May 15, 2016 Pastor’s Corner

Every four years, The United Methodist Church convenes a ‘General Conference.’ Currrently, 864 delegates —half of them clergy and half laity — are gathered in Portland, Oregon, for General Conference 2016. The clergy delegate for our Yellowstone Conference is our associate pastor, Tyler Amundson.  The delegates are considering more than 1000 petitions that will order the work of our churches, pastors, and agencies, and set official positions on a variety of subjects.
 

Some highlights from previous General Conferences

Through the years, during General Conferences, Methodists have made decisions about the life of the church, and social issues. Sometimes we have been a leading voice. Other times we have been a bit slower in our decision-making.

            Abolishment of slavery: Slavery was a social topic discussed by The Methodist Episcopal Church almost from the very beginning. Many saw the evil of slavery, and a Committee on Slavery reported to General Conference through the early 19th century. At General Conference of 1800, The Methodist Episcopal Church issued a pastoral letter on abolishing slavery, and passed legislation further reinforcing their rules that no Methodist preacher should be a slaveholder or slave trader. Slavery wouldn’t be abolished in the United States until 1865.

            Women clergy: Though the church had appointed women as class leaders from the time of John Wesley, and ordained women as early as 1866, it wasn’t until General Conference of 1956 that women received full clergy rights in The Methodist Church. This year’s General Conference will recognize the 60th anniversary of that decision.

            Education: In the early 1980s, several United Methodist bishops from Africa dreamed of a university that would educate young people from all over Africa. Working with the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, they brought the idea before the 1988 General Conference where it was overwhelmingly accepted, and Africa University  (AU) was established. AU, the first private university in Zimbabwe, has graduated more than 4,000 students.

            Global health: The 2008 General Conference showed the commitment of The United Methodist Church to global health with the establishment of Imagine No Malaria. This was part of an international effort to eradicate Malaria. Nearly $75 million have been raised and used to purchase mosquito nets, fund health facilities, train medical providers, and so much more.

            The week to come is when most of the major decisions of General Conference will be made.  You can follow GC activities through the UMC website (www.umc.org/topics/general-conference-2016) or get a more personal view through Pastor Tyler’s blog (easy access through our website at www.stpaulshelena.org)

Please keep Tyler and the other delegates in your prayers!

Grace and peace, Marianne


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