Outcome of petitions submitted to 2016 General Conference

  • 60739, Accessibility Audits, Plenary Move to Adopt 2533
  • 60718, Being in Ministry "with," not Ministry "to", Plenary Move to Adopt 335
  • 60717, Being in Ministry "with," not Ministry "to", Committee Move to Adopt 330
  • 60738, Clarification of Intent and Link to 2544, Plenary Move to Adopt 2521
  • 60700, UM Seminary Accessibility, Plenary Move to Adopt 140
  • 60725, Update of Language, Plenary Move to Adopt 651
  • 60726, Update of Terminology, Committee Not Considered 653
  • 60182, Joint Committee Membership, Committee Not Supported 652
  • 60016, Candidates with Disabilities, Committee Not Supported 324
  • 60018, Meeting Accessibility, Committee Not Considered 610
  • 60019, Non-Discrimination in Disability Compensation, Committee Not Considered New
  • 60017, Non-Discrimination in UMC Employee Disability Benefits, Committee Not Supported 806

The text and supporting materials of the petitions, as published in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate, is available here. Microsoft Word

Here is a list of the petitions as drafted by the Legislative Action Committee of the Association:

  • 1: Petition to Address Ministerial Candidates with Disabilities
    Section IV, Provisional Membership p.324.8
    Total Number of Pages: 2
    Removing Prejudice against Candidates with Disabilities
    General Church Budget Implications: None
    Global Implications: Speaks to ongoing prejudice against candidates with disabilities
    Rationale: The current clause opens the door to prejudging disabled provisional members as unfit for ministry. The health examination includes matters irrelevant to effective ministry. Jesus upheld disabled persons as "clean." John Wesley designed Methodism as an inclusive, not exclusive body of Christ with all and for all; so must we.
    Desired action: Revise 324.8 as follows: Each candidate shall present a satisfactory certificate of good health by a physician on the prescribed form. If a provisional candidate has one or more irremovable disabilities, those conditions shall have no bearing on the question of endorsing the candidate as an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, with the decision based solely on the candidate having met the professional standards and is effective as a provisional member in ministry.
    Date:
    Signature of Petitioner (electronic signatures are acceptable)
    Identification of Petitioner
    Phone:
    FAX number (if applicable)
    E-mail Address

  • 2: Petition Addressing Mental Illness Benefits
    Total Number of Pages: 1
    Suggested Title: Non-Discrimination in UMC Employee Disability Benefits
    Discipline Paragraph: 806
    General Church Budget Implications: Nominal
    Global Implications: None
    Amend: 806 to add a new paragraph following paragraph 8.
    It shall be responsible for ensuring that no United Methodist board, agency, or other entity shall provide to their own agency, other agencies or to annual conferences disability compensation insurance for clergy or laity which offers different levels of protection based on whether or not the diagnosis is for a mental-nervous condition.
    RATIONALE: Disability insurance which restricts benefits for "nervous-mental conditions" — common practice — unjustly discriminates against some employees compared to others, violates Social Principle 162X and is counter to the principles of Resolution 3303, Ministry in Mental Illness. GCFA is the appropriate agency to enforce non-use of UMC funds for such insurance.
    The "industry-standard" in commercial disability insurance is to terminate disability compensation after two years when the disability is based on a mental or nervous diagnosis, regardless of the continuing presence of disability. Such a policy unjustly discriminates against some employees compared to others and violates the trust employees have that their employer will provide adequate assistance for them if they become disabled. Such a policy violates United Methodist Social Principle 162X and is counter to the principles of Resolution 3303, Ministry in Mental Illness. Some employers which object to this discrimination, however, have been able to negotiate non-discriminatory disability policies. The General Council on Finance and Administration is entrusted with many related manners and is the logical entity to enforce a policy of non-discrimination across the denomination. Currently, disability policies for General Agencies are provided by GCFA and policies for Annual Conferences and all clergy are offered by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
    Date:
    Signature of Petitioner (electronic signatures are acceptable)
    Identification of Petitioner
    Phone:
    FAX number (if applicable)
    E-mail Address

