Thursday, April 26, 2012

General Conference Meets

General Conference Meets As many of you already know the United Methodist Church is organized in Conferences. The local church is the Charge Conference- charged with responsibility to do ministry in the local community while being connected to other United Methodist Churches throughout by Conferences. In Spartanburg, we are located in the Spartanburg District which takes in most of three counties (there are 12 districts in SC). The districts make up the SC Annual Conference. Each Annual Conference is presided over by a Bishop. Annual Conferences are gathered into Jurisdictions. We are in the Southeastern Jurisdiction with our regional offices located at Lake Junaluska Assembly in Lake Junaluska, NC. One every four years, each Annual Conference elects an equal number of clergy and lay delegates to represent us at the General Conference. General Conference is meeting now in Tampa, Florida. The General Conference sets the agenda for the entire United Methodist Church. At General Conference there is much prayer, worship, and reporting. There is planning for the future of our great church. General Conference is the only body in the church that can speak for the church. After General Conference, our Book of Discipline is written and published for our guidance. Most of the Book of Discipline cannot change. Our doctrines and beliefs are not changeable. However, there is always some work to do in terms of structure and process and living out our faith in the world. This year’s theme is “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Over a thousand delegates from all over the world are meeting. They will entertain and act on over 1,100 petitions, set policies, approve plans and budgets, and handle other business. Simultaneous voice translation for delegates will be available in English, French, German, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Swahili. If you wish to follow the conference, you may do so at This year the General Conference will look at some sweeping structural change. They will debate whether to do away with guaranteed appointments for clergy. They will deal with issues of pensions and health benefits, just like every other institution. They will send our missionaries. They will work and pray for the discernment of the Holy Spirit on issues that affect us all. I have always been proud to be a United Methodist. The challenge of our great church as all churches is to continue to do the work of Christ in a world where things are changing so fast that it is difficult to know how to move forward. So, I will be praying and I ask you to be praying also for your local church, for your pastors and staff, and for the delegates who represent us at General Conference. Pray that we will do whatever is necessary to continue to make disciples of Jesus Christ. That, after all, is our major task, our only task. Blessings! Dave Nichols

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