2016 General and Western Jurisdiction Conference Q&A

2016 GENERAL AND JURISDICTIONAL CONFERENCE DELEGATE INFORMATION

Deadline for online publication of “Availability to Serve” as a delegate to General and/or Jurisdictional Conference: April 10

At the 2015 Rocky Mountain Annual Conference session, members will elect delegates to the 2016 General Conference and Western Jurisdictional Conference.

This Q&A is designed to help members understand the nomination and election processes and includes information on the application process for those who wish to apply to be delegate candidates.

The Conference Secretary is now accepting applications from those who are available for the role of delegate. The hope is that the pool of availability will reflect the diversity of the Conference and The United Methodist Church. Men and women of all ages and ethnic, racial, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds are urged to be available.

To help members determine if they are called and able to serve in this vital role, please refer to the section below titled “What is required and expected of elected delegates?“.

Clergy and Laity may only nominate from their respective class. Clergy members in full connection, active or retired, are automatically eligible to be elected as clergy delegates.


What is General Conference?

General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church; it meets once every four years, and consists of elected delegates from around the world. The responsibilities of the General Conference include:

  • To receive and act upon petitions and resolutions.
  • To review and revise The Book of Discipline and The Book of Resolutions.
  • To set missional priorities for the denomination.
  • To set the quadrennial budget for The UMC and its agencies.
  • To elect members to certain agencies and responsibilities.

When/Where is the 2016 General Conference?

May 10-20, 2016 at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Ore. The theme is "Therefore Go" – based on Matthew 28:19-20.

How many delegates will go to GC 2016?

The Constitution of The United Methodist Church allows for the General Conference to have anywhere from 600 to 1,000 delegates.

At its October 2013 meeting, the Commission on the General Conference voted to reduce the total number of delegates for the 2016 General Conference to 864; that's down from 988 in 2012.

The commission also reduced the number of legislative committees for 2016 from 13 to 12. The commission voted to combine the work previously done by the Higher Education and Ministry Committee — which deals with petitions concerning seminaries, ordination and clergy — and the Superintendency Committee — which deals with petitions concerning district superintendents and bishops.

Where are the delegates from?

In 2016, 58.3 percent will be from the U.S., 30 percent from Africa, 5.8 percent from the Philippines, and 4.6 percent from Europe, with the remainder, 1.3 percent, from the concordat churches (The United Methodist Church has special covenant relationships with the Methodist traditions in Great Britain, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and the Caribbean and the Americas).

How many delegates from Rocky Mountain will go to 2016 General Conference?

There will be 6 delegates total: three clergy and three laity. There will be two clergy alternates and two lay alternates (the first two clergy/laity elected after the General Conference delegates have been elected; these folks also serve as delegates to the Western Jurisdictional Conference).

How is that number determined?

The number of delegates per Annual Conference is calculated based on the requirement for one lay and one clergy delegate for each Annual Conference, with additional delegates assigned according to a formula that considers the total clergy and lay membership per Conference.

2012 Book of Discipline ¶ 34. Article III. The annual conference shall elect clergy and lay delegates to the General Conference and to its jurisdictional or central conference in the manner provided in this section, Articles IV and V. The persons first elected up to the number determined by the ratio for representation in the General Conference shall be representatives in that body. Additional delegates shall be elected to complete the number determined by the ratio for representation in the jurisdictional or central conference, who, together with those first elected as above, shall be delegates in the jurisdictional or central conference. The additional delegates to the jurisdictional or central conference shall in the order of their election be the reserve delegates to the General Conference. The annual conference shall also elect reserve clergy and lay delegates to the jurisdictional or central conference as it may deem desirable. These reserve clergy and lay delegates to the jurisdictional or central conferences may act as reserve delegates to the General Conference when it is evident that not enough reserve delegates are in attendance at the General Conference.

See a breakdown of delegate numbers

What is the Western Jurisdictional Conference?

In the U.S., The United Methodist Church is divided into five areas known as jurisdictions: Western Jurisdictional, Southeastern, North Central, South Central and Western. These provide some program and leadership training events to support the annual conferences. These Jurisdictional Conferences meet a few months after General Conference that same year; their responsibilities include:

  • To elect eligible persons to the role of bishop.
  • To fix the geographic boundaries of annual conferences within their respective jurisdiction, when necessary.
  • To fix the appointment of individual bishops within their jurisdiction.
  • To elect members to general and jurisdictional agencies and responsibilities
  • To set the quadrennial budget for the jurisdiction.
  • To receive and act upon reports, recommendations, requests, petitions and resolutions from groups within the jurisdiction.

