2012 General Conference elections process defined


The South Georgia Conference will elect its delegation to the 2012 General and Jurisdictional Conferences during the 2011 Annual Conference Session in Tifton, June 5-9.

The General Conference is the global gathering of The United Methodist Church where mission and ministry priorities are established and The Book of Discipline is reviewed for possible revisions. The General Conference is the policy setting body of United Methodism. The 2012 General Conference will be held April 24-May 4, 2012, in Tampa, Fla.

The Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference meets July 17-20, 2012, at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, to coordinate the connected ministry and mission of this region and to elect and assign Bishops for leadership in the Church.

“The South Georgia Annual Conference will elect five lay delegates and five clergy delegates to General Conference, and an additional five lay and five clergy to the Jurisdictional Conference delegation,” announced Rev. Craig Hutto, Conference Secretary.  Also, the conference will elect several reserve delegates.

“This is a reduction of one lay and one clergy delegate to both the General and Jurisdictional Conferences,” Rev. Hutto said.  The General Conference Secretary calculates the allocation of delegates based on lay and clergy membership as it relates to other Annual Conferences. 

“We get a proportional share of representation based on our membership as compared to the whole Church,” Rev. Hutto said.

The 2005 session of the South Georgia Annual Conference established a policy on elections in an effort to “create a level playing field and be fair with all potential candidates.” The complete policy can be found on the South Georgia Conference website, www.sgaumc.org/policies.  

Please note the following time line for the distribution of the informational letter and the use of the website for persons interested in declaring their interest in being elected:

February 1: An informational letter will be mailed by the Conference Secretary to all clergy, lay members to annual conference and local church lay leaders. The letter will outline the elections process, inform interested laity and clergy of how they may declare their interest in serving on the delegation through the conference website, and encourage diversity in the delegation membership.

February 15: The conference website will be open for receiving information from those interested in serving on the delegation. The policy calls for the site to include a provision for personal contact information, appointments served, and leadership positions held in the conference and district by clergy.  Interested laity will be provided a space to put personal contact information, local church membership, occupation, and whether they are a youth, young adult or adult. All persons interested in serving may submit their picture for the website and a statement up to 100 words concerning their interest, issues and qualifications to be considered as a potential delegate.

The website will remain open through the Annual Conference session for persons interested in declaring their desire to serve as a delegate and for persons interested in reviewing the profiles of potential delegates. 

However, laity interested in serving will have a deadline of March 31, 2011, to submit their information for inclusion in a printed booklet that will be mailed out with the Book of Recommendations and Reports in early May.   The website will remain open for other laypersons to declare their availability.  Lay persons declaring their willingness to serve after March 31 will not be included in the printed booklet, but they will be able to speak during the time allotted to meet “candidates” during the laity session.

The elections policy is clear in stating, “This website information is intended to be sufficient and to preclude candidates or supporters from sending other forms of campaign materials printed and/or electronic such as brochures, flyers, e-mails, faxes, letters of encouragement, etc.”

The Book of Discipline outlines the prerequisites for being elected to the delegation:

CLERGY: An important change in the 2008 edition will affect our voting in 2011.  ¶35 now reads: “The clergy delegates to the General and to the jurisdictional or central conferences shall be elected from the clergy members in full connection and shall be elected by the clergy members of the annual conference who are deacons and elders in full connection, associate members, and those provisional members who have completed all of their educational requirements and local pastors who have completed course of study or an M.Div. degree and have served a minimum of two consecutive years under appointment immediately preceding the election” (italics added).  Full Elders or Deacons on leave of absence may vote and may be elected as delegates (¶354.7). Full Elders or Deacons on sabbatical, family, paternity/maternity, or disability leave may vote and be elected (See Judicial Council Decision #473). Clergy on honorable location are no longer members of the annual conference (¶359.2) and therefore cannot vote or be elected as clergy delegates. Retired Full Elders or Deacons can vote and be elected as clergy delegates (See Judicial Council Decision #531). Full Elders or Deacons under suspension from pastoral duties may vote but may not be elected as a delegate (See Judicial Council Decision #534). Persons who are to be received into provisional membership and commissioned at the 2011 session of the annual conference may vote after they have been both received and commissioned (on Monday afternoon) as long as they have fulfilled the educational requirements as stated above in ¶35.

LAITY:  The Constitution states (¶36) that to be eligible for election as a lay member of General or Jurisdictional Conference, the member must: (1) be a professing member of the UMC for at least the past two years, (2) be an active participant of the UMC for at least the past four years, and (3) be a professing member of a church within the bounds of the South Georgia Annual Conference. The following laity may vote during the balloting for the Lay Delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conference: Lay Member elected by their charge (one per appointed clergy), the conference lay leader, the conference president of United Methodist Men, the conference president of United Methodist Women, Lay delegates to the 2008 General and Jurisdictional Conferences, Diaconal Ministers, Lay Staff in the Conference Connectional Ministries Office, Lay Chairpersons of Conference Committees, District Lay Officers, and District At-Large Lay Members.

Persons with additional questions may contact Rev. Craig Hutto, Conference Secretary, at craighutto@yahoo.com.