Wednesday, April 13, 2016

GC2016: How General Conference works

Exerpts from the Guide to General Conference 2016

General Conference, the top legislative body of The United Methodist Church, meets May 10-20, 2016, at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. The center is billed as the largest convention facility in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. Some 864 delegates, elected from around the world, will gather to set policy and direction for the church, as well as handle other important business. Meeting every four years, General Conference is the only entity that speaks for the denomination. The United Methodist Book of Discipline, updated every four years, incorporates changes made by General Conference.

The theme of the 2016 General Conference is “Therefore Go.” The Commission on the General Conference selected the theme in 2013. United Methodist Communications developed the logo as an action-themed graphic that ties to the roots of The United Methodist Church in the “Great Commission” (Matthew 28:19-20). That passage reads, “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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Mobile App and Online Coverage
The 2016 mobile app is available for both Android and iOS devices. The iOS app, available on the iTunes store, will work on all Apple devices running iOS 7.1 or above. The Android app, available on the Google Play store, works on all Android devices running Android 2.3.3 or above. The apps will help interested people keep up-to-date on the latest developments as General Conference nears. Additional features will be added [such as] maps, schedules and petition tracking. The final update is scheduled for April 2016.

Delegates and others can follow the proceedings on the General Conference website at umc.org/gc2016. You can also follow General Conference on Facebook and Twitter using #UMCGC. Features will include news coverage in multiple languages, with daily summaries, feature stories and videos, such as interviews with delegates, volunteers and other key individuals. All plenary sessions, worship services, episcopal and laity addresses, and other special events will be live streamed. Users can track petitions and obtain general information about the legislative process. Plenary transcripts and consent calendars will post  each day.

In 2016, the Advance Daily Christian Advocate will also have a digital component and be available in the electronic publication (EPUB) format.

Main Tasks
As the top policymaking body of the global United Methodist Church, General Conference is the only entity that speaks for the 12.3 million-member denomination.

During the 11-day session, delegates will revise The Book of Discipline, which regulates the manner in which local churches, annual conferences and general agencies are organized. The Discipline includes policies regarding church membership, ordination, administration, property and judicial procedures. The assembly may modify most paragraphs by a simple majority vote, but amending the Constitution of The United Methodist Church requires a two-thirds affirmative vote, followed by a two-thirds affirmative vote of the aggregate number of members voting in annual conference sessions. Revoking or changing the Articles of Religion or Confession of Faith requires a two-thirds affirmative vote of the delegates, and three-fourths of the annual conference members must concur.

Delegates also revise the Book of Resolutions, a volume declaring the church’s stance on social justice issues. The statements in the book are considered instructive and persuasive but are not binding on members.

In addition, the assembly approves plans and budgets for churchwide programs for the next four years and elects members of the Judicial Council and University Senate.

For more information about GC2016 and how it works visit tinyurl.com/zntxbqz

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