On March 3, 2022, the Commission on General Conference announced plans to further postpone the General Conference session of The United Methodist Church to 2024. You can find the full announcement here. Below are answers to some questions about the announcement.
Q: When and where will General Conference take place?
General Conference will take place in 2024. The Commission on General Conference has already secured a venue for what would have been the regularly scheduled quadrennial event. An announcement about the exact dates and location will be forthcoming as soon as the required logistical planning is complete.
Q: Why was General Conference postponed again?
Covid-19 has had a worldwide impact. Kim Simpson, chairwoman of the Commission on General Conference, shared that the decision to postpone was made based on numerous factors, including visas and passports, the health and safety of delegates, volunteers and other attendees, vaccination rates, and the need for provisions for quarantine or medical care should any delegates contract COVID-19.
Q: Who made the decision to postpone General Conference?
The Commission on the General Conference makes the decisions on dates for General Conference, including any decision on postponements. The decision is not made by our Annual Conference's delegation, United Methodist bishops, or other leaders. The Commission on General Conference is a body of 25 people elected by General Conference from among the delegates to General Conference.
Q: What happens to the legislation that was submitted for the 2020 General Conference?
We anticipate that all submitted legislation will be properly before General Conference when it meets, though we are waiting on a definitive answer.
Additionally, in a recent Judicial Council ruling, The United Methodist Church’s top court said that any postponement of the General Conference resets the submission deadlines for proposed legislation. The deadlines for General Conference petitions “are based on the date of the postponed General Conference and reset with each postponement,” the church court said in Decision 1429. That means that additional legislation, including legislation that was previously deemed late, may be submitted to the General Conference and properly before the session.
Q: How will the South Georgia Conference operate until General Conference meets?
South Georgia will continue to operate in compliance with the current Book of Discipline with a traditional view on human sexuality. South Georgia Conference leadership will be prepared for any implications the postponement brings.
Q: Will the same delegates who were elected in 2019 continue to serve?
Because the 2020 General Conference was postponed, it is our understanding that the delegates elected at the 2019 South Georgia Annual Conference will continue to serve. However, Rev. Gary Graves, Secretary of the General Conference, said in the press release: “As the postponed 2020 General Conference now enters the typical cycle of preparation for a General Conference that would have been held in 2024, we will need to look to the Judicial Council for clarity regarding which preparations and processes are based on the postponed 2020 General Conference and which would need to be enacted should this be seen as a new 2024 General Conference.” The Judicial Council is responsible for final interpretation of the Discipline, and we await their ruling for a final decision on this matter.
Q: With the postponement of General Conference will there be a Jurisdictional Conference? When will we elect bishops?
There have been ongoing discussions about this, and we will share those answers as soon as we have more information.
Q: What if my church wants to consider disaffiliation now that the announcement has been made to postpone General Conference?
The South Georgia Conference has a policy in place for a local church to disaffiliate from the annual conference. To allow local churches additional time to have any necessary conversations, Bishop Graves has called a special session of the Annual Conference for August 20 to vote on matters related to local church disaffiliations. At this June’s Annual Conference, legislation will be submitted to accommodate the disaffiliation timeline with a called annual conference. Click here to read FAQs specifically related to disaffiliation.
Q: What does this mean for my congregation?
The mission of The United Methodist Church and the mission of your local church is unchanged. We have confidence that all our churches will continue to share the love of Christ with those around them.