Seminarians Explore General Conference

Seminarians from Drew Theological School are among the crowds of United Methodistst who have flocked to Tampa Bay for General Conference. They’re here as a part of a course studying General Conference in its role within the United Methodist Church. Dean Jeffrey Kuan of The Theological School at Drew University is excited to have students in Tampa Bay. “Students can read about General Conference; it is an entirely different matter to experience it for themselves…they see for themselves at times God at work and at other times humans at work in trying to figure out where the spirit of God is leading us.”

Maxine Harris, Gina Yeske, Sungchun Ahn and Martha Epstein stand outside the convention center in Tampa Bay. FL

Students aren’t just here for credit. “There are hot issues coming up this week that will have a big impact on us,” explains Maxine Harris. Martha Epstein elaborates, “I’m worried about guaranteed appointments which were put in place to protect minorities and women. That will have a real impact on me.”

Gina Yeske, a student at Moravian and licensed local pastor in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference is worried about the impact of consolidation on the local church. “Having used the extensive resources for the local church, made available by the General Agencies, I’m worried that I won’t have the support that I have relied upon in the past.”

Their concerns stretch beyond issues that directly impact them. Yeske and Harris expressed concern for the denomination’s identity. “Can we continue to live out being a global church when is seems that we, as Americans, would have to give up some power and allow for central conferences to have a greater voice?”

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

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