The 2016 General Conference, the top policy-making body of the United Methodist Church and the only body that officially speaks for the denomination, will meet in Portland, Oregon, on May 10-20, 2016. The 2016 General Conference will consist of approximately 850 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 the 2014 North Alabama Annual Conference (to be held June 1-3 at Bill Battle Coliseum on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College), North Alabama will elect four clergy and four lay delegates for the 2016 General Conference. This is a decrease from 2012 when the Conference elected six clergy and six lay delegates.
In addition to General Conference delegates, North Alabama will also elect four lay and four clergy delegates for the 2016 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference to be held at Lake Junaluska on July 13-16, 2016. 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.
North Alabama will also elect three reserve lay and three reserve clergy delegates for Jurisdictional Conference in accordance with the standing rules of the Annual Conference.
According to the 2012 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 more information, as well as the nomination form at www.northalabamaumc.org/2016laynom.
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 clergy 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 more information as well as the nomination form at www.northalabamaumc.org/2016clergynom.
In the past, Annual Conferences elected delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference at the Annual Conference session held the calendar year preceding General Conference. However, in 2012, the North Alabama Conference delegation to General Conference proposed legislation, which was adopted by the General Conference, to allow Annual Conferences to elect delegates two annual conference sessions before the General Conference session. (2012 Book of Discipline ¶ 502.3) Last June, the 2013 North Alabama Conference voted to hold delegate elections at the 2014 Annual Conference session.