United Methodism

Becoming a General Conference delegate

Ann Jacob, reserve delegate from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, motions to speak during the the 2016 United Methodist General Conference May 18 in Portland, Ore. Photo by Maile Bradfield, UMNS
Ann Jacob, reserve delegate from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, motions to speak during the the 2016 United Methodist General Conference May 18 in Portland, Ore. Photo by Maile Bradfield, UMNS

General Conference delegates carry an enormous responsibility as they serve in The United Methodist Church’s top legislative assembly.

Advance preparation for any session includes reading and reviewing pages of proposed legislation, meeting with other delegates regularly beforehand and attending a 10-day quadrennial conference that includes both committee meetings and long plenary sessions. Called sessions of General Conference are shorter but still require extensive preparation.

The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women has published a step-by-step process for Becoming a General Conference Delegate. All delegates must be members in good standing of a United Methodist congregation and should be active in their annual conference.

Each annual conference elects an equal number of clergy and lay General Conference delegates. The total number of delegates from each conference is based on the number of clergy and professing members of each conference and determined using a formula adopted by the previous General Conference.

The annual conference will also elect additional delegates to join the General Conference delegates at their corresponding jurisdictional or central conference. Jurisdictional conferences in the United States are held in the summer following General Conference. Central conferences in the rest of the world meet within the year succeeding General Conference.

A major task of the jurisdictional and central conferences is electing and assigning bishops. Delegates elected only to a jurisdictional or central conference may be designated as reserve clergy and lay delegates to serve in the General Conference if one or more delegates is unable to attend.