Wednesday, March 12, 2008

House bill and canyon camp

TO: All United Methodists
FROM: Joseph Harris,
Assistant to the Bishop/Director of Communications
The Oklahoma Conference of The United Methodist Church
March 12, 2008

UPDATE: State legislative leaders have responded to citizens’ concerns expressed about House Bill 2774, relating to swine-feeding operations in the state. United Methodist church leaders believe that a new draft of the bill, presented as a House floor substitute, adequately addresses our concerns, especially in relation to Canyon Camp near Hinton.

Thus, this department is notifying you that the Oklahoma Conference leadership no longer opposes HB 2774, as it has been revised.

Randy McGuire, Conference director of Camps, stated this morning (March 12, 2008), “This substitute addresses the two items of particular concern for the protection of recreational and camp facilities that we noted in earlier forms of the bill. Namely, the term ‘groundwater’ was replaced with the original term ‘water,’ and a grandfather clause was removed. With these changes, it is my belief that the bill adequately protects recreational and camp facilities, including Canyon Camp.”

Two meetings, today and yesterday, at the state Capitol helped bring together groups with various perspectives on the proposal, to share and seek illumination and agreement. Attending the meeting this morning were state Rep. Lee Denney; state Rep. Dale DeWitt; J.D. Strong, chief of staff of the state Department of the Environment; Rev. Ed Light, chairman of the board of Conference UM Camp and Retreat Ministries; Rev. Craig Stinson, Conference UM director of Connectional Ministry and Congregational Development; Rev. McGuire; and representatives of the Pork Council and various lobbyists. Inquiries from citizens helped initiate the Tuesday meeting, when Rep. DeWitt, Secretary of the Environment Miles Tolbert, and members of the Pork Council met to look more in-depth at the language of HB 2774.

This department also believe it is important to note that United Methodist leaders realize all perspectives are worthy of study as we search together for common accord. United Methodists hold in common our faith amid diversity, in that we are citizens, consumers, farmers, legislators, environmentalists, and much more--especially, the people of God.

Oklahoma Conference leaders are extremely grateful for the level of concern expressed about this matter in recent days by United Methodists in response to our e-mail news releases. A number of people, including legislators who are United Methodist, have raised questions about the proposal. Your voice has been heard.

Joseph Harris
Department of Communications

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