Florida Conference Bishop Ken Carter, a moderator on the Commission on a Way Forward, has written a blog post titled “How We Got to Where We Are: A Brief Overview of United Methodism in 2017.” He gives background on the denomination’s continuing struggles over Christian faith and LGBTQ inclusivity. Read blog.

Your Wisconsin Conference delegation invites you to provide feedback to the “Draft of a General Book of Discipline", which was written by the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters following General Conference 2012. This document attempts to clarify which paragraphs in Part VI of the Book of Discipline apply for all regions of the world, and which paragraphs may be adapted by Central Conferences. There will also be listening sessions held in early fall in Milwaukee, Appleton, Madison, and Wausau. Click here to read the draft, and click here for more information and to fill out the form with your feedback.

The Council of Bishops announced the call to a special General Conference on Feb. 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri. Browse for details!

During 10 days in Portland, delegates passed an increased budget, celebrated a number of church milestones and voted to create a new version of the hymnal. A move to adjourn at 6:30 every night meant no late-night sessions and hopefully healthier, less stressed attendees. Click here to read the full wrap-up of General Conference from UMCom, and click here to watch a short video recap that was shown on the last day of Conference. Click here to see interviews with our Wisconsin delegates and watch more videos from General Conference. Visit Dan Dick’s blog, United Methodeviations, and read his daily recaps from each day of General Conference. Click here to see photos taken by our communications staff and delegates, and click here to read all our news summaries from the second week of General Conference.

Leaders from the Korean Ministry Plan and Korean Peace Committee presented a report at Thursday afternoon’s plenary session, asking for prayers for peace and reunification for Korea. “The thick clouds of the Cold War have never been cleared from the skies and lives of two Koreas, because the Korean War never ended officially and peacefully with a peace treaty; rather, it has been paused. The Korean War Armistice has left Korea in a state of escalating tension and conflicts during the last 63 years,” the leaders said.

The Korean Armistice Agreement, signed in 1953, established a cease-fire and new border between North and South Korea, but many families were never able to reunite after the war and the countries’ relationship remains tenuous. “This is why working for reconciliation and peace in the Korean peninsula is not a political endeavor but a gospel calling. The United Methodist Church, along with many ecumenical partners, has long been calling to establish a lasting peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula,” leaders said.

At a special Korea Night Dinner that evening, attendees watched several documentaries detailing the history of the Korean Methodist Church, and Bishop Jung reiterated a call for a full resolution to the conflict through meaningful conversation between North Korea and the United States. “We [the Peace Committee] have urged the United States and other governments to carry out genuine engagement with North Korea,” he said. “Through ongoing discussions about nuclear weapon and missile tests, and talks in both multilateral and bilateral settings, we believe that there is hope, our only hope, of settling the peace of the peninsula and preserving meaningful access to the North Korean people. God is calling us to let go of the past and start forgiving, loving and making peace with one another. We need your prayerful support for the right advocacy and policy changes around this peace-making journey.”

Other highlights of the dinner included a performance by I Solisti Roma, a choir of Korean opera singers; and a symbolic closing benediction from Bishop Rosemarie Wenner. “Germany was once divided but experienced reunification,” Bishop Young Jin Cho of the Virginia Epsicopal Area said, “and we pray soon, and very soon, it will happen for Korea.”

Click here to watch recorded video of the plenary report and click here to watch a documentary shown at the dinner.

General Conference, As Told by Wisconsin

Amidst a General Conference that has seemed divisive at times, Wisconsin Conference delegates have found signs of hope in Portland. Gail Burgess, Dan and Barbara Dick, Sam Royappa, and Steve Zekoff sat down with our communications staff to talk about what has excited them at this General Conference, and what they’ve experienced over the last two weeks that goes beyond what’s been live streamed. Click here to see interviews with the rest of the Wisconsin delegates and watch more videos from General Conference. Visit Dan Dick’s blog, United Methodeviations, and read his daily recaps from each day of General Conference. Click here to see photos taken by our communications staff and delegates, and click here to read all our news summaries from the second week of General Conference.

Korean Ministry Leaders Ask for Reconciliation in Korea

Leaders from the Korean Ministry Plan and Korean Peace Committee presented a report at Thursday afternoon’s plenary session, asking for prayers for peace and reunification for Korea. “The thick clouds of the Cold War have never been cleared from the skies and lives of two Koreas, because the Korean War never ended officially and peacefully with a peace treaty; rather, it has been paused. The Korean War Armistice has left Korea in a state of escalating tension and conflicts during the last 63 years,” the leaders said.

