By Frances Townsend
Moderator-elect Tim Harvey presided over the Conference's consideration of "Query: Proper Decorum" in a custom in which the moderator-elect is invited to lead the delegates in one business item. Photo by Glenn Riegel
David Radcliff of the New Community Project helped answer questions about the query on climate change, representing the sending congregation. Photo by Regina Holmes
The extra evening session on Tuesday, July 5, which began after worship at 9 p.m. also included a prayer and laying on of hands for the licensed and ordained ministers present. Photo by Regina Holmes
The 2011 Annual 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.
Following the custom for the moderator-elect to handle one item of business, Tim Harvey presided over the 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 a response to the custom for the past few years of many people wearing things at Conference to signal their stance on contentious issues. The recommendation from the Standing Committee of district delegates 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.
The second query asked for Annual 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 on the recommendation, 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.
Coverage of the 2011 Annual Conference is by the News Team of Jan Fischer-Bachman, Mandy Garcia, Karen Garrett, Amy Heckert, Regina Holmes, Frank Ramirez, Glenn Riegel, Frances Townsend, and editor and news director Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford. Wendy McFadden serves as executive director of Brethren Press. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org