Name: Joe Kilpatrick
Role: Lay delegate
Local Church: Tucker First UMC
Legislative Committee: Ministry and Higher Education
Q. How does this General Conference compare with the six previous ones you have attended?
A. The defining facet is that the international delegates have come of age. They are not just making a presence, but actively participating. Thirty-five percent of all delegates are from Africa. They are not just coming to observe, but with a recognition that their voices are relevant and important and they are arriving more informed.
Q. You have seen remarkable changes in the church during the years you have attended General Conference . Are you surprised at the scope of the changes?
A. It has been significant and remarkable. I remember when we voted to approve the first African University. Now there are 11 United Methodist-affiliated institutions of higher learning in Africa.
Q. Are you encouraged by seeing the global reach of the church?
A. Yes. There is no arguing the fact that we are a global church and practice full acceptance. We want to celebrate what God has done across the world and expanding in dynamic ways and realize the challenge we have north of the equator to maintain ourselves as a denomination.
Q. Do you have confidence the delegates here are willing to make tough decisions?
A. Yes. There are tough decisions to make and we have some people who want to protect the status quo. But overall I think we will work through that. It may take four more years, or even eight more, but we will get where we need to be. God will see us through this.
Q: You made a habit of giving up two weeks of your life every four years to serve the church. Why do you think folks in the North Georgia Conference have shown such confidence in you representing them?
A: I believe some people appreciate the fact that I have been a faithful and vocal advocate of historic Wesleyan theology and the orthodox beliefs of the church. I have also been a consistent voice on the topic of homosexuality and following the teachings of the church.
Q. How do you like Tampa as a site?
A. I think Tampa is very good. It is easy to get around. Hotels are conveniently located around the convention center and the hospitality has been wonderful.
Q: What is the best meal you've eaten here?
A: We went to a restaurant in Ybor City Monday night and had a great dish of trout almandine, which was outstanding, and a caesar salad.
Q: After attending seven General Conferences over 28 years, how many more times can you do this?
A: This might be my last one. I am feeling great at 72 years old, but we will see where the Lord leads. I guess I might have another one left.
To read more about Joe, please visit his bio here.