The United Methodist Church’s top legislative body, the General Conference, will gather April 24-May 4, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Setting policy and direction for the church, as well as handling other business, will be 988 delegates from around the world.General Conference meets every four years and is the only entity that speaks for The United Methodist Church. The theme of the 2012 conference is “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ to Transform the World.” During the 11-day session, the 988 delegates will revise The Book of Discipline, which regulates the manner in which local churches, annual conferences and general agencies are organized. The book includes policies regarding church membership, ordination, administration, property and judicial procedures. The assembly may modify most disciplinary paragraphs by a simple majority vote, but amending the constitution requires a two-thirds affirmative vote, followed by a two-thirds affirmative vote of the aggregate number of members voting in annual conference sessions. Revoking or changing the Articles of Religion or the Confession of Faith requires a two-thirds affirmative vote by the delegates; three-fourths of the annual conference members must also agree. Delegates also revise The Book of Resolutions, a volume declaring the church’s stance on a variety of social justice issues. The more than 300 statements in the book are considered instructive and persuasive but are not binding on members. In addition, the assembly approves plans and budgets for churchwide programs for the next four years and elects members of the Judicial Council and University Senate.
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Hennepin pastor, Bruce Robbins is attending the General Conference as a clergy delegate representing the Minnesota Annual Conference and may make comments about the events and proceedings. We will post those comments below on this page. You can also read the official General Conference page, follow stories on the General Conference blog page or listen to sounds of the event on the podcast page.