Thank you for your support of LPI

Thank you to all who participated in the Lydia Patterson Institute offering earlier this summer. The students in El Paso, TX need our support and love offering now more than ever. Matched dollars from the UMFA will help build a campus chapel that will be utilized by students at this United Methodist school every day.

If your church family or group would be interested in hosting a Lydia Patterson Institute event and would like conference support through speakers, videos and print materials, please contact us at communications@arumc.org. We would love to provide assistance to garner support for this valuable ministry.

Plans for 2020 General Conference Nearing Completion

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.

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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.

General Conference Commission Takes Action Following Task Force Review

Lexington, Ky.: The Commission on the General Conference voted this week to implement new registration and credentialing procedures for General Conference delegates to safeguard against the possibility of unauthorized voting.

The Commission made the decision based on the results of an independent investigation into allegations of voting improprieties at the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference. A task force was convened to oversee the investigation, which was carried out by an independent auditing firm, LBMC, with the assistance of an independent outside legal firm. The task force’s report and recommendations were presented to the Commission during its August 7-9 meeting in Lexington, Ky.

The investigation found credible objective evidence that four ineligible persons cast votes using the credentials of delegates who were not present. Multiple pieces of evidence corroborated the conclusion that these four individuals improperly cast votes.

“The Commission on the General Conference is committed to protecting the integrity of the legislative process,” said Kim Simpson, Commission chair. “We’ve carefully and prayerfully reviewed the results of the investigation undertaken with oversight from the task force, and we are taking the necessary steps to strengthen our procedures and restore confidence in the process.”

Those steps include ensuring the use of consistent names by requiring they match government-issued identification and issuing credentials that include photos. In all, 19 changes were identified that could make the process more secure.

“We’ve also looked at the implications of the invalid votes and how best to address those,” said Simpson.

According to rule 43 of the Plan of Organization and Rules of Order for the General Conference, which incorporates Robert’s Rules of Order as the supplemental authority, including Section 45 thereof, any possibility that invalid ballots might affect the result of a vote renders the entire ballot null and void.

Four votes could not have affected the outcome of the vote on the Traditional Plan, which passed 438-384. Likewise, the disaffiliation petition passed 420-390, too large a margin to have been impacted. However, the vote to substitute the minority report for the legislative committee report, which is the action that enabled plenary voting on the disaffiliation petition, passed by only two votes.

In accordance with the policy of the General Conference that votes are to remain confidential, the investigation did not seek to find out whether the votes cast were in favor of substituting the minority report or against it. Having found sufficient evidence that there were invalid votes that potentially affected the result of the vote, the Commission determined that the vote to substitute the minority report is void. They also made a decision to ask the Council of Bishops to consider referring the matter to the Judicial Council to examine the potential impact on the disaffiliation vote.

The Judicial Council has the authority to determine the legality of any action taken by the General Conference, but the Commission on the General Conference may not make such a request on its own pursuant to Paragraph 56, Section 4, of the Discipline–thus the referral to the Council of Bishops.

In conducting the investigation, LBMC looked at available information for every authorized delegate. It reviewed extensive documentation including voting lists, attendance lists, attendance forms, visa information, delegate cards and travel reimbursement forms; conducted interviews with staff personnel and others; and reviewed all communications and documents it received containing allegations relating to the General Conference. The objective evidence from that review did not support the conclusion that there were other improper votes.

During the investigation, however, broader unsubstantiated claims arose concerning potential irregularities regarding the manner in which delegates were selected or instructed to vote. Following a recommendation from the task force, the Commission voted to refer these allegations to the Council of Bishops for further review and possible action.

The Commission also voted to accept the task force’s recommendation that the Commission on the General Conference initiate conversations with the Council of Bishops and the General Council on Finance and Administration on membership statistics, the qualifications required for professing membership and the manner in which professing membership is recorded.

The Commission on the General Conference adopted the recommendations of the task force, which will be made available early next week

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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.

