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Resolutions That Address The REAL Problems from Bishopwatch



Introduction to Petitions by Mike Evans

Mike Evans

March 13, 2006  

I , Mike Evans the author of these petitions. present them before the Western North Carolina Annual Conference by the force of one.  While there may be other individuals, organizations and local churches along the way that may like to add their voices as time goes on, these petitions are presented to the Western North Carolina Annual Conference now to initiate conversation surrounding the conflict over homosexuality we have had to endure since 1972.  Several will also raise the question regarding the roll bishops have played knowingly or unknowingly furthering the goal of The Reconciling Ministries Network whose overarching aim is to overturn our present rules regarding all sexuality.  The following statement is from their own web site:  

Reconciling Ministries Network is a national grassroots organization that exists to enable full participation of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities in the life of the United Methodist Church , both in policy and practice.  -RMN Mission Statement from http://www.rmnetwork.org/  

I have served a pastor in the Western North Carolina Conference since January 2, 1991 .  The papers I have researched and written on these subjects function as supporting documentation to the petitions and evidence of the need for these petitions.  Those papers are available for free on the internet at:  

“UMBishopWatch”;  http://www.gbgm-umc.org/cedargroveofsunshine/umbishopwatch.htm. This is html and is approximately 665kb and is approximately 150 pages.  It details dozens of bishops that have made statements or actions that clearly contradict our church positions on sexuality.  

“Hearts on Fire; A Review”; http://www.gbgm-umc.org/cedargroveofsunshine/heartsonfirereview.htm.  This is html and is approximately 15 pages.  This gathering had bishops encouraging this gathering as well as being part of its planning and programs.  The Reconciling Ministries Network produced DVDs with almost 25 hours worth of footage from the event with bishops fully supporting homosexuality no repentance required.  

“Reconciling Annual Conferences”; http://www.gbgm-umc.org/cedargroveofsunshine/reconcilingannualconferences.xls. This is an Excel spread sheet.  This is simply a list of all Annual Conferences in the US with news articles and sometimes even their own publications stating their defiance of The Book of Discipline in any matters relating to homosexuality.  

If there are other petitions dealing with the same matters I would be willing to accept the motion to consolidate petitions depending on which petition is worded the best.  My main concern is that the subject matter which these petitions lift up be discussed openly, thoroughly and fairly in committees and from the floor of the Annual Conference in the year 2006.  

Respectfully,

Mike Evans

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Annual Conference Consultation Rights

Submitted by Rev. Mike Evans

Pastor, Cedar Grove-Sunshine Charge  

Whereas 14 Annual Conferences within the continental US have in the past stated plainly they will not abide by any of the language in The Book of Discipline pertaining to sexuality by:  

declaring themselves in the past to be “Reconciling Annual Conferences”  

being in a Jurisdiction that has voted in the past to be a “Reconciling Jurisdiction”  

making statements approved by majority votes of the Annual Conference that are clear pro-homosexual  

having bishops that have advocated for participation in Reconciling Ministries networks and programs as well as  

bishops that have helped plan, conduct and participated as major voices in Reconciling Ministries programs[1]  

Whereas 4 other Annual Conferences dwell in the Western Jurisdiction which has in the past declared itself to be “reconciling” forcing them to live and witness under reconciling administrations,  

Whereas by the nature of the process of episcopal election and assignment the receiving Annual Conference now has little chance of knowing who or of what character their bishop will be and no ability to refuse the appointment,[2]  

Whereas the electoral process for bishops rarely discloses a bishop’s views on the scriptures, whether or not they are traditionalist, progressive or something else before placement,  

Whereas the electoral process for bishops rarely discloses a bishop’s views regarding our 30 plus year conflict over matters of sexuality before placement,  

Whereas dozens of the present bishops we have are actively engaged in “dissent” particularly over the matter of homosexuality but also in matters of biblical interpretation running contrary to United Methodist standards regarding the place of the Bible and Christology and the numbers are increasing with our church in the borders of the United States,[3]  

Whereas local churches, Annual Conferences, General Agencies, Jurisdictional Agencies have at least some “consultation” process when it comes to every other position within those manifestation of “the church”,  

Whereas no bishop has been tried for “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The United Methodist Church”[4] even for the most outrageous statements about God the Father, Son or Holy Spirit in two hundred plus years,[5] or openly deriding our present standards on sexuality and working in conjunction with The Reconciling Ministries Network and other like minded groups.[6]  

Be it resolved The Western North Carolina Annual Conference place before General Conference 2008 the following as a petition to The Book of Discipline to codify “Annual Conference Consultation Rights” in “The Superintendency” Section III, Paragraph 407.  

