By Jessica Brodie
PORTLAND, Ore.—One South Carolina delegate stands in strong support of a decision to make the United Methodist Book of Discipline available in all the member languages of the denomination.
The body passed May 17 a petition (60591) to translate the Discipline into the official languages of the church.
Prior to the vote, on May 16, the Rev. Narcie Jeter spoke to the body with a point of information, urging them to translate the Discipline as well as the Book of Resolutions so all can understand.
“This to me is an issue of justice,” Jeter said.
Currently, the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate is available in English, French, Portuguese and Kiswahili. It contains the agenda, rules, delegate listings, petitions, reports, information for delegates and codes of conduct for General Conference.
But as the Discipline and Resolutions books are only available in English, non-English speakers have no context to reference the legislation and have no way to refer back to the original text to truly understand what they are voting on, Jeter said.
Jeter became aware of the issue during week one, when she sat in the Church and Society 1 committee.
“I never knew (neither) the Book of Discipline nor the Book of Resolutions were interpreted in French, and I had to slide over my Book of Resolutions and my Book of Resolutions to the French translator in order for some of the African delegations to vote on them because they wanted to know the context,” Jeter said.
That was why she brought the point of information on Monday—she is a lifelong United Methodist and never knew it was not translated into French, which also happens to be the United Nations language.
“I never knew!” Jeter said. “And so it’s a justice issue that the advance DCAs are translated into many of the languages, all the languages, but they receive no context at all, and so they’re reading stuff like child soldiers, they have very strong opinions on child soldiers, it was the loudest ‘oui’ I heard all week, and it’s an injustice that can be prevented with just raising the money. And so I want to raise the money because I think it’s a justice issue that can be easily solved.”
She added, “If we’re dealing with global health and we’re deal with environmental issues and a global living wage, (non-English speakers) have no idea where to find it, so if a line is struck out, they receive only the paragraph it’s struck out in and don’t have the context to actually process and learn and clearly have information to vote on.”
Jeter applauds the decision of the body to translate the Discipline. She is hopeful the Book of Resolutions will be next.
“It’s a cost versus justice issue to me, and no cost is large enough to make it right to have these brothers and sisters not understand,” Jeter said.
After all, she said, the UMC is a global church, and we need to truly be a global church.
“What are we doing as a church if we don’t provide this information to all?” she said. “Why don’t we make access to information available to the world in our languages of The United Methodist Church?
“We have the information. We need to share it.”
About the books
The Book of Discipline outlines the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work and procedures of the UMC. The Book of Resolutions contains the text of all resolutions or pronouncements on issues approved by the General Conference and currently valid.