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“Be still and know that I am God!  I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”  –Psalm 46:10

The postponed 2020 General Conference will meet in Charlotte, NC, April 23-May 3.  Since the General Conference, which is the only decision-making body for The United Methodist Church, only meets every four years, every General Conference is important.  But this year’s General Conference carries high expectations of significant changes for our denomination and our inclusion of all God’s people.

While 1,100 petitions have been submitted to General Conference, many of them have to do with three priorities that include Global Regionalization, passage of the Revised Social Principles and removal of harmful language and policies toward LGBTQ persons.

Today, I will explain more about Global Regionalization.  Regionalization of our worldwide denomination would require changes to the UMC Constitution.  If passed, Regionalization would allow the United States and the regions outside the United States, known as Central Conferences, to make adaptations to the Book of Discipline, which is our denominational book of polity.

While we are a worldwide, connectional denomination, since the forming of The United Methodist Church in 1968, Central Conferences outside the U.S. have been able to adapt parts of the Book of Discipline to suit their particular settings and differences in culture, traditions and societal laws.  If Global Regionalization were to pass at General Conference, the U.S. would also be able to adapt parts of the Book of Discipline.

A committee has been working since 2012 to develop a proposed structure for The UMC to remain connectional worldwide, while making room for customization in how the church lives out its mission in each region of the world, including the U.S.

There will be much work to be done during and after the General Conference.  The Regionalization proposal is in depth and will require a number of Constitutional changes that will require a two-thirds vote of the General Conference.  If passed at the General Conference, there would also need to be a two-thirds vote of each annual conference worldwide to approve the multiple constitutional changes to create the new Regionalization structure.

If all that were to pass, it would also take many years for all the changes to be implemented.

But, in the midst of many complexities is the opportunity for many possibilities for our United Methodist Church to be stronger and continue its mission to, “Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

This is hard work, but good and faithful work on behalf of God’s people!