Petition 80477

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Theological Stance on Veneration of Images (80477-FO-R9999)

Theological stance regarding the veneration of images and their use within the United Methodist churches
WHEREAS, the actions of Mrs. Elvira Arellano, who in 2006 sought refuge in the “Adalberto” United Methodist Church in Chicago, Illinois, raised public awareness nationwide as to the great need for just and comprehensive immigration reform, and as United Methodist Hispanic Christians we are part of an immigrant community that lives the challenge of our faith and culture within a nation that is generous, yet strange to us in many ways, and;
WHEREAS,  as followers of the teachings of our Lord Jesus of Nazareth, we identify with the cause of the poor, the marginalized, and the rejected of our society, and we proclaim that the search for a solution of the dilemma of undocumented immigrants in the United States, is a matter of social justice, and;
WHEREAS,  in the midst of this legal conflict involving Mrs. Arellano, a theological issue has also surfaced that, from our point of view, negatively impacts the doctrinal integrity of the United Methodist Church, and;
WHEREAS,  many Protestants, including United Methodists, were impacted by the frequent television reports showing Mrs. Arellano, lay leader of the “Adalberto” United Methodist Church, lighting candles for and venerating the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, with the consent, approval and participation of the corresponding ecclesial authorities, and;
WHEREAS, some of our brothers and sisters have defended or are defending the inclusion of what they call “different expressions from our people’s spirituality”, and;
WHEREAS,  this is rejected by our “Doctrinal Standards and General Rules” of our 2004 Book of Discipline in “The Articles of Religion of The United Methodist Church”, article XIV - “Of Purgatory”, stating specifically and clearly, “the Romish doctrine concerning purgatory, pardon, worshipping and adoration, as well as images of relics, and also invocation of saints, is a fond thing, vainly invented, and grounded upon no warrant of Scripture, but repugnant to the Word of God”, and;
WHEREAS, many of us who are Latinos, now living in the United States, come from a cultural and religious context in which our Protestant faith communities have, for several centuries, suffered through one form or another of persecution, discrimination, opposition and rejection on the part of Roman Catholicism, leading us to assume theological positions, such as the rejection of the practice of venerating images, that have given us our own identity within our communities, and;
WHEREAS, we are opposed to the adoption of “methods of evangelistic outreach” that include the assimilation of practices and customs of other religious groups that diminish our Protestant identity and create confusion within the community as to our theological perspectives, in particular we reject the presence and veneration, within our Methodist churches, of images of virgins and saints from the Roman Catholic faith;
THEREFORE, be it resolved that the 2008 General Conference explain, clarify, and define our theological stance regarding the veneration of images, and more specifically their use within United Methodist Churches; and that our Bishops use their authority to explain the position of the United Methodist Churches, in compliance with the Book Discipline, to each of their Annual Conferences, its pastors and congregations.