What is General Conference?
Every four years, elected United Methodist delegates from around the world assemble as the General Conference and connect in worship, prayer, Communion, fellowship, and the legislative work that shapes our shared life. General Conference delegates confer and vote on proposals for resourcing and regulating the life and work of the United Methodist Church (UMC). It also communicates the denomination’s official position on a variety of issues and makes binding decisions related to the connectional and missional life of the UMC. It is the only body authorized to speak for the UMC.
What has happened since General Conference 2019?
In 2019, there was a special called session of General Conference to determine a way forward through deep disagreements surrounding human sexuality. The delegates passed what is called the Traditional Plan by a margin of 438-384. The legislation reinforced discriminatory language concerning LGBTQ persons and introduced mandatory penalties for violations. Follow this link for more information regarding General Conference 2019. Since February, various groups have met in hopes of crafting plans for General Conference 2020 that will avoid a repeat of the rancor and frustrations in 2019. The Judicial Council also ruled on the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan passed in February.
When is the next General Conference?
General Conference 2020 will take place May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The following link provides official information and news.
Who are the delegates?
Each United Methodist annual conference (the regional body of churches) in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States elects an equal number of clergy and laity to be among the 862 delegates of General Conference. A formula determines the number of delegates from each conference. Our annual conference (Texas Annual Conference) will be sending 18 delegates to Minneapolis. Among the clergy delegates, former Westbury pastors are well represented. Pastors Tommy Williams and Romonica Malone-Wardley are both delegates to General Conference, and Pastor DeAndre Johnson is a delegate for Jurisdictional Conference, where Bishops are elected.
What proposals have been submitted for 2020?
This spreadsheet from a task force of the Northeast Annual Conference collects various proposals and offers some preliminary analysis. Among the several plans, two have gained the most attention. The Bard-Jones plan is co-authored by Bishops David Bard and Scott Jones (our Texas Annual Conference Bishop), and the Indianapolis Plan is written by a group of 12 clergy who represent traditional, centrist, and progressive views (Pastor John Stephens of Chapelwood UMC is among the group). Both plans lay groundwork for a split of some form in order to move past the debate.
How might this impact Westbury UMC?
It is much too early to tell. However, Westbury UMC will follow the path that allows us to live most fully into our vision to be a church for all people with more than enough love to go around.