The Korean Armistice Agreement, signed in 1953, established a cease-fire and new border between North and South Korea, but many families were never able to reunite after the war and the countries’ relationship remains tenuous. “This is why working for reconciliation and peace in the Korean peninsula is not a political endeavor but a gospel calling. The United Methodist Church, along with many ecumenical partners, has long been calling to establish a lasting peace and reconciliation in the Korean peninsula,” leaders said.

At a special Korea Night Dinner that evening, attendees watched several documentaries detailing the history of the Korean Methodist Church, and Bishop Jung reiterated a call for a full resolution to the conflict through meaningful conversation between North Korea and the United States. “We [the Peace Committee] have urged the United States and other governments to carry out genuine engagement with North Korea,” he said. “Through ongoing discussions about nuclear weapon and missile tests, and talks in both multilateral and bilateral settings, we believe that there is hope, our only hope, of settling the peace of the peninsula and preserving meaningful access to the North Korean people. God is calling us to let go of the past and start forgiving, loving and making peace with one another. We need your prayerful support for the right advocacy and policy changes around this peace-making journey.”

Other highlights of the dinner included a performance by I Solisti Roma, a choir of Korean opera singers; and a symbolic closing benediction from Germany Central Conference Bishop Rosemarie Wenner. “Germany was once divided but experienced reunification,” Bishop Young Jin Cho of the Virginia Epsicopal Area said, “and we pray soon, and very soon, it will happen for Korea.”

Click here to watch video of the plenary report and click here to watch a documentary shown at the dinner.

GC2016 Passes $604 Million General Church Budget

General Conference delegates voted to increase the general church budget to $604 million to boost support of United Methodist theological education in Africa, Asia and Europe. Getting to the final bottom line took time – and some laughter. Heather Hahn reports. Read story and post a comment.

Delegates Choose Engagement Over Divestment

After prolonged, impassioned debate, General Conference 2016 chose not to add a fossil fuels investment screen for the United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits. The question came down to divestment vs. engagement as the better way to influence companies to address climate change. Sam Hodges reports. Read story and post a comment.

Legislation Promotes Expanded Health Care

A piece of legislation approved by the 2016 General Conference calls for The United Methodist Church to advocate for the improvement of health care in the United States. The legislation outlines a plan for the church to work with U.S. government officials to improve health care coverage for all citizens, specifically including ethnic minorities. Kyle Wallace has the story. Read story and post a comment.

Preparing for GC2020

Most United Methodists in Portland, Oregon, were focused on General Conference 2016, but a dozen Minnesota and Dakotas United Methodists were looking ahead to General Conference 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Christa Meland reports for the Minnesota Conference. Read story.

May 20 Wrap-Up: Budget Passes, with Increase

Goodnight, Portland! On the last day of General Conference 2016, voting clocks shrank from 30 seconds to 10 and more than one presiding bishop urged delegates to speak less and vote more. Delegates rolled up their sleeves and plunged into a daunting collection of remaining petitions before the closing gavel fell. They did pass a $604 million general church budget for the next four years. Joey Butler reports. Read full story and post comment.

Watch Interviews with Wisconsin Delegates

Amidst a General Conference that has seemed divisive at times, Wisconsin Conference delegates have found signs of hope here in Portland. Amanda Stein, Katie Crise, Judy Vasby, and Tom Popp sat down with our communications staff to talk about what has excited them at this General Conference, and what they’ve experienced over the last two weeks that goes beyond what’s been live streamed. Stay tuned to hear stories from the rest of our delegates.

Church ‘Growth Committee’ Fails Constitution Test

The proposed establishment of a United Methodist “Standing Committee on Strategy and Growth” funded by $20 million taken from denominational coffers was ruled unconstitutional May 19 by the Judicial Council, the church’s top court. Linda Bloom has the story. Read story and post a comment.

New Missionaries Commissioned at GC2016

The liturgy of commissioning, both solemn and joyful, was believed to be the first as part of a United Methodist General Conference. Twenty-nine new missionaries, commissioned on May 19, will serve globally as church developers, chaplains, teachers, health practitioners or administrators, agricultural specialists and youth workers. Bishop Jung assisted in presiding over the ceremony. Elliott Wright has the story. Read story.

Liberian is New Judicial Council President

For the first time, a member from outside the United States has been elected president of the United Methodist Judicial Council. N. Oswald Tweh Sr., a lay member from Liberia, will lead the denomination’s top court for 2016-20. Linda Bloom has the story. Read story and post a comment.

