UMC General Conference 101
The 2016 General Conference session is fast-approaching, scheduled for May 10-20 in Portland, Ore. So what exactly is General Conference and how does it impact the everyday United Methodist? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.
What is General Conference?
General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church, which meets once every four years. It is an international body of nearly 1,000 delegates. The delegates – split evenly between clergy and laity – represent conferences around the world. The Upper New York Conference has six clergy and six laity delegates, in addition to two alternate clergy delegates and two alternate laity delegates. To learn more about our Conference’s delegates, visit http://tinyurl.com/UNYdelegates.
What happens during General Conference?
During General Conference, delegates discuss and vote on petitions and resolutions proposed by individuals, agencies, conferences, annual conference sessions, and other groups within the denomination. These actions can result in a revision to “The Book of Discipline” – the denomination's book of law – and “The Book of Resolutions” – policies of the denomination on current social issues. At General Conference, the Church's official stance and Church policies are made regarding such issues as human sexuality, abortion, war, and peace as well as determination of ministries and funding.
How does GC impact me?
- Future goals are set. For example, during the 2012 General Conference session the Four Areas of Focus were supported. Go to http://tinyurl.com/UMC4AF for more information.
- Petitions and resolutions are voted upon. Petitions and resolutions impact everything from our public stance on political issues to policies regarding clergy retirement and pensions.
- Future budgets are adopted, including the General Church Operating budget. This budget impacts our Conference’s General Church Apportionment giving, which will affect local churches’ Ministry Share.
- Future plans for Church-wide programs are adopted. For example, last General Conference session, the Church shifted its support from Nothing but Nets, which focused on ending malaria only though bed nets, to the more comprehensive initiative Imagine No Malaria, which seeks to eradicate malaria in sub-Saharan Africa through distribution of bed nets, communication of life-saving information, improvement of healthcare facilities, and education.
- The guiding principles and policies for the next four years are voted upon at General Conference. This would include changes to “The Book of Discipline” and “The Book of Resolutions.”
How can I connect to GC16?
For more information about this year’s General Conference session, please visit http://www.umc.org/topics/general-conference-2016.
- To view information related to the Pre-General Conference Briefing held Jan. 20-22 in Portland, Ore., please visit http://tinyurl.com/GC16-PreCon.
- Download the GC16 app.
- During General Conference, visit the Digital Lounge.
- Follow or use the hashtag “#umcgc” on social media.
- Follow @UMCGC on Twitter or “2016 General Conference Worship UMC” on Facebook.
- Click here to view a live stream of the 2016 General Conference session.
- The Conference website and social media will become a hub for all things General Conference with an Upper New York Conference perspective. Click here for more information.
For more information about what happens at General Conference and how it affects local congregations, visit http://tinyurl.com/jxr2xve.