Editor’s Corner: Beyond the cover story

Amy Forbus

Amy Forbus

Even if nothing more could be said about General Conference 2016, I’m pretty sure people would say plenty anyway. This issue of the Arkansas United Methodist certainly doesn’t avoid the topic.

As a credentialed member of the media, I attended the last five days of General Conference. I saw a lot; I’m sure I missed even more. It’s challenging to keep up with everything that goes on at a worldwide gathering that happens once every four years. As a newsroom friend said to me, “It was impossible to monitor and write at same time. I’d write a lead and miss two amendments.”

So what you read about General Conference in this issue will be incomplete. An entire newsroom of reporters, photographers, videographers, bloggers and podcasters spent almost two weeks trying to wrap their minds around it (as did the delegates). In addition to what you read here, much of the content they produced remains available at gc2016.umc.org. I hope that through words, videos, audio and photos, I’ve been able to provide an adequate picture of what delegates from Arkansas experienced.

What does General Conference 2016 mean for the church? It depends on who answers that question. Reactions to General Conference developments could be so varied that at times I wondered whether delegates seated within feet of each other were actually hearing the same words spoken.

But there are wonderful things United Methodists did at General Conference that don’t fit neatly into the story on this issue’s cover. One example is “#GC4JC,” or General Conference for Jesus Christ, which partnered with Sisters of the Road, a Portland nonprofit cafe whose dining guests may pay with cash or bartering. GC4JC had a hallway table at General Conference, offering Sisters of the Road meal vouchers inside handmade greetings bearing messages of God’s love, so General Conference attendees would have something to give when one of Portland’s visible population of homeless people requested help. Children who had made the greetings also raised the money to buy the vouchers. I took several cards, and each one I offered to someone was met with appreciation.

I gave my last card to a vendor for Street Roots, a weekly newspaper that provides income opportunities to people dealing with homelessness and poverty. I chatted with him, bought a paper (which was a quality publication) and offered him the card, too. “You have no idea how much these help,” he said as he thanked me.

Visit www.facebook.com/GC4JCUMC to read more about this difference-making idea. There’s even a story there of someone from Minneapolis, host city of General Conference 2020, considering how that host city might adapt the #GC4JC idea for their own context. A powerful reminder that by serving others in Jesus’ name, we can be the church wherever we are.

To reach me, send an email to aforbus@arumc.org.