Two United Methodist Presidents Invited to Address 2008 General Conference

United Methodist Communications
Stephen Drachler, Executive Director of Public Information
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 5, 2006

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

Two United Methodist Presidents Invited to Address 2008 General Conference

NASHVILLE The Commission on the General Conference is inviting two United Methodist presidents George W. Bush of the United States, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia to address the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

"It would be an honor to hear from United Methodist heads of state," said the Rev. Dr. Gail Murphy-Geiss, chair of the commission. "It would be fitting to hear from President Bush as we are meeting in his native Texas. President Johnson Sirleaf is an extraordinary woman leading the effort to rebuild a country ravaged by war."

The 2008 General Conference meets from April 23 through May 2. About 1,000 delegates from the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia meet every four years to decide issues of church law and polity.

Bush and his wife, Laura, are members of Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, where both taught Sunday School prior to his election. He is the third Methodist to serve as U.S. president. The others were William McKinley (1897-1901) and Rutherford Hayes (1877-1881).

Johnson Sirleaf is an active member of First United Methodist Church in Monrovia, Liberia. Before her inauguration in January, she participated in a worship service led by Liberian United Methodist Bishop John Innis and Bishop Peter Weaver of Boston, who was then president of the Council of Bishops. The United Methodist Church has been active in Liberia since 1822. It is the largest Protestant denomination in the West African nation. In 1977, Liberian Bishop Bennie D. Warner was chosen to be vice president of the country.

While the Commission on the General Conference traditionally invites the president of the United States to address the assembly, this will be the second consecutive conference where two United Methodist heads of state will be invited to speak.

In 2004, President Bush and Macedonia President Boris Trajkovski were invited to address the conference. Bush was unable to appear, and Trajkovski was tragically killed in a plane crash in February. He had been scheduled to address the delegates. In 1996, United Methodist Hillary Rodham Clinton, wife of then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, addressed the General Conference in Denver.

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