From your pastor…
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Matthew 28: 19-20, NRSV
The theme of the United Methodist General Conference this year is: GO THEREFORE. It is based on this command from Jesus to the disciples when he was departing the earth. It is also called the Great Commission. Jesus is sending us out to tell and teach others the wonderful story of God’s love and offer of salvation. Every four years, the United Methodists elect delegates to represent us and make decisions for the church. They will be meeting from May 10-20, 2016 in Portland, Oregon. They decide on moral issues, church budgets, church organization and rules. It is similar to a meeting of Congress where delegates vote on proposed legislation for the church. They celebrate worship and Holy Communion together. It is a global gathering with 864 delegates, but thousands more attend as guests and as volunteer workers. There are currently 56 annual conferences in the United Methodist Church in the United States, and the Central Conferences send delegates from Methodists all over the globe. Language translation is needed just like the system of translation used for the United Nations. It is an amazing meeting! Our Bishops preside, but they cannot vote on the decisions that are made.
From Louisiana, we have elected four clergy delegates, four lay delegates, and eight alternates. Stacy Hood, our music director, was elected to serve as an alternate lay delegate. It is an honor to be elected to serve, and it is a sacrifice to go. Meetings begin at 8am every day and many times people are still working at the midnight hour. The church has organized an effort to pray for all of our delegates and for the General Conference. After the Conference is completed, a new United Methodist Book of Discipline is issued for the governance of our churches.
You can be a part of this year’s General Conference in various ways. The official website with daily updates is GC2016.UMC.org Of course, there is an app for that. You can get it from your mobile app store (Google Play/ iTunes) and you can follow UMCGeneralConference on Facebook, @UMCGC on Twitter, and umcgc on Instragram. The official hashtag is #UMCGC. Also, you can sign up for 60 Days of Prayer online before, during, and after General Conference. This is a critical time for the church, and we need every prayer that you can offer. Especially we pray for Stacy Hood as she goes to Oregon to serve as one of our Louisiana delegates.
Grace and peace,