RS - 210 - Toward a Lead and Asbestos Safe Future

Communications Department

April 03, 2012

(Submitted by Catherine Nicols and David Niclos)

Basic Principles

Health: United Methodist Christians are called upon to care about our own health and to act as healers in the wider community. “Stewardship of health is the responsibility of each person to whom health has been entrusted. Creating the personal, environmental, and social conditions in which health can thrive is a joint responsibility…(2008 Discipline, ¶ 162 V).” Throughout our Biblical story, in both the Old and New Testament, restoration of health has been signs of God’s presence in the world.

Family: “We believe the family to be the basic human community through which persons are nurtured and sustained in mutual love, responsibility, respect, and fidelity (2008 Discipline, ¶ 161 A),” and that “children have the rights to food, shelter, clothing, health care, and emotional well-being as do adults (2008 Discipline, ¶ 162 C).” Housing that risks health adversely affects familial relationships and overall well-being. Because United Methodist clergy are itinerant, provision of safe, health-encouraging housing for all members of clergy families must be the responsibility of each local Church and of the Annual Conference. 

Property: “We believe private ownership of property is a trusteeship under God (2008 Discipline, ¶ 163 A).” Moreover, all properties of The United Methodist Church are explicitly held in trust (2008 Discipline, ¶ 2503), specifically for “purposes consistent with the mission of the Church (2008 Discipline, ¶ 2501).” As New England United Methodists, we believe that church property (whether parsonages, houses of worship, or other properties held by United Methodist congregations and agencies) should be cared for and maintained in such a way to be conducive to the health and well-being of those who use them. 

WHEREAS lead is known to be highly toxic, especially to pregnant women and unborn and young children (, and

WHEREAS lead paint is a significant risk for lead ingestion, particularly for small children, and 

WHEREAS the Parsonage Guidelines of the New England Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church have long included language that lead remediation in parsonages “shall be done prior to children living in the parsonage”, and 

WHEREAS asbestos is known to be highly carcinogenic, and 

WHEREAS awareness of risk and proper professional remediation can significantly cut the risk of exposure and health damage from both lead and asbestos in the home and in public buildings, and 

WHEREAS on occasion children are born to pastors already living in parsonages that have not yet been remediated, and 

WHEREAS our younger clergy with or without young families are more likely to be appointed to financially struggling churches where the cost of both the temporary alternative accommodation for the family and the cost of remediation can cause strain and tension both within the congregation and between the congregation and the appointed clergy, and

WHEREAS no one benefits from deferred maintenance that leads to unexpected high cost,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED: That all parsonages constructed prior to 1978 shall have professional inspection for lead paint before the next change in pastoral appointment or before the Annual Conference Session in 2014, whichever comes first. Upon inspection, the Trustees shall develop a plan for remediation, along with a timeline for implementation of that plan so that lead remediation shall be done prior to children living in the parsonage. Both the test results and plan for remediation shall be shared with the S/PPRC, District Superintendent, and District Committee on Church Location and Building (when the parsonage is held by a local church), or the appropriate supervisory committee, the Bishop, and the Annual Conference Session (when the parsonage is held by the Trustees of the Annual Conference), and  

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That all parsonages constructed prior to 1990 shall have regular visual inspection of all accessible insulation materials as a part of annual parsonage inspections. When damage to unlabeled insulating materials and tapes is apparent, these shall be professionally tested for asbestos and professionally remediated to protect the health of all involved. In addition, vinyl flooring installed prior to phase out of asbestos shall be inspected when necessary and remediated in a fashion to protect the health of all involved. When damage to potentially asbestos containing materials is discovered, professional sampling and appropriate measures to protect the health of all involved shall be followed with the least practical delay, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the Conference Leadership Committee shall appoint a Taskforce no later than the regular Annual Conference session in 2013 for the purpose of compiling and developing lead and asbestos awareness and remediation information for the local church, including but not limited to, relevant state laws within the Annual Conference and information about where to find certified lead and asbestos contractors. The Taskforce shall include representation from the Conference Board of Trustees, the Appointive Cabinet, the Commission on Equitable Compensation, and others as the Conference Leadership Committee finds appropriate. The Taskforce shall include representation from each State in the Annual Conference. Attempts should be made to find pastors and local church Trustees with experience in lead and asbestos remediation in parsonage situations for inclusion on the Taskforce.

Comments and Questions before Annual Conference are encouraged.
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