Media contact:
Diane Degnan
ddegnan@umcom.org
615.742.5406 (o) 615.483.1765 (c)

Council of Bishops invites applications for two ecumenical programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is inviting applications for the following programs:

  •  2020 Local Initiatives Grants
  • Scholarship to Attend The Ecumenical Institute at Bossey

2020 Local Initiatives Grants
The Council of Bishops is offering three (3) grants of $1,000 each to groups within annual conferences for special projects designed to strengthen ecumenical and/or interreligious relationships.

Preference will be given to groups within annual conferences elected to lead in Christian unity and interreligious relationships. Projects selected will be ecumenical and/or interreligious in both invitation and goals.

The application deadline is September 13, 2019. Applications should be emailed to jhawxhurst@umc-cob.org.
Click here for 2020 Local Initiatives Grants Application Form

Scholarship to Attend The Ecumenical Institute at Bossey
The Ecumenical Institute was founded by The World Council of Churches in Switzerland in 1946 as an “ecumenical laboratory,” bringing together students of ecumenism from across the Christian community.

The Council of Bishops is offering an annual scholarship to one student to participate in the “Complementary Certificate in Ecumenical Studies” (CC) through Bossey in conjunction with the University of Geneva. A total amount of $10,000 US will be sent to Bossey on behalf of the chosen student.

Applicants for this scholarship must be active UMC members, between the ages of 22 and 30, preparing through an approved seminary for vocational ministry in The UMC, and be accepted by Bossey into this program.  Completed applications for this scholarship must be received by the Council of Bishops’ office no later than September 13, 2019.
Click here for Application form for Scholarship to Attend The Ecumenical Institute at Bossey

Any questions about these programs should be directed to Rev. Dr. Jean Hawxhurst via email at jhawxhurst@umc-cob.org

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Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
mmulenga@umc-cob.org
202-748-5172

Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (ARVOAD) Host Long-Term Flood Recovery Summit, Seek Volunteers for Continued Flood Response

LITTLE ROCK, ARK. (July 25, 2019) – Almost two months have passed since the Arkansas River reached historic flood levels, displacing families across the state, but with thousands of homes still needing repairs, volunteers are needed now more than ever to assist with long-term flood recovery.

The Arkansas Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (ARVOAD) — along with the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church’s Disaster Response team, UMCOR, and other disaster response organizations — is hosting a Long-Term Flood Recovery summit from Tuesday, July 30 – Friday, Aug. 2 in various locations across the state.

Times, dates and locations for each summit event can be found in the schedule below.

The summit is for anyone, individuals or groups, who wants to assist with the long-term recovery support for victims of the Arkansas River flood.

Disaster Response Coordinator Janice Mann said that despite the receding water, many individuals are still dealing with the long-term effects of flood damage in their homes; especially those who were uninsured or underinsured.

“The work is really just beginning through case management coordination, construction support, financial support, and volunteer coordination,” Mann said. “This summit will provide training for any person or group to better understand how to help in all different areas. There is a place for everyone to provide support, whether it is hospitality, filing forms, answering phones, hammering nails, monetary support, organizing local church/civic groups, etc.”

ARVOAD is setting up five different case management groups in the areas most affected by the floodwaters: Fort Smith, Conway, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, and Dumas.

“Flood survivors can’t recover without assistance. They need God’s people to empower them to manage their own recovery, so that full-recovery may take place,“ added UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) disaster consultant, Christy Smith.

To register for the summit, email disaster@arumc.org. Lunch will be served, so registrations are helpful.

A schedule of events can be found below.

Southeast AR Recovery Summit

Tuesday, July 30
9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Donald W Reynolds Center
211 West 3rd Ave, Pine Bluff, AR

Central AR Recovery Summit 

Wednesday, July 31
9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

St. James United Methodist Church
Bob Jones Hall (entrance 1,2,3)
321 Pleasant Valley Drive, Little Rock, AR

AR/OK River Valley Recovery Summit

Thursday, Aug. 1
9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Ben Geren Safe Shelter
7200 Zero St., Fort Smith, AR

Disaster Care Management Training
(For anyone wanting to serve as a disaster case manager)

Friday, Aug. 2
8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Wesley UMC
2310 E. Oak St., Conway, AR

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Media Contacts:
Amy Ezell, amy.ezell@arumc.org, 501-324-8030
Caleb Hennington, caleb.hennington@arumc.org, 501-324-8037