Concerning the Meaning of the Social Priniciples
We petition that the General Conference directs the respective Boards (or
Commissions), which regularly work on the Social Principles, to hear and take
into consideration all of the experiences of the world wide church related to
ethical questions, and from this to clearly indicate which parts, or parts, of
the Principles have the characteristic of being fundamental, are in accordance
with the Gospel, and are therefore valid for all Christians.
Rational: Our Experiences and Observations
1. The Social Principles make the claim that they take a stand on the human
questions and problems of the contemporary wold. They formulate the opinion of
the General Conference with regard to these broad fields:
a) The Natural World
b) The Nurturing Community
c) The Social Community
d) The Economic Community
e) The Political Community
f) The World Community
2. The Social Prinicples were prepared and formulated by a Board of the
General Conference, which itself consisted entirely of Americans. This means
that the opinions and critiques were formulated from the perspective of the
existing situation in American (United States of America) society. There are
many fundamental questions which can be supported and approved of by Methodists
worldwide. Yet there are also questions which are not relevant to the
situation in Europe, Asia, or Africa.
3. We wish to put forward the following observations:
a) Our world consists not only of East and West, but of North and South.
b) Througout Europe, Africa, and Asia there live many different peoples with
their own cultures, histories, religions, languages, and varying social
c) Already we observe that within the European situation changes and
developments take place at different speeds. The church must take these
differences into consideration in its ministry.
4. In the Cold War era these differences with our fellow Christians in
Central, Southern, and Eastern Europe could not be discussed and debated. The
political situation made subsequent discussions about political, economic,
social and religious principles impossible at that time. A dialogue has now
begun, and we experience differences in opinions about these matters. Each
opinion has its correctness and no one should be made subordinate to another.
5. If the General Conference of the United Methodist Church truly wishes to
comment on the human questions and problems of our time, and doesn't wish to
speak only to the Christians in the United States of America, then it must seek
to do justice to the diversity of the world.
Submitted by the Executive Committee of the Central Conference of Central and
Info About Petition 31990-FO-NonDis-O