Wednesday evening plenary session

During the May 2 evening session, General Conference delegates paused to pray for fellow delegate Jessica Ireland from Des Moines, Iowa, who was struck by a vehicle on the way to the session. She was transported to Tampa General Hospital and her condition was unknown at press time.

In the plenary session, delegates approved a change in language from “Lay Speaking Ministries” to “Lay Servant Ministries.” Speaking for the Committee on Discipleship, the Rev. Eric Park of Western Pennsylvania said the name change better reflected the many gifts of lay people in the church.

The General Conference had already passed the name change on its consent calendar, but needed to specifically pass this change because it added the path for lay speakers as specifically trained in pulpit supply. The term “lay speaker” occurs many times in the Book of Discipline.

The body voted 589-319 to refer a petition on “Revising the Social Principles” to the newly created General Commission on Strategy and Oversight.

Bethany Amey, a Greater New Jersey lay delegate, said the legislative committee that handled the petition “felt it was time for our Social Principles to reflect the global nature of the church.”

The Rev. Jim Harnish of Florida made the motion to refer. “I am deeply in favor of designing Social Principles that speak to the global nature of the church,” he said, “but our debate has shown that there are more questions than we can answer here on the floor. Something this important needs more time.”

Jim Winkler, top staff executive of the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, said the petition did not come out of “a formal consultation but simply a casual conversation between members of the central conferences and the General Board of Church and Society. There is a concern that the church in the 21st century, that is so very U.S.-centered, ought to have Social Principles that are truly representative (of everyone).”

Latest News

General Church
Bishop Ough announced a plan a General Conference 2016. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, United Methodist Communications.

Seeing a Way Forward: Bishop Bruce Ough

Dakotas-Minnesota Area Bishop Bruce Ough was president of the Council of Bishops during the 2016 General Conference that authorized the Commission on a Way Forward. He discusses the commission’s work and his hopes for the upcoming special 2019 General Conference.
General Church
Lonnie D. Brooks Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Commentary: Evaluating the GC2019 organizational plan

A reserve lay delegate praises some of the organizational plan for the special General Conference 2019, but raises concerns about other points, including selection of committee officers.
General Church
The Rev. Lovett H. Weems Jr. Photo courtesy of Wesley Theological Seminary.

Commentary: Should be hard to leave denomination

A church leadership scholar argues making it too easy for churches leaving the denomination removes the impetus to stay with the struggle and undermines the historical goal of unity among Christians.

Sign up for our newsletter!

SUBSCRIBE