|Conferences to consider church structure|
Members vote during the 2008 session of the United Methodist Western Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference in Grove City, Penn.
A UMNS file photo by Carrie Moore.
A UMNS Report
By Linda Green*
March 10, 2009
United Methodists meeting in this year’s annual sessions will vote on 32 proposed constitutional amendments, many of them related to the denomination’s structure as a global body.
Delegates to the 62 U.S. annual conferences and the 73 conferences in Africa, Europe and Asia will consider 23 amendments approved earlier by the 2008 United Methodist General Conference, the denomination’s top legislative body. The amendments, proposed by the Task Force on the Worldwide Nature of the Church, are for the creation of regional conferences to establish a uniform denominational structure.
The Ohana Dance Group performs for the 2008 California-Nevada Annual (regional) Conference in Sacramento, Calif. A UMNS file photo by Paul "Spud" Hilton.
The legislation would make it possible to create a U.S regional conference in the future. Each annual conference would belong to a regional conference that will be able to organize into jurisdictional conferences if the amendments are passed by the 2009 annual conference sessions.
The remaining nine amendments are related to church and conference membership; annual and jurisdictional conference composition, including boundaries; inclusiveness of the church; representation of newly created conferences at general, jurisdictional and central conferences; the judicial council; episcopal elections; fiduciary responsibility; and clergy participation in the election of delegates to general, jurisdictional and central conferences.
“Amendments may be debated, but may not be amended,” said the Rev. L. Fitzgerald Reist, II, secretary of the General Conference.
Voting on changes to the church’s constitution occurs in the year following General Conference to provide annual conferences with time to familiarize themselves with the proposed amendments, he said. “This is an attempt by the General Conference to be flexible and respond more appropriately in a rapidly changing world,” Reist added.
All constitutional amendments must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the total number of voting members of all annual conferences worldwide. The Council of Bishops is expected to announce the results during its 2010 spring meeting.
Bigger voice for clergy
If annual conferences approve proposed constitutional amendment XIX , deacons, associate members and provisional members may join ordained ministers in full connection in voting for clergy delegates to general, jurisdictional and central conferences.
To be eligible to vote, local pastors must have completed the course of study or master of divinity degree and have served under appointment for two consecutive years immediately preceding an election.
Another proposed amendment would allow lay people on the committee on investigation to vote on matters of ordination, character and conference relations of clergy.
The annual conference is the "basic unit" of the church, according to the denomination’s Book of Discipline. It may include an entire state, part of a state or even parts of two or more states.
During the annual conference gatherings in the United States, Africa, Europe and the Philippines, one-year appointments of all conference clergy members are announced. New deacons and elders are ordained, candidates for ordination approved, special projects and ministries recognized and budgets are set. A bishop presides over each annual session.
U.S. conference changes
In 2007, delegates to the North and South Indiana Conferences voted to merge, an action that was approved by the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in 2008. The new Indiana Annual Conference will have its first conference session June 25-28 in Muncie.
Delegates to the 2008 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference approved specific plans for the creation of two new annual conferences from the uniting of six conferences from the New York state portions of Wyoming and Troy along with all of the churches in Western New York and North Central New York.
Children sing and dance for the denomination's 2008 Florida Annual (regional) Conference in Lakeland.
A UMNS file photo by Caryl Kelley.
The Pennsylvania portion of the Wyoming Conference will join the Central Pennsylvania to create a new conference in Pennsylvania, and the Vermont portion of the Troy Conference will become part of the New England Conference. The effective date for the change is July 1, 2010.
Annual conference members from Central Pennsylvania and Wyoming are expected to vote on a recommendation that the new Pennsylvania conference be named the Susquehanna Annual Conference, which is the name of river that winds throughout much of the conference boundaries.
The first session of 2009 conference gatherings was held in January when the Gwaten Conference of the United Methodist Church of Nigeria convened. The U.S. gatherings begin in May when the Red Bird Missionary Conference convenes May 1-2 in Big Creek, Ky., and will conclude June 28 with the adjournments of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference.
List of annual conferences
The United Methodist Council on Finance and Administration lists the following annual conference meeting dates and places:
U.S. ANNUAL CONFERENCES
North Central Jurisdiction
Dakotas, June 3-6, Rapid City, S.D.
Bishop Alfred L. Norris Jr. lays hands on candidates for ministry during the 2008 North Texas Annual (regional)
Conference in Plano, Texas.
A UMNS file photo by Joan LaBarr.
Detroit, May 14-17, Adrian, Mich.
East Ohio, June 15-18, Lakeside, Ohio
Illinois Great Rivers, June 3-6, Peoria, Ill.
Indiana, June 25-28, Muncie, Ind.
Iowa, June 4-7, Ames, Iowa
Minnesota, May 27-29, Saint Cloud, Minn.
Northern Illinois, June 7-9, Saint Charles, Ill.
West Michigan, June 4-7, Grand Rapids, Mich.
West Ohio, June 8-11, Lakeside, Ohio
Wisconsin, June 14-17, Appleton, Wis.
Baltimore-Washington, June 4-6, Baltimore Md.
Central Pennsylvania, June 4-6, Grantham, Penn.
Eastern Pennsylvania, June16-18, Oaks, Pa.
Greater New Jersey, May 28-30, King of Prussia, Pa.
New England, June 18-20, Wenham, Mass.
