Family of faith,

Next week the General Conference for our United Methodist Church begins. This is the long-awaited return of our legislative body that hasn’t gathered since the 2019 Special Conference in St. Louis and the 2016 General Conference in Portland. Our very own Gregg Sealey is serving as a reserve clergy delegate from our Pacific Northwest Annual Conference and flies out on Sunday.

The 862 elected delegates from around the world will gather from April 23rd—May 3rd. The General Conference functions a lot like the “Congress” of the United Methodist Church. It is made up of equal representation of clergy and laity that are elected by their Annual Conference to represent their area. The General Conference approves budgets, makes changes to The Discipline (our governing document in the UMC), and name our missional direction.

In our tradition, we have long confessed and practiced that we believe we are better together. We need our siblings in the faith to be able to fully discern what and how God is calling us to engage in the mission. Our spiritual ancestors fed the hungry, housed the unhoused, clothed the naked, visited the imprisoned, proclaimed the Good News of Jesus. None of us are capable of completing the mission of God on our own. We need each other for support, correction, and, of course, encouragement. But we also believe that on a very fundamental level, we need each other for the work to be Christian. Because of God’s Triune Nature, we are made to be in community, too.

No matter what way you look at it, this will be a momentous General Conference. We have not had one since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and that alone would make this historical. However, we also have now endured a major wave of disaffiliations in the past year as our denomination went through a split.

The main topics that will be addressed are: Revising the Social Principles, Regionalization, Removal of Harmful Language, and Reduced Budget.

A thorough explanation of the first three R’s can be found here. You can also follow along during the General Conference at that website which is “UM News.” It is a neutral news agency within the UMC. They will have daily updates posted as well.

In a short explanation—the Social Principles offer a theologically and biblically rooted response to the problems our modern world faces. These Revised Social Principles represent our global Connection.
Regionalization refers to the proposed legislation that would allow every UMC world region to adapt The Discipline to reflect their missional context.
Removal of Harmful Language refers to proposal to remove the discriminatory language in The Discipline regarding our LGBTQIA+ siblings.
Reduced Budget is about the reality that our denominational budget have had to be cut because of disaffiliations and a decline in church members.

During our worship service this week, we will pray for this General Conference during our Prayers of the People. We will lift up our larger faith tradition. I invite you to pray each day for the General Conference and the important work that they do.

I will also be leading Adult Ed (possibly more than one) following the conclusion of General Conference to talk about what comes out of this holy conferencing.

You can use this prayer throughout the next two weeks or find or make up your own:

Loving God,
You have long guided the people called Methodists. We give thanks that we have encountered your people, your love, and your welcome in such a people. We give thanks that you are a God who has committed to work and move through the Body of Christ, in all its many expressions.

We confess that it is easy for us to be distracted from the mission to which you have called us, through Christ Jesus. In Christ Jesus, you have invited us to be disciples, those who are constantly following after you learning from you how to live as people brought into resurrection life. You have called us to serve as you served, to sacrifice as you did, to welcome those overlooked.

We lift up our General Conference, long deferred. Holy Spirit, fill the spaces and rooms where our halls of power reside. Settle Your Presence over each delegate, that they may clearly sense that how you lead them. That they would remember the holy and sacred task to which they have been called—to use that power for the least of these.

We confess that we, your people throughout all the ages of this earth, have not always gotten this right. We have chosen convention over faithfulness. We have chosen to build our own kingdoms instead of participating in Yours. We have defended our palaces instead of engaging with those to whom we are sent. We have upheld systems that oppress and disenfranchise, systems that have been rooted in white supremacy, sexism, colonialism, queerphobia, and hosts of other sins.

We ask that as your United Methodist people, in this time, and these places, that we would clearly hear Your voice. That Your will would be done in Charlotte, as it is in heaven.

And we pray, O God, that whatever happens at General Conference, that we would ever be your people, rising to the work of the Church.


Yours in Christ, Pastor Megan