General Conference Briefings Blog: April 27th, 2024

by | Apr 27, 2024 | General Conference Briefing

Have you ever been in a room filled with people singing with joy, energy, and excitement? This is a good description of worship at General Conference. It’s been moving to sing, pray, and worship with this global gathering of United Methodists these last several days. Business is happening, but it is wonderful to have a spiritual experience woven throughout it all. 

The rest of this week has included the Laity Address given by several lay delegates from around the world, plenary sessions including votes, and legislative committee work. The biggest news that has come out of General Conference so far that you may have already heard is that the delegates have voted in favor of moving forward the regionalization plan for the United Methodist Church. This would give the ability for more regional and contextual decisions to made for the different areas of the world. The work around regionalization is not done yet. The legislation will come to all of the Annual Conferences over the next year for approval. The work is not done, but this is a big step forward. 

Legislative Committees

The 14 legislative committees have started their work as well. I am in the Church and Society 1 Committee (there are 3 Church and Society Committees). All 3 committees have approved the revised Social Principles by an overwhelming majority. In my committee, our sections of the Social Principles, which is essentially the first third or so, passed 34 votes to 2 votes. This means that all of the Social Principles will come to the floor in the coming days. 

The legislative committees will continue work on Saturday, which is our late day. We are scheduled to work until 9:30 pm that day with a sabbath day with no General Conference events on Sunday. 

The spirit in the room remains hopeful and optimistic as we continue to move forward. A part of this spirit is the desire to make a difference in our world recognizing that as we gather for the conference there is violence, war, and exclusion that is happening. 

Peace and Justice

There is a strong showing of peace and justice ministries here at General Conference along with the inclusion of all of God’s children in the life of The United Methodist Church. I met a young woman named Doha who is originally from Palestine. She is here with the justice organization called United Methodists for Kairos Response (UMKR) which seeks, through nonviolent means and in partnership with Palestinian Christians, freedom, justice, and equity for all Palestinians and Israelis. We had a deep conversation on the situation happening in Gaza. Last night, UMKR sponsored a prayer rally just outside of the GC entrance to pray for peace. There were speakers from Africa, Palestine; some who were Christian, Muslim and Jewish. They all prayed for peace. 

For far too long, the church has done harm to our LGBTQ siblings. This General Conference seems to recognize this harm. The language we use and the barriers we set up is harmful and hurtful and this General Conference, so far, seems to recognize this harm. 

It reminded me of our call to “do no harm” as it’s stated in the General Rules of the UMC. At some point, likely early next week, the General Conference will consider petitions that will remove harmful language from our official documents. I pray we will “do no harm.” 

Again, as we have met this week, I have heard so many languages spoken and the beautiful diversity of God’s people on full display here at General Conference. Our differences are not barriers to unity, but an opportunity to experience the fullness of God’s creation and the way that the Holy Spirit unites across many differences. 

May we be united in our desire to love, to love God, and to do no harm. (I’ll stop writing a sermon now). Keep all of us in Charlotte in your prayers as we continue the work of General Conference.