Monday, February 22, 2016

A word from your delegation

The Susquehanna Conference Delegation for the 2016 General Conference
and / or the 2016 Northeast Jurisdictional Conference.
By Lisa Bender, Head Lay Delegate, and Rev. Larry Leland, Head Clergy Delegate

Thank you. Each of us is honored to have been elected to represent Susquehanna Conference General Conference in Portland, Oregon, May 10-20 and/or at the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference in Lancaster, Pa., July 11-15. We are committed to faithfully serve as delegates and to connect you and the entire annual conference with the life and work of the United Methodist Church.

What have we been doing? Our main task as a whole delegation of 20 plus four alternates is to discern who God may be calling our jurisdiction to elect as new Episcopal leaders in the Northeastern Jurisdiction. That process begins with the delegation going through a process of inviting, interviewing, and deciding whether or not to endorse potential episcopal candidate(s), which would then come to the Annual Conference for endorsement. Each Annual Conference goes through a similar process, and just prior to Jurisdictional Conference we will receive biographies of all those who were endorsed across the Northeastern Jurisdiction. These are the people we will interview and ultimately elect during Jurisdictional Conference. The number needed will be decided at General Conference.

What about preparing for General Conference? The ten General Conference delegates and four alternates are learning all we can about what to expect in Portland, where the theme is “Therefore Go.” We selected our legislative committees. We will each read thick volumes of legislation and an avalanche of mail requesting us to vote this way or that way. We are studying the key topics we expect will help shape the 2016 General Conference as we look to the future. Some of them are: church structure and governance; the church’s approach to ministry to and with LGBTQ persons; and the way we live out our call to be the church universal, especially in our denomination and global connections. We invite you to also become educated about these important issues and to follow the process our denomination uses to make decisions.

What will happen in Portland? Intense committee work for the first week will help us to meet other United Methodists from around the world. Forty percent of delegates come from outside the United States. Everything we do will be translated into eight languages. Lasting friendships will be formed. The days will be long, the work often difficult and painful, but we trust the Holy Spirit will be present to lead us to a new place through inspiring worship and celebrations of our mission and ministry. We have been warned to take care of ourselves - to get enough sleep, to drink lots of water, to get some exercise, and to eat right. When we need a break, our alternates will step in for part of a day or for a full day.

We covet your prayers and connections. Some of you have shared that you are praying for us as we pray for each other. We need those prayers! Others have asked how to contact us. We want to hear from you. Our email addresses are on the Conference website. While we represent Susquehanna Conference, each one of us is encouraged to make our own informed and prayerful decisions, and your thoughts are welcome. Our prayer is that decisions we make will help our great denomination remain vital and whole as we reach out to an often hurting world to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

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