North Georgia Lends Many Hands to the Work of General Conference 2016


United Methodists tour the Oregon Convention Center, the site of the 2016 General Conference. Photo by Mike DuBose. 

When the General Conference of The United Methodist Church gathers next week in Portland, a number of North Georgia United Methodists will be volunteering their time to make the global event a success. 

In addition to our delegation of 11 lay and 11 clergy members (see the Delegation here), others will serve as marshals, pages, IT support, recorders, musicians and in many more roles. Some from our Conference will also attend to observe and participate in The United Methodist Church’s top legislative assembly, which will meet at the Oregon Convention Center from May 10-20, 2016.

Jay Horton, a young adult lay member of our Conference, is excited and nervous about his role volunteering as a page. The college student will take his last final exam of the semester just one day before he leaves for two weeks in Portland. 

Sally Curtis Askew, a member of Oconee Street UMC in Athens, will be attending General Conference as Clerk of The United Methodist Judicial Council. 

Rev. Olu Brown of Impact UMC will speak to General Conference during the Four Areas of Focus report on Monday, May 16.

Chris Selleck, administrative assistant to Bishop Mike Watson, will spend the two weeks working with the General Conference Business Managers Office.

Two district secretaries, Beth Steed and Denise Wilson, will be volunteering. Wilson will serve as a recorder during the first week and a transcriber the second week -- her second time working in this capacity. Steed will be on the leadership/training team for recorders and will work in the office of the General Conference Secretary and Associate Secretaries.

Rev. Julia Crim, associate pastor at Trinity on the Hill UMC in Augusta, was asked to consider serving on the General Conference staff two years ago.

"I agreed to [volunteer] and submitted the necessary paperwork," she said. "Last fall I was contacted with the request to serve as one of the 28 General Conference Recorders for the Legislative Committees." 

As for why she would sign up for two weeks volunteering across the country, she explained that it's for the same reason she accepts any request to serve on a district or annual conference committee. "I take seriously the covenant I entered when I was ordained 31 years ago to serve the church faithfully according to the Discipline to which I am committed," she said.

Debby Stikes of Griffin First UMC and Rev. Yvette Massey of Central UMC in Atlanta will also serve as recorders. 

Candler School of Theology faculty, staff, and students will contribute to General Conference in a variety of ways, from acting on denominational legislation to leading worship and learning about denominational life. (Read more about Candler's presence at General Conference.) The Candler Singers, including leaders Barbara Day Miller and David Daniel, will participate in worship and other special events.

Michael Murphy-McCarthy, North Georgia's IT director, will provide tablet support to Central Conference delegates and provide other IT assistance needed by United Methodist Communications.   

"I expect it will be a good experience," said Murphy-McCarthy who is an advocate for IT cooperation between the conferences and agencies. He has participated in three technical coordination meetings and was sent a tablet in advance to familiarize himself with the apps and configuration before General Conference.

Rev. Jasmine Smothers has served on the United Methodist Church's Study of Ministry Commission and will be on hand in Portland as legislation related to the ministry study is considered. 

The North Georgia Conference Communications staff and volunteer Pamela Duncan will provide daily reports by e-newsletter from Portland, other lay and clergy will attend as volunteers and participants, and conference leadership including Rev. Mike Selleck, Director of Connectional Ministries, Rev. Donn Ann Weber, Conference Secretary, and Bishop Mike Watson will attend. 

Countless others will be praying for the General Conference. 

For more on General Conference, visit