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Registration fees to cover budget gap for 2019 Special Session of the General Conference

The Commission on the General Conference met in Des Moines, Iowa on May 10-11, 2018. Photo by Art McClanahan.
The Commission on the General Conference met in Des Moines, Iowa on May 10-11, 2018. Photo by Art McClanahan.

Commission on the General Conference

May 16, 2018

Des Moines, Iowa: The Commission on the General Conference has voted to utilize registration fees in order to make up a $700,000 budget shortfall to cover the costs of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference—expected to be $3.7 million. The other $3,000,000 is being funded by the General Council on Finance and Administration from various funds under its supervision.

Moses Kumar, General Secretary and Treasurer of the General Council on Finance and Administration advised the Commission that it was its decision whether to cut the budget or raise income from another source to cover the difference. Unlike the regular session of General Conference, there are no significant sponsorship opportunities to offset the costs – and no additional money was apportioned by the 2016 General Conference for this purpose.

The Commission on the General Conference made the decision to charge registration fees, which it anticipates will make up the additional funding needed. "After much discussion, registration fees seemed like the best alternative," said Duncan McMillan, Commission chair. "This was a difficult decision because we want the event to be fully accessible to all who want to participate." McMillan said that free live streaming of the General Conference would be available.

The $3.7 million figure includes $500,000 for translation and interpretation services, $212,000 for the Daily Christian Advocate and petitions software, and $610,000 for facility expenses. The biggest expense, however, is $2.2 million for delegate expenses, including travel, housing and per diem. The Commission considered the possibility of reducing the per diem, but that would cover only a fraction of the needed funds.

The Commission has undertaken a number of cost-cutting measures, including decreasing the Commission's meeting costs, negotiating significant savings in meeting expenses and implementing efficiencies to reduce travel costs. Requiring all delegates to make housing arrangements through the business manager's office will result in substantial sales tax savings. Many of the general agencies are also providing their services at their own cost.

The fees range up to $300, with a discount for early registration. Delegates will not be charged a registration fee, and annual conferences may bring up to three clergy reserves and three lay reserves with no registration fee.

The special session will be held February 23-26, 2019 at The Dome in America's Center, located in St. Louis, Missouri.


About General Conference
General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church. The assembly meets at the beginning of each quadrennium to consider revisions to church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs for the next four years. General Conference 2020 will take place May 5-15, 2020, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis. A special session of the General Conference has been called for February 23-26, 2019, and will meet at The Dome of the America's Center in St. Louis.

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