By Rev. Mary K. Huycke
General Conference is our denomination’s ultimate 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 head our team May 5-15, 2020 in Minneapolis, MN and serve as part of the support team for the Special Called Session of General Conference February 23-26, 2019 in St Louis, MO.
General Conference days are long and demanding. Days start early, with your first meeting typically at 7am, and run late into the night. Long days in committee meetings and plenary gatherings are fueled by 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 will begin soon after the election at the 2018 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Session this June, as pre-conference materials for the Special Session starts to arrive, primarily through electronic means. You’ll study and evaluate the legislation and related background information. Following our Annual Conference Session in 2019, materials will arrive for the 2020 General Conference. You’ll meet face-to-face with the others elected to our PNW delegation several times prior to each of the General Conference Sessions. In addition, delegates from the Western Jurisdiction periodically gather electronically to confer.
Your responsibility doesn’t end with General Conference 2020. Part of your responsibility is preparing and coordinating the PNW delegation to the Western Jurisdiction Conference, July 15-18, 2020. The primary work there is the election of at least two new bishops. Western Jurisdiction representatives to the General Boards and Agencies will be chosen, and your name will be part of the pool of those considered.
Between 2020-2024, you, as our clergy or our lay delegate, will serve on the Western Jurisdiction Episcopacy Committee, meeting once a year in locations throughout the Jurisdiction and serving on one or more sub-committees. This group provides support and oversight to our episcopal leaders in the west. And finally, you’ll be part of preparing our Annual Conference for petitions and the election of the 2024 delegation.
Leadership at this level is a serious commitment. Delegates help shape not only the rules of our Church, but our culture. It is hard, but fulfilling work. We invite clergy and lay members of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference into a time of discernment. Is this you? If not, then who?
Mary Huycke serves as superintendent for the Seven Rivers District. She is also the first elected clergy person to General Conference from the PNW and serves as chair of the Western Jurisdiction Episcopacy Committee.