The Commission on General Conference gathered in Florence, Kentucky for an in-person planning meeting May 21-24, 2023. Participants included representatives from each U.S. jurisdiction and Central Conference members from Africa. Members from Europe and the Philippines were unable to attend for a variety of personal reasons. During the session, important updates and continuing work were discussed in preparation for the postponed 2020 General Conference to be held April 23-May 3, 2024, at Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
“The Commission is tasked with making sure that the delegates who come to General Conference can do their best work,” said Kim Simpson, Chair of the Commission on the General Conference. “With a spirit of love and cooperation we seek to energize and revive others within The United Methodist Church. We’re dedicated to acting on behalf of the church with respect, integrity and vision for the path ahead. We need to keep carrying the light of Christ into this world that needs it, and empower others to do the same.”
New members were introduced and an orientation/refresher course for all Commission members took place during the May meeting. This allowed all participants to operate from a common foundation.
“The reality is we don’t have the same people seated at the table as when we started, but our mission remains the same as a church and a commission,” shared Secretary of the General Conference, Gary Graves. “We took time to remember people who are no longer with us in service for various reasons, and looked back at what has transpired since 2017. We now look to what the future can and will be as we do the work of the church while being effective and maintaining integrity.”
During the meeting, the event’s updated logo was revealed. The original theme “… and know that I am God,” based on an excerpt from Psalm 46:10, moves forward now paired with a Charlotte skyline image representative of the new host city. The image was designed by the commission in partnership with United Methodist Communications. Logo files, in different formats and file types, will be available starting June 6th on the postponed 2020 General Conference’s landing page on ResourceUMC.org.
Logistics pertaining to programming, visa processes, hotel blocks, meal arrangements and per diems were included in the topics of discussion. It was also announced that a supplement to the previously printed Advance Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA) is being compiled. Once completed, it will be available to delegates through the online edition and will also be printed and provided to delegates at the event.
The next meeting scheduled for 2024 is designated as the postponed 2020 General Conference. Therefore, petitions that were submitted for the 2020 General Conference are still valid for consideration in 2024, but there will also be a new window for submission of petitions to fulfill the requirements of Paragraph 507. A question arose during the meeting regarding whether petitions submitted by persons who have subsequently left the denomination should be identified as such. Since there was no consensus among Commission members regarding this question, a decision was made to refer the matter to the Rules Committee of the Commission for further consideration with a recommendation expected at the Fall meeting.
Upon conclusion of the gathering, the window for petition submissions was opened. Petitions must be received by mail, email or via the official online General Conference 2024 Petition Submission Form by the Petitions Secretary no later than 11:59pm / 23:59 CDT, Wednesday, September 6, 2023. Instructions for preparing petitions can be found at: bit.ly/GC2024petitionform.
Sara Hotchkiss, Business Manager of the General Conference, noted that “there are a lot of details and moving pieces associated with our General Conference gatherings. But we want the members to know that we’re doing the due diligence to facilitate a successful and productive event.”
Simpson added that “as we go forth from this week’s meeting, we will be seeking clarification on some matters and tapping into the knowledge of others within the UMC connection to help inform our continued work. All the while, we aim to live out and lean into our biblical principles and publicly claim that we belong to Jesus and are proud to #BeUMC.”
The next in-person meeting of the Commission on General Conference meeting will take place in fall 2023 in Charlotte.