UMC General Conference: What's the Deal?

The United Methodist Church's General Conference meets May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. Learn more about what that means for the UMC here.

  1. General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church. It meets once every four years.
  2. The General Conference approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs for the next four years and elects members of the Judicial Council.
  3. The bulk of General Conference happens in legislative committees, which receive petitions and proposals, debate them, and determine whether to approve, amend, combine or disapprove them for recommendation to the full body of General Conference.
  4. The legislative process begins with petitions and proposals from churches, agencies and organizations. At General Conference, there are 12 legislative committees that review and sort legislation before voting.
  5. There’s an app with a live feed where you can get up-to-date information about General Conference! 
  6. The Advance Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA) contains the agenda, rules, delegate listings, petitions, reports from the general agencies/commissions and study committees, and codes of conduct for delegates.
  7. The legislation process is involved:
    • Petitions are received by the Petitions Secretary and put in order.
    • The petitions are published in the Daily Christian Advocate (DCA). There is a new edition of the DCA everyday, containing news and transcripts from the conference proceedings.
    • Another committee assigns them to the correct legislative committee.
    • The legislative committee discusses/argues about the petition and makes a recommendation to the plenary session.
    • Reports are sent to the advocate and then put in order, again.
    • Then it goes to plenary where the delegates argue/practice holy conferencing and then vote/decide to do nothing.
  8. Track legislation here.
  9. Bishops attend, but cannot vote. They preside over each session.
  10. Look here to see who sponsors General Conference.  Projected cost of the 2016 General Conference is $10,532,800. The 2012 session cost $8,654,406.

  11. Christian Conferencing, explained on page 22 of the ADCA, has always been the goal of General Conference. This year, there is a proposal to use "Rule 44" on divisive issues instead of Roberts Rules of Order, because discussion and debate got heated during the 2012 General Conference.  The commission chair Judi Modlin Kenaston explains, “Rule 44 would cluster the delegates into small groups of a maximum of 15 people, who would discuss difficult issues in a discernment-type process rather than use the parliamentary process of Robert's Rules of Order.” Here is a youtube video that explains Rule 44. Rule 44 will be voted on before it is implemented into the voting process.
  12. Voting is anonymous, so we never know the way delegates vote. Only the final count is made public.
  13. The best way to get information about what’s really going on at General Conference is to social media. During the last General Conference, social media a huge impact. We expect it will do the same during this one.
  14. Hashtags to follow: #GCUMC  #UMCGC #GC2016 #DreamUMC #umclead #rethinkchurch #moyoliving

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Reflecting on UMC General Conference 2016

General Conference 2016 is May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. These reflection questions can be used as a starting point individually or within a group to consider the meanings, methods, and impacts of General Conference.

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  • Do you think General Conference matters?
  • Decisions made at General Conference set the official stance of the United Methodist Church. What are parts of the church that you care about and would like to see changed?
  • What is the role of clergy and laity who are not able to attend General Conference? How can you create change for the Global church using social media?
  • One of our Four Areas of Focus as United Methodists is Creating New and Renewed Congregations.  “The mission of The United Methodist Church is to “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” (Matt. 28:18-20; Matt. 22:36-40). This mission is achieved through vital congregations that equip and empower people to be disciples of Jesus Christ in their homes and communities around the world.”  How do we accomplish our mission and focuses?  #UMClead

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Take Action

Getting Involved: UMC General Conference 2016

General Conference 2016 is May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. It's not too late to get connected and involved!


  • Want to learn even more? There is a free online course to help you understand General Conference.
  • Do you like that the United Methodist Church is a connectional church? If so, connect.

Social Media can play a huge role in the happenings at General Conference. Share these facts, share your own thoughts, and keep following #GC2016 #UMCGC # GCUMC #DreamUMC #UMClead #rethinkchurch #moyoliving.


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