From Rev. H. Craig Hutto, South Georgia Conference Secretary
We have received the following notice from the General Conference Secretary, Rev. Fitzgerald Reist, concerning the 2016 General Conference and the number of delegates allowed by the South Georgia Conference. Please note that the South Georgia Conference will be voting on our delegates at the 2015 Conference Session held in Savannah. If you have any questions, please contact me by email: email@example.com.
Delegates to the 2016 General Conference are to be elected at either the 2014 or 2015 session of the South Georgia Annual Conference. (Paragraph 502.3)
You are to elect 4 Clergy Delegates and 4 Lay Delegates.
In accordance with Pars. 34-36 in the Constitution, delegates to the jurisdictional conferences are also to be elected.
¶ 34. Article III.—The annual conference shall elect clergy and lay delegates to the General Conference and to its jurisdictional or central conference in the manner provided in this section, Articles IV and V. The persons first elected up to the number determined by the ratio for representation in the General Conference shall be representatives in that body. Additional delegates shall be elected to complete the number determined by the ratio for representation in the jurisdictional or central conference, who, together with those first elected as above, shall be delegates in the jurisdictional or central conference. The additional delegates to the jurisdictional or central conference shall in the order of their election be the reserve delegates to the General Conference. The annual conference shall also elect reserve clergy and lay delegates to the jurisdictional or central conference as it may deem desirable. These reserve clergy and lay delegates to the jurisdictional or central conferences may act as reserve delegates to the General Conference when it is evident that not enough reserve delegates are in attendance at the General Conference.
In the election process, attention is directed to Par. 35 and 36, which now read:
¶ 35. Article IV.—The clergy delegates to the General Conference and to the jurisdictional or central conference 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.
¶ 36. Article V.—The lay delegates to the General and jurisdictional or central conferences shall be elected by the lay members of the annual conference or provisional annual conference without regard to age, provided such delegates shall have been professing members of The United Methodist Church for at least two years next preceding their election, and shall have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years next preceding their election, and are members thereof within the annual conference electing them at the time of holding the General and jurisdictional or central conferences.
The election of jurisdictional conference delegates is governed by Par. 514
¶ 513. Membership
The membership of each jurisdictional conference shall consist of an equal number of clergy and lay delegates elected by the annual conferences as provided in the Discipline. Consideration shall be given to electing an inclusive delegation (¶¶ 124, 138). The number of delegates to which an annual conference is entitled shall be twice the number of its General Conference delegates, except when the application of that formula results in a total number of delegates to a jurisdictional conference less than 100. In that event, the Secretary of the General Conference shall adjust the number of delegates to a jurisdictional conference in the same proportion among the annual and missionary conferences of the jurisdiction to achieve a total of 100, ensuring that no annual or missionary conference shall be represented by fewer than four delegates.
and 515, which reads:
Election of Delegates — The clergy and lay delegates and reserves to the jurisdictional conferences shall be elected by ballot in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Instructions for the reporting of elections will be sent to annual conference secretaries early in 2014.
The General Conference will be in session from May 10 through May 20, 2016 in Portland, Oregon, USA. Delegates are expected to be present from May 10 through May 20, with departure on May 21, 2016.
Specifics on travel and housing for General Conference will be distributed by the Office of the Business Manager of the General Conference in the fall of 2015.
Lake Junaluska, N.C.: The secretary of the General Conference, Rev. L. Fitzgerald Reist, released today a list of numbers of delegates by annual conferences. Secretaries of each annual conference were previously notified how many delegates their own conference would have. (See the breakdown at umc.org/gc2016delegatecount.)
The number of delegates per annual conference is calculated based on the requirement for one lay and one clergy delegate for each annual conference, with additional delegates assigned according to a formula that considers the total clergy and lay membership per conference.
“The reduced number of delegates did not result in significant changes in the proportionate representation of delegates from individual jurisdictions and central conferences,” said Reist, who has served as the secretary since his election in 2004.
Thirty percent of delegates in 2016 will be from Africa, 58.3 percent from the U.S., 4.6 percent from Europe and 5.8 percent from the Philippines, with the remainder from the Concordat churches.
At the October 2013 meeting of the Commission on the General Conference, the body voted to reduce the total number of delegates for the 2016 General Conference from nearly 1,000 to approximately 850. The 2012 General Conference shifted the responsibility for determining the target number of delegates from the secretary of the General Conference to the Commission, offering the rationale that it should not be the decision of only one person.
The Constitution of The United Methodist Church allows for the General Conference to have anywhere from 600 to 1,000 delegates. The overriding factor in reducing the number of delegates was a desire to move toward a smaller structure which meeting facilities outside the U.S. could accommodate.
“While there were reasons to set the number of delegates at the higher and the lower end of the range, the Commission arrived at this figure in a spirit of compromise,” said Judi Kenaston, Commission chair. “It is an incremental move toward a smaller conference, which will allow us to hold General Conference outside the United States, and it represents responsible stewardship while limiting the percentage change in representation from various parts of the worldwide church.”