It is the season in the life of the church where leaders across the Conference along with Conference staff are preparing for Annual Conference. The residents of Springfield, Missouri will be invaded by laity and clergy from across our Conference on the weekend of June 7th. Our Conference theme this year is New Places for New People which lifts up one of our three conference priorities. It will be exciting to celebrate the stories of how new places are touching new people in communities across our Conference.
Besides business, learning times and worship services, the three-day format will include election of delegates for General and Jurisdictional Conferences 2020. The Conference Lay Ministry Team is responsible for establishing procedures on preparation, publicity and distribution of information to facilitate the election of qualified lay delegates. You may be wondering .... what are the qualifications to be a lay delegate to General Conference? The answer can be found in the Book of Discipline. In paragraph 36 it states the following: “delegates shall have been professing members of The United Methodist Church for at least two years, shall have been active participants in The United Methodist Church for at least four years, are members within the annual conference electing them at the time of holding the General and jurisdictional conference.”
Laity with an interest in serving as a lay delegate to GC or JC should begin by praying about the responsibility and commitment, as well as have some conversations with trusted individuals to discuss this opportunity. It may also be helpful to watch the informational webinar that is available on the conference website. Laity with an interest in serving can learn about the expectations of elected lay delegates and about the self-nomination process on the conference website at www.moumethodist.org/2019layelections.
The challenge, as we prepare for elections, is the difficulty in knowing laity from across the Conference. The Conference Lay Ministry Team is committed to fairness, encouraging a balanced, diverse pool of candidates with opportunity for voters to know them. With all that in mind, a self-nomination process was developed so that interested laity can complete a laity profile, which provides an opportunity for lay members to Annual Conference to get acquainted with the interested candidates prior to our voting session. The laity profiles will be posted online for review in the order they are received. The Lay Ministry team is also hosting an informal meet and greet with the self nominated laity following the Laity Session on Friday night of Annual Conference.
The Missouri delegation will be composed of 12 lay delegates and 12 clergy delegates. The first six laity elected will attend General Conference, and all 12 laity elected will attend Jurisdictional Conference. Two alternate delegates will also be elected. The Lay Ministry Team is seeking a laity delegation that can be reflective of our Conference through diversity in age, race and gender as well as representative of our varied viewpoints. I encourage lay members to Annual Conference to begin praying for the election process, to read the profiles and attend the meet and greet with candidates, and to be Spirit led in casting your votes.
We are a connectional system. If you are attending Annual Conference, I challenge you to meet three new people and share your experiences with ministry in the local church. If you are not attending Annual Conference, I invite you to participate in our connectional system from afar. Pray for all those attending, and pray for the worship leaders and presenters. Ask questions when your lay person returns home from annual conference.