Annual Conferences have the right to refuse an episcopal appointment when the Annual Conference believes the prospective episcopal appointee 1) holds theological doctrines contrary to our United Methodist Standards or 2) the episcopal appointee may well administrate the conference in such a way as to ignore United Methodists Standards and historical “universal” beliefs and conduct.  

The Episcopal nominee must be approved by a majority of an Executive Clergy of the Annual Conference meeting by a majority vote.  The representative of The Jurisdictional Council on Episcopacy must notify the Annual Conference Committee and The Cabinet of the Annual Conference who will in turn publicize the potential bishop to all clergy in the Annual Conference.  The Jurisdictional Council on Episcopacy must provide this information 30 days in advance of this meeting.  The number and names of clergy present and voting are to be published within the Annual Conference and the Jurisdiction.  

Until legal protections are codified in The Book of Discipline, due to the rise of dozens of “dissident” bishops and the inability of the episcopacy to reign in even the most outrageous statements and behavior of other bishops, let the Western North Carolina Conference operate from a position that we do indeed need, deserve and have the right to refuse an appointed bishop.

_____

[1] See bassdrone01@yahoo.net for this information pertaining to this “whereas”.

[2] See The Book of Discipline paragraphs 405 and 406.

[4] See Paragraph 2702 copied straight from The BOD 2004 CD; "1: A bishop, clergy member of an annual conference (¶368), local pastor,14 clergy on honorable or administrative location, or diaconal minister may be tried when charged (subject to the statute of limitations in ¶ 2702.4)* The statute of limitations went into effect as law on a prospective basis starting on January 1, 1993. All alleged offenses that occurred prior to this date are time barred. * with one or more of the following offenses: (a) immorality including but not limited to, not being celibate in singleness or not faithful in a heterosexual marriage;*** (b) practices declared by The United Methodist Church to be incompatible with Christian teachings,15 including but not limited to: being a self-avowed practicing homosexual; or conducting ceremonies which celebrate homosexual unions; or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies;*** (c) crime; (d) failure to perform the work of the ministry; (e) disobedience to the Order and Discipline of The United Methodist Church; (f) dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrine of The United Methodist Church; (g) relationships and/or behavior that undermines the ministry of another pastor;16 (h) child abuse;** (i) sexual abuse;17 (j) sexual misconduct** or (k) harassment, including, but not limited to racial and/or sexual harassment; or (l) racial or gender discrimination.18."

[5] Bishop Cannon and Bishop Andrew are two bishops most commonly mentioned in connection to trials.  Yet neither was actually tried.  Hearings were held for Bishop Cannon but no charge was brought to a church trial.  Andrews was in effect asked to voluntarily step aside by a vote of the other Bishops from the Episcopal Office until a matter was settled over slaves he acquired by marriage in 1844 but that action cannot be construed as a trial since his stepping aside was voluntary on his part.

[Author's note.  Undoubtedly ¶19 known as "Article III" of "The Restrictive Rules" will be invoked to block such a move.  It is my interpretation that this does not "do away with episcopacy" or "destroy the plan of our itinerant general superintendency".  Agreed in presence of proper judicial actions by fellow bishops against dissenting bishops there would be no need to define limits.  But every political body limits authority including church bodies.  This petition simply spells out limits of episcopal appointments and rights of Annual Conferences that are enjoyed by virtually every other entity within our church.]

