The Commission on the General Conference has outlined a process for determining if petitions submitted to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference are in harmony with the Council of Bishops’ amended call to the session, which states that the purpose of the special session “shall be limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based upon the recommendations of the Council of Bishops.”
The Judicial Council ruled that petitions may be filed by an organization or lay/clergy member as long as the business proposed to be transacted is in harmony with the purpose stated in the call. According to Decision 1360, “It is the obligation of the General Conference to determine, in the first instance, through its committees, officers and presiders, acting in accordance with The Discipline and the rules and procedures of the General Conference, whether any such petition is ‘in harmony.’”
The Commission on a Way Forward has submitted 48 petitions. Seventy-nine additional petitions were submitted, of which 18 have been found to be invalid due to errors in formatting or failure to meet other requirements. The 61 remaining petitions are still being reviewed to determine validity in formatting. These determinations will all be reviewed by the Committee on Reference, in accordance with the Plan of Organization and Rules of Order of the General Conference.
In designing a process for consideration by the Commission on the General Conference to carry out the Judicial Council’s ruling, the executive committee of the Commission on the General Conference worked with a design team for the 2019 Special Session, which met in Charlotte, N.C. August 18-19 to discuss plans for the event. The design team includes the executive committee of the Commission on the General Conference, representatives of the Council of Bishops and the Commission on a Way Forward, and a representative of the 2019 Special Session hospitality team. The design team is providing recommendations, but only the Commission itself is authorized to make decisions.
The executive committee prepared a recommended process for determining whether petitions are in harmony with the call to the special session. This process was presented to the full membership of the Commission on the General Conference for approval and received an affirmative vote. The process is as follows:
The Secretary of the General Conference and the Petitions Secretary will review petitions that were submitted to make sure the format adheres to the instructions for petition submission, as well as the Plan of Organizations and Rules of Order and requirements in the Book of Discipline.
All valid petitions will be printed in the Advance edition of the Daily Christian Advocate; however, the petitions submitted by organizations and individuals other than the Commission on a Way Forward will still have to be reviewed by the Committee on Reference to determine if they are in harmony with the call to the special session. If the petition is not found to be in harmony, it will be withdrawn. The actions of the Committee on Reference will be reported in the first daily edition of the Daily Christian Advocate.
During the design team meeting, the group also discussed the idea of offering a covenant for delegates, inspired by the accountability covenant that members of the Commission on a Way Forward adopted to guide them in their work together.
Also on the agenda was discussion of ideas to help provide a tone and an environment that will help delegates to do their best work and ways to integrate prayer and worship into the process. The day preceding the start of General Conference, Feb. 23, has been designated as a day of preparation and prayer as a culmination of the Praying Our Way Forward initiative.