The Rev. Cindy Karges says that being a part of the team tasked with updating the United Methodist Social Principles has been monumental in her career.
“It was probably one of the most meaningful experiences of my 30-some years of being in pastoral ministry and in my whole life of being a United Methodist,” said Karges, Gateway and Great West districts superintendent.
The Church and Society Board approved the revisions of the Social Principles, which hadn’t been updated since they were completed in 1972, four years after the merger of the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches.
“I think it’s a great document,” Karges said. “I think it speaks to who we are as United Methodists globally with the parts that were added onto it since ’72.”
The document is scheduled to be released this summer, after it is translated into the languages encompassed by United Methodists. They then will be reviewed during the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis.
Karges was part of a team that wrote about the nurturing community of the United Methodists.
She said all of the writers were tasked with creating updates that were socially relevant in scripture and theology. The principles were written by teams spanning the United Methodist world, and all of them were represented in the final product.
“It’s important the number of people, the number of voices that were heard over the process,” Karges said. “Part of the beauty, I think, of the process was that we had various groups of people from around the connection sitting together and talking about our context, how this plays here and there.”
Karges said the writing team did not agree on certain issues, but compromises were reached to satisfy everyone.
“When we did have disagreements, it really was just a conversation,” she said, “which is what everything in the sense of Social Principles should be.”
The work of the Social Principles teams did not intersect with discussions and decisions about human sexuality that were voted upon during a special session of the General Conference in February.
The Rev. Kabala Chali, mercy and justice coordinator for the Great Plains Conference, led a seven-person committee that drafted Social Principles regarding the Social Community.
“The Social Principles is not the Book of Discipline, not the book of law,” Chali said. “It’s where the church stands on social issues.”
Chali said there were some differing views in his group as well.
“Of course, not every member of every United Methodist Church agrees on Social Principles,” he said. “But they do agree on those stances of the church, in terms of how to engage in issues that affect communities.”
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