Thursday, May 5, 2016

General Conference and Bonaire UMC

   The United Methodist Church does not have a Pope, or President, but it does have a legislative body, like the American Congress, that writes rules and amends our policies. Grounded in what is best about Methodism, it is made up of both laypeople and clergy, with each getting equal representation. General Conference meets every four years and is the only entity that speaks for The United Methodist Church. The 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church gathers May 10-20 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.
   During the 11-day session, the delegates will revise The Book of Discipline, which regulates the way local churches, annual conferences and general agencies are organized. They will also revise The Book of Resolutions, a volume declaring the church’s stance on a variety of social justice issues. In addition, the assembly approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs for the next four years and elects members of the Judicial Council, which is our equivalent of the Supreme Court.
   All of this is important to United Methodists everywhere, but takes on an even different perspective because of last summer. At Annual Conference in June 2015, the week before moving to Bonaire, I was elected to represent the South Georgia Conference as an alternate delegate at the 2016 General Conference. This was humbling and a surprise. South Georgia sends four clergy and four laity delegates, along with two clergy alternates and two lay alternates. In addition to General Conference in May, we will serve as voting delegates at the Jurisdictional Conference held at Lake Junaluska, NC, July 12-16. We will meet with prospective candidates for Bishop before delegations from all 13 conferences in the Southeastern Jurisdiction vote and elect the five new Bishops. Bishops are elected to serve until retirement, and are appointed to conferences four years at a time. Our Resident Bishop, James King, will retire after eight years in South Georgia, at the end of August.
   I covet your prayers for these eleven days, in so many areas.

  • For my family, as school winds down. 
  • For the church, that people stay healthy and that things stay great. 
  • For the Conference itself, that the women and men gathering in Portland would be led by the Spirit, be grounded in God’s love, and be clear in their witness to the world - for the world will be watching. 

Grace and peace, Scott

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