Petition 81514

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Requiring General Conference to Meet in Places Without Capital Punishment (81514-CO-NonDis)

The Methodist Church from 1956 to 1968, and The United Methodist Church, since its beginning in 1968, have steadfastly opposed capital punishment. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church clearly state that "the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore, and transform all human beings" and that "we oppose the death penalty (capital punishment) and urge its elimination from all criminal codes" (2004 Discipline, ΒΆ164G). Further, the General Conference of 2000 called upon conferences and other entities "to take overt action to change the laws and social conditions which produce this violent act [capital punishment]" and asked for "strategies of education and political action to overcome the evil of capital punishment" (2004 BOR, "Capital Punishment," 622-24).
In Scripture, God challenges the newly established nation of Israel saying, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendents may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Jesus continues opting for life in John 8:1-11 where he forgives the woman caught in adultery and rebukes the crowd interested only in punishment and death. God is a God of life and as followers of Jesus we must also rebuke those who choose only punishment and death.
With this in mind, the General Conference of 2004 established a clear policy that the process of selecting places for United Methodist meetings should reflect our social witness (2004 BOR, "Respecting the Native American Legacy and Tradition," 360-61). For instance, the General Conference of 2012 has been changed from Richmond to Tampa as a way of bearing this witness.
Therefore, beginning in 2009 any special session, and beginning in 2016 all regular sessions, of the General Conference shall meet only in a state within the United States of America whose laws lack the death penalty, or in a state that has a moratorium on executions, or in a city or municipality that has officially declared itself to oppose capital punishment or has called for a moratorium on it, or, if the Conference meets outside the boundaries of the United States, in a place that does not support the death penalty or supports a moratorium on it.