response: November/December 2019 issue

General Conference 2020

The United Methodist General Conference takes place May 2020 
in Minneapolis. United Methodist Women will be there.

General Conference 2020
United Methodist Women member Bethany Amey Sutton, delegate from the Greater New Jersey Conference, speaks at General Conference 2016.

Every four years The United Methodist Church holds its General Conference, the top policymaking body for the denomination. From May 5-15, 2020, 862 delegates from around the world will gather in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to set denominational policy, revise church law, approve budgets for churchwide programs and adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. Delegates to General Conference, equal clergy and lay, are elected at their annual conferences. The delegate count for each conference is based on the number of clergy and professing lay members of the conference in a formula laid out by The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church.

The previous full session of General Conference was held in May 2016 in Portland, Oregon. A special session of General Conference was held in 2019 focusing on the denomination’s policies and practices regarding LGBT+ clergy and marriages. General Conference is the only body that can speak for The United Methodist Church. 

United Methodist Women at General Conference

At 2019 annual conferences, United Methodist Women members across the country were elected and helped women be elected delegates to General Conference 2020. Voting as delegates on the many petitions brought to General Conference, bound for the church’s Book of Discipline or Book of Resolutions, is an important way United Methodist Women members offer key leadership to the church on behalf of women, children and youth. But it is not the only way United Methodist Women is present at General Conference.

In 2020 United Methodist Women will be bringing four pieces of legislation to be included in the Book of Resolutions on observing Children’s Sabbath, protecting the girl child, protecting voting rights and the status of women and realizing full human rights. We’ll also host a gathering for women delegates before the conference begins and consecrate deaconesses and home missioners. At General Conference, United Methodist Women has also hosted a display, organized actions on advocacy priorities and made prayer shawls and finger labyrinths for those at General Conference. Members also attend General Conference as supporters and volunteers, and members across the country pray before, during and after for the delegates and for a church that prioritizes marginalized communities. We partner with Central Conference United Methodist women through our regional missionaries, the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women, women’s desks, organized gatherings and other projects and programs.

United Methodist Women is also seen in the simple presence of women voting delegates and of clergywomen, as organized laywomen in the Methodist and United Evangelical Brethren tradition fought tirelessly for women’s representation and women’s ordination. United Methodist Women is also seen at General Conference in the presence of translators and delegates and bishops and other United Methodists from around the world who have been supported by United Methodist Women through scholarships, programs and transformative educational experiences to equip them to grow as leaders.

United Methodist Women is the only official women’s organization of The United Methodist Church. United Methodist Women is at General Conference—and in local churches and communities around the world—because the church cannot make disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world without women organized for mission.

Our foremothers left us a legacy of innovative mission, and we continue that legacy by being the organization the world needs today. Until poverty, violence, inequality, racism and preventable deaths cease, until women and children are no longer marginalized, until we live in a world in which all thrive, women need to be organized for mission. In the 21st century, the church and the world need United Methodist Women. 

Tara Barnes is editor of response.

Posted or updated: 11/5/2019 12:00:00 AM

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