The West Virginia Annual Conference (WVAC) of the United Methodist Church (UMC) passed a resolution opposing the proposed changes to the United Methodist Social Principles’ statements on abortion in their 2018 gathering on June 7-10. The denomination’s controversial General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) has put forth a number of proposals in advance of its final draft, which will be presented at General Conference 2020. The West Virginia resolution, which passed overwhelmingly, also urged all members of the conference to look and comment on the changes being proposed to the Social Principles on the whole.
The members of WVAC were concerned about how the working draft of a replacement for the current Social Principles eliminates key language expressing major reservations about abortion. It is rather unusual for an Annual Conference to directly oppose an official UMC general agency in this way, especially in the liberal-leaning Northeastern Jurisdiction. In total, the annual conference represents 1,067 churches and 93,239 members, per the most recent statistics.
The GBCS’ proposed new language removes clear affirmations of the sanctity of all life, thus opening opportunities for unlimited abortion advocacy from the UMC’s agencies or leadership. These amendments regarding abortion continue the trend of the GBCS supporting progressive stances on social issues.
As the WVAC resolution states, there is an opportunity to share your thoughts and concerns on the changes proposed for the Social Principles. The deadline for submitting feedback is at the end of August, so there is now only one week left to do so. To learn more about the proposed changes, read John Lomperis’ full take here. You can most easily share this helpful review with this link: http://www.umcsocialprinciples.com/
We strongly encourage all concerned, theologically traditionalist United Methodists to go to the above link, which shares key information and explains how and register your concerns. We urge you to make your voice heard by GBCS this week, and to encourage your friends to do the same.
Here’s the full text of the West Virginia Annual Conference’s resolution concerning abortion:
Resolution Number 2
Revision of the Social Principles
WHEREAS a working draft of a proposed replacement for the current Social Principles was made available by the General Board of Church and Society on April 11, 2018; and
WHEREAS this working draft has eliminated language in the current Social Principles expressing reservations about the widespread use of abortion, including the statement that “Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion,” the statement that “We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control,” the statement that “we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection,” and the statement that “We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion)”; and
WHEREAS this working draft does not replace any of these statements with language which is even remotely similar; and
WHEREAS the concern of the United Methodist Church about widespread use of abortion for routine birth control is serious and long-standing;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the West Virginia Annual Conference affirms the current language of the Social Principles regarding abortion; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we oppose the proposed change in our teaching about abortion; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we urge pastors and laypersons to examine the working draft at https://www.umcjustice.org/who-we-are/social-principles-and-resolutions/social-principles-revision/social-principles-2020/sp2020-english; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that these pastors and laypersons are asked to provide their input on this and other relevant issues addressed by the working draft; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the West Virginia Annual Conference urges those who are nominated as delegates to the 2020 General Conference to make a particular point of examining this working draft and comparing it with our existing Social Principles.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the wording be added that “As United Methodists we affirm our responsibility to advocate and help provide for the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of all children.”