New business manager for General Conference

A new business manager will play a lead role planning the next General Conference, The United Methodist Church's top lawmaking assembly.

The Rev. Alan J. Morrison, who for seven years has served the denomination's finance agency as travel and meeting planning manager/General Conference business manager, is taking on expanded responsibilities.

His new duties as the director of support services (meeting planning, facilities and procurement) will reflect an increased emphasis on helping general agencies that receive general church funds to be better stewards. In consultation with others, Morrison will work to identify and implement best practices to make agency meetings, facility operations and procurement more cost-effective and efficient.

Sara Hotchkiss, who has been assistant business manager to Morrison for seven years, was promoted to travel and meeting planning manager/General Conference business manager. She is a corporate travel expert and certified meeting professional.

These personnel changes at the General Council on Finance and Administration will take effect Sept. 1.

The travel and meeting planning manager/General Conference business manager is among the most public positions at the General Council on Finance and Administration, especially during the legislative meeting.

General Conference, which convenes once every four years, last met April 24-May 4, 2012, in Tampa, Fla., and will next meet in 2016 in Portland, Ore.

Sara Hotchkiss A web-only photo courtesy of The General Council on Finance and Administration.
Sara Hotchkiss
A web-only photo courtesy of The General Council on Finance and Administration.

As business manager, Hotchkiss will work directly with the Commission on General Conference on matters related to facilities, operations, infrastructure and execution of the quadrennial event.

In addition, the business manager helps facilitate the twice-annual meetings of the Council of Bishops and other major gatherings of church leaders. Hotchkiss also will continue in her responsibilities of providing coordination of meeting planning and travel for the General Council on Finance and Administration.

Morrison managed the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, as well as this year's gathering. Before joining the General Council on Finance and Administration, Morrison served for 15 years as pastor in small-membership congregations in the Western Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference. For six years, he was the conference chair of the Council on Finance and Administration.

"Alan Morrison has done an extraordinary job as business manager of the General Conference," the Rev. L. Fitzgerald "Gere" Reist II, secretary of the General Conference, said in a statement. "His experiences have more than prepared him for the work he has undertaken. His wisdom in preparing others to take over the work has borne fruit as Sara Hotchkiss assumes the responsibilities that Alan is setting aside. The church has been and will continue to be well served by both of them."

The General Council on Finance and Administration announced two other personnel changes on Aug. 27.

  • Brent Smith, who has worked with GCFA for 26 years, is the finance agency's new chief financial officer. He will oversee management of the agency's financial administration, including administration of denominational funds.
  • The Rev. Matt Conover, an ordained elder in the Iowa Annual Conference, is the new director of financial services. He previously served in management at John Deere.

Both men began their new positions on Aug. 1.

*Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: Heather Hahn, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].

Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at

Sign up for our newsletter!

Mission and Ministry
Tim Tanton (center, in red), chief news and information officer for United Methodist Communications, shares updates with African communicators and other UMCom staff during the 2019 General Conference. World Press Freedom Day, observed May 3, commemorates journalists and highlights the difficulties they face while reporting truth. File photo by Kathleen Barry, UM News

World Press Freedom Day and the church

Tim Tanton with United Methodist News talks about giving voice to the voiceless and why freedom of information is essential not only for society but for the church.
The Rev. Tom Berlin (left) presents a copy of his book, “Courage,” to Massachusetts National Guard Chaplain Chad McCabe in the chapel at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington. McCabe, whose unit was assigned to help provide security at the U.S. Capitol after the January riot, contacted Wesley Seminary asking for Bibles, novels and board games for troops stationed there. Photo by Lisa Helfert for Wesley Theological Seminary. Copyright 2021. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Church responds to chaplain's call to help soldiers

A National Guard chaplain got Bibles, games and 150 copies of a new book about courage when he turned to Wesley Theological Seminary for help keeping soldiers occupied in Washington in the aftermath of the Capitol insurrection.
The Rev. William B. Lawrence.  Photo by H. Jackson/Southern Methodist University.

What would Jesus tell the US Capitol rioters?

The Rev. William B. Lawrence examines the claims of Scriptural authority by violent protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol.