The 2012 Tennessee Annual Conference has been hopeful! There were almost 100 people at the dinner hosted by Nashville Area Reconciling Ministries (NARM) and Tennessee Annual Conference Clergy for Inclusion on Sunday night to hear Bishop Mel Talbert, and there were stoles everywhere you looked in the main plenary, including on stage. Deen Thompson shared beautiful words from the floor of Annual Conference as the first openly gay elected alternative delegate to General/Jurisdictional Conference from the Tennessee Annual Conference about the work that we must do together to ensure our church is an open and welcoming place, and acknowledged the hard moments of General Conference while looking forward to the future.
The Tennessee Annual Conference also adopted a resolution on working to end bullying, which can be read below:
Whereas, Many people are hurting from the effects of bullying in the forms of physical and verbal harassment, oppression, and exclusion; and
Whereas at least three youth within the bounds of the Tennessee Annual Conference committed suicide after being bullied in their schools within the last year; and
Whereas, Paragraph 162 of the Book of Discipline states:
“We affirm all persons as equally valuable in the sight of God. We therefore work toward societies in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened. We support the basic rights of all persons to equal access to housing, education, communication, employment, medical care, legal redress for grievances, and physical protection. We deplore acts of hate or violence against groups or persons based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or economic status. Our respect for the inherent dignity of all persons leads us to call for the recognition, protection, and implementation of the principles of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights so that communities and individuals may claim and enjoy their universal, indivisible, and inalienable rights;” and
Whereas, the effects of bullying can halt the healthy development of all people socially, emotionally, and spiritually. According to a study by Iowa State University, “Individuals who are bullied experience severe emotional consequences such as anxiety, passivity, academic problems, social deficits, and low self-esteem.” Bullying leads young people to isolation and prevents them from creating healthy friendships with their peers. This isolation can lead to participation in high risk behaviors; and
Whereas, Jesus taught, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39).
Be it therefore resolved,
That the following resolution is adopted by the Tennessee Annual Conference
We vow that, as churches and people of faith, we will no longer be silent about the value of each and every life.
To that end, we categorically oppose the practices of bullying in all its forms.
We urge our churches, Committees, Campus Ministries and Camping Retreat Ministries to create safe space for each and every child of God, without regard to religion, race, ethnicity, culture, citizenship, socio-economic status, gender identity, physical or mental ability, and sexual orientation.
Further, in the spirit of advocating for safe sanctuary, we call upon every United Methodist to respond to acts of bullying with acts of compassion. We will take a public stand against speeches of hate, harassment and acts of violence filled with long-held prejudices against all persons.
Moreover, we call upon the Church and society to intentionally validate, support, and empower persons being injured by bullying behavior in workplaces, in schools, and in all environments.
Nashville Area Reconciling Ministries (NARM)
Tennessee Annual Conference Clergy for Inclusion
 "Science of Parenting » Bullying Statistics and Long-term Effects." ISU Extension Blogs. 9 Nov. 2010. Web. 23 Mar. 2011. <http://blogs.extension.iastate.edu/scienceofparenting/2010/11/09/bullying-statistics-and-long-term-effects/>.