GC2016 Update: South Georgia Edition 

The United Methodist Church’s top legislative body is meeting at the Oregon Convention Center, the largest convention center in the Pacific Northwest, from May 10-20, 2016.

General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church which convenes once every four years. The conference can revise 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.

Tuesday, May 17 Highlights

Bishop James King, episcopal leader of the South Georgia Annual Conference, talks with the South Georgia delegation this morning as rumors of a church schism swirled across the General Conference.

General Conference Day 7

Council of Bishops supports unity, called to make a report Wednesday

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, addresses the 2016 United Methodist General Conference May 17 in Portland, Ore. Ough emphasized the bishops remain committed to the unity of the denomination. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the Council of Bishops and leader of the Minnesota Conference, addressed the General Conference today, asking for a point of privilege to discuss rumors of a plan for schism

Bishop Ough confirmed that the Council of Bishops is in talks with a number of groups across the denomination, but that the Council believes we are called to maintain unity. 

“We belong to God and one another,” he said. 

As the afternoon progressed, delegates approved a motion that asks the Council of Bishops to meet Tuesday evening and return Wednesday with a report outlining a way forward.

South Georgia Bishop James King affirms the sentiments of the Council and offers these words for South Georgia United Methodists:

"It is so important for me to communicate with you that recently the Council of Bishops met and it was in that meeting that we made a fresh commitment to focus on unity in the life of the church - not division, not splitting. So as far as we are concerned, we are working together, even across our differences, to be a people that are working to unify the life of the Church and to have us all working together for a Christlike world. So back in South Georgia let’s stay focused on making disciples. Our focus is on growing a Christlike world, and trust that at the end of the day, when all is said and done, we will be working together to focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. And all of the other things you are hearing, please know that they are not coming from the Council of Bishops and they are surely not coming from your bishop, so let us continue to pray together and to pray for unity." 

Click here to watch Bishop King's statement on unity 

Click here for the complete transcript of Bishop Ough's address to the General Conference

Votes of note

Once you’re a bishop, you stay a bishop — at least in the U.S. A petition to amend the constitution and impose term limits for U.S. bishops failed get the required two-thirds vote to pass. The final tally was 482-332. Some bishops outside the United States are already subject to term limits.  Read more

Should $20 million be removed from general church ministries and reallocated to a new committee on U.S. church growth? General Conference delegates referred a proposal that does just that to the Judicial Council, the denomination’s top court, for a ruling on whether the plan is in line with the denomination’s constitution and whether it constitutes a conflict of interest. Delegates voted 614-197 to refer. Read more

Delegates passed a new formula for allocating funding to the Central Conference Theological Education Fund. All money in excess of $750,000 collected by central conference apportionments for the General Administration Fund will now be directed to the education fund. The original petition, which would have removed Central Conference Theological Education from the World Service Fund and established it as its own apportioned fund, was amended in legislative committee to create the new formula.

Delegates approved a constitutional amendment that would allow General Conference to set provisions for the Council of Bishops to hold its individual members accountable for their work. They also approved legislation that alters the complaint process against bishops. The new measure sets a definitive timeline of 180 days to try to resolve a complaint in the denomination’s supervisory process within the College of Bishops. The legislation also allows the Council of Bishops at any time to remove the complaint from the College of Bishops with a two-thirds vote of the council.

Two new special Sundays without offering were created: Women’s Ministry Sunday may be observed annually on a Sunday designated by the annual conference; Volunteers In Mission Awareness Sunday shall be observed annually on a date determined by the local congregation.

Deacons and sacramental authority

Today the General Conference passed a petition that allows deacons to contact their resident bishop directly to ask for permission to administer sacraments. Previously, the pastor-in-charge or district superintendent had to make the request on the deacon’s behalf.

Reserve delegate Rev. Stacey Harwell-Dye, who is a deacon and minister of community building at Centenary UMC in Macon, had the opportunity to step in for one of our clergy delegates as the vote was being taken. In response, she had the following to say:

"I am grateful the petition, which allows deacons to request from the bishop sacramental authority in their primary and secondary appointments, passed. Presiding over the sacraments when and where necessary helps deacons extend the church to the world in the most beautiful and holy way - literally sharing the bread of life and cup of blessing, Christ's body, and the  water of baptism with those in the margins whom we encounter in our day to day ministry in the world. Many of us deacons serve appointments that have us frequenting spaces where people on the margins - who love Jesus and desire the sacraments - live, be it in prison or elsewhere. This only a small change from current legislation but it is an important step forward."


Green light for new hymnal project

(UMNS) The United Methodist Church is on track to get its first new hymnal since 1989, and this one will be Internet-cloud based and print-on-demand — the first high-tech hymnal for a mainline denomination. General Conference 2016 approved on a consent calendar Tuesday, May 17, a petition authorizing the creation of a 15-member Hymnal Revision Committee. That was the big green light needed for the United Methodist Publishing House and Discipleship Ministries to move forward with the new collection. The two agencies share responsibility for the hymnal. Read more

May 17 wrap-up: Schism rumors quashed

Read the UMNS wrap-up for May 17.

Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. (left) and Gil Hanke give the report on United Methodist Men May 17 during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Join us in Prayer

Featured Delegate: Rev. Scott Hagan, senior pastor of Bonaire UMC

“Gracious God, we come to you in prayer for General Conference. May your presence be made known to the people called Methodists. May your grace and truth be gathered up with us all. Especially, may the women and men serving in Portland be led by your Spirit, be grounded in your love, and be clear in their witness to the world - for the world is watching. In all of this, may you be glorified. We pray in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."
-Rev. Scott Hagan



Daily Devotions for May 16 - May 20

In the opening worship service of General Conference, San Francisco Area Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr., president of the Council of Bishops, said, “Like the first disciples, some of us may have come to this meeting of Jesus’ people we call General Conference with some mixture of hope and uncertainty. There are many issues on our agenda. So many things for you to consider as the plans for the church’s future are adopted.”

As General Conference delegates continue to grapple with this hope and uncertainty and make decisions that will shape the direction of The United Methodist Church, we invite you to join in scripture reading and reflection through a daily devotion written by Rev. Jay Hanson, senior pastor of The Chapel UMC in Brunswick, Ga. and a South Georgia Conference delegate to General Conference.

We pray that these devotions will help us unite as brothers and sisters in Christ and “strive for the things that bring peace and the things that build each other up,” as Paul wrote to the Romans (14:19).  

Click here to view the devotions for each day. Please share with others!

Devotion for Wednesday, May 18: God has got it under control

By Rev. Jay Hanson

“It is written: As surely as I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.” Romans 14:11-13

God is God. He has everything under control. So we can trust him to deal justly with us and with everyone else. Therefore we need only worry about living a life for which we can proudly account.


  • Am I showing Christ-like love to those that see things differently than me?
  • Is there anything that I am doing that could cause someone to stumble or develop an incorrect image of Christ?
  • Am I playing God by passing judgment on people?

Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen

Action plus Belief = Faith
Put your belief that God is in charge into action today by allowing Him to correct those you think are wrong and by being open to Him correcting you where you might be wrong.

Photo Files

Photo Album for Monday, May 16

Photo Album for Tuesday, May 17

Schedule for Wednesday, May 18

Streaming Schedule 
**Reminder: All times are Pacific Standard 

  • 7:45 A.M.: Prelude - Northwest Chorale
  • 8:00 A.M.: Worship (11:00 AM EST)
  • 9:00 A.M.: Reports/Calendar Items & Conference Business (12:00 noon EST)
  • 9:48 A.M.: Imagine No Malaria (12:48 PM EST)
  • 10:20 A.M.: Calendar Items & Conference Business (1:20 PM EST)
  • 12:18 P.M.: Global AIDS Report (3:18 PM EST)
  • 12:25 P.M.: Vital Congregations Moments (3:25 PM EST)
  • 2:00 P.M.: Calendar Items & Conference Business (5:00 PM EST)
  • 3:51 P.M.: General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits Report (6:51 PM EST)
  • 3:58 P.M.: 30th Anniversary: Disciple Bible Study (6:58 PM EST)
  • 4:20 P.M.: Calendar Items & Conference Business (7:20 PM EST)
  • 5:40 P.M.: Report on the Sand Creek Massacre (8:40 PM EST)
  • 6:10 P.M.: Closing Devotion (9:10 EST)

Full Schedule: This agenda shows the overall program of the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. View Schedule

Daily Christian Advocate 

The Daily Christian Advocate (DCA) is the official journal of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. It serves as the record of those who have been elected to serve as delegate, the legislation submitted, and the decisions made by the General Conference.

May 17, 201605-17 DCA (Vol. 4, No. 7 pages 2273-2368)
May 16, 201605-16 DCA (Vol. 4, No. 6; pages 2145-2270) 
May 14, 201605-14 DCA (Vol. 4, No. 5; pages 2049-2144)
May 13, 2016 05-13 DCA (Vol. 4, No. 4; pages 1921-2048)
May 12, 2016 05-12 DCA (Vol. 4, No. 3; pages 1873-1920)
May 11, 2016 05-11 DCA (Vol. 4, No. 2; pages 1825-1872)
May 10, 2016 05-10 DCA (Vol. 4, No. 1; pages 1649-1824)

See the Advance Daily Christian Advocate, which contains all of the legislation submitted for consideration by the delegates.

Following General Conference

Daily Email Update Archives 

Monday, May 16: Week Two begins with elections, celebrations, protests
Saturday, May 14: Young ambassadors share hope, committee work finishes
Friday, May 13: Laity Address, State of the Church report
Thursday, May 12: Rule 44 does not pass
Wednesday, May 11: Episcopal address, more Rule 44 debate
Tuesday, May 10: General Conference Opens with Worship and Communion
Monday, May 9: One Day Until General Conference  

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