Video: Growing Pains in the Central Conferences

Delegates and bishops attending General Conference share their perspectives on the need for new episcopal areas in the central conferences. David Valera and Patrick Scriven share the story. See the video and read the story

GC2016: Oppose Mascots that Demean Native Americans

Delegates to General Conference 2016 overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on United Methodist agencies to raise awareness about the harm caused by sports teams that use mascots or symbols that disrespect Native Americans. But the petition was amended in committee, deleting language that would have called on United Methodist groups not to have meetings in cities that have sports teams with such mascots or symbols. Sam Hodges reports. Read story and post a comment. Read a story about the history of The United Methodist Church and mascots.

May 19 Wrap-Up: New Missionaries Commissioned, Special GC Costs Discussed

A day after tabling potentially contentious legislation on human sexuality, General Conference 2016 moved through its calendar at a steady clip, possibly noticing that time to finish its task is running short. They passed legislation to oppose Native American mascots, voted to stop supporting the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and created a new provisional central conference in Asia. And the Judicial Council declared a $20 million plan for church growth unconstitutional. Joey Butler reports. Read full story and post comment.

Implicationsof the Approved Petition Relating to the Human Sexuality Discussions Yesterday

Yesterday afternoon, a motion put forth by Adam Hamilton in support of the Council of Bishop’s “A Way Forward” proposal was not approved. After that decision, the Conference continued with a discussion about the Council of Bishop’s report. George Howard from West Ohio Conference then moved to accept and approve all of the recommendations included in the Council of Bishops’ report. This motion was approved.

There are a few implications to this decision:
1. For the remainder of this General Conference, there will be no debate on petitions regarding most human sexuality petitions.
2. A commission will be named by the Council of Bishops "to include persons from every region of our UMC, and that will include representation from differing perspectives on the debate. We commit to maintain an on-going dialogue with this Commission as they do their work, including clear objectives and outcomes."
3. A special General Conference session in 2018 or 2019, lasting two or three days, may be called if the commission completes the assigned work. If so, current delegates would serve.

Click here to watch the press conference with Bishop Ough following his statement yesterday. Click here to read more from UMNS.

Imagine No Malaria Celebrated; Abundant Health Initiative Announced

United Methodist members and leaders, global health innovators and an “American Idol” star took the stage May 18 to celebrate the success of Imagine No Malaria (INM) over the last four years. To date, $68.5 million has been raised worldwide for INM. The 12-minute celebration, a collaboration between United Methodist Communications and the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), featured a highlights video of the grassroots campaign that has showcased the impact of the initiative on the continent of Africa. “Able,” a song commissioned by Imagine No Malaria as a gift to United Methodists across the globe and performed by Jeremy Rosado, a Top 12 contestant on Season 11 of “American Idol,” was also debuted. “Today has been an incredible celebration of what God has done through the unified effort of the people of The United Methodist Church,” said Bishop Thomas Bickerton, chair of the Global Health Initiative. “Imagine No Malaria has been successful because of how it energized people who got excited about saving people’s lives. And today, we rejoiced in that success and the people who have made it possible.”

Seeking to build on the success of INM, The United Methodist Church also affirmed its commitment to positively impact the lives of children everywhere through the next phase of its global health work. Coordinated by GBGM, “Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children” aims to reach 1 million children with lifesaving interventions by 2020 and will be The United Methodist Church’s primary global health initiative for the next four years. It will focus on four core areas impacting the health of children throughout the world. The initiative aims to ensure safe births, address nutritional challenges and promote breastfeeding, advance prevention and treatment of childhood diseases, and promote children’s health and wholeness. Click here to download the media kit for Abundant Health and click here to read more from UMNS about both the celebration and announcement. Click here to watch a clip of a press conference with INM and GBGM leaders yesterday afternoon.

U.S. Ethnic Ministry Plans Continued

The Portland General Conference continued four U.S. ethnic ministry plans administered by Global Ministries. Those plans are:

  • Asian American Language Ministry Plan
  • Korean Ministry Plan
  • National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry
  • Pacific Islander Ministry Plan

Connectional Table Chair Passes to Bishop Christian Alsted

On Tuesday, the Connectional Table welcomed their new chairperson, Bishop Christian Alsted of the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area, who was appointed by the Council of Bishops for the 2017 – 2020 quadrennium. The outgoing chair, Bishop Bruce Ough, assumed the presidency of the Council of Bishops on Thursday May 12. During the meeting of the Connectional Table on the morning of Monday, May 16, 2016, the members of the board thanked Bishop Ough for his leadership and service over the last quadrennium. Click here to read more from umc.org.

