The 2012 General Conference, the top policy-making body of the United Methodist Church and the only official “voice” for the denomination, will meet in Tampa on April 24-May 2, 2012. The 2012 General Conference will consist of nearly 1000 delegates from all over the world who will vote on petitions and resolutions and revise the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. Each annual conference is allotted an equal number of lay and clergy delegates to General Conference based on the total number of laity and clergy in each conference. At our 2011 Annual Conference (to be held June 2-4 at Asbury UMC in Madison Alabama), North Alabama will elect six clergy and six lay delegates for the 2012 General Conference. This is a decrease from 2008 when we elected seven clergy and seven lay delegates.
In addition to General Conference delegates, we will also elect 6 lay and 6 clergy delegates for the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference to be held at Lake Junaluska on July 17-21, 2012. One of the important tasks of the Jurisdictional Conference is to elect and assign Bishops. Those elected to the Jurisdictional Conference serve as reserve delegates to General Conference in order of election.
We will also elect seven reserve lay and seven reserve clergy delegates for Jurisdictional Conference in accordance with the standing rules of our conference.
According to the 2008 Book of Discipline, laypersons who have been a member of a United Methodist church within the bounds of the North Alabama Conference for at least two years and active for at least four years are eligible to serve as delegates. North Alabama has a system of self-nomination for laypersons interested in serving on the delegation. You can find a link to the lay nomination form on the home page of the Conference website.
All clergy in full connection (elders, deacons and associate members) are eligible to be elected as delegates. In 2008, North Alabama instituted a process of self-nomination for clergy interested in serving. This process does not in any way preclude the election of delegates who have not participated in the self-nomination process, but it does allow those interested to share their names and vision as well as their commitment to serve with the Conference. You can find a link to the clergy nomination form on the home page of the Conference website.
This year’s annual conference will be an exciting time of worship, business and learning as well as electing delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Our speaker this year will be Brian McLaren speaking about Evangelism in the 21st century. Our planning team and the staff at Asbury are hard at work planning some wonderful worship experiences. Bishop Willimon said, “I’m so pleased that we showed, at our last election of delegates for AC, that we are capable of having an election in an efficient, timely manner. Thanks to Dale Cohen and Lori Carden for making our Annual Conference gatherings so meaningful and efficient.”
We look forward to seeing you at Asbury in June!