New York, June 10-13, Hempstead, N.Y.
North Central New York, May 28-30, Liverpool, N.Y.
Peninsula-Delaware, June 11-13, Princess Anne, Md.
Troy, June 10-13, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
West Virginia, June 11-14, Buckhannon, W.Va.
Western New York, June 19-21, Buffalo, N.Y.
Western Pennsylvania, June 11-14, Grove City, Pa.
Wyoming, June 4-6 Scranton, Pa.
South Central Jurisdiction
Arkansas, June 14-17, Rogers, Ark.
Central Texas, June 7-10, Southlake, Texas
Kansas East, June 3-6, Baldwin City, Kan.
Kansas West, May 20-22, Salina, Kan.
Louisiana, June 7-10, Kenner, La.
Missouri, June 5-8 Springfield, Mo.
Nebraska, June 10-13, Lincoln, Neb.
New Mexico, June 3-6, Odessa, Texas
North Texas, June 7-9, Plano, Texas
Northwest Texas, June 10-13, Midland, Texas
Oklahoma, May 25-28, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Oklahoma Indian Missionary, June 4-7, Anadarko, Okla.
Rio Grande, June 11-13, San Antonio, Texas
Southwest Texas, June 3-6, Corpus Christi, Texas
Texas, May 24-27, The Woodlands, Texas
Alabama-West Florida, June 7-10, Montgomery, Ala.
Delegates lift up covenant cards during worship at the 2008 Illinois Great Rivers Conference Conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. A UMNS file photo by Paul Black.
Florida, June 11-13, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Holston, June 14-17, Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Kentucky, June 3-6, Covington, Ky.
Memphis, May 31-June 2, Jackson, Tenn.
Mississippi, June 11-14, Jackson, Miss.
North Alabama, June 4-6, Trussville, Ala.
North Carolina, June 10-13, Greenville, N.C.
North Georgia, June 16-18, Athens, Ga.
Red Bird Missionary, May 1-2, Big Creek, Ky.
South Carolina, May 31-June 3, Florence, S.C.
South Georgia, June 7-10, Columbus, Ga.
Tennessee, June 14-16, Brentwood, Tenn.
Virginia, June 14-17, Norfolk, Va.
Western North Carolina, June 11-14, Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Alaska Missionary, June 5-7, Anchorage, Alaska
California-Nevada, June 17-20, Sacramento, Calif.
California-Pacific, June 17-20, Redlands, Calif.
Desert Southwest, June 25-28, Glendale, Ariz.
Oregon-Idaho, June 11-14, Salem, Ore.
Pacific Northwest, June 18-21, Tacoma, Wash.
Rocky Mountain, June 17-20, Grand Junction, Colo.
Yellowstone, June 11-13, Billings, Mont.
(Complete information on some conferences is unavailable.)
Austria Provisional, May 21-24, Graz, Austria
Bicol Philippines Provisional, April 1-4, Legazpi City, Philippines
Bulacan Philippines, March 24-27, Malolos City, Bulacan, Philippines
Bulgaria Provisional, April 3-5, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Czech & Slovak Republics, May 29-31, Prague, Czech Republic
Denmark, May 7-10, Copenhagen, Denmark
East Mindanao Philippines, April 23-26, New Corrella, Davao Norte, Philippines
Estonia, June 11-14, Tallinn, Estonia
Finland-Finnish-speaking Provisional, June 25-28
Finland-Swedish-speaking Provisional, June 3-7, Ekenas, Finland
Germany East, May 13-17, Ellefeld (Vogtland), Germany
Germany North, April 16-19, Berlin, Germany
Germany South, June 17-21, Deutschland, Germany
Gwaten Nigeria, Jan. 15-18, Jalingo, Taraba, Nigeria
Hungary Provisional, April 22-25, Budapest, Hungary
Liberia, Feb. 11-15, Bong County, Liberia
Lukoshi (Congo), July 19-22, Kayembe Mukulu
Middle Philippines, May 18-22, Macatbong, Cabanatuan City, Philippines
Mindanao Philippines, May 21-24, Kidapawan City, Philippines
Northwest Katanga (Congo), July 26-29, Musumba
Northwest Mindanao Philippines, April 16-19, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines
Pero Nigeria, Feb. 29-March 1, Jalingo, Taraba, Nigeria
Palawan Philippines Provisional, Feb. 16-21, Palawan Philippines
Pampango Philippines, April 22-25,
Philippines, April 27-30, Tagaytay City, Philippines
Philippines East, April 13-18, Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines
Poland, June 19-21, Ostroda, Poland
Serbia-Macedonia Provisional, Oct. 15-18, Kisac, Serbia
South Congo, July 5-8, Lubumbashi
Southern Nigeria, Nov. 26-30, Jalingo, Taraba, Nigeria
Southwest Katanga (Congo), July 12-15, Likasi
Southwest Philippines, March 2-6
Sweden, May 20-24, Malmo, Sweden
Switzerland-France, June 4-7, Duebendorf and Zurich, Switzerland
Visayas Philippines, May 28-31, Cebu City, Philippines
West Middle Philippines, May 25-30, Bataan, Philippines
Western Angola, Oct. 5-11
Zambia Provisional, June 21-24, Ndola, Zambia
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wrap-up: Constitutional amendments, Gates speech and resolutions on variety of issues top agenda
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