When/Where is the 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference?

The next Western Jurisdictional Conference will be held from July 13-16, 2016 at the Paradise Valley Doubletree Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

How many delegates from Rocky Mountain will go to the 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference?

There will be 18 delegates total: the 6 General Conference delegates and six clergy and six laity Western Jurisdictional delegates. There will be six alternates – three clergy, three laity – elected as well, each seated by the order of their election.   An equal number of lay and clergy are elected. The first elected clergy will chair the Rocky Mountain Conference Delegation in 2016.

¶34 to ¶36 of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church outline the procedure for electing delegates and their qualifications.

Who's eligible to be a delegate to General/Western Jurisdiction Conferences?

Clergy delegates must be: Clergy members (deacons and elders) in full connection

Lay delegates, who can be any age, must be:

  • professing members of The United Methodist Church for at least two years immediately preceding their election
  • active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years immediately preceding their election
  • members of a local church within the Annual Conference electing them at the time of the General/WESTERN JURISDICTIONAL conferences

Who can vote for clergy delegates to General/Western Jurisdictional Conferences?

  • Deacons and elders in full connection
  • Associate members
  • Provisional members who have completed all of their educational requirements
  • Local pastors who have completed course of study or an M. Div. degree and have served a minimum of two consecutive years under appointment immediately preceding the election.

¶ 35. Article IV.—The clergy delegates to the General Conference and to the jurisdictional or central conference shall be elected from the clergy members in full connection and shall be elected by the clergy members of the annual conference who are deacons and elders in full connection, associate members, and those provisional members who have completed all of their educational requirements and local pastors who have completed course of study or an M. Div. degree and have served a minimum of two consecutive years under appointment immediately preceding the election.

Who can vote for lay delegates to General/Western Jurisdictional Conference?

The lay members (including equalization members) of the Annual Conference.

What is required to apply to be a clergy delegate?

All clergy members in full connection are eligible to be GC/Western Jurisdictional delegates.  During the first ballot of the clergy election, votes can be cast for any clergy member in full connection.

Statements of Availability for clergy delegates to General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference that are submitted by April 10 will be included in the Pre-Conference Reports online.  Those persons who submit a Statement of Availability by April 10 will be allowed an opportunity to address or be introduced at the clergy session of the annual conference session during which the elections are held.  Upon approval of a majority of the clergy members present and voting at the clergy session, other eligible clergy may address or be introduced at the clergy session.  The Presiding Officer of the clergy session shall determine the manner and time of either an address or introduction.

How do I indicate my willingness to serve as a clergy delegate?

Statements of Availability (100 words or fewer) should be submitted to Conference Secretary, Rev. Elizabeth McVicker, via email to GCJCdelegation@rmcumc.com.

Suggested topics are:

  • Why do you seek election to the Rocky Mountain Conference delegation?
  • What is your passion in ministry and how do you live this out?
  • How will your passion in ministry inform your decisions if elected?
  • What are the one or two most significant questions for this General Conference and how would you respond to them?

The Conference Secretary is aware that not all clergy wish to be considered for this role. If you do not feel you are called to serve as a delegate, please email the Conference Secretary to remove your name from the first ballot: Rev. Elizabeth McVicker GCJCdelegation@rmcumc.com. Once a name has been withdrawn, it cannot be placed back on the ballot during the election process.

What is required to apply to be a lay delegate?

Lay members who wish to apply should complete the attached Statement of Availability form and submit it by April 10 to be included in the Pre-Conference Materials online.

Rules for Lay Delegates from the 2014 Rocky Mountain Standing Rules and Operating Procedures, page 312

2.3. Election of Lay Delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences

2.3.1. The election for lay and clergy General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates from the Rocky Mountain Conference shall be held at the annual conference session within the calendar year one year preceding the year of the General Conference session.

2.3.2. Eligibility: ¶36. Article V. The Constitution. The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 2012. "The lay delegates to the General and Jurisdictional or central Conferences shall be elected by the lay members of the annual conference or provisional annual conference without regard to age; provided such delegates shall have been professing members of The United Methodist Church for at least two years next preceding their election, and shall have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years next preceding their election, and are members thereof within the annual conference electing them at the time of holding the General and jurisdictional or central conferences."

2.3.3. Nominations

2.3.3.1. Each nominee wishing to be included in pre-conference and annual conference introductions shall submit his/her candidacy on the form provided by the Board of Lay Ministry. No other form will be permitted. Instructions on the form must be followed.