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 Episcopal Funding Paradigm Change

Submitted by Rev. Mike Evans

Pastor, Cedar Grove-Sunshine Charge

Whereas our connection is first and foremost theological defined by standards, then missional to save the lost of this world by preaching and teaching Jesus literally crucified for salvation and then service oriented by good works which may take place at all levels,  

Whereas the current funding procedure of our church supports effective and ineffective bishops alike,  

Whereas the current funding procedure supports a growing number of “dissident” bishops,  

Whereas “Direct Costing” has been implemented in every other area of church finances such as local church budget viability, clergy salary, clergy medical costs, clergy retirement, etc.,  

Be it resolved that The Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church place before General Conference 2008 the following petition:  

Whereas our connection is first and foremost theological defined by standards, then missional to save the lost of this world by preaching and teaching Jesus literally crucified for salvation and then service oriented by good works which may take place at all levels,  

Whereas the current funding procedure of our church supports effective and ineffective bishops alike,  

Whereas the current funding procedure supports a growing number of “dissident” bishops,  

Whereas “Direct Costing” has been implemented in every other area of church finances such as local church budget viability, clergy salary, clergy medical costs, clergy retirement, etc.,  

Be it resolved that Annual Conferences of the United Methodist Church in the continental United States shall assume all responsibilities for episcopal salaries and expenses in the year 2010.

[Author's note. Undoubtedly ¶19 known as "Article III" of "The Restrictive Rules" will be invoked to block such a move.  It is my interpretation that this does not "do away with episcopacy" or "destroy the plan of our itinerant general superintendency".  It merely spells by what level of the church, in this case the Annual Conference in the US, is responsible for payment of their salaries and expenses.  General Conference through the present means and mechanisms may still set the salaries of all bishops and oversee this expense for the rest of the bishops throughout the world apportioning and paying salaries and expenses as has been the custom.]

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Council of Bishops Accountability Act

Submitted by Rev. Mike Evans

Pastor, Cedar Grove-Sunshine Charge  

Whereas what we know about the processes of discernment in the meetings of The Council of Bishops is limited to their own press releases,  

Whereas efforts to receive minutes of meetings have been met with a sound “no” by Bishop Sano, Executive Secretary of the Council of Bishops at the time of their fall meeting 2005 at Lake Junaluska,  

Whereas every other level of our church is in theory “transparent” with open meetings not only to its members but to observers and even press,  

Whereas the example of the Acts 15 and “The Council at Jerusalem ” is one that was obviously “open” for the body to Christ to observe,  

Be it resolved that the following petition be placed before General Conference 2008 by the Western North Carolina Annual Conference:  

Whereas what we know about the processes of discernment in the meetings of The Council of Bishops is limited to their own press releases,  

Whereas efforts to receive minutes of meetings have been met with a sound “no” by Bishop Sano, Executive Secretary of the Council of Bishops at the time of their fall meeting 2005 at Lake Junaluska,  

Whereas every other level of our church is in theory “transparent” with open meetings not only to its members but to observers and even press,  

Whereas the example of the Acts 15 and “The Council at Jerusalem ” is one that was obviously “open” for the body to Christ to observe,  

Be it resolved the General Conference 2008 order the Council of Bishops to open its meetings to United Methodists and reporters to attend in person, to broadcast their meetings over the internet in real time as can be done in this high tech age and then after having kept written minutes of the meetings including vote procedures and the results to post and then archive those minutes of all meetings on The Bishop’s web page at UMC.org.  

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 Study of Ineffective Judicial Proceedings

Submitted by Rev. Mike Evans

Pastor, Cedar Grove-Sunshine Charge

Whereas ¶ 20 known as  "Article IV" of our "Restrict Rules" states "The General Conference shall not do away with the privileges of our clergy of right to trial by a committee and of an appeal; neither shall it do away with the privileges of our members of right to trial before the church, or by a committee, and of an appeal." implies that there is a robust process expected to bring about standards of doctrine and practice that in effect is done away with when bishops fail to act in the face of charges against laity, clergy and other bishops,

Whereas no bishop has been brought to trial in over 200 years,

Whereas no bishop in our era has been brought to trial though several serious complaints have been brought against several bishops,  

