UMC Twitter Sub-Culture Grows at General Conference

Graphic design by Nancy Bryan

Lauren Roden (@laurenmroden) prophesied yesterday afternoon: “Twitter is about to be ridiculously overloaded with Methodists and their iPhones. #gc2012” Her prediction has proved accurate. Since the beginning of General Conference, thousands of tweets have rolled in with the hash tag #gc2012. Some users take advantage of Twitter to keep their friends informed by tweeting quotes from General Conference speakers. The Twitter feed has also served as a rich location for commentary on General Conference events. Tweets have ranged from serious and spiritual to comical and satirical. Even during hours of debate about the standing rules for the conference, tweets rolled in at 400-1000+ / hour.

@gregmillinovich: i move we disregard all the rules and go with a ‘hunger games’ style conference. #gc2012

@umjeremy: “There’s not equity in this amendment when those that have more voices then get even more voices.” #gc2012

@robrynders: “We are to increase membership, not out of fear, but because we want to make disciples. But don’t metrics induce fear in our pastors? #gc2012

@revmelissa: If we do half of what Bishop Weaver called us to this morning, this will be a truly historic event. #GC2012

@HowellPreaches: Let’s put the young people in charge. We old guys have had our chance #GC2012

@FakeUMCDS: How do you get rid of malaria? WITH A FLASH MOB. #gc2012 #um

William E. Brown, reserve delegate from the Texas Conference, took advantage of a break to jump online. UMR Photo by Sam Hodges

William E. Brown, reserve delegate from the Texas Conference, took advantage of a break to jump online. UMR Photo by Sam Hodges

Many tweets have emphasized the importance of keeping a spiritual focus at General Conference, encouraging prayer, spiritual reflection or more conversation about Jesus:

@ctcummings: My prayer for #gc2012 is that our focus will be on love of God and neighbor. For sin is “a heart turned in upon itself.” (Bonhoeffer) #hope

@revmelissa: We need to be a church that is more Holy Spirit- conscious than problem-conscious. #gc2012

@FakeUMCDS: Holy Conversations begin at 3:30. That leaves plenty of time for unholy conversations. #gc2012 #um

Still, others use the attentive Methodist audience to broadcast their concerns and raise awareness about issues important to them:

@jncatron: #Israel‘s #Caterpillar bulldozers demolished 222 Palestinian homes last year. The #UMC profited. #ChurchDivest #GC2012

@RevAdamHamilton: #gc2012 41% of delegates are from Central Conferences!

The online conversation has its critics as well. @conklinerik responds to much of the online conversation with concern: “Have hope for UMC? Then stay away from comments sections of GC 2012 blogs. Powerful witness of love to the world? I think not. #GC2012.

Why So Many?

The Rev. Jay Voorhees, a United Methodist elder of Methoblog and United Methodist News Service has never before seen this level of Twitter activity surrounding a Methodist event. Twitter activity around Methodist issues is growing. “I think there’s been so much interest at this general conference among folks who are invested and have already been involved in online conversation. We’re seeing the result of that conversation.”

Without Wi-Fi, many General Conference attendees rely upon iPhones to engage on Twitter.

With abundant tweets occurring during the discussion of rules, many folks claimed to be “Methodist dorks” or “polity nerds.” “This is like the Olympics of Methodism” was retweeted several times over the course of the day. A tweet from @umjeremy revealed something bigger at stake: “I can see @amylippoldt tweeting on her macbook during the Episcopal address. Its our gen’s version of ‘call and response’ J #gc2012 #GCYP.” @umjeremy’s tweet may confirm Jay Voorhees suspicion, “I think the increase in Twitter activity represents a generational shift. My impression is that there are a lot more folks under the age of thirty here than I’ve ever seen before.”

Twitter is becoming a way that delegates can be engaged during what would otherwise be passive, listening time. It is also providing the opportunity for Methodists who cannot attend General Conference to be a part of the action. Laura Rockwell Beville believes “it makes those of us who aren’t there feel like a part of the process” (via facebook).



Rev. Mike Baughman is an ordained elder, social media coach and special contributor to the United Methodist Reporter.


Leave a Reply

The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
andycool22UMC Twitter Sub-Culture » GC2012 Conversations Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

[…] About Jay VoorheesJay Voorhees is the pastor of the Old Hickory United Methodist Church, a community advocate in Nashville, a co-founder of, and a blogger in his own right at Only Wonder Understands. Mail | […]


what's with the mentions of iPhones? Both at the top of the article and the image at the bottom. Any smartphone should have Twitter app ability with a data plan. Without WiFi, you can still use any smartphone, iPhones aren't the only ones able to use Twitter without Wifi…………???

%d bloggers like this: