General Conference 2016 Delegation Sizes and Theme Announced

by Vance Morton*
Central Texas Conference to Elect 4 Clergy & 4 Lay Delegates to 2016 General & Jurisdictional Conferences.
The Commission on the 2016 General Conference voted last month to set the target number of delegates to General Conference at 850. That number is not exact. It could vary a tad to meet representation requirements under church law. Because of this decision, it is estimated that the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Ore., will have about 15 percent fewer delegates than recent gatherings of The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking body.
The Central Texas Conference was officially notified last week that it will be electing four clergy and four lay delegates to represent the conference at the 2016 General Conference. Four clergy and four lay representatives will also be elected to Jurisdictional Conferences along with four clergy and lay alternates. The total is based on the total number of delegates to General Conference and in accordance with Paragraph 502.2 of the 2012 Book of Discipline.
The Central Texas Conference will elect its General and Jurisdictional delegates and alternates during the 2014 Annual Conference meeting scheduled for June 8-11 at First United Methodist Mansfield.
Since the merger that created The United Methodist Church in 1968, the number of delegates at each General Conference has remained closer to 1,000. The 2012 General Conference had 988 delegates from around the globe and cost about $8.4 million.
The reduction to approximately 850 delegates is anticipated to save the church around $600,000, according to Sara Hotchkiss, General Conference business manager. Before the vote to reduce, the projected costs for the 2016 General Conference were more than $10 million. The reduction in delegates also begins to smooth the way for The United Methodist Church to hold its first General Conference outside the United States, said the Rev. L. Fitzgerald Reist II, the General Conference secretary. That move could happen as early as 2024.
“Therefore Go” to be the theme of 2016 General Conference
The Commission on the 2016 General Conference also approved “Therefore, Go” as the theme for the gathering in downtown Portland, Ore.
Nordic and Baltic Episcopal Area Bishop Christian Alsted, , first suggested the 2016 theme, which comes from Christ’s Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 – the inspiration for the denomination’s mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, It also has the advantage of being easily translated into multiple languages.
The Rev. Lynn Hill, the chair of the commission’s program committee and a member of the Tennessee Annual (regional) Conference, noted worship leaders and other organizers will be able to invoke the theme in a variety of ways to expand upon the Christian message.
Some possible directions include:
  • “Therefore, go … in love”
  • “Therefore, go and baptize”
  • “Therefore, go work for peace.”
Other Actions from last month’s General Conference Commission Vote
  • The commission reduced the number of legislative committees at the 2016 General Conference from 13 to 12. The commission voted to combine the work previously done by the Higher Education and Ministry Committee — which deals with petitions concerning seminaries, ordination and clergy — and the Superintendency Committee — which deals with petitions concerning district superintendents and bishops.
  • The commission set a daily schedule with an adjournment of 6:30 p.m. most days. The one exception is the Saturday of General Conference, the last day when legislative committees meet. On that day, legislative committees would have the option of finishing their work during 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.


*Vance is the director of Communications & IT for the Central Texas Conference.