The team in black: Methesco students come to GC2016

MTS students at General Conference, photo by Wes Magruder, UMRUMR photo by Wes Magruder

MTS students at General Conference

Eleven people, all wearing identical black shirts, walked purposefully into the designated Press Room at General Conference and immediately focused themselves with admirable industry on their writing.

Sitting on the back row across from them, the UMR team couldn’t help but notice their focus and attention (maybe because we were already dragging after two days of  covering the conference).

“Hmmmm?” we thought. “Very curious…” With that we sent our resident extrovert to check with the group to find out what was up?

A conversation ensued between our staff extrovert and their group extrovert, and we learned that the group were all students from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. They had come to Portland as a part of their class on church polity, and were focusing especially on the work of the General Conference as they prepared for ordination in the United Methodist Church.

As a part of their classwork, the students were required to attend the first week of General Conference. Each student was asked to chose a particular area of interest, and was assigned to observe and study the work of a particular legislative committee.

The Rev. Dr. Valerie Stultz, photo by Wes Magruder, UMRUMR photo by Wes Magruder

The Rev. Dr. Valerie Stultz

The Rev. Dr. Valerie Stultz, retired clergy and former District Superintendent, teaches the course. She herself is a five-time delegate to General Conference and is a member of the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters. She has been part of the committee charged with re-writing a global Book of Discipline, and both knows and appreciates the power of that book.

The students have created a blog, where they post their thoughts and snippets of what they have learned. According to Stultz, the enthusiasm of the students is high. They group arrived this past Sunday, May 8, and immediately jumped into their study and work. The group will be leaving on Friday to return to final exams, so they will miss out on the lion’s share of plenary debate.


Nonetheless, this group of students and future clergy have developed both a love for, and an appreciation of, the complex nature of the UMC and the power of its many missions and ministries. And they are providing a great example of a good work ethic for the rest of us in the press room.


I’m a retired Elder in the United Methodist Church, the place I finally discovered grace after a lifelong search. I love writing, gardening, reading, asking questions and making connections between political and religious practices.

My husband and I jointly claim eleven children (as he says, “mostly by mergers and acquisitions!”) and twelve grandchildren. In between our own travels, we love to have them and many others come and stay with us a bit. We see so much of the heavenly grace in the offering of earthly hospitality.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ 

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)
Notify of
%d bloggers like this: