Bethel Church Board Endorses the Resolution of Witness Regarding the Israeli Palestinian Conflict!

The Bethel Church Board hosted an informational meeting on Sunday, July 6, 2014 after worship in the Narthex Conference room.  The purpose of the meeting was to give members of the congregation an opportunity to discuss their reactions and perspectives on the resolution that we have been studying and deliberating.  Twenty four people attended.   There were clusters of perspectives from very strongly supporting the resolution to very strongly opposing the resolution.  There was strong consensus that the establishment of the state of Israel had created human rights violations for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The source of disagreement came from the variety of opinions about the effectiveness of the call for divestment from US companies benefiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the boycotting of goods produced in Palestinian lands.

Regardless of perspective, the group listened respectfully to each other, and at times agreed to disagree.  Moderator, Sia Lindstrom did a great job facilitating the meeting and giving voice to everyone who attended.

A “straw poll”was taken at the request of one of the participants.  The unofficial poll asked, “are you comfortable giving the Board authority to endorse the resolution on behalf of the congregation?, or do you think this issue should come to a special, called congregational meeting for a vote?”  A strong majority agreed that the Board could make a decision on behalf of the church and a special meeting of the congregation was not necessary.

After the informational meeting recessed, the board met.  The meeting was open, as it always is, and any who wished could stay for the Board’s discussion and vote.  The Board gave careful consideration to the comments and opinions that had just been voiced. The Board also factored in the effort that had been given to share the resolution with the Mission and Outreach Committee (who endorsed it and recommended it to the Board for their endorsement).  The Board noted,too, that efforts had been made to create study classes and clarifying documents had been printed and shared on the church website.

This careful deliberation led to a vote to endorse the resolution on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

We hope to continue to offer educational sessions that keep us current on the current state of affairs in Israel.  We anticipate giving our congregation the opportunity to become actively involved in issues of divestment, boycott of goods, and additional advocacy.

As is the case with all resolutions within the United Church of Christ, none mandate actions or decisions.  Resolutions are calls for action.   They seek to educate and inspire – they are not binding.

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