On behalf of the Louisiana Annual Conference Board of Laity, Conference Lay Leader Carolyn Dove invites interested and qualified lay members of our conference (who are also able to meet the associated time, attendance and financial responsibilities) to consider placing themselves in nomination for election as delegates to the 2016 General Conference and/or Jurisdictional Conference of our denomination. Church law requires that delegates “shall have been members of The United Methodist Church for at least two years preceding their election, and shall have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years preceding their election.”
General Conference, which convenes every four years, is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church. Church law (The Book of Discipline) provides that no person or organization except the General Conference has authority to speak for the denomination. Meeting sites rotate among the five geographic jurisdictions of the denomination, with the 2016 General Conference being scheduled for May 10-20, 2016 in Portland, Oregon and South Central Jurisdictional Conference to be held in Wichita, Kansas on July 13-16, 2016.
Church law limits General Conference to a maximum of 1,000 delegates – half clergy, half lay – and requires that each annual conference have at least one delegate from each order. Beyond that, a conference’s representation is based on the number of lay members and clergy members in the conference, as compared to worldwide denominational membership figures. For the Jurisdictional Conference delegation, the Book of Discipline allows each annual conference to elect “twice the number of its General Conference delegates.”
In the last quadrennium, there were five (5) lay and five (5) clergy delegates elected to attend General Conference from Louisiana (and twice that number to Jurisdictional Conference). Laity elect lay delegates, and clergy elect clergy delegates. The first delegates elected will fill both General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference delegation needs, with additional elections completing the South Central Jurisdictional Conference delegation. The number for election to the 2016 conferences are four (4) lay and four (4) clergy delegates elected to attend General Conference from Louisiana (and twice that number to Jurisdictional Conference).
The General Conference revises The Book of Discipline (The United Methodist book of church law) and our denomination’s "Social Principles,” and adopts resolutions on various current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs for the next four years. Delegates may also propose amendments to the church's Constitution, but those must be ratified later in the annual conferences. General Conference also elects members of the Judicial Council, the church's "supreme court,” and some members of church wide agencies.
Our South Central Jurisdictional Conference, which also meets every four years for purposes generally including the election of bishops and selection of members of general boards and agencies, will be held on July 13-16, 2016, in Wichita, Kansas. The South Central Jurisdiction includes 10 Episcopal Areas spanning eight states, including Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as the southern border of the Navajo Indian Nation in northeastern Arizona.
In addition to meeting the basic qualifications for election, delegates should be able and committed to attend all preconference preparatory meetings, to read and study the substantial amount of proposed legislation, to participate in the interviewing of prospective candidates for the episcopacy, and to attend and actively participate in the approximately three weeks of General and Jurisdictional Conferences. While some funding may be provided by the Louisiana Conference to the elected delegates to help defray their expenses, it will not cover all expenses associated with being a delegate.
Those wishing to place their names in nomination are asked to complete the “Louisiana Conference Lay Delegate Information Form” found on the Louisiana Conference website and in the Nov. 22 print issue of the Louisiana Now! and to return the completed form and photo to the Conference Office via email or regular mail no later than March 31, 2014. The physical address for the office is 527 North Blvd., Baton Rouge, LA 70802. Booklets including the completed forms of applicants and photos will be distributed at preconference meetings and at the 2014 Louisiana Annual Conference in Shreveport. While nominations may also be taken from the floor at Annual Conference, timely completion and submission of the forms will give conference delegates needed information about the qualifications and experience of those wishing to be considered for election as delegates. Download forms below:
For Clergy interested in serving as a delegate: