Saturday, February 24, 2018

Who Makes Decisions for The United Methodist Church?

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Who makes decisions for The United Methodist Church if there is no one person in charge? Good question. The only body that can set official policy and speak for the denomination
is the General Conference.
The General Conference is an international body of nearly 1,000 delegates that meets every four years. The delegates are elected by annual conferences (at annual conference sessions) to attend General Conference. Last year at annual conference, our church delegates elected 16 delegates to General Conference. They represent all annual conferences around the world. Half of the delegates are laity (non‐clergy members), half are clergy.
Bishops attend the General Conference but cannot vote. Different bishops serve as presiding officers during the conference. Other bishops cannot speak unless permission is specifically granted by the delegates.
During General Conference, delegates discuss and vote on petitions and resolutions proposed by individuals, agencies, annual conferences, and other groups within the denomination. These actions result in a revision of the Book of Discipline, the denomination's book of law, and Book of Resolutions, policies of the denomination on current social issues.
It is at General Conference where delegates wrestle with today's issues in light of scriptural teachings and the church's understanding of that teaching. Here is where the church's official stands and church policies are made regarding such issues as human sexuality, abortion, war and peace, as well as determination of ministries and funding.
Delegates from outside of the United States include those from Central Africa, Congo, West Africa, Central and Southern Europe, Germany, Northern Europe and Eurasia and the Philippines.
General Conferences are held in years divisible by 4, such as 2008, 2012, 2016, etc.