May 18 Wrap-Up: Sexuality Dominates Debate

Delegates to General Conference spent most of the day deciding whether to move forward on dozens of petitions regarding the denomination’s stance on human sexuality, but they also heard a report on the church’s response to the Sand Creek Massacre and celebrated the Imagine No Malaria campaign. Read more and post a comment,

Mandatory Clergy Penalties Ruled Unconstitutional

Imposing a mandatory penalty during the “just resolution” process for a clergyperson admitting to committing a chargeable offense is unconstitutional, The United Methodist Church’s top court has ruled. Linda Bloom has the story. Read story and post a comment.

Sand Creek Massacre Remembered at GC2016

Concerns about legislation and the future of The United Methodist Church got set aside for a half hour at General Conference 2016 on Thursday, May 18, as delegates focused instead on the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, a historical tragedy with deep Methodist involvement. Sam Hodges reports. Read story and post a comment.

Ecumenical Day Marks New Relationships

United Methodists celebrated new relationships with the Moravian Church and the United Church in Sweden as they marked Ecumenical Day on May 17 at General Conference 2016. The denomination also hosted numerous ecumenical guests, bestowed three ecumenical awards and received an award from Church World Service. Linda Bloom reports. Read story and post a comment. Blog: Ecumenism is about unity.

GC2016 Celebrates Higher Education

The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry reported to General Conference 2016 on three new leadership initiatives created in 2012: The Central Conference Theological Education Fund, the Seminary Indebtedness Task Force, and the Young Clergy Initiative. Later that evening, more than 2,000 General Conference delegates and others attended a celebration of United Methodist-related higher education. Read story.

Tuesday Conference Pleads with Bishops for Leadership; Today, Bishops Ask for Hold on Sexuality Debate           

Yesterday, General Conference delegates asked the Council of Bishops to lead the church out of the “painful condition” it is in after an address by Bishop Bruce Ough called for unity, but did not address full inclusion of LGBTQ people. The Rev. Mark Holland, a delegate from Great Plains, said the May 17 call for unity did not provide a path forward. He asked the Council of Bishops to meet today and bring back a report tomorrow. His motion passed, 428-364.

This morning, Bishop Ough delivered a response to that plea on behalf of the Council of Bishops. "We share with you a deep commitment to the unity of the church in Christ our Lord," he said. "We accept our role as spiritual leaders to lead the UMC in a 'pause for prayer' - to step back from attempts at legislative solutions and to intentionally seek God's will for the future." The Council of Bishop’s report recommends that “The General Conference defer all votes on human sexuality and refer this entire subject to a special Commission, named by the Council of Bishops, to develop a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality. We continue to hear from many people on the debate over sexuality that our current Discipline contains language which is contradictory, unnecessarily hurtful, and inadequate for the variety of local, regional and global contexts. We will name such a Commission to include persons from every region of our UMC, and that will include representation from differing perspectives on the debate. We commit to maintain an ongoing dialogue with this Commission as they do their work, including clear objectives and outcomes. Should they complete their work in time for a called General Conference, then we will call a two- to three-day gathering before the 2020 General Conference.” Click here to read the full statement and click here to read more from UMNS.                    

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung stood in support of the Council of Bishop's statement, and today said, "Please keep praying for the General Conference community and the whole Church. I believe the community has its own ability and power to navigate the right and holistic paths. I trust and respect that the community carries the abundant way to travel together. Again I trust and respect my fellow United Methodists, especially in this critical time in our life together. I ask all of our churches and fellow Christians in Wisconsin and other parts of the world to claim their own wisdom and authentic desire. My prayer is again, God, stir up our soul to desire to serve you."

The Rev. Adam Hamilton, Great Plains Conference, moved later in the morning today that General Conference support the bishop's creation of a commission and a special General Conference to deal with sexuality issues. Hamilton called the bishops' ideas "our best chance of finding a long-term solution." A substitute motion by the Rev. Chappell Temple, Texas Conference, supported the creation of the commission but called for General Conference to go forward with voting on sexuality petitions. To postpone, he said, would cause "more confusion." The delegates voted against the substitute. Hamilton's motion was still before the delegates when they broke for lunch. Click here to read today’s update form UMNS.

At the noon break, Bishop Ough spoke in a press conference to share more insights about the Council of Bishop’s thinking in making their recommendation. He said that the members of the council are not all of one mind. “Some people believe we represent the diversity in a way that no other group does. Our conversations have been very honest and candid. We certainly understand the urgency; we can’t stay where we are at. The Council of Bishops discussed that in terms of creating the Commission, we are deeply committed to making sure all of the voices are at the table. If we don’t get that right, we aren’t going to get anywhere.”

