By Jim Nibbelink
The 2016 General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) will meet in Portland, Oregon beginning May 10th. Our Desert Southwest Conference (DSC) delegation is chaired by Jim Nibbelink. Rev. Dan Hurlbert is a voting clergy delegate and our elected reserve delegates are Billie Fidlin and Rev. Anthony Tang. Several of DSC’s Jurisdictional Conference delegates will also be traveling to Portland to participate and most will be blogging about General Conference and their experience. The Jurisdictional Conference delegates are Deaconess Marjie Hrabe, Diana Volere, Paul Gomez, Matthew Harris, Rev. Beth Rambikur, Rev. Sharon Ragland, Rev. Javier Olivares, and Rev. Nancy Cushman. The group of delegates have been meeting together in preparation for the conference, discussing key issues that face our denomination, planning for communicating with everyone back home, and engaging in prayer for each other and for this key gathering of United Methodists from around the world. During General Conference, 864 delegates, half lay and half clergy, will review United Methodist policies and perspectives found in our current Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions. Over 1,000 petitions were submitted as changes to our policies for the next four years.
Some of the issues that General Conference will consider include:
- how the church will organize and govern itself in an increasingly complex world;
- the process by which clergy are ordained;
- varied perspectives on important social justice concerns;
- policies for managing the investments of The UMC;
- a new (digital!) hymnal;
- a new four-year budget;
- and new ways to define a congregation.
A highlight of every General Conference is the rich and vibrant series of worship events that under-gird the gathering. Music that reflects our United Methodist heritage as well as our wonderful diversity, dynamic preaching by our Bishops, uplifting liturgy, and joyful participation by delegates and observers makes worship at General Conference a very special experience.
For those who would like to follow the activities of General Conference as they happen, United Methodist Communications is providing a website (www.umc.org/gc2016) that enables viewers to “tune in” and experience the action. Live streaming, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media will be used to tell the story as The United Methodist family reunion gathers to celebrate, pray, and talk with each other about the future of our denomination. Search for #UMCGC and stay tuned!
To find out more about our Desert Southwest delegates visit www.dscumc.org/2016-delegates .