Another effort to block Bush library

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A group of Methodists is stepping up efforts to force a church vote in July on whether Southern Methodist University has the right to lease out land for the George W. Bush Presidential Library and policy institute.

A regional mission council of the United Methodist Church gave SMU permission in March to lease out part of the campus for the library. SMU remains in exclusive negotiations for the complex. As part of those negotiations, school and church officials said, SMU requested a letter from the church's South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops affirming the college's right to lease the land.

In a conference call this month, the bishops voted 10-0, with one abstention, to give SMU the letter.

"It is settled," said Brad Cheves, SMU vice president of development and external affairs. "The mission council is the proper authority that enables and has granted permission to SMU to lease property to the Bush Library Foundation."

But the Rev. Andrew Weaver, an SMU alumnus who is spearheading a fight against the land deal from New York, said he hopes to force a vote at a regional meeting in Dallas in July and persuade delegates not to ratify the mission council action. His group so far has collected about 11,200 signatures on a petition, he said.

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