Ask The UMC: How often has there been a special called General Conference?

Overhead view of the 1976 General Conference. The conference established the Commission on the Status and Role of Women and the office of a diaconal minister. Photo by John C. Goodwin, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
Overhead view of the 1976 General Conference. The conference established the Commission on the Status and Role of Women and the office of a diaconal minister. Photo by John C. Goodwin, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

How often has there been a special called General Conference? Has it ever been held in the same place twice?

Since The United Methodist Church formed in 1968, only one special session of General Conference has been held outside of the normal four-year schedule. That was in 1970, and General Conference itself called the session to complete the merger of the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren denominations.

The 2019 General Conference is the first time a special session has been called by the Council of Bishops. It will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, which was also the location for both the 1970 and 1988 general conferences.

Portland, Oregon, was the site of the 1976 and 2016 General Conferences.

Early in the church’s history, the 1784 Christmas Conference, which formed the Methodist Episcopal Church, was held in Baltimore, Maryland, at Lovely Lane Chapel. The first regular General Conference met again in Baltimore in 1792 and established the cycle of meeting once every four years

Sites of past General Conferences:

1968    Dallas, Texas (uniting conference)
1970    St. Louis, Missouri (special session)
1972    Atlanta, Georgia
1976    Portland, Oregon
1980    Indianapolis, Indiana
1984    Baltimore, Maryland
1988    St. Louis, Missouri
1992    Louisville, Kentucky
1996    Denver, Colorado
2000    Cleveland, Ohio
2004    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
2008    Fort Worth, Texas
2012    Tampa, Florida
2016    Portland, Oregon

Learn more:

Methodist History: The Uniting Conference of 1968

Why United Methodist General Conference? History and highlights

Have questions? Ask The UMC. And check out other recent Q&As.

This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.

First published October 2, 2018.

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