In early 2020, The United Methodist Church was preparing for its next General Conference. The gathering promised to be one for the history books, with key legislation proposed that would chart the course for the denomination’s future.
But as we all know, COVID-19 gripped the world and shut it down in March, leading to the postponement of the 2020 General Conference, not once, but three times. The global pandemic, as well as extended waits for visas, eventually pushed the gathering to April 23 – May 3, 2024.
The name’s the same
The delay caused a relocation of the host city, from the originally planned Minneapolis, Minnesota, to a new venue in Charlotte, North Carolina. Legislation submitted for consideration in 2020 still stands, but there was an opportunity to submit new proposals as well.
One might think that a new meeting year and a new location and new proposals would lead to a new name for General Conference, but this is not so. The name remains “2020 General Conference.”
In the United Methodist Book of Discipline, ¶ 14, it’s stated that General Conference is to meet every four years, so a 2020 assembly must occur…even if it is greatly postponed.
Scheduling challenges aren’t over
If you’re doing the math, you will notice that with a 2020 General Conference, there should be a 2024 General Conference to follow. In the calendaring conundrum we find ourselves, the Council of Bishops has recommended that an abbreviated 2024 General Conference take place in 2026. Then, the 2028 General Conference will convene as usual in 2028.
For further explanation about General Conference and how it fits into the structure of the denomination, explore the General Conference page on UMC.org.
For official 2020 General Conference news and information, turn to these sources:
Laura Buchanan works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. Contact her by email.
This story was published on September 6, 2023.