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Delegates, actions illustrate 'worldwide'

In addition to more than a thousand petitions and the contents proposed for a new hymnal, significantly revised sections of the Book of Discipline and rewritten Social Principles will be on their pre-GC reading list. General Conference 2016 approved continuing both projects to make them more applicable to a worldwide church. Those were among actions that underscored The United Methodist Church's status as a global denomination.

In addition to authorizing the Standing Committee on Central Conference Matters (SCCCM) and the Standing Committee on Faith and Order to continue work on a General Book of Discipline, delegates approved the sample draft of several chapters of Part VI and a plan for consultations in 2017 with annual conferences on the proposed changes.

Bishop Patrick Streiff, chair of the central conference affairs committee, discussed the work with Interpreter in January. He said reworking entire sections of the Discipline offers "a chance to do some major shifts where it will raise awareness of what it means to be a worldwide church, where essentials are needed to connect us, but not overregulations that bind us and prevent mission."

Delegate LaNella Smith relaxes between sessions at the 2012 Gneral Conference in Tampa, FL.

He further hopes the central conferences will not need to make as many adaptations as they do with the present volume, that the number of revisions each General Conference makes will be reduced and that the likelihood will increase of the current volume being used across the denomination.

Africa will be getting five more United Methodist bishops, but not before 2020. The denomination's rapid growth in some parts of that continent has prompted a widespread recognition that more bishops are needed.

Delegates also approved petitions to create the Southeast Asia and Mongolia Provisional Central Conference with ministries in Laos, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam and a provisional annual conference in Rwanda.

As Africa University approaches its 25th anniversary, delegates took a few moments to celebrate. "The university matters because a relevant and holistic education generates a living legacy that changes everything," said Munashe Furusa, vice chancellor. "You and The United Methodist Church have answered a call to witness through this transforming ministry."

A small group of Lumads — indigenous people of Southern Philippines who have been the target of cruelty for decades — attended General Conference and were featured in a video about their plight.
Delegates also heard a presentation on the Korean War and on efforts, including by United Methodists, to bring about peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.

Sam Hodges, UMNS news writer, and Joey Butler, multi-media editor for United Methodist Communications

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