2.3.3.2. All nomination forms must be received or postmarked by the same deadline as set for petitions by the Annual Conference. This date ensures that a complete packet of resumes will be included in the pre- conference mailing to all annual conference lay members. No late nomination forms will be accepted.

2.3.3.3. Nominations will be accepted from the floor during a Laity session of annual conference prior to the commencement of any balloting. The consent of such nominees must be obtained in writing on the form provided in (a) above. Such nominees shall not be eligible to participate in introductory speeches or campaign activities.

2.3.3.4. Write-ins shall be permitted on the ballot, as long as that individual has not formally withdrawn his/her name.

2.3.4. Withdrawal from the ballot

Any nominee who withdraws from the election of General and Jurisdictional delegates shall not be re- nominated during the remainder of the election. Votes cast for a person who has withdrawn will be invalid, but will not invalidate the rest of the ballot.

2.3.5. Introduction and Campaigns

2.3.5.1. All nominees who have proceeded through the process as outlined above by the Board of Lay Ministry will be introduced during the Laity Session. The form of introduction will be determined by the Board of Lay Ministry. In the event the presiding officer (of laity session) is a nominee, another lay member will be asked to preside.

2.3.5.1.1. The Board of Lay Ministry will provide common identification for each nominee to be worn during the Annual Conference.

2.3.5.1.2. There shall be no public display of support for nominees in the form of posters, buttons, banners, printed flyers, pre-conference mailings, etc., prior to and during the Annual Conference.

Effective Date: July 1, 2013 Termination Date: June 30, 2015

What is the deadline?

Statements of Availability from both clergy and lay delegate candidates must be submitted by April 10 to be included only online.

Both clergy and laity who qualify to be delegates may place their names on the ballot at any time after the final April 10 deadline, but their information will not appear on the website or in the Pre-Conference materials.

When will the candidates be announced?

A list of delegate candidates will appear on the Conference website.  As stated above, any eligible candidates that declare after the final April 10 deadline will not be included, but will appear on the ballot.

What is required and expected of elected delegates?

Election as a delegate to General and/or Jurisdictional Conference is both an honor and a responsibility. You are answering a call to serve God, to serve The United Methodist Church, and to help the Church “make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” It is required and expected that delegates will fulfill their service to do the following:

  • Be in prayer for guidance by the Holy Spirit; for the world, for the Church, for all the delegates at General and Jurisdictional conferences.
  • Attend and participate in the Conference(s) to which the delegate has been elected. That means being present in Portland, Ore., from May 10-20, 2016 and/or in Scottsdale, AZ., from July 13-16, 2016. General and Jurisdictional conferences are intensive, with days easily lasting 12 hours or more.
  • Be familiar with parliamentary procedure to ensure full participation in the conferences’ legislative processes.
  • Be familiar with the polity of The United Methodist Church and with the many challenges, opportunities, and issues confronting our denomination.
  • Attend delegation meetings in the months leading up to General and Jurisdictional conferences, beginning with the first organizational meeting at the 2015 Rocky Mountain  Annual Conference session in Estes Park, CO,  which will take place after all delegates are elected; meetings will continue periodically until the start dates of the conferences.
  • Read all the materials for the conferences thoroughly. There are hundreds of pages of material.
  • Serve on a legislative committee that prepares petitions and resolutions for consideration on the floor of General or Jurisdictional conference. Legislative Committees are organized around general topics and issues, and receive and prepare petitions and resolutions that address that topic or issue.

If you feel called to serve as a delegate, it is assumed that the following are evident in your life and faith journey:

  • a committed, vital and growing relationship with Jesus Christ
  • a commitment to be a prayerful and reflective participant in the delegation and the conference/s to which you have been elected
  • an ability to consider and seek discernment on a wide variety of issues and concerns
  • a willingness to understand and respect a variety of perspectives regarding issues and concerns, including those that differ from your own
  • an openness to discern God’s leading when the best decision for The UMC as a whole may not be the most favorable direction for your Annual Conference
  • a willingness to discern how to vote when personal convictions and interests are at odds with those of a larger constituency
  • an understanding of the mission, polity, and Areas of Focus of The UMC
  • active participation in local church, district, and Conference activities
  • a commitment to the connectional nature of The UMC
  • a willingness to commit the time necessary to prepare for General and Jurisdictional conferences including reading hundreds of pages of pre-conference materials
  • ability to attend and participate fully in the very challenging daily schedules of General and Jurisdictional conferences.