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.