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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    Perspectives: General Conference 2016

    Portland or Bust

    May 10, 2016 / By Ian Urriola

    Obligatory selfie at DullesWell it's finally upon us.  After almost a year of planning and preparation and day-long conference calls, General Conference is here.  I'm seeing all my fellow delegates posting their selfies at their respective airports. Everything is packed.  And it's just starting to hit me.  See, as a full-time graduate student this past month has been hectic to say the least.  Somehow, most of my assignments ended up being back-loaded.  I turned in my last final this past Friday afternoon, so I haven't had much time to shift from a mentality of school to a mentality of conferencing.  But as I sit here waiting for my room to become available at the hotel, I'm feeling a mix of emotions.  I'm excited. I'm nervous.  I simultaneously feel ready and not ready.

    After all, in Methodist circles, these upcoming 2 weeks are kind of a big deal.  The UMC isn't like some other branches of Christianity.  We don't have a president or figurehead for our church.  The General Conference is the only group that has the authority to speak on behalf of the entire UMC.  And the General Conference only meets once every 4 years, so this is it.  If anything is going to happen or change in the world of United Methodism, it has to happen now or it will have to wait until 2020.  And of course there are pundits on every side of every issue making predictions about what will happen over the next two weeks.  I'm by no means an expert, so this blog won't contain any of that. 

    Instead, I'm only going to share my day-to-day experiences.  As a reserve delegate for the Upper New York Annual Conference, my schedule is a little bit more open than my full delegate colleagues.  Unless I'm called to pinch hit, so to speak, I get the opportunity to bop around the convention center and take it all in.  I can sit in on committee meetings, meet new people, and explore all that General Conference and Portland has to offer.  So while I don't know what exactly our United Methodist Church will look like in 10 days, I'm still excited.

    I'm told that this is a thing to do in PDXAs for the rest of the day, once my room becomes available, I plan on getting situated in it and resting after a long day of travel (5:00am wake up call to catch a SuperShuttle to take me to Dulles).  And then going out to explore a little bit.  I'll try to get a feel for the TriMet system.  And with any luck I'll make it back to the hotel in time to get a good night's sleep before it all begins tomorrow.  I ask that you keep all of the delegates and the General Conference in your prayers over the next two weeks.  While I don't know much, I do know that we will be having some difficult conversations as a church and it's my prayer that we are always mindful of the presence of the Holy Spirit with us.  Until tomorrow.

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    With more than 134,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 85 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."