  • 3: Petition Addressing Joint Committee Membership
    Total Number of Pages: 2
    Suggested Title: Not Optional, but Required Additional Member of Joint Committee on Clergy Medical Leave
    Discipline 652
    General Church Budget Implications: No
    Global Implications: None
    Rationale: Since each annual conference is required to establish a procedure for clergy medical leave, an active or retired ordained person with a disability must not be an optional, but a required part of the decision making body to ensure a fair and just course of action.
    Amend No. 652: Each annual conference shall establish a procedure by which it will manage clergy medical leave. The annual conference may establish a joint committee on clergy medical leave. If the annual conference establishes such a committee, it shall be composed of two representatives each from the Board of Ordained Ministry and the conference board of pensions, and one active or retired minister with one or more disabilities named by the Conference Committee on Disabilities, or, if there is no conference Committee on Disabilities, then by the bishop, all of whom shall be elected either annually or the beginning of each quadrennium, and when a vacancy occurs. Further, a district superintendent shall be appointed from time to time to the committee by the bishop to represent the cabinet. Unless and until other members are elected, the chairperson and registrar of the Board of Ordained Ministry, the chairperson and secretary of the conference board of pensions, and the chairperson of the Conference Disability Committee or others designated by them, shall be authorized to represent their respective boards and the disability committee in organizing itself either annually or at the beginning of each quadrennium by the election of a chairperson and a secretary. If the annual conference does not establish a joint committee, the annual Conference's established policy and process for managing nonetheless should involve the Board of Ordained Ministry, the conference board of pensions, the Conference Committee on Disabilities and, representation from the cabinet.
    Date:
    Signature of Petitioner (electronic signatures are acceptable)
    Identification of Petitioner
    Phone:
    FAX number (if applicable)
    E-mail Address

  • 4: Petition Addressing Facilities Accessibility
    Total Number of Pages: 1
    Suggested Title: Ensure Accessibility of Annual Conference Meetings
    Amend Discipline 610.4
    General Church Budget Implications: None
    Global Implications: Yes
    610: Conference Agencies: . . . The annual conference is responsible for structuring its ministries and administrative procedures in order to accomplish its purpose . . . . It will monitor to insure inclusiveness-racial, gender, age, and people with disabilities-in the annual conference.
    4. Whenever possible, every effort shall be made to ensure that all meetings scheduled by the annual conference and its districts, boards, or committees should will be held in places that are accessible to persons with disabilities even if this means scheduling meetings outside church-related facilities.
    Rationale: The Discipline specifies that there shall be no discrimination against people with disabilities, yet 610.4 is not sufficiently strong to ensure that people using wheelchairs can attend meetings of the annual conference, its districts, boards, and committees. Adopting the petition ensures that the intent of the paragraph is met.
    Date:
    Signature of Petitioner (electronic signatures are acceptable)
    Identification of Petitioner
    Phone:
    FAX number (if applicable)
    E-mail Address

  • 5: Petition for Submitting a Resolution for the UMC Book of Resolutions
    Total Number of Pages: 1
    Suggested Title: Non-Discrimination in Disability Compensation
    Resolution: (New)
    General Church Budget Implications: None
    Global Implications: Yes
    Long term disability insurance protects employees around the world by providing continuing compensation in lieu of salary when an accident or illness prevents an employee from continuing his or her service to the employer. Ideally, such insurance provides for compensation based purely on the existence of a disability that prevents continuing employment, and continues for the duration of that disability.
    In many countries such insurance is often subject to a limitation for disabilities based on "mental and nervous conditions." The primary reason offered for such acts of discrimination between disabilities is the comparative difficulty of validating disabilities whose evidence relies on self-reporting. Other reasons may include the belief that mental and nervous conditions are more likely temporary in nature and therefore a time limitation, typically two years, is appropriate. The limitation therefore places the administrative needs of insurers over the wellbeing of the persons they are committed to insure. In the United States, courts have held that discrimination in disability insurance is not addressed by non-discrimination provisions of either the Americans with Disabilities Act or the Affordable Care Act. In the United States, disability insurance is generally regulated at the state level.
    The United Methodist Church affirms its long standing support for persons with mental illness and their families. Jesus Christ made no distinctions in his healing ministry between persons with physical disabilities and those which we might today call mental illnesses. We call upon the General Board of Church and Society to advocate globally on behalf of non-discriminatory long-term disability insurance for workers, and to support and encourage the work of Annual Conference Boards of Church and Society in such advocacy at state and regional legislative bodies. Date:
    Date:
    Signature of Petitioner (electronic signatures are acceptable)
    Identification of Petitioner
    Phone:
    FAX number (if applicable)
    E-mail Address


