(Rev. Jeremy Steele for AWF Conference) - In addition to our delegates, bishop and some of the conference staff, several dedicated United Methodist leaders from our conference have made the long pilgrimage to Saint Louis joining over 3,000 other observers to have a front seat at this historic gathering. The question we asked was why? Why carve out almost a week in your schedule? Why travel over 500 miles? Why sit in a room listening to motions and legislation debates upon which you can not ultimately vote?
For Rev. Jean Tippit, associate pastor at Christ UMC in Mobile, AL it starts with history. “It’s a historical moment in our church and I wanted to be a part of that history.” But it doesn’t end there, she also said, “I also wanted to be here in support and prayer for those who make these difficult decisions.”
The conference began on Saturday with an entire day devoted to just that: prayer and worship, but the prayer continues. All United Methodists have been called to prayer before and during this event. There are several resources available for that at UMCprays.org as well as a prayer written by a pastor in our annual conference.
Rev. Jake and Rev. Dana Brady, pastors at First United Methodist Church in Geneva, AL made the trip together looking for an unvarnished account. “We want to be in contact, firsthand, with what happens here” he said hoping to be able to bring that eye-witness account to the churches they lead.
Our annual conference is offering daily emails to help you do just that back home. You can sign up for those by clicking here and choosing the NewsCONNECTION list. If you’re looking for even more reporting, you can find the official news feed at UMnews.org
But what seems to be a common feeling among these additional observers was expressed by Rev. Sara Shaver District Superintendent for the Dothan District. “I love the United Methodist Church. “And this love is calling her to action. “I wanted to be here in support but also to hear and see first hand the proceedings of General Conference.”
Rev. Frederick Outlaw says he “wasn’t present in 1968 or 1972 for the merger of the Central Jurisdiction, Evangelical Brethren and the Methodist Church.” But that “it appears we are at another crossroads.” A lot has changed in terms of technology since those other historic gatherings in the 60s and 70s that could enable you to not miss being part of this one.If you were not able to make the trek to Saint Louis as an in-person observer, you can follow along as an online observer, all of the conference is being streamed live.
“It was important for the United Methodist Church to come together and spend intentional time in prayer and fasting before we begin the legislative work. I, along with many other bishops and delegates, will be fasting during the lunch hour. I am grateful for many dedicated United Methodists in our conference that are taking time out of their busy weekend to pray for our delegates and leaders.”
-Bishop David Graves, Alabama-West Florida Conference
General Conference Begins with Prayer and Fasting
Today marked the beginning of a significant time in the life of the United Methodist Church. Bishops, media, observers, and a total of eight hundred and sixty-four delegates gathered in St. Louis at the America’s Center Convention Complex for a Day of Prayer. The day was organized by the Praying Our Way Forward team, led by Bishop Deborah Wallace-Padgett and Bishop Al Gwinn. This initiative began in 2016 and included bishops, annual conferences, and expanded to include the entire denomination. The Alabama-West Florida Conference honored this time in September of 2017 by writing prayers and asking local churches to ring bells at 5:23 one evening signifying today’s date, February 23. More here.
AWF Pastor Serves on Committee of the Calendar
Rev. Ashley Meyer, associate pastor at Cokesbury UMC in Pensacola, FL, is serving as Assistant to the Coordinator of the Calendar. This role is part of the Commission on the General Conference. This is Ashley's third general conference in a leadership role. This staff is headquartered in the former visiting team locker room where the St. Louis Rams previously played! You can see how she customized her space. This is an unusual space for general conference but Meyer and the commission committee members are making the most of it. We are grateful to Rev. Meyer for taking time away from her family and local church to serve in this capacity.
ADCA and Agenda
Advance Daily Christian Advocate: Today's ADCA may be found here.
Tomorrow's agenda is below:
7:30 – 8:30 A.M.
8:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M.
Morning Session 1
Roll Call/Bar Reports (Commission on the General Conference, Committee on Agenda and Calendar, Administrative Committees)
Morning Session 2
Council of Bishops and Commission on a Way Forward Report
12:30 – 1:30 P.M.
1:30 – 6:30 P.M.
Afternoon Session 1
Afternoon Session 2
As a reminder, The Commission on the General Conference has devised a process for determining the order in which legislative proposals will be considered by the single legislative committee during the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference. Petitions that compose a plan will be considered together as one unit. Petitions that are not part of a plan will be considered individually. On the first official day of the session, February 24, plans and petitions will be listed one at a time on the video screens in numerical order by petition number(s). Delegates will then be able to indicate whether they consider each a high priority or a low priority by pressing either 1 or 2 on their device. This process is not a final vote, but rather a prioritization of the proposals. More here.
Live Stream: Click here to access the live stream.
Hashtags: Use #umcgc and #gc2019 to join the Facebook and Twitter conversations and tag your Instagram photos using #umcgc.
