PORTLAND, Ore. — The United Methodist Church (“UMC”) soundly rejected divestment from Israel at their General Conference (“GC”) in Portland, Oregon and took significant steps towards adopting a moderate and hope-filled approach to the conflict. After being defeated in Legislative Committee the previous week, an attempt to add Israel divestment to a resolution on Sustainable and Responsible Investments failed in plenary on Friday, May 21 by a vote of 77 percent.
“The sound rejection of divestment, coupled with the GC’s urging the UMC to withdraw its membership in the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (a coalition which supports the BDS movement), is a strong signal that United Methodists do not accept one-sided theories but support a conciliatory approach which listens to the fears and struggles on both sides and seeks concrete ways to bring peace and justice to both Israelis and Palestinians,” according to Rev. Alex Joyner, a District Superintendent from the Virginia Conference and a reserve GC delegate.
Joyner is a co-convenor of United Methodists for Constructive Peacemaking in Israel and Palestine (“UMCPIP”), which had submitted Israel/Palestine petitions offering alternatives to divestment. These petitions, which supported negotiations, positive investment in Palestine, and Restorative Justice Dialogue, were presented at a Press Conference at the start of GC by Rev. Joyner, Rev. Dan Bryant (District Superintendent from East Ohio and GC delegate) and Bonnie Marden, (lay head of the New England delegation to GC).