Pittsburgh chosen for 2004 United Methodist General Conference

Pittsburgh has been selected as the meeting site for the 2004 United Methodist General Conference, the top legislative body of the 10 million-member denomination.

The conference will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center April 27-May 7, 2004.

The selection was announced July 31 by Mollie M. Stewart of Valhermosa Springs, Ala., chairperson of a 17-member commission responsible for planning and selecting sites for the gatherings.

"We took great care in searching for a site which could meet our requirements at the lowest possible costs," Stewart said. "Planning for 1,000 delegates for 10 days with an adequate number of meeting and sleeping rooms is not an easy task." 

The United Methodist Church was created in 1968 with the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church. The last General Conference held in Pittsburgh was that of the Methodist Church in 1964.

In addition to 1,000 delegates, more than 2,000 observers usually attend all or portions of the event.

The General Conference is the only body that speaks officially for the church. The actions of each conference, including any laws enacted, are included in a revised Book of Discipline. The conference also produces statements on social issues, which are included in a revised Book of Resolutions. 

The General Conference gatherings are held every four years, and the next meeting will be May 2-12, 2000, in Cleveland. It has a budget of more than $3 million. Gary Bowen, General Conference business manager, said the budget for the 2004 conference is expected to be "considerably more."

The most recent General Conference was held in Denver in 1996. Conference sites have traditionally been rotated among the church's five regional U.S. jurisdictions.

The United Methodist Church has 8.5 million members in the United States and more than 1 million in Africa, Europe and the Philippines.

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