The 2016 United Methodist General Conference will meet May 10-20, 2016, at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon.
General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church. It meets once every four years. Elected clergy (pastors) and lay (local church members) delegates from every Annual Conference and Central Conference will gather to worship, pray, debate and vote as one body. Bishops preside at the sessions of the General Conference but do not have the privilege of voice or vote in its deliberations.
The General Conference revises The Book of Discipline, which outlines the organization, beliefs and official policies of The United Methodist Church. Delegates also revise The Book of Resolutions, a volume declaring the church’s stance on a variety of social issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs.
There will be 864 delegates from around the world gathering under the theme of “Therefore Go,” which was selected by the Commission on the General Conference in 2013. It calls attention to the Great Commission found in Matt. 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The worldwide nature of the church is seen through the variety of languages at the General Conference gathering. Simultaneous voice translation for delegates will be available in English, French, German, KiSwahili, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Swahili. Printed materials will be available in English, French, KiSwahili and Portuguese.
General Conference includes time of worship and celebration, as well as time of discussion and voting on legislation. Click here for an online schedule.
- The Opening Worship Celebration will be Tuesday, May 10 at 2 p.m. (PDT) / 4 p.m. (CDT).
- The Episcopal Address presented by Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of the West Ohio Conference will be Wednesday, May 11 at 8:30 a.m. (PDT) / 10:30 a.m.(CDT).
- The Laity Address will be at 8:45 a.m. (PDT) / 10:45 a.m. (CDT) on Friday, May 13. This address will be presented by a group of laity. The main speaker is Dr. Scott Johnson of the Upper New York Annual Conference. Supporting him will be Courtney Fowler (Great Plains Conference), Brian Hammons (Missouri Conference), Warren Harper (Virginia Conference), Simon Mafunda (Zimbabwe East Conference) and Holly Neal (Tennessee Conference).
- The Young People’s Address will open the activities on Saturday, May 14 at 8:45 a.m.(PDT) / 10:45a.m. (CDT). The young people presenting this address are Peter Cibuabua of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chelsea Spyres of Detroit.
- On Tuesday, May 17 at 10:20 a.m. (PDT) / 12:20 p.m. (CDT) there will be a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.
- The success of the Imagine No Malaria campaign will be celebrated on Wednesday morning, May 18 at 9:45 a.m. (PDT) / 11:45 (CDT). This campaign to save lives launched in 2008 when the United Methodist Church set a goal of raising $75 million in an effort to combine integrated health infrastructure, education and advocacy to address death and the debilitating effects of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Also on May 18, delegates will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the highly successful DISCIPLE Bible Study at 4 p.m. (PDT) / 6 p.m.(CDT).
- During the evening of May 18, delegates will hear a report on the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, in which U.S. troops led by a Methodist preacher-turned-cavalry officer attacked unsuspecting Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians. They will welcome and honor descendants of the Sand Creek Massacre as part of continuing work of repentance for harm done to indigenous people.
There are approximately 1,000 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 12 legislative committees of the General Conference. A Committee can approve, disapprove, amend and combine their assigned petitions and then make recommendations to the full body 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. No legislation is final until the entire General Conference approves it.
Search for and track all the petitions before General Conference with the online Legislation Tracker.
Some of the topics on the General Conference agenda include:
To read more details go to www.umc.org/who-we-are/general-conference-2016-major-legislative-issues
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will feature live streaming whenever the conference is in session. This includes worship, plenary discussions and voting, and special celebrations. The feed will be available in English, French, and American Sign Language.
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