United Methodist bishops respond to article in The New York Times

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to The New York Times article alleging that improper voting occurred at recent Special Session of General Conference, the Council of Bishops has issued the following statement:

“The Council of Bishops has always worked to help the delegates to do their best work, as the legislative body of the church. This means being a voice for fairness. The Council does not plan, host or oversee the General Conference.  We are not casting blame on a region of the world or a part of the body of Christ.  In honoring the sacrificial gifts of the delegates to the Special Session, the preparatory work of the Commission on a Way Forward, and the importance of the Special Session’s stated purpose, we do have an absolute and unwavering desire for transparency and the truth in discovering what has taken place in the special session of the General Conference.”

Kenneth H. Carter Jr.
President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

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Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
mmulenga@umc-cob.org
202-748-5172

Saint Paul School of Theology’s Probation Lifted by the Higher Learning Commission

Saint Paul School of Theology is pleased to report that the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has changed the seminary’s status from “Accredited – Probation” to “Accredited”. Per the HLC Public Disclosure Statement:

“The Higher Learning Commission has removed the sanction of Probation for Saint Paul School of Theology in Leawood, Kansas. HLC took this action based on the institution’s ability to demonstrate it now meets HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation. It was placed on Probation in February 2017 when it was determined to be out of compliance with HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation.”

For 60 years, Saint Paul School of Theology has supplied excellence in theological education, and our previous challenges have inspired us to strive beyond excellence. We are excited about our future and thank you for your continued support of the seminary’s mission.

Saint Paul School of Theology is a seminary of the United Methodist Church with one mission in two locations. Our Oklahoma campus thrives in a collaboration with Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and, in partnership with the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection, our Kansas Campus serves the Greater Kansas City Metro Area in Leawood, Kansas. Students learn from dedicated faculty, experienced pastors, and community leaders about best ministry practices. Our graduates leave with tools and first-hand experience necessary to meet the needs of a changing world.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please email Tiana Gatewood at tiana.gatewood@spst.edu.

Credentialing review to go to Commission on General Conference

The Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference is looking into a question that ineligible persons may have received credentials to vote during the Special Session of the General Conference. The Secretary of the General Conference, the Rev. Gary W. Graves, recently became aware of the concerns after receiving an inquiry about the registration and credentialing process.

Following consultation with the chair of the Commission on the General Conference, an in-depth review was initiated to prepare the delegate attendance records as required by the rules of the General Conference. The secretary, along with the business manager, General Conference staff and an independent auditing firm, cross-checked credential cards, name badge bar code scans, attendance forms, reserve delegate seating forms and other resources. Upon completion of the review, it appears possible that a very limited number of ineligible persons who were correctly denied credentials by General Conference staff were later able to procure them.

“We take the integrity of the legislative process very seriously, and the breakdown in the process is troubling,” said Graves. “Had the concerns been received while the General Conference was in session, the matter would have been taken to the Committee on Credentials who would have brought a recommendation to the plenary session for resolution of the question. However, since the General Conference is not in session, the matter is being referred to the Commission on the General Conference.”

Duncan McMillan, chair of the Commission on General Conference, said the executive committee of the Commission is considering next steps and recommendations to the full Commission. “We are committed to working to strengthen the credentialing process,” said McMillan.

The parliamentarian who served at the Special Session is being consulted regarding any potential impact this situation may have on the legislative action which resulted in the substitution of the minority report for the legislative committee’s report in the processing of petition 90066 since the vote to substitute was a two-vote difference of 402-400. The Council of Bishops has requested a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council regarding constitutionality of this petition.

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Media contact:
Diane Degnan
ddegnan@umcom.org
615.742.5406 (o) 615.483.1765 (c)

Obituary for Billie Jean Tate

Billie Jean Tate passed away on December 28, 2018 in Hydro, OK. Billie Jean, the third daughter of Willard and Louella Tate, was born in June, 1944 in Asheville, NC. As a child, she wanted to become a champion clogger. By the time she graduated from Asheville High School and Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, NC, she felt the Lord’s call to ministry.

Billie Jean graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary in 1975 and moved to Allentown, PA to teach at United Wesleyan College. She was the first woman in the college’s history to serve as Director of Admissions. During Summer vacations, Billie Jean would take her family on epic road trips recruiting at Wesleyan youth camps from Delaware to Lake Champlain. She also taught Sunday school and Vacation Bible School at Trinity Wesleyan Church in Allentown, PA.

Billie Jean returned to seminary in her mid-40s. She received her Master of Divinity from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in 1992. While living in Dallas, she was an active member of Highland Park United Methodist Church. Billie Jean became an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and was admitted in the North Arkansas Conference.

For nearly 20 years, Billie Jean served as the pastor of many different churches in the North Arkansas and Little Rock Conferences. She truly believed there was no greater blessing than preaching the good news of God’s love for all people. Billie Jean retired from ministry in 2006. She moved to El Reno, OK in 2012 and attended Wesley United Methodist Church.

Billie Jean is survived by her sisters, Yvonne Boggs of Lawndale, NC, and Linda Wheeler of Calumet, OK; and her son, Wesley, a graduate of Hendrix College in Conway, AR. She is also survived by her much loved nieces, Teresa Crick and Pam Toho, and their families.

United Methodist Insurance Announces Addition of Travel Insurance Coverage Available to All United Methodists

Nashville, TN – United Methodist Insurance (UMI) is pleased to announce additional coverage available for purchase to all United Methodists.

To further its mission to protect the people of The United Methodist Church, UMI, through its subsidiary United Methodist Insurance Agency, has partnered with Travel Insured International, a Crum & Forster Company, to supply new individual and group travel protection insurance at competitive rates.  This coverage is available not only to UMI insured organizations, but also to all individuals or groups within The United Methodist Church connection and their families when traveling for volunteer/mission assignments, business and leisure travel.

Marc Flood, SVP for Travel Insured International, said “C&F/Travel Insured International is honored to have been selected as the preferred travel protection provider for UMI.  We are aware that customers travel for all kinds of reasons.  Whether the travel is business related, a long awaited vacation, or a trip home to see family and friends, traveling with a protection plan can help you relax and enjoy your travel experience to the fullest. Some of the major travel insurance benefits provided are trip interruption coverage, accident and sickness/medical expense coverage, and baggage/personal effects coverage. The financial strength and core values of Travel Insured International and its parent companies give us the best position in the market to continue its commitment of helping individuals protect their travel plans.”

Mike Plesko, President and CEO of United Methodist Insurance, stated, “As we move forward to improve upon and expand the types of coverages available to the United Methodist connection, we will continue to seek new partnerships that will enhance our commitment to serving the people and ministries of The United Methodist Church as we have done with the new relationship with Travel Insured International.”

To read more about the program or to enroll in travel insurance, visit the Travel Insured International® website dedicated to coverage for United Methodists or call 1-800-243-3174. For more information or questions about UMI and its ministry of protecting people and property of The United Methodist Church, contact Sid Gray, Vice President and Treasurer of UMI at sgray@umins.org or 615-369-2345.

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UMI fulfills its ministry by protecting the assets of the denomination through comprehensive property and liability insurance to ensure access to future generations of United Methodists. UMI’s mission is to protect the people and property of The United Methodist Church.

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Contact: Mike Plesko
615-920-3144
MPlesko@umins.org