Rev. Steve Zekoff, Conference Benefits Officer, delivered a report from the Conference Delegates to the 2016 General Conference stating that their work is not done. He said, the only other time this has happened since the 1968 union of the EUB and Methodist churches was in 1970, an intentionally scheduled special session to act on organizational details for the newly united denomination.

When we were in Portland a year ago, Rev. Zekoff continued, the General Conference was unable to complete consideration of legislation related to human sexuality, due to deeply conflicted differences in views and theological understandings about the proposals. “When the entire legislative process of General Conference came to a halt, the delegates requested that the Council of Bishops (COB) establish a Commission on a Way Forward to prepare recommendations for the COB, who would then bring a report to the General Conference for action,” Zekoff said. A special session has been called for Feb 23 – 26, 2019 in St. Louis with the purpose of acting upon a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward. The 2019 Special Session cannot take action on other legislation.

Zekoff explained that according to the Constitution of The United Methodist Church, the special session of the General Conference shall be composed of the delegates to the 2016 General Conference or their lawful successors. All of Wisconsin’s three lay delegates and three clergy delegates, along with the first reserves, have committed to attend the special session, he reported. The lay delegates are Lisa King, Barbara Dick, Gail Burgess and the first reserve is Katie Crise. The clergy delegates are Dan Dick, Sam Royappa, Steve Zekoff and the first reserve is Amanda Stein.

The Commission on a Way Forward is well into their work, but has no recommendations yet. It is anticipated that their recommendations will be completed by the first half of 2018 to allow time for the COB to receive them and prepare their report to the General Conference delegates. More information is available at http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/commission-on-a-way-forward.

The Wisconsin Conference will elect our clergy and lay delegates to General Conference 2020 at the June 2019 session of the Annual Conference.  Recent membership trends suggest that we will have a smaller delegation in Minneapolis.

Today the Conference also took action on five United Methodist Constitutional Amendments being voted on at each Annual Conference this year. The amendment votes will be reported to the Council of Bishops Office to the attention of the Executive Secretary. Click here for more information.