General Conference 2016 Summary

From May 10 through May 20 United Methodist delegates from around the world met in Portland for General Conference. They engaged in worship, celebrations, legislative sessions, and worked together to help guide our church forward into the next 4 years. Here are some highlights from General Conference 2016:

  • After some contentious and tense debating among delegates, the Council of Bishops proposed a plan for the Church to move forward together around the question of LGBT inclusion and human sexuality. The Conference voted to approve their plan. The Council of Bishops will form a special committee of diverse voices and opinions dedicated to exploring all language relating to sexuality in the Book of Discipline with the possibility of modifying and/or removing it. They will prepare a proposal around this topic for General Conference to consider either at General Conference in 2020 or at a special General Conference in 2018 or 2019 if the committee is ready by then. General Conference 2016 agreed to stop discussing proposals about human sexuality until this committee returns with a proposal.
  • The General Conference delegates approved a general church budget of $604 million for 2017-2020, a slight increase from the 2013-16 budget of $603.1 million.
  • We celebrated 60 years of full ordination rights for women in the Methodist Church.
  • Delegates authorized the creation of a new hymnal, the first new hymnal since 1989. This new hymnal will be internet-cloud based and printed on demand.
  • General Conference voted to withdraw the United Methodist Church’s membership from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), the United Methodist Church was a founding member of the organization in 1973.
  • One Great Hour of Sharing will now be known as UMCOR Sunday, and General Conference added two new special Sundays to the Church year: Women’s Ministry Sunday and Volunteer in Mission Awareness Sunday.
  • Africa University, a private university in Zimbabwe that was started and partially funded by the United Methodist Church, celebrates 25 years of education. Africa University has more than 6.100 graduates from 32 African countries, and more than half the students are female, more than double that of other universities throughout Africa. The United Methodist Church’s investment in Africa University goes into scholarships for students, especially orphans and women, who have no way to pay for university education on their own.
  • General Conference celebrated the United Methodist Women’s 150 anniversary, which will take place in 2019. United Methodist Women started in 1869 as 8 women responding to a lack of women’s health care in India. Over the past 150 years it has grown to 800,000 members.

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