Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: General Conference begins May 10


Dear Friends,

General Conference begins on May 10!  Here are a few basic facts about this world-wide church gathering that is a part of the rhythm for the United Methodist Church.

What is General Conference?  This 10-day United Methodist meeting occurs every four years.  We are in Portland in 2016 and are scheduled to be in Minneapolis and Manila in 2020 and 2024 respectively.

General Conference is a time of discernment for the 850 or so delegates who gather from all around the world.  North Alabama will be represented by four clergy and four laity who were elected at our 2014 Annual Conference.

What happens at General Conference?   General Conference includes daily worship and the opportunity to meet and make lifetime friends!  Then there are the day long meetings –  first in the smaller legislative groups and then later in the plenaries.  Though many decisions are made at General Conference, only a small portion of what happens makes the headlines.  It is all important, though, as General Conference decisions affect how we order our lives together.

How does legislation get to General Conference?  Petitions come from a variety of sources, including individuals, local churches, annual conferences and general church agencies.  Most of the petitions are non-controversial while some address difficult and painful matters.

What do bishops do at General Conference?  Bishops have neither voice nor vote at General Conference.  However we are kept busy with preaching and presiding in the legislative and the plenary sessions.  In addition we are available on breaks and throughout the General Conference to offer pastoral care and prayer.  The Council of Bishops will participate in a round-the-clock prayer vigil beginning at midnight on May 10 and concluding at the end of General Conference.

How can you best keep up with General Conference news?

  • Livestream the General Conference from
  • Hear the whole story before drawing a conclusion about a particular action or resolution that passes or fails at General Conference.
  • Talk to your District Superintendent or the Conference Communication Office about additional questions you may have about General Conference.
  • Read a summary of the weeks events on the North Alabama Conference website after May 20. 

Yes, General Conference begins on May 10!  May the way we conference together at this worldwide United Methodist meeting honor our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ.

As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.

Debra Wallace-Padgett
Resident Bishop
North Alabama Conference

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