There are approximately 1200 pieces of proposed legislation before the General Conference delegates. Each piece of legislation, which was submitted by individual members, groups and organizations of the United Methodist Church, will first go before one of the 13 legislative committees of the General Conference. The recommendations of these committees are then presented to the entire body of the General Conference for discussion, action and vote. (You can track legislation as this conferencing process happens at http://calms.umc.org/2012/Menu.aspx.)
Restructure of the United Methodist Church – The proposed legislation to restructure the denomination originated with the Call to Action process. (See umccalltoaction.org.) Other proposals for restructure have also emerged since the General Conference petition deadline passed. (See umcplanb.org and www.mfsagc12.org/StructureVisuals.html.)
Reforming the Council of Bishops – Reforms proposed include to create a “set-aside bishop” who would serve as president of the Council of Bishops for four years without the responsibilities of overseeing a geographic area. The North Alabama Conference Delegation has submitted petitions regarding retired Bishops’ membership and activity in the Council of Bishops and the jurisdictional or central conference’s College of Bishops.
Clergy Appointments and Ordination Process – Proposed recommendations include eliminating guaranteed appointments for ordained elders and streamlining the candidacy process for ordination.
Budget and Budget-related issues –The recommended budget of $603 million reflects a reduction of 6.6 percent and marks the first time a budget smaller than that for the previous quadrennium will be presented. There are also petitions, including several from North Alabama Conference delegates and members, with proposals ranging from the General Church budget to not exceed 1% of the sum of local church income to changing the apportionment (connectional giving) formula so that each local church gives ten percent of general budget income to the Annual Conference.
The Global Church – There are a variety of recommendations seeking to make the denomination less U.S.-centric and to strengthen the worldwide connection. These recommendations range from streamlining the Book of Discipline to focus on law and doctrine applying to the entire church to calling for discussion of creating “continental conferences” that would focus on regional church issues.
Clergy Pensions – There are two proposals to shift more of the risk in retirement preparation from annual conferences to individual clergy. The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits is asking delegates to choose between the two options.
Homosexuality – There are numerous petitions on the church’s stance and statements on homosexuality.
Immigration – Several church groups have put forth petitions calling for immigration reform and advocating for the change of tough immigration laws passed in several states.
An Act of Repentance and Healing for Indigenous Persons will occur on Friday, April 27, 2012. This worship service is intended to begin the process of reconciliation and continued healing from atrocities and injustices committed against Native Americans and indigenous peoples around the world.