Petition deadline for 2004 General Conference looming

News media contact: Kathy Gilbert · (615) 742-5470 · Nashville, Tenn.

Individuals and groups wanting to change policies, procedures and practices of the United Methodist Church have only until Nov. 29 to submit petitions to the 2004 General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking body.

The Rev. Gary W. Graves, petitions secretary, said he has currently received approximately 1,000 petitions.

The first set of petitions has already been entered into the database and is being translated into French, German, Portuguese and Spanish for the Advance Daily Christian Advocate, the book of legislation used by General Conference delegates.

The church's general agencies and many of the annual (regional) conferences have already submitted their petitions, according to Graves.

"At this point in the process it would really help if we could get as many of the remaining petitions electronically-either by e-mail attachment or on diskettes," he said. "Any hard copies we receive have to be retyped. It would save hours and hours of work if we could get them electronically."

The next meeting of the General Conference, which convenes every four years, will be April 27-May 7 in Pittsburgh.

The General Conference, the only body that can speak officially for the denomination, comprises nearly 1,000 delegates - half clergy and half laity. After each conference, revised editions of the Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions are released.

General Conference delegates can change anything in the Book of Discipline except the church's Constitution. Any recommended changes in the Constitution must be ratified by the annual conferences.

The 2004 assembly will have 11 legislative committees: church and society; conferences; discipleship; faith and order; financial administration; general administration; global ministries; higher education and ministry; independent commissions; judicial administration; and local church.

Each valid petition is given a number and title. Each legislative committee deals with petitions related to a series of paragraphs from the Book of Discipline. Petitions related to the Book of Resolutions are sorted by subject matter. A legislative committee can recommend to the full delegation concurrence or non-concurrence with the language as submitted, or the committee may change the language and then recommend concurrence. Legislative committees can also submit majority and minority recommendations.

Petitions (three hard copies required and 3.5 inch diskette requested) should be mailed to: Gary W. Graves, petitions secretary, United Methodist General Conference, P.O. Box 6, Beaver Dam, KY 42320.

Petitions (three hard copies required and 3.5 inch diskette requested) submitted via commercial overnight carriers (Federal Express, UPS, DHL) should be sent to: Gary W. Graves, petitions secretary, United Methodist General Conference, 302 N. Lafayette St., Beaver Dam, KY 42320.

Petitions also can be sent by fax to (270) 274-4590 or by e-mail to petitions@umpublishing.org.

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