4) the proposal to create a director of financial services/treasurer was struck down; 5) Bishop Martinez, in consultation with the chairs of the councils on ministries and finance and administration, will appoint a transition team to lay the groundwork for full implementation; 6) the conference will create district councils to meet disciplinary requirements; 7) the conference approved the creation of cooperative ministry teams or clusters as the place for local churches to collaborate on ideas, training, and new places of ministry development; 8) the conference will implement a "self-assessment" tool for local churches; 9) the conference affirmed the spirit and intent of the report and referred it to the transition team and the new tables for implementation; and 10) the conference directed the tables to prepare and present transition status reports to the 2006 conference. In other business, conference members: 1) ratified the eight UM constitutional amendments; 2) approved the implementation of a Sexual Harassment and Misconduct Policy authored and proposed by the board of ordained ministry; 3) affirmed the policy development of Safe Sanctuaries, a child abuse prevention program for the conference; and 4) affirmed a resolution to support actively implementing an amnesty program for undocumented people. Membership stands at 14,848, down 79 from the previous year, and primary worship service attendance stands at 5,175, down 163. - Abel Vega Jr., UMNewscope, July 29, 2005.

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Ambition without knowledge is like a boat on dry land.

- Mark Lee, The Next Karte Kid (Columbia Pictures)