Pray for those involved with General Conference


     It begins in 47 days in Tampa. The United Methodist Church’s top legislative body, the General Conference, convenes April 24-May 4.
    from around the world--988 of them--will set policy and direction for the church, as well as handle other business. Almost 40 percent (372) of the delegates will come from outside the United States. Each of these persons has been elected from their annual conference to conduct the business of the denomination in this once-every-four-year event. General Conference is the only entity that speaks for The United Methodist Church.
    Some 4,000 people will serve in a variety of volunteer roles such as greeters, registration officials, marshals, pages, translators, hosts and hostesses, guides, drivers, musicians, technicians, reporters and emergency-response volunteers.
   During the eleven-day session, the delegates, equally divided between laity and clergy, will revise The Book of Discipline, which regulates the manner in which local churches, annual conferences and general agencies are organized. Delegates also revise The Book of Resolutions, a volume declaring the church’s stance on a variety of social justice issues. The book contains more than 300 resolutions that are considered instructive and persuasive, but are not binding on members.
   Primary sources of legislation are petitions and proposals from church agencies and organizations. Any organization, ordained minister or lay member of the church, may petition the General Conference. Approximately 1,600 pieces of legislation are expected at the 2012 assembly. 
   As in the U.S. Congress, the bulk of General Conference business is conducted in legislative committees. Each of the 13 committees receive petitions and proposals, debates them, and determines whether to approve, amend, combine or reject them for recommendation to the full body of General Conference.
   In addition, the assembly approves, plans, and budgets for church-wide programs for the next four years.  It also elects members of the Judicial Council and the University Senate.
   Very important work will be done before General Conference as delegates spend much time in preparation and also during the grinding schedule of the conference. Perhaps the most important work is called for by The Upper Room: 50 Days of Prayer Before and During General Conference. 
   Across the nation and around the world, United Methodists are encouraged to pray for everyone involved in the 2012 General Conference.
    The first of those 50 days of prayer began March 16. A wonderful free resource, 50 Days of Prayer Before and During the General Conference is provided by The Upper Room. It is available on the Internet at At this site you can: sign up for a free daily email version and the meditation will be sent to you each day; download one of the PDF versions in English, Portuguese, or French; and receive the e-book edition.  
     I invite you to get this resource and to join with others around the world to pray that God will work through this diverse body of believers.
 The North Georgia Conference is represented by 26 delegates. I urge you to include them especially in your prayers. The lay delegates are: Jane Finley, Lyn Powell, Mathew Pinson, Joe Whittemore, Jeff Jernigan, Bill Stikes, Tonya Murphy, Leon Jourolomon, Diane Spencer, Joe Kilpatrick, Dick Williamson, Bill Martin, Marjorie Kimbrough. Clergy delegates are: Sharma Lewis, Jonathan Holston, Jim Cantrell, Phil Schroeder, Jane Brooks, Alice Rogers, Ed Tomlinson, John Simmons, Nora Martinez, Jamie Jenkins, Chuck Savage, Steve Wood, David Jones.