From Todd Daningburg, Genesis GC19 Delegation Chair; and Dave Francis, GC19 Delegate
General Conference 2019 passed Resolution 302, updating language in Para. 3221 of the Book of Discipline, on the Dignity and Worth of Persons. With new wording italicized, the resolution begins, “We are committed to the dignity and worth of all humans regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, color, socio-economic status, disability, or any other distinctions (Acts 19:34-35) and will respect them as persons made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection.” New sections were added to identify the FM Church’s response to poverty, racism, immigration, refugees, and slavery/human trafficking. The underlying theological motivation is based on love, compassion, and the biblical call to social holiness and action.
Another significant resolution that was passed relates to Para. 159 of the Book of Discipline. Language was added to clarify the church’s understanding that marriage is between one man and one woman as follows (additions italicized): “We commit ourselves to honor the sanctity of marriage, as the union of one male and one female in holy love, and the family they form.” This resolution will have to be approved by the other General Conferences of the Free Methodist Church before inclusion in the Book of Discipline. In addition, GC19 referred to the question of how to respond to new developments in society, such as transgenderism, to the Study Commission on Doctrine.
Resolution 305 also passed, which asks the Study Commission on Doctrine to consider developing a new paragraph in the Book of Discipline that addresses the FM perspective on the death penalty in relation to our view of the sanctity of life.
Two referenda from the World Conference were also approved. They update the makeup of the Executive Committee of the World Conference, clarify how new officers will be nominated should vacancies occur, and simplify the process for voting on Referenda so that a General Conference that initiates a Referendum need not vote again, if the Referendum is approved by the other General Conferences without amendment.
Resolution 306, which affirms and clarifies our egalitarian theology and the equal roles in marriage between husband and wife, was approved by the Board of Administration prior to GC19. Para. 3311, The Christian and Marriage, section A, Principles Regarding Marriage, now reads as follows (additions italicized):
Nature of Marriage: At creation God instituted marriage for the well- being of humanity (Genesis 2:20-24; Mark 10:6-9). Marriage is the joining of one man and one woman into a lifelong relationship of mutual love and service which the Scriptures call “one flesh.” Such a marriage should be based on mutuality and partnership, patterned not according to prescribed hierarchies but according to the creation of the male and female both in the image of God (Gen. 1:27) and the call to mutual submission as illustrated by Christ in His relationship with the Church (Ephesians 5:21-31).
The experience of working together as a body to discuss and approve these resolutions was encouraging. A sense of unity, purpose, and wisdom pervaded the General Conference in all the matters that came before us.