Later in the afternoon, the Hamilton motion in support of the Council of Bishop’s recommendations was not approved. After that decision, the Conference continued with a discussion about the Council of Bishop’s report.

New Updates from Our Delegates

Read new blog posts on United Methodeviations from Dan Dick, and check out new pictures posted to our General Conference Flickr album. In addition, follow tweets from our delegates and follow the Conference on Facebook and Twitter for timely updates, pictures, and video from the floor of General Conference.

Changes Made to Special Sundays

The United Methodist Church designates a number of Sundays throughout the year as opportunities for recognizing and supporting particular ministries. These are referred to as Special Sundays and some include an offering used to fund the work of these programs. A name change from One Great Hour of Sharing to UMCOR Sunday was approved on Monday, and additional Special Sundays for Women’s Ministry and Volunteers in Mission were approved Tuesday for Special Sundays to be observed by churches.

Tenure Limits for Bishops Fails

Term limits for United Methodist bishops got strong support in a vote at General Conference 2016, but fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to change the church constitution. Sam Hodges reports. Read story and post a comment.

GC2016 Proposal Calls for New Panel on Growth

General Conference delegates are asking the Judicial Council about the constitutionality of a plan to reallocate $20 million from General Church ministries to a new committee on U.S. church growth. Proponents say the plan is needed, while others question its ethics or effectiveness. Heather Hahn reports. Read story and post a comment.

Green Light for New Hymnal Project

The United Methodist Church is on track to get its first new hymnal since 1989, and this one will be Internet-cloud based and print-on-demand — the first high-tech hymnal for a mainline denomination. Sam Hodges has the story. Read story and post a comment.

May 17 Wrap-Up: Schism Rumors Quashed​

General Conference 2016 may have started off slowly, but it’s full steam ahead now. On a day with a full docket, delegates considered whether to give $20 million to a group of church growth consultants, whether to eliminate lifetime appointments for U.S. bishops and whether it was time to create a new hymnal. All while the Council of Bishops president denied rumors of a schism plan. Joey Butler reports. Read full story and post a comment.

Breaking News from Tuesday: Bishop Ough Responds to Social Media Rumors of Church Split

This morning, Bishop Ough, Minnesota-Dakotas Bishop and President of the Council of Bishops, addressed rumors about a split in The United Methodist Church. He said that while the Council of Bishops is not fully united, the members are not supporting a split of The United Methodist Church. He also indicated the door was still open to "new and innovative ideas," perhaps even new structures. "We have risked exploring what many would consider radical new ideas," Ough said in confirming that the bishops had been meeting with both conservative and progressive groups. “We remain in dialogue, so much of who we are is working, yet so much needs to adapt to new realities… Come Holy Spirit and break through and set us free,” he prayed. “We belong to God and one another.” Click here to watch the full video of his statment and click here to read his full statement.

In response, Bishop Jung said, "This is my heartfelt conviction: that we are one Church, one faith, and all embrace community in God's grace, and I continually pray for Wisconsin United Methodists for the Spirit of unity, of fully committed relationship with LGBTQ communities, and loving inclusion. In the midst of tough struggles, we will live out the unity as one Church. I recognize the hurt and pain of our community, but God's abiding presence will bring the wholeness. I call the healing spirit for all of us. I am praying with Wisconsin delegates for the United Methodist Church."

Wisconsin Delegate Dan Dick also wrote a response to Bishop Ough’s statement in his blog. In addition, read a news story from UMNS.                    

Sam Royappa Shares Reflections

2016 General Conference continues with powerful worship, meaningful fellowship and struggling with numerous issues. I believe God continues to care for all United Methodists around the world and He is watching us and over us. I am grateful to people of prayer who are sincerely and fervently praying over 2016 GC. In the midst of and in spite of rumors, myths, and speculations, God's power is prevailing. This is the time to remember and invoke the Great Promise of Jesus, "I will build my Church."

One of the highlights so far is the approval of approved petitions relating to part-time licensed local pastors who can now be mentors, provided they have completed a course of study. Another resolution, sent by the Wisconsin cabinet, to defer the reduction of U.S. bishops was approved by the legislation committee, after much edition. The plenary has yet to approve it.

The Judicial Council, University Senate, and Commission on 2020 GC elections were completed. The 150th anniversary of United Methodist Women, and Africa University accomplishments, were celebrated. People from the great state of Wisconsin, including present and previous Bishops and their spouses, gathered for an evening meal and fellowship yesterday, and pictures are posted on our Flickr page.

We are called to continue to strengthen the worldwide connection with strategies for leadership development, new places for people, ministry with poor, and local-global health. Thanks be to God!

