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As The United Methodist Church prepares for yet another season of Annual Conference sessions in 1999 and yet another General Conference in 2000, the Lifewatch community can and should be preparing to lead our denornination toward a more faithful witness on life and abortion. With that challenge in mind, we offer the following model resolution.

Lifewatch invites and encourages you to bring this resolution to the floor of your Annual Conference session this corning spring or summer. You might have your local church approve it and submit it to your Annual Conference. Or you might gather a group from your District or your Conference to endorse it and send it in. Or you, as an individual, might offer it to your Annual Conference. Whatever means you employ, please make sure that this resolution is brought to a vote during the 1999 session of your Annual Conference.

To get this model resolution to the floor of your Annual Conference next summer. you will need to submit a copy of the resolution. edited for your home conference. to vour conference office before your conference’s resolution deadline. Some deadlines, we understand, are as early as mid-January 1999, so it would be good to get cracking on this project immediately, if not sooner.

Your effort, in service of the Gospel of Life, might well assist General Conference 2000 in stepping away from United Methodism's present pro-choice, indeed pro-abortion, position. Your effort, in service of the Gospel of Life, might well help General Conference 2000 to break ranks with the culture of death and join the culture of life.

Our thanks to Ruth Brown, James A. Gibson, Michael J. Gorman, John E. Juergensmeyer, Rob Richey, and Marc Rogers for their wise counsel and helpful assistance in crafting this model resolution.

Also, thank you for your careful attention, your prayerful consideration, and your affirmative response. And may the Lord be with you as you advance this Christian witness for life.


WHEREAS, the Church has witnessed and worked, through the ages, to protect "'the least of these" (Matthew 25:40), including unborn children and their mothers; that is, from the Didache to the Church Fathers, from Martin Luther and John Calvin and John Wesley to Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, from Albert Outler and Paul Ramsey to Mother Teresa, the teachers and teachings of the Church have consistently promoted protection of the unborn and their mothers;

WHEREAS, Paragraph 65J of the 1996 Book of Discipline states belief in "the sanctity of unborn human life" and "the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother;"

WHEREAS, Paragraph 65J on abortion, as it now reads, is morally ambiguous; therefore, this paragraph is incapable of rendering moral guidance on abortion that is consistent with historic Christian teaching and with its own affirmations; this is particularly tragic in American society, which has counted over 35 million abortions performed since 1973 and now averages approximately 3,800 abortions performed each day;

WHEREAS, Paragraph 65J's moral ambiguity has allowed The United Methodist Church's General Board of Church and Society, along with the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, to affiliate with and support the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, a political lobby that advocates abortion on demand in American society and contradicts Paragraph 65J's own assertion of "the sanctity of unborn human life;"

AND WHEREAS, Paragraph 65J is sufficiently ambiguous to allow United Methodist leaders to support, in a public way, the continued legal status of partial-birth abortion, a procedure which only the most radical advocates of abortion approve;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the 1999 session of the __________ Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church hereby charges its Conference Secretary, using the entire rationale stated above, to petition General Conference 2000, in a timely and appropriate manner, to amend Paragraph 65J of The Book of Discipline to read:

"Paragraph 65(J) Abortion--Human beings are created by God. The beginning of life human lives and the ending of be human lives are the God-given boundaries of earthly, human existence. While Not only have individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, but also, through much of history, they now have had the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will would be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn all human life, including the unborn, as God's gift, as affirmed in Scripture, tradition, and experience, makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But We are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result form an unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic and rare conflicts of, where the life of the unborn child with directly and immediately threatens the physical life of the mother, that may seem to justify abortion, and in such cases encourage clergy and congregations to pray for and support such mothers and their families. support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection. We deplore the use of the cruel form of late-term abortion known as 'partial-birth abortion,' in which the infant is killed as she is being born; and we believe it should be illegal, except in cases where the mother's life is threatened. We also deplore the murdering of those who perform, and who assist in the performance of, abortions; such murdering violates basic Christian teaching. We call all Christians to a searching and prayerful inquiry into the sorts of conditions that may warrant abortion. We commit our Church to continue to provide nurturing ministries (including the ministry of forgiveness) to those who terminate a pregnancy for any reason, and hospitality ministries (including the ministry of adoption) to those in the midst of a crisis difficult pregnancy, and to those who give birth. We recognize that governmental laws and regulations do not provide all the guidance required by the informed Christian teaching conscience, and affirm that such laws and regulations should not permit or advance, among the citizenry, a casual disregard for unborn human life. In a culture which devalues human life, the Church is a community of life, offering the life-giving, life-transforming gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, a decision concerning aborting should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel."

[In this paragraph, boldface type indicates insertion, and strikeout notes deletion.]

Submitted by ___________________


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