St. Louis: Delegates and observers from around the world will gather at the Dome at America’s Center, February 24-26, 2019, for the Special Session of the United Methodist General Conference. The General Conference is the only body that speaks officially for the 12.6 million-member church. The event will be available via live video streaming at UMC.org/live.
The day preceding the start of General Conference, February 23, has been designated as a day of preparation and prayer as a culmination of the Praying Our Way Forward initiative (see schedule here). General Conference 2019 will officially open at 7:30 a.m., Sunday, February 24, with a worship service. Preaching will be Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr., president of the Council of Bishops.
As the top policymaking body of the worldwide United Methodist Church, the General Conference meets every four years to determine the denomination’s future direction. The General Conference was next slated to meet in 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but the Council of Bishops called a special session “limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based upon the recommendations of the Council of Bishops.”
The Judicial Council subsequently ruled that petitions could be filed by any organization, clergy or lay member of The United Methodist Church if the business proposed to be transacted is “in harmony” with the purpose stated in the call.
During the three-day session, 864 delegates from around the world will consider 78 legislative petitions, all of which must receive a vote in the single legislative committee. All those approved by the legislative committee must receive a plenary vote.
Plenary sessions and legislative committee meetings of the General Conference are open to the public. Guest and observer registration is required to attend the General Conference sessions. Registration desks will be located inside Entry B of the Dome at America’s Center. On-site registration opens on February 22 at 2 p.m. There is a suggested badge fee of $10 for on-site registration to offset the costs of the credentialing process. Pre-registered guests may pick up their badges at the registration desk.
Media who are covering the session can apply for credentials at the news registration desk at the Broadway Central entrance.
To assure the safety and security of attendees, security personnel will be checking for prohibited items for all persons entering the convention center through the use of wands and inspecting bags. Complimentary wi-fi access will be provided.
Simultaneous voice interpretation for delegates will be available in English, French, German, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Swahili. Non-delegate attendees needing English interpretation when other languages are being spoken can listen to translations via an FM radio (recommended) or by downloading a free app, and will need to bring their own device, as well as earbuds or headphones.
For more information, visit http://www.UMC.org/GC2019.
A special session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church will take place February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri. The purpose will be to receive and act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based on the recommendations of the Council of Bishops. The Commission was authorized to examine paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and to consider different expressions of church unity as a result of the 2016 General Conference. General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church and is the only voting body who can speak for the United Methodist Church.
There are many resources available to help you and your local church in the coming weeks. Many Alabama-West Florida Conference leaders, in addition to Bishop Graves, will be attending the conference. Necessary updates will be sent from the Office of Communications throughout the week. The official hashtags for social media are #GC2019 and #umcgc.
Below are links related to the special-called conference that will help you follow the session.
Bishop Graves will communicate with the conference at the conclusion of the gathering. Please be in prayer for the delegates, our Bishops, leaders and staff traveling to this conference in the coming days.
Eight hundred and sixty-four delegates from around the world will convene in St. Louis, MO, on February 23-26, 2019, to attend the special-called session of General Conference. General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church and is the only voting body who can speak for the denomination. The delegates will examine paragraphs in the United Methodist Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and consider different expressions of church unity. Ten delegates, half clergy and half laity, will represent the Alabama-West Florida Conference at this conference. We welcome your prayers during this historical time in the United Methodist Church.
-The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church
There are many resources available related to this special-called general conference session. Click here to access the dedicated page on the Alabama-West Florida Conference Website.
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In mid-December, church members, community residents and local officials joined roughly two dozen accomplished architects, planners and engineers from across North America in kicking off “The Century Project.” The four-day workshop centered on new approaches to church planning and specifically the long-term vision for Century Church’s permanent campus.
“It’s a beautiful piece of land,” said Rev. Patrick Quinn, lead pastor at Century Church. “We have 23 acres the Lord is letting us play on.”
Century Church—originally planted by Frazer UMC in 2016—meets regularly at Pike Road Elementary School. The congregation has grown rapidly since its inception, baptizing almost 80 people growing a membership of 525. It’s also a young church, with an average age of 39 and 85 to 90 children in attendance every Sunday. Early on, Quinn and church members began debating whether they should be portable or permanent, and after much prayer and discussion, they concluded they can do the most good with a permanent campus.
But the Century Church campus will be anything but traditional.
“What we have designed is a piece of property that is for the community first and the church second,” Quinn said. “It’s a totally new way of looking at church planning.”
He said the church hopes to finalize the overall design by March 10. The front of the property will be dedicated to leasing space to businesses, nonprofits and other organizations whose mission falls in line with Century Church’s beliefs. Some of the possibilities include a commissary kitchen, a YMCA branch, a farmer’s market, creative arts studios, business incubators and the United Methodist Children’s Home.
Instead of a traditional church building, the campus will feature The Well, an indoor-outdoor space where people can gather, worship, and enjoy secular and Christian music together.
Quinn, who worked in resort management prior to entering the ministry, said it has long been a dream of his to incorporate the hospitality, community and nature found at the best resorts into the space of the church. He said his own study of Jesus life led him to conclude that such a way of living is well within God’s plan for people.
“It seemed that Jesus had in mind that people would hang out with each other and become family to one another,” he said.
Quinn said he wants the permanent campus to be a place where people who are not looking for Jesus realize he’s looking for them, a place where they can lose track of time and a place where the secular becomes the sacred.
He said the community of Pike Road has been extremely supportive, particularly the school system and the mayor’s office.
“They’re cheering us on and want this church to reach the next generation,” Quinn said. “What we have found is that people are excited about a church that wants to give itself away. … There’s not one building that will be solely for our use. Even down to the office space, we’re looking at having work share possibilities!”
Many details have to be ironed out in the coming months, but church officials hope to break ground on the campus sometime in the fourth quarter of this year.
“I feel like God has had his hands on me to do this kind of ministry,” he said. “Is it stressful? Sure, but this is a vision that’s bigger than me or any one person, and I’m learning to trust God in that.”
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Trew