Preparing for General Conference – Interviews with United Methodist Women Delegates
May 13, 2016 / By Originally published on United Methodist Women (UMW), featuring Carmen Vianese - UNY Delegate
Being a delegate at General Conference is hard—and important—work.
The United Methodist Church General Conference is held every four years to re-examine church law and to add or amend resolutions to the Book of Discipline. Some 1,000 delegates travel to General Conference from around the world to examine and discuss these proposed changes. The delegates are instrumental when it comes to deciding which resolutions are to be adopted or amended.
I spoke with four United Methodist Women delegates to find out how they prepared for this significant task, and what their thoughts were about General Conference and the petitions submitted by United Methodist Women. The delegates I spoke to or e-mailed with are Irma Clark, Clara Ester, Nichea Ver Veer Guy and Carmen Vianese. This is what they had to say.
How are you preparing for General Conference?
Nichea Ver Veer Guy is “checking the United Methodist Women website weekly for updates, reading through legislation, and reading reviews of other delegates. Accepting amazing letters from individuals who are witnessing for their concerns for legislation being dealt with at General Conference. Praying and meditating on what God is asking me to do and be as a leader in the church.”
Clara Ester is looking at petitions and has been on conference calls discussing the petitions. Her delegation has met several times, and she has been talking to members who are highly knowledgeable on the issues. “They have told me what to look for. One word that may have been altered, and the power of that one word.”
Carmen Vianese, too, has been studying the resolutions, learning the language, and “taking note of personal questions or concerns.... I have also been in conversation and sharing insights with members of my conference delegation.”
Irma Clark is preparing through her “daily devotions, prayer and meditation, Bible reading, taking good care of myself, reading the reports, resolutions and proposed legislation. And keeping an open mind and positive attitude.”
In general, the delegates I spoke with were most concerned with social justice petitions like the Status of Women, Protection of Water, and the Criminalization of Communities of Color. Other petitions of concern include Lay Servant Ministry petitions and various other GBGM petitions.
What are your expectations of General Conference?
Irma Clark: "That we live out our mission which is at the heart of all we do; to make disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Nichea Ver Veer Guy: “For participants to practice with compassion what we say we are as United Methodists. If we say we are open to all, then we practice open to all; if we say we are liberators of justice and a supporter of human rights, then we practice being liberators of justice. If we say we follow the tenets of Wesley's Methodism then we practice social holiness, sanctification and grace.”
Carmen Vianese: “I am hoping that grace will be the undercurrent and that progress is made in moving the denomination forward so that we can continue to be disciples of a movement for our Lord and not just worshipers of a sovereign God.”
What else are you looking forward to at General Conference?
Clara Ester is looking forward to the consecrations of new deaconesses and home missioners. “I am a deaconess and I am excited about the consecration on Monday of the 24 deaconesses and two home missioners. For the first time the general church will recognize that for 150 years this movement has been here.” She is also looking forward to all the other activities on United Methodist Women Day (Monday, May 16), including the clean water rally and the laity banquet.
Carmen Vianese: “The worship, the learning opportunities, and connecting with those that I meet; making new relationships.”
Nichea Ver Veer Guy: “Networking with United Methodists from around the world. Breaking bread, sharing our soulful faith journeys, and becoming the church to each other with respect and dignity. Worshipping with one another and being able to be worshipful in all we do.”
Irma Clark: "That we all are welcomed, invited and loved at the table—that no one is excluded. As United Methodists we must live what we preach, and preach what we live: love one another, and treat others as we wish to be treated.”
We are thankful to all the delegates for the hard work they do to uphold just church law and to put faith, hope and love into action.