What to expect at General Conference 2020

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, organizers hope to improve proceedings at General Conference 2020.
 
Among the adjustments that delegates can expect are stricter requirements for their credentials.

Changes at The United Methodist Church's top policy-making assembly also include more time for legislative action during plenary sessions as well as some proposed revisions to the rules of order.
 
Ultimately, it will be up to delegates to approve any rule changes and keep to the schedule when they meet May 5-15, 2020, in Minneapolis. The theme for the gathering will be "…and know that I am God" from Psalm 46.

At its last planned face-to-face meeting before GC2020, the Commission on General Conference spent much of its time dealing with the ramifications of what happened at the February special session in St. Louis.
 
"The Commission on the General Conference is committed to protecting the integrity of the legislative process," said Kim Simpson, commission chair, in a statement following the Aug. 7-9 meeting. The commission elected Simpson of the Central Texas Conference after her predecessor Duncan McMillan resigned due to health reasons.

In a three-page report released late Aug. 15, the commission outlined its actions as well as new registration and voting procedures for possible implementation.

The recommended procedures also require a dedicated check-in table for reserve delegates and language interpretation at registration. The recommendations stress the need for commission personnel to use consistent names for delegates, including ensuring their names match government IDs on file and visa tracking sheets. 

Other concerns raised at the 2019 General Conference have led to some proposed changes to rules of order. 

Chief among these is a new rule that says:
 
"Delegates are free to vote according to their conscience without interference by others observing, monitoring, or recording their votes. Persons shall not give or accept bribes or threaten delegates in order to influence voting."

The commission is proposing other rule revisions. 

The Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area host team has created a website, gc2020welcome.org, to welcome delegates and offer volunteer opportunities for other guests.

Each day of General Conference will begin with worship and adjourn at 6:30 p.m. CDT, with the exception of May 9 — the last day of legislative committee work —which adjourns at 9:30 p.m. 

The first-week schedule also includes the Episcopal Address and the Young People's address on May 6 and the Laity Address on May 7.

Not on the schedule yet is any discussion of proposals being developed to dramatically restructure or split the church in the wake of the denomination's still-unresolved dispute.
 
Without proposals in hand or specific requests for time, the commission isn't able to anticipate what might be needed. However, the agenda and calendar committee can adjust the schedule onsite.

The commission also approved a budget that includes $29 a day per diem for each delegate's meals. Lodging expenses will be paid directly to the hotel.

Visitors also will be asked to pay a $10 registration fee each day they attend. The fee is voluntary.

excerpt from a story by Heather Hahn, multimedia news reporter, UMNS.

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