Whereas bishops failing to take seriously charges leveled at other bishops by laity and clergy has given the appearance that the fox is guarding the hen house or in more eloquent terms may appear to be a conflict of interest,  

Whereas no lay person has been brought to trial in recent memory and probably never will,  

Whereas no extension ministry person has been brought to trial and there is the appearance that in some cases extension ministries have been made to keep some clergy “out of trouble” by keeping them out of sight on the local church level,  

Whereas “jury annulment” is a very real possibility even when evidence of wrong doing is clear and overwhelming,  

Whereas right now the only persons in jeopardy of trials or administrative dismissal are pastors in our local church appointments,

Whereas our church needs a judicial process that is effective or there will be no boundaries in theology, doctrine or practice,  

Be it resolved that send a copy of this petition to each bishop as a sign of our displeasure with episcopal ineffectiveness in maintaining our doctrinal standards and dealing with active dissent from The Book of Discipline.

Be it further resolved that The Western North Carolina Annual Conference present the following petition to General Conference 2008:

Whereas ¶ 20 known as  "Article IV" of our "Restrict Rules" states "The General Conference shall not do away with the privileges of our clergy of right to trial by a committee and of an appeal; neither shall it do away with the privileges of our members of right to trial before the church, or by a committee, and of an appeal." implies that there is a robust process expected to bring about standards of doctrine and practice that in effect is done away with when bishops fail to act in the face of charges against laity, clergy and other bishops,

Whereas no bishop has been brought to trial in over 200 years,

Whereas no bishop in our era has been brought to trial though several serious complaints have been brought against several bishops,  

Whereas bishops failing to take seriously charges leveled at other bishops by laity and clergy has given the appearance that the fox is guarding the hen house or in more eloquent terms may appear to be a conflict of interest,  

Whereas no lay person has been brought to trial in recent memory and probably never will,  

Whereas no extension ministry person has been brought to trial and there is the appearance that in some cases extension ministries have been made to keep some clergy “out of trouble” by keeping them out of sight on the local church level,  

Whereas “jury annulment” is a very real possibility even when evidence of wrong doing is clear and overwhelming,  

Whereas right now the only persons in jeopardy of trials or administrative dismissal are pastors in our local church appointments,

Whereas our church needs a judicial process that is effective or there will be no boundaries in theology, doctrine or practice,  

Be it resolved that send a copy of this petition to each bishop as a sign of our displeasure with episcopal ineffectiveness in maintaining our doctrinal standards and dealing with active dissent from The Book of Discipline.

Be it further resolved that The Western North Carolina Annual Conference present the following petition to General Conference 2008.

Be it resolved that The Council of Bishops accept their own failure in the area of maintaining doctrinal standards and admit in a pastoral letter such,

Be it further resolved that in that same public admission they as individual bishops and The Council of Bishops will outline steps to correct this matter.

Be it further resolved that this pastoral letter be disseminated in the same way with the same enthusiasm as their recent pastoral letters archived for historical purposes with all other pastoral letters.

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Retain All Sexual Standards by Maintaining Present Language for General Conference 2008

Submitted by Rev. Mike Evans

Pastor, Cedar Grove-Sunshine Charge

Whereas the “dialogue” over homosexuality has gone on in our midst since 1972 and has not proven to be productive but rather divisive and polarizing,  

Whereas The Reconciliation Ministries Network and like minded groups will settle for nothing less than the eradication of all present sexual standards,  

Whereas many laity, clergy and even churches have already begun leaving our church over this seemingly never ending conflict,  

Whereas our present reality in the United States according to the United States Center for Disease Control is leading to 19,000,000 new cases of Sexually Transmitted Diseases each year including HIV,  

Where as Jesus himself lived under the Law of Moses and was declared to be without sin in regards to all the laws including those pertaining to sexuality,  

Whereas we as United Methodists are suppose to be sounding a clear clarion call to repentance and holiness in all areas of our lives including abstinence in singleness and celibacy in marriage within a monogamous heterosexual paradigm,  

Be it resolved that The Western North Carolina Conference petition General Conference first and before all other measures vote to keep as is all language in The Book of Discipline pertaining to standards of sexuality and end debate upon this matter by submitting the following petition to General Conference 2008:  

