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South Georgia Sends Conservative Delegation To GC2000 - Strengthens Prohibition Against Homosexuality


Aside from one brief floor battle over a resolution on abortion, the 1999 session of the South Georgia Annual Conference, meeting in Savannah June 14-17, was a relatively uneventful gathering. Candidates endorsed by the South Georgia Confessing Movement Fellowship secured four of the seven clergy positions on the General Conference delegation. Outspoken evangelical James H. Rush was elected on the second ballot, along with James K. Swanson, also endorsed by SGCM. Other SGCM-endorsed candidates elected were Michael McAfee and John Horton. Also elected were Paula Lytle, who was not endorsed by SGCM but received strong support from many evangelicals, Timothy Bagwell and Creede Hinshaw. All of the clergy delegates are likely to support the church's current position on major issues of concern.

The SGCM had not made endorsements of laity candidates but those elected seemed generally conservative: Charlene Black, Taylor Phillips, Bill Hatcher, Steve Rumford, Flo Martin, David Mills and Augusta Carruth.

The clergy Jurisdictional Conference slate includes four SGCM-endorsed delegates: Vance Mathis, Hugh Davis, Buddy Cooper and Joyce Payne. Also elected were Hal Brady, Don Kea and Brenda Iglehart-Thomas. James Pennell and Brad Brady were elected alternates.

The laity Jurisdictional slate consists of James Crosse, James Moughon, Roy Lifsey, Carolyn Manson, Dodie McElhannon, Margarett Creech and Cleo Herndon. Alternates are Gloria Gilmore and James Jackson.

Following election of the delegates the conference passed a motion instructing them that it was "the will of the annual conference that the annual conference did not wish to support, through financial or other means, any board, agency, program or ministry of The United Methodist Church which undermines the historic Christian faith as revealed in Scripture and Christian Tradition."

In other action, the conference "referred" to the General Conference petitions calling for:

  • a change in the formula for the allocation of General Conference delegates from annual conferences.

  • separation of the Church World Service and Conference Benevolences apportionment.

  • voluntary apportionments.

  • revision of Paragraph 65J of The Book of Discipline to include a stronger statement against abortion, particularly "partial birth" abortion.

The generally bland atmosphere of the conference was briefly interrupted Wednesday morning when an attempt was made to amend the petition concerning abortion. However, all sides finally agreed to keep the original language intact and refer the petition to the General Conference without comment.

The conference did take official action in calling upon the General Conference to strengthen the Church's prohibition of homosexual "marriages" and to urge the General Conference to cease "continued agitation" of the matter.

The much-maligned Connectional Process Team (CPT) report took another beating on Wednesday afternoon and again on Thursday morning. V.L. Daughtery, retiring this year after over 40 years of ministry, voiced strong objections to the report's recommendation that retired clergy be disenfranchised after four years of retirement. He said this constituted discrimination based on age and urged the General Conference delegation to vote against the report.

Worship services on Monday and Wednesday nights provided the most uplifing moments of the conference. Unfortunately, however, this session seemed to place more emphasis on business than worship.

James Gibson Reporting from Savannah

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