General Conference Commission Approves Reduction in Delegates from 1,000 to 850

The General Conference Commission has approved a reduction in delegates from 1,000 to 850 at the 2016 UMC General Conference. Some see this as a benefit to Annual Conferences where numbers are declining.

Here are excerpts from the article by Heather Hahn in The Florida Conference Connection (see http://floridaconferenceconnection.info/news/detail/4793):

“The 2016 General Conference in Portland, Ore., will have about 15 percent fewer delegates than recent gatherings of The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking body……

“The Commission on the 2016 General Conference on Friday, Oct. 18, voted 14 to 2 to set the target number of delegates at 850. That number is not exact. It could vary by a few people either direction to meet representation requirements under church law…..

“The reduction will save the church around $600,000, Sara Hotchkiss, General Conference business manager, told the commission. Before the vote, the projected costs for the 2016 General Conference were more than $10 million…..

What does this mean for delegates elected from the Florida Conference UM churches?

“The precise effect of the decision on the number of delegates to be elected from the Florida Conference for 2016 was not immediately available…….Florida sent 22 delegates — 11 lay and 11 clergy — to General Conference in 2012. The conference is scheduled to elect 2016 delegates at the 2015 Annual Conference meeting in Daytona Beach.

Russ Graves, Florida Conference lay leader and a past delegate, said the move seemed to be ‘more symbolic than cost-effective.’ ‘Cost-cutting is appropriate, but to take those that do the work of the [General] Conference and eliminate 150 votes, while maintaining costs in other nonproductive areas, is less than well-thought out,” Graves said.’  Nevertheless, it becomes even more important that we elect effective, forward-thinking, spiritually mature delegates,” he said, adding that the Board of Lay Ministry is looking for candidates and encourages suggestions from Florida Conference members.

“Delegates are assigned according to the size of conference membership, Micky Wilson said, but small conferences – many in the Western Jurisdiction — are guaranteed at least two delegates. The net effect will be to strengthen the voting power of those conferences while the large conferences of the Southeastern Jurisdiction will lose representatives with voting privileges.”     Mickey Wilson, Florida  Conference treasurer,  said a few  votes can sometimes affect major decisions.   “It tends to be a more liberal representation on the West Coast than it does in the Southeast,” he said.     – See more at:http://floridaconferenceconnection.info/news/detail/4793#sthash.hBaEFRqj.dpuf

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