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United Methodists meet in Portland for worldwide conference

United Methodist Communications
Office of Public Information


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2016

Portland, Oregon: United Methodists from around the world will gather at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, May 10-20 for the 2016 United Methodist General Conference. 

As the top policymaking body of the worldwide 12.3 million-member United Methodist Church, the General Conference meets every four years to determine the denomination’s future direction, consider revisions to church law, and approve plans and budgets for church-wide programs.

During the 11-day session, which includes worship and moments of celebration, 864 delegates will consider approximately 1,000 legislative petitions. Simultaneous voice translation for delegates will be available in English, French, German, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Kiswahili and American Sign Language.

More than 2,500 visitors are expected for the duration of General Conference, with 1,000 Portland-area volunteers supporting the event. Volunteers will be displaying radical hospitality throughout the city – from welcoming visitors at the airport to serving in a variety of roles at the convention center to distributing hand-knitted scarves to delegates from warmer climates.

"We as the Greater Northwest Local Host Committee have only one objective: 'Provide extraordinary hospitality,'" said Bishop Grant Hagiya of the Greater Northwest Episcopal Area. "It is our hope and prayer to welcome everyone with a sense of uniqueness and individual hospitality. What we have become aware of is when you have only one objective or goal, it makes everything so much easier in terms of competing priorities."  

Worship, special addresses, celebrations, and other plenary sessions will be available via live video streaming at gc2016.umc.org, as well as the General Conference mobile app. Also available on the website will be daily news and feature stories, high-resolution photos, conference information and a “digital lounge” featuring short conversation segments with key persons. Stories and daily summaries will also be available by email from United Methodist News Service and on Facebook and Twitter.

General Conference 2016 will open at 2 p.m., Tuesday, May 10, with a worship celebration that will include Holy Communion. Preaching will be Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr. of the San Francisco area and president of the Council of Bishops.

Bishop Gregory Palmer of the West Ohio area will deliver the Episcopal Address during a plenary session beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11, followed later in the week by the Laity Address on May 13 and Young People’s Address on May 14.

Conference attendees will also become volunteers on May 16, 17 and 18, serving the Portland community by working at Bethlehem House of Bread and the Oregon Food Bank. Six groups of volunteers will be completing landscape, building and feeding projects – a testament to the strength of the international church’s commitment to mission and outreach.

A celebration of the denomination’s Imagine No Malaria campaign, a $75 million fundraising effort to eliminate deaths from the disease in sub-Saharan Africa, will take place on May 18 at 9:00 a.m. and will feature a performance by Jeremy Rosado of American Idol fame.

Plenary sessions and legislative committee meetings of the General Conference are open to both the public and the news media.

News media are required to be credentialed in order to take photos on the floor and gain access to the fully staffed newsroom, media seating on the main plenary floor, and press conferences and news briefings involving delegates and church leaders. Applications for media credentials can be made onsite in the General Conference newsroom in Exhibit Hall E in the Oregon Convention Center. Monday-Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

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Media contact:
Diane Degnan ddegnan@umcom.org
615-742-5406 (w) 615-483-1765 (c)