By Ken Curley
How does a resolution make it to the General Conference floor?
The business at The Conference includes the consideration of resolutions. Resolutions range from mere housekeeping measures to positions on doctrine or policy. Just how does a resolution make it to the General Conference floor?
Origin of Resolutions
Any member of the organization – as well as a district, division, or the General Board – can submit a resolution to the conference. The resolution must be submitted in writing to the general secretary-treasurer prior to the stated deadline. All the resolutions are then presented to the Resolutions Committee.
The Resolutions Committee
By virtue of his office, the general superintendent annually appoints a Resolutions Committee comprised of members from the United States and Canada, and chooses one of its members to be the chairman. An effort is made to ensure each region is represented. The general superintendent, or his designee, contacts the members, makes certain each is willing to serve, and alerts the committee of its first meeting, which occurs in July after the deadline for submitting resolutions has passed.
At the first meeting the general superintendent or general secretary-treasurer may meet with the Resolutions Committee for a few minutes to discuss its responsibilities. After answering various questions regarding procedure, responsibilities, and timing, the general officials leave the committee to do its work. The general officials refrain from expressing opinions regarding any resolution before the committee, thus allowing the committee to form its own conclusions.
Work of the Committee
The initial work of the Resolutions Committee, as a whole or in subcommittees, is to test the validity of each resolution submitted. The Resolutions Committee does not originate resolutions. Questions such as the following are asked to test a resolution’s legitimacy:
– Is the resolution in the proper format?
– Is the General Conference a proper forum for this resolution?
– Does the main motion of the resolution accomplish its goal as indicated in the preamble?
– How will the resolution change the Manual and are these changes clearly noted?
– Is the resolution accurate in its grammar, spelling, and in its references to Scripture or to the Manual?
At times the committee receives more than one resolution addressing a similar concern. In this instance, the committee can choose one of the resolutions or combine one or more of the resolutions into a new resolution to address the issue.
The committee votes on each resolution to determine if it will be sent to the General Conference. Only the Resolutions Committee determines which resolutions make it to the conference floor. I served on a committee that rejected a resolution brought by the General Board, deeming it to be in conflict with another area of the Manual. Obviously, the Resolutions Committee is sovereign in determining which resolutions go forward and which are held.
Distribution of the Resolutions
At the close of its meeting, the approved resolutions are presented to the general secretary-treasurer, who distributes them to the ministerial constituency at least sixty days prior to General Conference. He generally includes a cover letter giving an overview of the role of the Resolutions Committee. He is also careful to note that only this committee determines the resolutions to be considered at General Conference.
Simply because a resolution makes it to the conference floor does not mean that it will be passed. The constituents can pass, amend, table, or defeat any resolution. The conference can also approve the reading of a resolution turned down by the Resolutions Committee if the resolution is called for and if the call is sustained by a two-thirds majority.
If a resolution affects the Articles of Faith, it must receive three approvals, in addition to the Resolutions Committee, in order to be adopted: (1) The General Board must pass it. (2) The General Conference must pass it by a two-thirds majority (3) Two-thirds of the districts must pass it by a two-thirds majority.
The Resolutions Committee is careful to permit the ministerial body the right to be heard. To prohibit valid, proper resolutions from coming to the conference floor, simply because they are controversial, damages the fabric of trust in our organization. When a significant resolution comes to the conference floor, some will wonder why somebody did not stop it. Perhaps it would be better to appreciate the fact that our ministers have a voice that is heard.
From, “Forward Magazine”/January-February 2008/Page 5, by Ken Curley
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