Whereas the “dialogue” over homosexuality has gone on in our midst since 1972 and has not proven to be productive but rather divisive and polarizing,  

Whereas The Reconciliation Ministries Network and like minded groups will settle for nothing less than the eradication of all present sexual standards,  

Whereas many laity, clergy and even churches have already begun leaving our church over this seemingly never ending conflict,  

Whereas our present reality in the United States according to the United States Center for Disease Control is leading to 19,000,000 new cases of Sexually Transmitted Diseases each year including HIV,  

Where as Jesus himself lived under the Law of Moses and was declared to be without sin in regards to all the laws including those pertaining to sexuality,

Be it resolved that The Western North Carolina Conference petition General Conference first and before all other measures vote to keep as is all language in The Book of Discipline pertaining to standards of sexuality and end debate upon this matter by submitting the following petition to General Conference 2008.  

Be it resolved that General Conference 2008 first and before all other measures vote to keep as is all language in The Book of Discipline pertaining to standards of sexuality and end debate, discussion and/or dialogue upon this matter once and for all.    

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Ask and Tell for the Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry

 Submitted by Rev. Mike Evans

Pastor, Cedar Grove-Sunshine Charge

Whereas The Book of Discipline clearly states self avowed, practicing homosexuals as well as non-abstinent or non-celibate heterosexuals are not to be allowed as clergy,  

Whereas “Don’t ask, don’t tell” doesn’t work well even in the world,  

Whereas many Annual Conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry” appear to be operating on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” model,  

Whereas some Annual Conferences appear to even invite sexually active candidates including homosexuals by making statements in the past even voted upon and approved by Annual Conference vote telling the church and the world they will not go by The Book of Discipline in matters pertaining to sexual standards as adopted by General Conference and placed in The Book  of Discipline,  

Whereas to hide or even to put off until after ordination ones sexual proclivities either homosexual or heterosexual is fraudulent and causes much damage within the church to our witness as a people endeavoring to be holy and to our witness in the world as a voice of holiness,  

Whereas honesty is not too much to ask for a shepherd of our peoples,  

Be it resolved that The Board of Ordained Ministry within the Western North Carolina Conference adopt an “Ask and Tell” approach in the candidacy process by:  

  1. Requiring all new candidates to write at least one position paper on the subject of sexuality from an United Methodist perspective to include a historical section on our present conflict, outline in brief the points of view and stances of the groups involved and state plainly their own position of what should and should not be allowed for all members, clergy and bishops within the United Methodist Church..
  1. Instruct appointed clergy person of the Annual Conference to write a paper on the same topic as above by December 31, 2006 .
  1. Instruct each candidate and appointed clergy person within the Annual Conference to make this paper available to the people they presently serve and upon request by prospective church Pastor Parish Relations Committees in the appointment process.

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Amicable Separation of Churches Petition

Submitted by Rev. Mike Evans

Pastor, Cedar Grove-Sunshine Charge

Whereas we are not a denomination that believes that individuals are “once saved always saved” and it is not therefore logical to believe that our churches be “once United Methodist, always United Methodist”,  

Whereas most churches recognize the connectional nature of the church but also desire that a way of amicable separation be “on the books” in case a local church would like to amicably separate from our fellowship,  

Whereas it is ecclesiastical extortion for a Bishop, District Superintendent, Annual Conference staff member or anyone else representing an Annual Conference to tell the membership of a church seeking to amicably separate that “You may leave any time you wish but we are keeping the facilities and grounds”,  

Whereas now the only way a church may separate at all with even a slim chance of keeping its facilities not to mention their Christianity is to change their articles of incorporation with the state and then go to worldly court letting the decision of who gets the properties preside in the hands of an earthly judge,  

Whereas we are intelligent, Spirit filled individuals and can find the middle way between honoring the connectionalism of the past and respecting an individual churches desire to now associate with another denomination for whatever reason,  

Be it resolved that any church that desires to amicably separate from the United Methodist Church in the Western North Carolina Annual Conference be allowed to do so by the following process:  

  1. The church will enter into a one year process with the Annual Conference through its District Superintendent which is to be decided upon by December 31, 2006 by the Bishop and the District Superintendents regarding the issues related to changing denominations.
  2. A fair and reasonable replacement cost be agreed upon by Church Trustees and The District Board of Church Location and Building at which time the church will remit to the Annual Conference 10% of that agreed upon replacement cost as recognition of the past episcopal connection.
  3. Local churches pay all expenses involved in the transaction such as legal fees, surveying and other costs.

