An Annual Conference Speech

By Rev. Paul Stallsworth

Editor’s note. The following comes from the September issue of LifeWatch, the newsletter of the pro-life Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality.

Rev. Paul Stallsworth

On June 17, the 2011 Session of the North Carolina Annual Conference considered a resolution that would ask the 2012 General Conference to amend The Book of Discipline’s paragraph on abortion (Paragraph 161J). The resolution proposed that one sentence—“We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures”—be deleted from Par. 161J. What follows is the three-minute speech for the resolution that this pastor offered on the floor of the Annual Conference. (Even though the resolution was not approved by the Annual Conference, it will be submitted, in different form, to the 2012 General Conference.)
 
Thank you, Bishop Gwinn.

I stand to speak in favor of Resolution 1. North Carolina Annual Conference, thank you!

Since 1977, I have been privileged to be a part of this great and influential Annual Conference. Since 1977, during many Sessions of this Annual Conference, I have offered resolutions related to life and abortion.

You have graciously received, carefully read, thoughtfully debated, and patiently voted on many resolutions from this pastor. Again, I thank you.

In response to this resolutionary activity, you might well ask: Why have you been so committed to putting resolutions on life and abortion before this Annual Conference?

Here is my answer. I believe the little one in the womb is a child, created by God in God’s image. Furthermore, I believe God through Christ calls the Church to protect the least of these, including the unborn child and mother from abortion.

However, since 1973, over 50 million abortions have been performed in the United States. Around 3,000/day.

What has been the response of The United Methodist Church to abortion in America?

FACT: United Methodist staff helped establish a religious coalition (RCAR, now RCRC) to politically lobby for abortion rights.

FACT: The General Board of Church and Society and the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries have regularly spoken and acted for the right to eliminate the 50 million.

FACT: The Council of Bishops has remained totally silent about the 50 million.

FACT: For decades, individual bishops have promoted abortion rights used against the 50 million.

To this day, The United Methodist Church continues this pro-choice activism. Why? Because of one, ambiguous sentence in Paragraph 161J of The Social Principles. That sentence seems moderate and reasonable. That sentence seems to intend to make abortion available only in rare circumstances.

However, that sentence is open to interpretation, and it has been interpreted by United Methodist agencies, boards, staff, and bishops to permit a pro-choice political agenda. Therefore, that sentence should be deleted. Resolution 1 asks General Conference 2012 to delete that sentence.

If you vote to adopt Resolution 1, the North Carolina Annual Conference will give the 2012 General Conference an opportunity to remove The United Methodist Church from pro-choice politics.

Thank you. Again!

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