General Conference Delegates: What You’re In For
By Joan Holms with Amory Peck
The year 2016 will bring us the opportunity to be more fully engaged in the workings of the United Methodist Church than any other time in recent history.
For the first time, General Conference, the quadrennial gathering of United Methodists from around the world, will be held in Portland, Ore. and we in the Pacific Northwest will play an important role. Participation by members of PNW is vital to the success of this conference and there will be numerous volunteer opportunities available.
This summer we will elect a lay/clergy team (and alternates) to represent us at General Conference. At the Annual Conference’s laity session on Wednesday, June 24 at 7:00 p.m., laypersons that are running for election will have an opportunity to speak briefly to the gathered laity so that we may learn a little more about those whose names will appear on the ballot. Lay members who are voting members of Annual Conference will elect delegates during the plenary session at Annual Conference.
For more details about what it means to be a Delegate to General Conference please see the article by Amory Peck, below. Amory served this conference as Conference Lay Leader and she represented us well at General Conference in both 2008 and 2012 – so who better to explain the role?
What You’re In For
By Amory Peck
PNW Conference Lay Leader Joan Holms and I were chatting over lunch recently and I started talking about the scope of being a delegate to General Conference. She asked that I share those thoughts with you.
General Conference is our denomination’s supreme legislative body. Being part of that deliberative process is a great honor, a fascinating experience, and a heavy responsibility. If you chose to run and are elected as a delegate, you’ll be in Portland, Ore., May 10–20, 2016. The days will be long, really long, and demanding. They will include incredible worship and amazing connections with other United Methodists from around the world. You will be stretched, challenged, and, at times, exasperated by the business of the gathering.
Your work as a delegate will begin soon after the election at PNW’s Annual Conference this June, as pre-conference materials start to arrive. I’m assuming that most everything will come electronically, in contrast to the stacks of printed material we received for earlier sessions. You’ll need to study and evaluate all the prospective legislation and related background information. You’ll meet face-to-face with the others elected to our PNW delegation several times prior to arriving in Portland.
Your responsibility won’t end at the conclusion of General Conference since you are automatically part of the delegation to the Western Jurisdiction Conference, July 12-16, 2016, in Scottsdale, Ariz. During those days you’ll participate in the election of a new bishop. Western Jurisdiction representatives to the General Boards and Agencies will be chosen, and your name will be part of the pool of those considered.
Finally, between 2016-2020 you, as our clergy or our lay delegate, will be serving on the Western Jurisdiction Episcopacy Committee, meeting once a year in locations throughout the Jurisdiction.
As Joan and I were talking, it seemed important that everyone have this information. Serving as a delegate is a demanding, rewarding, challenging, life-changing experience – as you consider whether to run, you need to know what you’re in for.
Amory Peck has served on the General Conference Delegation in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012.
Joan Holms serves as the Conference Lay Leader for the PNWUMC.