Every four years, United Methodists from around the world gather for General Conference, the UMC’s top legislative body. The next gathering will take place in Tampa, Florida, April 24-May 4, 2012. This year, General Conference will consist of 988 delegates (half clergy, half laity), as elected in each conference.
The UMC has a site set up for General Conference 2012. The Methblog has a GC2012 page setup as well. You can also sign up for a daily news digest from Ministry Matters and Circuit Rider magazine, where you can also sign up for a 30-day devotional, written by Bishop Robert Schnase (beginning March 26). There’s also a mobile app for General Conference. And finally, the 50 Days of Prayer emphasis has already begun by The Upper Room.
Interpreter Magazine has some good basic information about General Conference here. As noted, GC2012.umc.org will feature live streaming of plenary sessions and worship services (the mobile app will live stream as well). Incidentally, our bishop, Jane Allen Middleton, is scheduled to preach in the Memorial Service on Wednesday, May 2 (see worship schedule).
General Conference will consider many petitions, and many of them significant. Perhaps none are more significant that the UMC’s Call to Action. My somewhat limited understanding is that the Call to Action focuses on helping the denomination create more “vital congregations.” From the Call to Action site …
We see a new church, a church that is clear about its mission and confident about its future, a church that is relevant, reaching out, inviting, alive, agile, and resilient. We see a church that is hopeful, passionate, nimble, called by God, outward-focused, courageous.
Sensing the importance of General Conference action, Rev. Adam Hamilton wrote An Open Letter to the Delegates of the 2012 General Conference (also see this United Methodist News Service article). As of this post, there are 341 signatures (I’m number 121 and Joleen is number 122). It’s an awesome letter that implores delegates “to have courage” and “to not let fear keep us from the change we desperately need.”
I am excited, and hopeful, about the focus on Jesus’ mission and the courageous, transformational leadership that is needed to become a missional movement again!