PORTLAND, OR — General Conference delegation chairs, annual conference communicators, and directors of connectional ministries have gathered today at the Oregon Convention Center to receive information and build relationships in preparation for May’s United Methodist General Conference. The Pre-General Conference briefing, sponsored by United Methodist Communications, brings church leaders together every 4 years to hear from United Methodist agencies and advocacy groups about plans for the May meeting.
Bishop Grant Hagiya of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area welcomed the participants to Portland, and challenged participants to share in his vision of a conference which transcends differences and seriously addresses the missional challenges the United Methodist Church faces today.
“What if we had a General Conference in which argument and advocacy were set aside and we pulled together to work on life transforming initiatives,” Hagiya said. “What if the mission became so compelling that our differences disappeared and we worked on the transformation of the world?”
The Rev. Dr. Stephen Lewis, pastor of the Gresham United Methodist Church in the Oregon/Idaho Annual Conference invited participants to remember just who they were as United Methodists during the opening worship session. “We are United Methodists — we have changed the world!” Lewis said.
Lewis reminded all that how the General Conference conducts its work is as important as the outcomes. “In the age of Twitter,” Lewis said, “few will read what we write, but millions will watch what we do.”
Later today participants will be hearing from The Connectional Table about their plans for General Conference, proposals about the future of the UMC as a global church (including the proposal for a U.S. Central Conference), proposed legislation related to clergy and bishops, a presentation by GCFA on the budget, and an overview of what to expect at General Conference. One special area of interest are proposed rule changes to facilitate conversation around areas of difference.
A number of persons are tweeting from this event at #umcgc.