TAMPA, Fla. (UMNS) – The 2012 General Conference decided April 30 not to approve a petition that would have created a new full-time role for the president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops.
The petition received a simple majority of 55 percent of the vote in favor, but it fell short of the two-thirds total required to pass because it dealt with a paragraph of the denomination’s constitution.
The petition stated that the council “may elect from its active membership a full-time president” who also would “be relieved from residential responsibilities” while in that office.
Both the outgoing council president, Bishop Larry Goodpaster of Western North Carolina, and the Superintendency Legislative Committee chairperson, the Rev. Ellen Alston of Louisiana, appealed for passage of the proposal, which was first made to the 1968 General Conference. Several delegates rose to express their fear that a full-time council president would have too much power or that the position would be thought of as “the face of The United Methodist Church,” whether that was the intention or not.
Goodpaster repeated several points that he and other bishops have stressed throughout the process. “This position is to guide and focus the Council of Bishops and to give more time and energy to that.”
Delegates also defeated a substitute motion to create a study commission to bring back a report on the proposal in 2016. “It’s been thought about for decades,” Goodpaster countered. The proposal to create a position of bishop without residential responsibilities was first offered in 1968 but has never advanced out of General Conference.
After the vote Goodpaster pointed out that the council has already taken steps to reform its internal structure and leadership.
“The Council of Bishops will continue to devote ourselves to the mission of the church as servants of Christ Jesus,” Goodpaster said “The General Conference has decided and we move on with hope and confidence that the mission will be advanced.”