In addition, read new posts from Dan Dick on his blog, United Methodeviations.

An Update on Wisconsin Petitions

By Steve Zekoff

Resolution 3207 Quality in United Methodist Health Care was not considered by the Legislative Committee.

All legislation concerning Global Church Structure (submitted by both Wisconsin and Northern Illinois) were intentionally set aside and not considered by the legislative committee. They were earlier drafts of the North East Jurisdiction (NEJ) Global Structure Task Force legislation proposals.  None of the NEJ proposals were supported by the Legislative Committee.

The Conferences Legislative Committee passed a heavily amended version of Petition 60932, Defer Reduction in U.S. Episcopal Areas.  General Conference will be acting on a substitute Petition 60932 that will defer action on reducing any episcopal areas until 2020, plus establish a task force to study the future jurisdictional alignments in the U.S.

Sam Royappa Submits Request to Committee on Courtesies and Privileges       

During Monday morning’s plenary, Sam Royappa submitted a request to the Committee on Courtesies and Privileges to remember the General Conference of The United Methodist Church in India as they conduct their General Conference session in in South India on Sunday. “The Methodists in India were part of The United Methodist Church in South Asia, a Central Conference of UMC, until 1981. It has been autonomously affiliated since then. In 1976, the General Conference of  The United Methodist Church, which took place in Portland, passed a motion for their autonomy status. Let us celebrate and pray for their General Conference as they do their business in a different part of the world.” In response, presiding Bishop Goodpaster said, “We will continue to celebrate and to be in prayer with all of these concerns that have been lifted to us, especially to our sisters and brothers in India as they gather in their General Conference.”

Bishop Jung Preached on Pentecost Sunday

Bishop Jung preached at Tabor Height UMC for Pentecost Sunday. "It is located 6 miles away from the convention center," he said. "This church is one of the historic churches in this area. It was a great Sunday." View photos on our General Conference Flickr album.

May 16 Wrap-Up: Week Two Begins with Elections, Celebrations, Protests

Before tackling the pile of petitions before them, delegates to General Conference 2016 voted to fill vacancies in key positions on the Judicial Council, University Senate and the Commission on General Conference. In other news, United Methodist Women celebrates its 150th and more than 1,500 clergy signed a letter of support for LGBTQ rights. Joey Butler reports. Read story and post a comment.

Lack of Youth Delegates Leaves General Conference Commission Slot Unfilled

The lack of youth delegates among the 864 delegates to General Conference 2016 means that for the second time in a row, the commission that runs the denomination’s top legislative assembly will not have a youth delegate. Charmaine Robledo, director of communications for the Mountain Sky Area, has the story. Read story.

More Bishops for Africa, But Not Right Away

General Conference 2016 delegates approved adding five more bishops in Africa, but not until 2020, when a comprehensive plan is to be in place for the continent's central conference and episcopal area boundaries. Some African delegates wanted to add two bishops right away, arguing that the church's growth in Africa demands it. Sam Hodges has the story. Read story and post a comment.

Guaranteed Appointment Survives

Some clergy-related petitions have passed at General Conference 2016, and others are likely to be adopted, having made it onto the consent calendar. But a petition for "early ordination" and another that would have begun the process to remove the constitutional bar to ending guaranteed appointment for ordained elders failed in committee. Sam Hodges reports. Read story and post a comment.

Bishops Vow to Work Toward Unity, Accountability

United Methodist bishops have adopted a “Covenant of Accountability,” in which they pledge to work for church unity and remain in community with each other despite differences in Christian conscience. Heather Hahn has the story. Read story and post a comment.

GC2016 Celebrates Africa University

As Africa University approaches its 25th anniversary, delegates to the 2016 General Conference took a few moments Monday afternoon to celebrate one of the denomination's high points. “You and The UMC have answered a call to witness through this transforming ministry,” Munashe Furusa, vice chancellor of Africa University, told delegates. Erik Alsgaard reports. Read story and post a comment.

Read New Updates from Our Delegates

Dan Dick has written new posts on his blog, United Methodeviations: GC2016 – Day Six, Sunday, A Pentecost/General Conference Sermon, GC2016 – Day Seven, Monday, Four Unpainted Corners. Check back for new posts tomorrow! In addition, take a look at photos of our Wisconsin delegates at General Conference on Flickr. This album will be updated daily with new photos.

May 14 Wrap-Up: Sermon, Protest, Committee Work

Worship, an address by young people and a silent protest for LGBTQ inclusion began Day Five of General Conference 2016, which ended with final legislative committees. Barbara Dunlap-Berg has the story. Read story and post a comment.

