By Steve Zekoff

The 2016 General Conference will be my sixth opportunity to fully participate in our quadrennial denominational gathering. This will be my second as a delegate. Previously, I served in various staffing roles with the General Council on Finance and Administration, the Business Manager’s office and for the Secretary of the General Conference. Each provided its own unique experience of General Conference.

One way to describe what occurs is this is the modern United Methodist version of the gathering of the tribes of Israel. The most obvious manifestation is the Annual Conference delegations from Africa, Europe, the Philippines and the United States. In addition, there are representatives present from other Methodist denominations.

There are a variety of other tribes present, including:

  • The Council of Bishops, who have no voice unless specifically granted by the General Conference; the general secretaries of the general agencies.
  • The Judicial Council
  • Interest groups seeking to help influence the voting delegates’ decision making
  • General agency staff and board members
  • Vendors of church books, supplies and resources
  • Support staff providing on-site publications, interpretation services, technical services, and worship and music leadership
  • Marshalls and pages
  • Hundreds of volunteers organized by the hosting Annual Conference
  • Guest music groups from across the Church
  • Secular and Church press
  • Food vendors, security, maintenance and custodial staff
  • Media from Annual Conferences, United Methodist Communications, and more
  • And interested visitors

Each tribe brings its own context and perspective to the gathering. The result is a multicultural, multi-language, multi-theological gathering in the name of Christ. Each produces its own experiences as surprising as the first Pentecost.

More Information

The ADCA is available in English as a downloadable file from http://www.umc.org. The French, Portuguese, and Kishwahili versions will follow as the translations are completed.