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Amicable Separation of Clergy Petition

Submitted by Rev. Mike Evans

Pastor, Cedar Grove-Sunshine Charge  

Whereas we are not a denomination that believes that individuals are “once saved always saved” it is not therefore logical to believe that our all clergy should be considered “once United Methodist clergy, always United Methodist clergy” when there are legitimate theological and practical reasons why a clergy person may seek to change denominational affiliations and separate amicably,  

Whereas it is coercion to potentially hold a clergy person’s retirement pension and medical coverage over their heads as an incentive to remain in fellowship and “not rock the boat” when they have faithfully served the Annual Conference and The United Methodist Church,  

Whereas for many the process of becoming a clergy person may take at least four years if they already hold a college degree or many more years if they are just starting their education or going through the “Course of Study” method it is not unreasonable to establish a transition time of up to 3 years for ordained clergy who feel they could better serve Christ in another denomination or independent church,  

Whereas we are intelligent, Spirit filled individuals and can find the middle way between honoring the connection and respecting the service of clergy who now want to explore amicable separation for whatever reason,  

Be it resolved that the process is created within the Western North Carolina Annual Conference whereby our clergy can amicably separate given the following circumstances but not limited to these factors when the clergy has ten or more years of service:  

  1. Clergy persons wishing to amicably separate from the Western North Carolina Annual Conference with 10 or more years of service be allowed to retire and given an official letter by The General Board of Retirement that all retirement contributions from the church and PIP will be preserved in the present account being managed as all other accounts to be payable at the retirement age under which the clergy person entered into ministry.*
  1. Clergy persons wishing to amicably separate from the Western North Carolina Annual Conference with 10 or more years of service be allowed to retire  with rights to purchase medical insurance through the Annual Conference’s medical plan for themselves and their family.**

*These contributions were made for them by the churches and themselves.

**This will be paid for by the separating clergy person and family and thus no cost to the Annual Conference.

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The Elimination of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors” Slogan

Submitted by Rev. Mike Evans

Pastor, Cedar Grove-Sunshine Charge  

Whereas the traditionalists of our denomination note that many of Jesus statements are exclusive not reflective of parts of “Open hearts, open doors, open minds”,  

Whereas the progressives have expressed dissatisfaction at many parts of the church not willing to elevate “Open hearts, open doors, open minds” to the ultimate theological statement and polity rule,  

Whereas “Open hearts, open doors, open minds” makes a great advertising slogan with questionable theology and a poor basis for policy.  

Whereas fragments of the slogan “Open hearts, open minds, open doors” appear in The Book of Resolutions it does not appear in The Book of Discipline and therefore cannot, should not be used as a guiding factor in our church,  

Be it resolved that The Western North Carolina Conference place before General Conference 2008 the following petition:  

Whereas the traditionalists of our denomination note that many of Jesus statements are exclusive not reflective of parts of “Open hearts, open doors, open minds”,  

Whereas the progressives have expressed dissatisfaction at many parts of the church not willing to elevate “Open hearts, open doors, open minds” to the ultimate theological and polity rule,  

Whereas “Open hearts, open doors, open minds” makes a great advertising slogan with questionable theology and a poor basis for policy.  

Whereas fragments of the slogan “Open hearts, open minds, open doors” appear in The Book of Resolutions it does not appear in The Book of Discipline and therefore cannot, should not be used as a guiding factor in our church,  

Be it resolved to discontinue using the exact slogan “Open hearts, open doors, open minds” or any slogan resembling it at all levels of the United Methodist Church including General Conference and any of its boards, committees or agencies and also any Annual Conference or its entities as well as local churches.

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