Today marked the beginning of a significant time in the life of the United Methodist Church. Bishops, media, observers, and a total of eight hundred and sixty-four delegates gathered in St. Louis at the America’s Center Convention Complex for a Day of Prayer.
The day was organized by the Praying Our Way Forward team, led by Bishop Deborah Wallace-Padgett and Bishop Al Gwinn. This initiative began in 2016 and included bishops, annual conferences, and expanded to include the entire denomination. The Alabama-West Florida Conference honored this time in September of 2017 by writing prayers and asking local churches to ring bells at 5:23 one evening signifying today’s date, February 23.
Today’s gathering featured experiential prayer time with bishops from four regions of the world. Each segment included:
-Preparation for the way God will speak in each segment;
-Celebration of the places where the work of God is thriving;
-Presentation of the missional challenges in this part of the world;
-Prayers in various languages; and
-Experiential prayer including prayer stations, prayer partners, and self-guided prayer.
Several local churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference recently held their own prayer services or vigils to join in this effort. Dothan First United Methodist Church held a service last week. “We felt it was important to come together as a church and offer prayers for those who have spent significant time serving the church as lay and clergy delegates to General Conference,” said Dr. Jim Sanders, senior pastor. “Clearly our entire congregation cannot make the trip to St. Louis so this was our way of showing our support for those who are representing our conference. Our prayers continue for the conference and those attending.”
Dothan FUMC also distributed prayer cards containing the dates and purpose of the special-called conference, the names of the ten delegates, and a prayer for them to say each day in the month of February.
Today’s gathering had two purposes: to pray for the 2019 Special Session of General Conference and to increase effectiveness in fulfilling the Church’s mission.
“We have much work ahead of us in the coming days,” stated Bishop David Graves. “It was important for the United Methodist Church to come together and spend intentional time in prayer and fasting before we begin the legislative work. I, along with many other bishops and delegates, will be fasting during the lunch hour. I am grateful for many dedicated United Methodists in our conference that are taking time out of their busy weekend to pray for our delegates and leaders.”
St. Louis: Delegates and observers from around the world will gather at the Dome at America’s Center, February 24-26, 2019, for the Special Session of the United Methodist General Conference. The General Conference is the only body that speaks officially for the 12.6 million-member church. The event will be available via live video streaming at UMC.org/live.
The day preceding the start of General Conference, February 23, has been designated as a day of preparation and prayer as a culmination of the Praying Our Way Forward initiative (see schedule here). General Conference 2019 will officially open at 7:30 a.m., Sunday, February 24, with a worship service. Preaching will be Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., president of the Council of Bishops.
As the top policymaking body of the worldwide United Methodist Church, the General Conference meets every four years to determine the denomination’s future direction. The General Conference was next slated to meet in 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but the Council of Bishops called a special session “limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based upon the recommendations of the Council of Bishops.”
The Judicial Council subsequently ruled that petitions could be filed by any organization, clergy or lay member of The United Methodist Church if the business proposed to be transacted is “in harmony” with the purpose stated in the call.
During the three-day session, 864 delegates from around the world will consider 78 legislative petitions, all of which must receive a vote in the single legislative committee. All those approved by the legislative committee must receive a plenary vote.
Plenary sessions and legislative committee meetings of the General Conference are open to the public. Guest and observer registration is required to attend the General Conference sessions. Registration desks will be located inside Entry B of the Dome at America’s Center. On-site registration opens on February 22 at 2 p.m. There is a suggested badge fee of $10 for on-site registration to offset the costs of the credentialing process. Pre-registered guests may pick up their badges at the registration desk.
Media who are covering the session can apply for credentials at the news registration desk at the Broadway Central entrance.
To assure the safety and security of attendees, security personnel will be checking for prohibited items for all persons entering the convention center through the use of wands and inspecting bags. Complimentary wi-fi access will be provided.
Simultaneous voice interpretation for delegates will be available in English, French, German, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Swahili. Non-delegate attendees needing English interpretation when other languages are being spoken can listen to translations via an FM radio (recommended) or by downloading a free app, and will need to bring their own device, as well as earbuds or headphones.
For more information, visit http://www.UMC.org/GC2019.
A special session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church will take place February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri. The purpose will be to receive and act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based on the recommendations of the Council of Bishops. The Commission was authorized to examine paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and to consider different expressions of church unity as a result of the 2016 General Conference. General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church and is the only voting body who can speak for the United Methodist Church.
There are many resources available to help you and your local church in the coming weeks. Many Alabama-West Florida Conference leaders, in addition to Bishop Graves, will be attending the conference. Necessary updates will be sent from the Office of Communications throughout the week. The official hashtags for social media are #GC2019 and #umcgc.
Below are links related to the special-called conference that will help you follow the session.
Bishop Graves will communicate with the conference at the conclusion of the gathering. Please be in prayer for the delegates, our Bishops, leaders and staff traveling to this conference in the coming days.