Remember Rural Churches, Advocates Say

Supporters of the 25,000 United Methodist rural congregations across the United States want a seat at the denominational table. United Methodist Rural Advocates is hoping to remind General Conference 2016 of what it considers an often-neglected constituency. Linda Bloom has the story. Read story and post a comment.

Two Ambassadors of God's Love Share Young People's Address

While only two young people spoke on the General Conference stage this morning, thousands more stood with them. Chelsea Spyres and Peter Cibuabua began their witness by identifying themselves as "ambassadors sharing young people's voices from around the world." Kay DeMoss reports on the young people's address. Read story and post a comment.

Helping Homeless with a Meal and a Message

United Methodists are helping homeless people in Portland dine with dignity during General Conference. Members of the United Methodist Rural Advocates are distributing cards made by children in churches across the connection along with meal vouchers to the Sisters of the Road Cafe. Anne Marie Gerhardt reports. Read story.

Read New Blog Posts from Dan Dick

Clergy Delegate Dan Dick has written new blog posts recapping his latest General Conference experiences on his blog, United Methodeviations: Crowdsourcing General Conference, GC2016- Day Five, We Have a New Story to Tell, and A Tale of Two Conferences. Check back for more updates from Dan and other Wisconsin representatives tomorrow!

Prayers, Paper Lanterns at Climate Vigil

An evening climate vigil May 12 featured lanterns lit by small LED lights, music and testimony from United Methodists around the world and a prayer space outside the General Conference legislative sessions. Linda Bloom has the story, which features a photo of our delegate Katie Crise. Read story and post a comment,

May 13 Wrap-Up: Laity Address, State of the Church Report

After several days where General Conference delegates were clearly divided over Rule 44, on Day Four, they were urged repeatedly to work together, and shown examples of the good the church can do when it heeds that advice. In other news, demonstrations surrounding climate change, immigration and the church's stance on homosexuality were held. Joey Butler reports. Read story and post a comment.

Bishop Dyck Says Pope Inspired Her

During Friday morning worship, Bishop Sally Dyck said Pope Francis has inspired her with his announcement calling for a year of mercy. She isn't converting, but said she wants to be "part of a church that has a year of mercy, a decade of mercy, a millennium of mercy." Anne Marie Gerhardt has the story.  Read story and post a comment.

What Can Churchgoers Do Together?

Throughout Friday morning, the delegates heard news that might surprise some: United Methodists together are doing great things that bring God's reign into the world. Both the Connectional Table, which coordinates the work of church agencies, and the General Council on Finance and Administration, the denomination's finance agency, gave reports that highlighted the good United Methodists do as a global church. Heather Hahn reports. Read story and post a comment.

Immigration Rally Calls for End to Deportations

For United Methodists gathering for lunchtime witness on May 13 at the Oregon Convention Center plaza, the phrase "Stop deportations" was a rallying cry. As the Rev. Rosanna Panizo, academic dean of the Methodist seminary in Peru, pointed out, faith both inspires and demands that Methodists take a stand on immigration rights. Linda Bloom reports. Read story and post a comment,

Bumpy Start for GC2016

The third day of General Conference 2016 saw more conflict over whether delegates should use iPads or old-fashioned placards to signal a desire to speak on the plenary floor. Some participants said prolonged debate over rules and procedures illustrated the lack of trust here and the challenges of being a global church. Sam Hodges reports. Read story and post a comment.

Bishop Jung Speaks About UMCOR

Bishop Jung, who also serves as the president of the board of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), discussed disaster response and disaster risk reduction in the Philippines at General Conference yesterday. He was joined by UMCOR staff Jack Amick. UMCOR just completed a project in the Phillippines to build homes and community shelters better suited to withstand a storm. “When I was in the Philippines, the most important witness I saw was that they have deep faith in the midst of so much destruction,” he said. Click here to watch the video.

Reflections From our Delegates

"After two+ days of debate, Rule 44 was voted down with a lack of majority,” Sam Royappa said. “The good news is that The Great Commandment of Jesus is and will be with us today and every day. No one can vote it down. Rule 44 is about suspending the Robert Rules of Order, with and by an alternative governing tool or method. It was oxymoron to let the Robert Rules of Order to govern the tool that was designed solely to suspend or to deal with the Robert Rules of Order. It sounded like letting a fox to guard a hen house. Now that Rule 44 is gone, now what is next? The Church of Jesus Christ continues with the mission of making disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. No stinking rule can stop the mission of Christ, preached and practiced by men, women, youth and children. We continue to witness what God can continue to do in this world which needs love, mercy and compassion. The world has witnessed yesterday or today that the Roman Catholic Church, through the prophetic voice of their Pope, will soon have ordained women deacons. With God and His people, everything is possible. The General Conference comes and goes, but the mission with miracles of God continues with stories, creating milestones and histories in the Kingdom of God. Thanks be to God!” Click here to read new blog entries from Dan Dick.

