The United Methodist General Conference is now in its second week. Legislative committee work has wrapped up and the delegates have had a day of rest. The second week is when delegates consider the small percentage of petitions that make it to the General Conference floor that have been reviewed (and perhaps edited) and recommended by the various committees.

Last week, we offered a list of important reminders as we approached General Conference. If you missed the inaugural reminder list last week, check it out here. As we move into the second week of General Conference, here are seven more important reminders for your consideration:Constitutional amendments to the Book of Discipline first require a two-thirds vote of the delegates followed by a two-thirds aggregate vote of the annual conferences the following year. Other changes to the Book of Discipline require only a majority vote of the General Conference and are not referred back to the annual conferences for approval.

  1. The Constitution comprises the first 61 paragraphs of the Book of Discipline.  The Constitution includes the organizational structures (i.e., general conference, jurisdictional conferences, central conferences, annual conferences), restrictive rules (i.e. limitations to what the various bodies can do or change), boundaries of the various organizational bodies, episcopal supervision rules, judicial council rules, and how amendments to the constitution shall be made. There is strong support for constitutional amendments for organizational changes that would allow regional contextualization. Remember, any constitutional amendments passed by the General Conference must also be approved by two-thirds of the annual conferences’ lay members for it to take effect. Therefore, it will be quite some time before the final outcomes of any constitutional amendments are known.
  2. The UMC Social Principles can be found ❡160 -166. “The Social Principles are a prayerful and thoughtful effort to speak to the human issues in the contemporary world from a sound biblical and theological foundation as historically demonstrated in United Methodist traditions.”  (UMC Book of Discipline 2016) The broad topics covered in Social Principles include the natural world, the nurturing community, the social community, the economic community, and the political community. There is strong support for revisions to the Social Principles. 
  3. The Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church became the United Methodist Church on April 23rd, 1968.  The first day of the 2024 (or the rescheduled 2020) General Conference was April 23rd – exactly 56 years after the formation of this new denomination. There is a strong sense of revival amongst the delegates. God is once again doing a new thing! Let’s keep our eyes, minds, and hearts open to follow!
  4. Keep the delegates, presiding bishops, and support staff in your prayers. This is holy, but grueling work. May they be bold, courageous, and spirit-led!
  5. No matter what happens, remember the majority of people in your neighborhoods, towns, and cities still won’t have a relationship with Jesus. The local mission field is where disciples are made and matured. 
  6. The majority of America could care less what happens at General Conference. Yet, 80% of Americans are spiritually open but many report loneliness and a desire for community.  How will we respond to those who want to freely explore their faith in a community without judgment or being told how to believe?