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A pastoral message from the Western Jurisdiction College of Bishops

The WJ College of Bishops released this message for the Church on May 6, 2024, following the completion of the historic (and postponed) 2020 General Conference.

General Conference 2020(24) Resource Page – UPDATED

With voting delegates from across the globe, The United Methodist Church gathered April 23 – May 3, 2024, in Charlotte, North Carolina, for its delayed 2020 General Conference. The theme was “Be still and know…” and the results were a historic course correction for the denomination.

Together, delegates considered revisions to the denomination’s laws and structure, adopted resolutions on current moral, social, and economic issues, and set a budget for missional priorities and programming. As the top policymaking body of the global United Methodist Church, General Conference is the only entity that speaks for the denomination.

A lot had changed since the last regular session of General Conference in 2016 and the disruptive Special Session held in 2019. For example, where a slim majority voted to keep in place language barring the full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ members, those prohibitions were removed from the Book of Discipline by an overwhelming majority of the delegates.

Understanding that there have been consistent efforts to distribute disinformation from groups and individuals eager to sow division, this page will provide summaries of the work down at the postponed 2020 General Conference and what it means for the church moving forward together.

The Pacific Northwest Conference had two voting delegates and two reserves at the General Conference, with other delegation members traveling in support. They worked collaboratively and strategically with other delegates in the Greater Northwest Area and across the Western Jurisdiction.

Learning more about what General Conference accomplished

Legislative Recap: General Conference 2020

Delegates to the postponed 2020 General Conference were busy, passing hundreds of petitions, often in an overwhelming fashion. This legislative summary provides an overview of the most impactful items that were approved.

GC delegates pass budget, reduce US bishops

General Conference delegates passed a general budget with a bottom line that could change depending on how high collections are over the next two years. But no matter what happens, the total budget will be significantly smaller than what General Conference approved in 2016. The body also approved the distribution of 32 U.S. bishops.

WJ to keep 5 bishops, will receive 2 from elsewhere

While the General Conference did not reduce the number of bishops set to serve in the Western Jurisdiction, it did cut the overall number serving in the U.S. to the active number (after retirements) meaning there will be no elections and some transfers will be required.

Church removes ban on same-sex weddings

Delegates to The United Methodist Church approved four changes to church law that together both end remaining bans related to LGBTQ ministry and protect the rights of pastors to choose which weddings to perform or not to perform.

Church ends 52-year-old anti-gay stance

General Conference delegates supported a revision of the Social Principles that deletes the phrase “the practice of homosexuality… is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The 1972 General Conference added the phrase to The United Methodist Church’s Social Principles, and it has been a source of conflict in the decades since.

40-year ban on gay clergy struck down

In an emotional morning, General Conference eliminated the ban on “self-avowed practicing” gay clergy — a prohibition that dates to 1984. After the vote, many hugged and more than a few cried, in a mass release of joy for those who had pushed, some for decades, to make The United Methodist Church fully inclusive.

Wrap-up Video: General Conference 2020

The postponed 2020 General Conference is over, but people throughout the world are talking about the legislative gathering’s outcomes and the future of The UMC. Learn about legislation, worship, events and all that occurred each day with a series of engaging videos and be part of the conversation.

Deacons may preside at sacraments in their appointments

In what presiding Bishop David Graves called a “historic moment,” General Conference passed new legislation granting authority to deacons to preside at the sacraments in their ministry settings. This means deacons can now offer communion and conduct baptisms where they have been appointed to serve, whether that is a church, outreach ministry or mission.

General Conference reduces requested giving

After vigorous debate, delegates voted to reduce the base rate for The United Methodist Church’s apportionment formula — a key component used in calculating requested annual conference apportionments. Ultimately, delegates voted to reduce the base to 2.6% for 2025 and 2026. If the apportionment collection rate is 90% or higher in those years, the base rate will increase to 2.9% for 2027 and 2028.

New clergy retirement plan approved

General Conference delegates have supported the request by Wespath, The United Methodist Church’s pension and benefits agency, to move to a defined contribution retirement plan for U.S. clergy. Wespath leaders said the denomination’s steady numerical decline over many years required a new, sustainable approach to supporting retired clergy.

Disaffiliation ends, regionalization moves forward

The UMC’s focus on disaffiliation has come to an end and a new push for regionalization is just beginning. General Conference delegates supported the end of a disaffiliation policy added by the special 2019 General Conference and used by more than 7,600 U.S. churches to leave the denomination. Delegates also adopted the last of the regionalization petitions aimed at giving church regions equal standing in decision-making.

Climate justice legislation fares well overall

The majority of legislation supported by climate justice activists within The UMC was passed by General Conference. But they were unable to get the body to require that UM institutions, including Wespath — the denomination’s pension and benefits agency — divest from fossil fuel company stocks.

UMC Bishops to promote ratification of Regionalization Legislation

The United Methodist Council of Bishops has committed to vigorously supporting the delegates from around the world who have overwhelmingly passed legislation regarding the regionalization of our worldwide church. Regionalization will allow for adaptive evangelism, emphasizes the UMC’s worldwide nature by de-centering the U.S., and will strengthen our connection.

Bishops proclaim message of hope following General Conference

There’s a bright hope for the future of The United Methodist Church. That’s the message shared by the United Methodist Council of Bishops’ new president, Bishop Tracy S. Malone, and immediate past president, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, at the conclusion of the 2020 postponed General Conference.

Incompatible no more: Delegates celebrate adoption of revised social principles

Tears of gratitude flowed again from the plenary floor – and perhaps a few sighs of relief were released – as the final pieces of the revised Social Principles were adopted. “And just like that, we’re no longer incompatible,” said Bishop Karen Oliveto, at a gathering of supporters outside of the Charlotte Convention Center.

Apology OK’d for church role in Hawaiian history

Hawaiian United Methodists are cheering the decision by General Conference to approve a formal apology for the denomination’s role in the overthrow of the 1893 Hawaiian monarchy. A task force of the California-Pacific Conference will work with the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race on the official apology.

UMC takes a stand against Christian persecution in India

Delegates to the General Conference as in met in Charlotte, NC, in April 2024, passed a petition expressing their solidarity with oppressed religious minorities, including Christians, in India. In a short video produced by Rev. David Valera, Pieter Friedrich and Rev. Neal offer insight into the problem and the importance of taking action to eduction and advocate for change.

The impact of UMC TV in the Philippines and beyond

UMC TV, a media team which supports 26 annual conference and three episcopal areas in the Philippines, has a mission field of over 200,000 United Methodists. Oregon-Idaho Communications Manager Kristen Caldwell and and video producers Rev. David Valera and Jerome Mercado share how this young adult team’s inspiring ministry expands well beyond communications.
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