Talking Points:
Disability Insurance that Discriminates Against Mental Illness
Addressing this Issue in the Church and the World.

Disability Insurance that Discriminates Against Mental Illness is addressed at 3 points in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate:

  • R9999, Petition No 60019-CB-R9999-G, Non-Discrimination in Disability Compensation, assigned to Church and Society 2, page 378
  • 1504.1, Petition No 60040-FA-1504.1 CPP Amendments, assigned to Financial Administration, page 707
  • 806, Petition No 60017-FA-806-G, Non-Discrimination in UMC Employee Disability Benefits, assigned to Financial Administration, page 696.

Petition 60019 Addresses the Issue for the World. The Resolution (Petition 60019) on page 378, which if adopted will appear in the 2016 Book of Resolutions, gives a good summary of the issue. Many insurance companies provide to employers and individuals disability compensation for the duration of a worker's disability except in the case of "mental-nervous" conditions, in which case the compensation is provided for 24 months only. Petition 60019 provides some reasons that insurance companies have given for this discriminatory policy, and some reasons that such a policy conflicts with United Methodist principles embodied in the Social Principles and other Resolutions. Petition 60019 charges the General Board of Church and Society with addressing this issue in the world.

Petition 60040 Addresses the Issue for UMC Clergy. A change to the Comprehensive Protection Program — the disability insurance program for United Methodist clergy in the United States — addresses this issue for those who are covered by CPP. (Petition 60040; page 717, column II, to delete paragraph (4) entitled Mental Health Conditions). The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits has carefully crafted an approach which addresses some of the issues raised by insurance companies about mental/nervous conditions in a way that does not discriminate against clergy with mental illness. This proposal by the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits eliminates the discrimination in disability insurance with respect to United Methodist Clergy.

Unfinished Business: Petition 60017 is Needed to Address the Issue for UMC Laity
Petition 60017 on page 696 seeks to extend this elimination of discrimination to lay employees of United Methodist Annual Conferences and other bodies who not eligible for the Comprehensive Protection Program. If Petition 60017 is not passed, but the other two petitions are, the United Methodist Church will be in the awkward position of advocating for the world, and implementing for its clergy, something it is not willing to provide to its lay employees. This would put the Church in the unconscionable position not only of discriminating against employees disabled by mental illness, but also of discriminating against lay employees on an issue that has no bearing on the requirements of ordination or the mission of the Church.
The mechanism in Petition 60017 for doing this is to forbid any UMC agency from providing discriminatory insurance to any other UMC agency with the General Council on Finance and Administration as the watchdog to assure that this does not take place, just as GCFA is the watchdog to ensure apportioned funds are not spent on alcoholic beverages. This wording is constructed to accommodate Central Conferences which in some cases do not purchase disability insurance at all for their employees, and in other cases follow their own governmental regulations as to what they do.
The primary objection raised against Petition 60017 is that the extra cost of non-discriminatory insurance will be a prohibitive burden for some annual conferences, and also for congregations that pay for their own lay employees' disability coverage. To this one must respond that doing the right thing will sometimes cost money, but that does not justify doing the wrong thing. In addition, Petition 60017 is not intended to prevent Annual Conferences from purchasing discriminatory insurance directly from an outside vender, nor the ability of Annual Conferences to decide whether to purchase such insurance at all.

All members and organizations of the United Methodist Church may submit or endorse petitions. This includes Annual Conferences, Districts, organizations such as UMW, and local congregations.