2012 United Methodist General Conference Awarded to Richmond, Va.

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United Methodist Communications
Stephen Drachler, Executive Director of Public Information
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Nov. 22, 2005

Contact: Stephen Drachler
(615) 742-5411 office
(615) 456-4710 cell

2012 United Methodist General Conference Awarded to Richmond, Va.

LAKE JUNALUSKA, NC - Richmond, Va., will host the 2012 international gathering of The United Methodist General Conference, the denomination's Commission on the General Conference announced today.

The gathering of 1,000 delegates from the U.S., Europe, Africa, and Asia will be held at the Richmond Convention Center from April 25 to May 4, 2012. In addition to delegates, about 4,000 other persons are expected to attend and participate in the conference.

The General Conference is The United Methodist Church's top legislative gathering. It meets every four years to consider changes to church law and to take positions on theological and social issues related to the church's work around the globe. The next conference will be April 23-May 2, 2008 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Richmond, Orlando, and Tampa, Fla. were the three finalists considered by the Commission on the General Conference during the site selection process. The commission's site selection team visited the sites before recommending Richmond.

"It will be a great pleasure to welcome the global body of United Methodist delegates and friends to the city of Richmond, capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia," said Bishop Charlene Kammerer, who leads the church in most of the state.

"We lift up our earnest prayers to serve The United Methodist Church with Christian and Southern hospitality," she added.

With more than 340,000 members, the Virginia Annual (regional) Conference is the largest in the U.S. There are more than 1,200 local churches served by nearly 1,800 clergy. It covers the entire state except for the southwestern corner, which is part of the Holston Annual Conference.

Gail Murphy-Geiss of Centennial, Colo., chair of the Commission on the General Conference, said Richmond was chosen because of the strong United Methodist presence in the region, its convenient location for many U.S. travelers, and the city's easy-to-use convention facility.

One of the benefits of the 600,000 square foot convention center, she said, is the potential for holding worship in the nearby arena while plenary sessions take place in the large convention hall. There is a United Methodist church nearby, and all hotels for delegates and visitors should be within an eight-block radius.

Richmond is a popular site for religious organizations to hold their national gatherings. In 2004, three denominations, Presbyterian Church USA, Pentecostal Church International, and American Baptist Churches USA held their national meetings in Richmond. In 2008, the Church of the Brethren is scheduled to hold its national gathering in the convention center.

Janene Charbeneau, spokesperson for the Richmond Metropolitan Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, said the bureau has conservatively estimated the 2012 General Conference will add at least $12 million to the region's economy.

The site of the General Conference traditionally has rotated between each of the five U.S. jurisdictions of the church. The 2004 General Conference was held in Pittsburgh in the church's Northeastern Jurisdiction. In 2000, it was held in Cleveland in the North Central Jurisdiction; 1996 Denver, Western Jurisdiction; and in 1992, Louisville, Southeastern Jurisdiction.

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