Ed. Note: These were my prepared remarks for a proposed amendment to Resolution #1: A Resolution on Resolutions at the 2006 Annual Conference Session of the Virginia Conference United Methodist Church. The resolution itself can be found on Page 137 of the Book of Reports (PDF link). The proposed amendment was co-written by Rev. Rob Vaughn and me; the explanatory remarks are my own.

Because the amendment was accepted as a ‘friendly amendment’ by the maker of the resolution, I never had the opportunity to make these remarks (and wouldn’t have been able to make these exact remarks anyway, since my conference bag had been stolen—yes, stolen at a church conference—with my copy within earlier in the day). Resolution #1, with our amendment and several other changes, was ultimately rejected by the Annual Conference session.

Thank you, Bishop Kammerer. My name is Scott Bradford, I am a lay-delegate from Community of Faith United Methodist Church in the Arlington District, and I would like to propose an amendment to Resolution #1.

We wish to add a third direction, following items one and two, which reads:

*****

3. Directs the board or committee to which each accepted resolution was referred to prepare appropriate educational materials for use in local congregations relating to the subject matter of the resolution. The educational materials should be made available to local churches via the Conference website <www.vaumc.org> within 60 days of the end of each session of the Virginia Annual Conference.

*****

This proposed amendment stems from a desire to make Annual Conference resolutions catalysts for theological discussion in local churches, our Sunday Schools, and informally among the ‘people in the pews.’ We would like to see the decisions of this body be more than just decisions—we want them to stir discussion! We want to make this conference’s resolutions ‘real’ to the people of the church.

Having the full resolution available on the conference website, as already required by this resolution, is an excellent start—but during discussions with one of the pastors at my church, Pastor Rob Vaughn—who is cosponsoring this amendment with me—it became clear to us that the conference can go one step further. That’s why we bring this amendment before you today.

By requiring that each accepted resolution of this body be available along with a compendium of balanced material related to its subject matter, we would provide pastors, churches, and congregations much-needed context to continue the discussion. Accepted resolutions then become the beginning, rather than the end, of Christian conferencing and conversation. And, I should add, much of this educational material is already produced by the various committees and task forces of the conference or available from general boards, agencies, and denominational groups.

Furthermore, we hope these discussions in the local churches will help to better-inform future Annual Conferences. Many issues come up year after year, and—if this amendment and resolution pass—the clergy and lay delegates to next year’s annual conference will hopefully know a little more about those things than we do today. We’ll have a broader understanding, maybe gain some new perspectives, and maybe think up some amazing new ideas. The year after that, even more so. And the year after that. And the year after that.

So thank you all very much for your time, and I encourage your support both of this proposed amendment and of the resolution as a whole.