Lexington, Ky.: In their final meeting before the 2020 General Conference, the Commission on the General Conference came together on August 7-9, 2019, in Lexington, Ky., to complete plans for the quadrennial legislative event.
Kim Simpson, who has been serving as Secretary of the Commission, was elected chairperson to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former chairperson Duncan McMillan. Vice-chair Mujinga Kashala was not able to attend the meeting and declined to assume the office of chair by succession. The Rev. Gary George was elected as the new secretary of the Commission.
The 2020 General Conference will see changes in the Daily Christian Advocate, which will be fully digital and available through a Daily Christian Advocate website. The Advance Daily Christian Advocate will still be printed as well as items in the daily editions that need to be voted on, but the proceedings of the General Conference, delegate lists and news articles will be on the website only. Improvements to the website include highlighting items that are currently being discussed so they are easy to find.
The theme selected for the 2020 General Conference will be “…and know that I am God,” based on Psalm 46:10. A logo to accompany the theme is being designed by United Methodist Communications.
The Dakotas-Minnesota Area host team reported that a website with volunteer opportunities and information about the local area has been created at gc2020welcome.org. To show hospitality, the local host committee intends to greet every delegate, invited guest, bishop and spouse with a handmade purple scarf. United Methodists in Minnesota and the Dakotas were invited to help knit or crochet the scarves. Support for the project far exceeded the goal, with between 13,000 and 14,000 scarves made for the occasion.
Kellie Schmeal, Relationship Director for the General Council on Finance and Administration, provided an update on ministry partnerships. Of the $800,000 goal, there are commitments for $500,125 so far.
Moses Kumar, General Secretary of the General Council on Finance and Administration, presented the Treasurer’s report and gave an overview of apportionment collections and trends.
The commission accepted motions for consideration in the treasurer’s report, which included approval of the 2020 budget based on projections and a $29/day meal per diem recommendation with lodging expenses to be paid directly to each hotel. There will be a suggested voluntary registration fee of $10/day and a potential future request from GCFA of up to $250,000 from the contingency fund. The budget recommendations for 2021-2024 were also approved.
The program committee wrapped up their work on the schedule for the 2020 General Conference, which begins at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5. Each day will begin with worship and will adjourn by 6:30 p.m. with the exception of Saturday, May 9, when legislative committees may meet until 9:30 p.m. Highlights of the schedule include the Episcopal Address and the Young People’s address on May 6 and the Laity Address on May 7.
The Rules Committee recommended some additional rule changes along with changes made at previous Commission meetings. The committee also made assignments of new paragraphs for legislative committees based on action of the 2019 Special Session: ¶1504.23 (Wespath) to Financial Administration and ¶2553 (Disaffiliation) to Conferences.
The Education and Innovation Committee recommended the production of a media device such as a flash drive or DVD to be distributed to delegates to the 2020 General Conference with information to prepare them for General Conference and made recommendations for a post-conference delegate survey for 2020. The committee also recommended a Central Conference delegate orientation in Minneapolis immediately prior to General Conference on May 2-3, subject to available funding. The commission will create a steering committee to design and implement the orientations on site before conference begins. The committee also welcomed an invitation from the connectional outreach committee of the GCFA Board to discuss having General Conference Staff travel to central conferences for head of delegation and other logistical trainings. There will also be an all delegate orientation before business starts on May 5.
2024 General Conference
The Commission on the General Conference announced that the 2024 quadrennial legislative event will not be held in Manila, Philippines in 2024 as planned. The report of the executive session was that space was not available for the entire two weeks necessary and no bid was received from the facilities contacted in the bid process. Financial considerations or the current church climate were not factors in the decision. Other cities are currently under consideration.
Bishop Rudy Juan said that he was disappointed that the event would not be held in the Philippines, but respects the decision of the Commission. “It is my prayer that in 2028, we can still hold it in the Philippines. The Philippines UMC is excited and ready to receive visitors.”
2019 General Conference
The Commission on the General Conference adopted the recommendations of the task force created to oversee an independent investigation into allegations of voting improprieties at the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference.
About General Conference
General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church. The assembly meets at the beginning of each quadrennium to consider revisions to church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs for the next four years. General Conference 2020 will take place May 5-15, 2020, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minn.