May 12 Wrap-Up: Rule 44 Voted Down

Over the past three days, the United Methodist General Conference has offered a live demonstration of just how difficult following its rules of order can be. Delegates ultimately decided against a proposed Group Discernment Process that has dominated proceedings. In other news, one bishop “passes the gavel” and another will have to go under the knife after a nasty fall on Day One. Joey Butler has the story. Read story and post a comment

Dakotas-Minnesota Bishop is New Council of Bishops President

Bishop Bruce Ough, bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church, became president of the Council of Bishops with a ceremonial passing of the gavel ceremony during a meeting of the General Conference on May 12. The Council of Bishops provides spiritual leadership for The United Methodist Church, which is in mission in more than 135 countries. The council voted Ough into his new role during its meeting in Germany in May 2015. Bishop Ough told the gathering of bishops today that the church must tell its story, preach it, model it and live it. “Collectively, we need to articulate how God is working through The United Methodist Church -- a church that is vibrant and is changing lives. My vision is that we become that movement of God that is clear about inviting persons into a relationship with Jesus and also equips them to be vital disciples who are in the world to make a difference,” said Bishop Ough. Click here to read more.     

Alsted Preaches Unconditional Reliance on Jesus

Bishop Christian Alsted, of the Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area, challenged those attending General Conference 2016 to offer themselves humbly to Jesus' authority and "unconditionally depend on him for the healing of the church." Alsted, referencing the story of the Roman centurion whose faith Jesus praised, preached during the May 12 worship service. Sam Hodges reports. Read story and post a comment

Delegates Welcome Members of Larger Methodist Family

The United Methodist General Conference, meeting here at the Oregon Convention Center, greeted representatives of 23 churches in the larger Methodist family. The guests came from Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America. Elliott Wright of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries has the story. Read story and post a comment.

 

Delegates Reflect on First Days of Conference

Gail Burgess and Sam Royappa have shared their reflections on the first days of General Conference, and Dan Dick has written two new entries in his blog: What are Rules For? And GC2016 – Day Three.                                                                                                                                                                                         

May 11 Wrap-Up: Episcopal Address, More Rule 44 Debate             

A day after the celebratory tone of opening worship came a reminder that General Conference is one big, long meeting. As delegates got down to business, debate over one of the Rules of Order will stretch into a third day while the episcopal address urged United Methodists to “trust God and go.”​ Joey Butler has the story.Read story and post a comment.

At GC2016, Rule 44 Still a Question

Whether General Conference delegates adopt a new way of dealing with tough issues remains to be seen. For a second time, a vote on the much-debated Rule 44 has been deferred a day. Behind this seemingly arcane procedural debate is concern about how United Methodists discuss ministry with gay and lesbian individuals. Heather Hahn has the story. Read story and post a comment.

Local Pastors a Presence at General Conference

Licensed local pastors cannot serve as delegates to General Conference. But they're a growing part of the United Methodist clergy corps, and leaders of their group are present at the denomination's top law-making assembly, trying to influence legislation. Sam Hodges has the story. Read story and post a comment.

Delegates Focus on Christian Conferencing

General Conference delegates spent two hours on May 11 on Christian Conferencing, the practice of engaging in respectful and honest conversations. Leaders expressed hope that today’s session would set the tone as legislative committees begin meeting. Crystal Caviness reports. Read story and post a comment.

I arrived in Portland on Monday morning. Folks from the Hospitality Committee greeted me at the entrance to the Baggage Claim area, helped me to find my bag, handed me a pass for the MAX light rail system, helped me board and even helped me as I exited! My hotel is about a five minute walk from the MAX stop, located in a mostly residential area of the city (But close to a cinema and a large shopping center.). After lunch, I walked the dozen or so blocks to the Oregon Convention Center where I was able to trade my credentials for my General Conference identification tag. After a little exploring, I headed back to my hotel via MAX and was enjoying the hotel-offered complimentary appetizers while waiting for my roommate, Delegate Katie Crise. The two of us headed over to the mall and had Chinese for supper, then came back to our room and settled in for the evening. Personally I tried to stay awake long enough to see the conclusion of one of my favorite tv shows, but fell asleep before the end -- not surprising since I'd been up since 5:30, and even thought it was only 11 here in Portland, it was already 1 am at home!