Q&A: Postponed 2020 General Conference


The Commission on General Conference announced plans to further postpone the General Conference session of The United Methodist Church to 2024. Below find answers to some questions about the announcement. We will continue to update this document as we have more information. 

Stay connected to news and information on General Conference by visiting www.ngumc.org/GC2020

Q: Why did the Commission postpone General Conference to 2024?

The Commission shared that their decision was based on COVID-related and governmental policies/constraints. Read the Commission’s announcement at https://www.ngumc.org/newsdetail/general-conference-further-postponed-to-2024-16384674.

The United Methodist Church is a global body with diverse contexts. We are from four continents and 40 nations. In 2021, the Commission on a General Conference named the values that would guide their decision. This included a commitment to go beyond the minimum requirement of a quorum, which could be met with just U.S. delegates, and instead work toward a reasonable threshold for delegate participation overall and by global region. Read more about the criteria the commission set at https://www.umnews.org/en/news/setting-criteria-for-a-2022-general-conference

Q: Who is the Commission on General Conference?

The Commission on the General Conference is a body of 25 people elected from among the General Conference delegates by the General Conference.

It is this Commission that names the venue for the General Conference, oversees contract negotiations, approves contracts for venues, interpreters, technology, and other services required for a General Conference, manages security and voting processes, names the worship and music directors, oversees the process of collecting legislation up to the legislative deadlines established in the Discipline--in short, deals with every decision that needs to be made so the General Conference can happen and its operations can be as effective, secure, and seamless as possible. 

They also have the authority to determine that a General Conference must be rescheduled if it becomes impossible to hold it in a way that is safe and equitable for the delegates from across the worldwide denomination.  

For more detail on all of their responsibilities, read ¶511 of the 2016 Book of Discipline.

Q: When will a new General Conference date and location be announced?

The Commission meets regularly and we expect to receive that information as soon as it has been confirmed. (Note that the dates have now been set for April 23-May 3, 2024.)

Q: What happens to the legislation currently before the General Conference? 

We anticipate that legislation before the 2020 General Conference will be before the postponed session, but don’t yet have a definitive answer. 

In a recent Judicial Council ruling The United Methodist Church’s top court said that any postponement of the General Conference resets the submission deadlines for proposed legislation. The deadlines for General Conference petitions set out in the Book of Discipline “are based on the date of the postponed General Conference and reset with each postponement,” the church court said in Decision 1429. That means that additional legislation may be submitted to the General Conference and properly before the session.

Q: Will the North Georgia Conference elect new delegates for 2024?

Because the 2020 General Conference was postponed and not canceled, delegates elected at the 2019 session of the Annual Conference will continue to serve in this capacity. 

Q: Will we be able to have a Jurisdictional Conference before 2024? When will we elect bishops?

There have been ongoing discussions about this and we will share those answers as soon as we have them. 

Q: Which Book of Discipline do we follow?

We continue operating under the 2016/2019 Book of Discipline and will until another session of General Conference meets. 

Q: What does this mean for my congregation?

The mission of The United Methodist Church and the mission of your local church is unchanged. 

Let’s remember who we are — spirit-filled, resilient, connected, missional, faithful, diverse, deeply rooted, committed, disciple-making, Jesus-seeking, generous, justice-seeking, world-changing people of God called The United Methodist Church! 

There are people across our communities who don’t know God’s love. There are families and individuals facing food insecurity. There is a need for agents of reconciliation in a polarized world. While the need for further postponement is disappointing, we are still called and equipped to #BeUMC.