North Georgia's 26 delegates face long deliberations in Tampa
By ED TOMLINSON
The 26 delegates to General Conference from North Georgia are making final preparations to travel to Tampa. They have completed reading most, if not all, of the three volumes (1,493 pages) of materials which have been shipped to them.
They will be familiar with the majority of petitions in general and those submissions assigned to their legislative committees in particular. Soon, they will receive another volume of financial data to digest and be ready to take action.
The delegation from North Georgia includes 13 laypersons and 13 clergy persons. Among this group are nine women and 17 men. There are six African-Americans, 19 Caucasians, and one Hispanic representative. Included are five pastors of churches, two district superintendents, and six clergy persons in extension ministries.
Many of the laity are members of large congregations while others worship in mid-sized and small churches. Although there are many issues upon which the delegation finds unity, there are others where there is a divergence of opinion (which usually reflects the diversity in the annual conference). Before General Conference is adjourned, the delegates will have, in one way or another, dealt with more than 1,500 petitions from individuals, groups, local churches, annual conferences, general boards and agencies, and others.
The proposed change in rules may find some petitions dying for lack of action in the legislative committees. Unless acted upon by the committees by 9:30 p.m. on April 28, they will only be brought to the floor for action if 20 delegates sign an enabling document. This mandate for completion of items by the set date is unlike the work done in previous years. Every submission was reviewed, even if it required lengthy and late meetings well into the second week of General Conference.
There is sure to be debate on the ministry study, the guaranteed appointment, the pension plan, the new structure for the denomination, the proposal to divest stock owned in companies doing business in occupied Palestinian territory, the quadrennial budget, human sexuality, same-sex marriage, the exclusion of self-avowed, practicing homosexuals from ordination, and a host of other concerns.
The list is long but our General Conferences have made many timely and wise decisions. Please remember that some in the media do not understand our process and are quick to report the incomplete. Our conference communications website, www.ngumc.org, and the denominational counterpart, www.umc.org, will make rapid and accurate reports daily.
The members of our delegation covet your prayers. The responsibility is awesome. Our love for United Methodism and our desire for a renewed sense of ministry, service, and growth keep us focused. We are about “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World” in vital congregations and in a host of effective ministries around the globe.
Ed Tomlinson has been elected as a clergy delegate to four General Conferences. In 2004, he served as Chairperson of the General Administration Legislative Committee which formed the Connectional Table. He is a current director of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits and a member of the Church Systems Task Force formed by action of the 2008 General Conference.
Clergy elected to the 2012 General Conference Session
Sharma Lewis, Jonathan Holston, James Cantrell, Phil Schroeder, Jane Brooks, Alice Rogers, Ed Tomlinson, John Simmons, Nora Martinez, Jamie Jenkins, Chuck Savage, Steve Wood, David Bevel Jones
Laity elected to the 2012 General Conference Session
Jane Finley, Lyn Powell, Mathew Pinson, Joe Whittemore, Jeff Jernigan, Bill Stikes, Tonya Murphy , Leon Jourolman, Dianne Spencer, Joe Kilpatrick, Richard Williamson, Bill Martin, Marjorie Kimbrough