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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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)
 
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