GC2016: "What does it mean?" and "High-Tech Hymnal"

April 20, 2016

What will General Conference mean to my United Methodist church?

A UMC.org Feature by Joe Iovino*

gc2008-floor-legislation-280x186As a United Methodist, you are probably aware that General Conference, the once-every-four-years official meeting of the church is happening in Portland, Oregon, May 10-20, 2016. What may be far less clear, however, is what happens there and what it means to your local congregation.
The best-known aspect of General Conference is thelegislation. General Conference is the body that determines direction and speaks officially for our denomination. 864 delegates elected by their annual conferences will consider 1044 petitions. Half the delegates are clergy and half are laity. Bishops lead the sessions, but have neither voice nor vote. Amendments to The Book of Discipline that guides the work of local churches, pastors, annual conferences, general agencies, and bishops, are adopted. Delegates also vote on resolutions that give the official positions of The United Methodist Church on social issues which are published in our Book of Resolutions. The General Conference covers a wide array of issues that affect all levels of our church. A small percentage of them receive a great deal of attention. Others will pass or fail without much fanfare, but will have lasting impacts in the life of our local churches. At the 2016 General Conference legislation will be presented and debated on human sexuality, the budget of the general church for 2017-2020, a more global church structure, the ordination process for our pastors, formation of a hymnal revision committee, and more. Whether widely publicized or not, General Conference legislation directs our work globally, regionally, and locally in our congregations. Read a summary of proposed major legislative issues. Read the entire article at UMC.org

hymn_page-585x388GC2016: Turning the page on The United Methodist Hymnal

By Sam Hodges UMNS

A cutting-edge hymnal? It seems like a contradiction in terms. But if the 2016 General Conference approves, The United Methodist Church will start on a five-year path toward a new hymnal that is Internet cloud-based and printed on demand, with each congregation able to customize its selections, beyond a core group of hymns. It will work for those who want a book for the faithful to hold and those who want to download and project onto screens praise and worship songs that reflect Wesleyan theology. “The new United Methodist hymnal will blaze a new path for what a hymnal is,” said the Rev. Taylor Burton–Edwards, director of worship resources for United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. “No longer a static collection limited by the size of a pew rack or one set of decisions about ritual resources and congregational song every 20 or 30 years, the new hymnal project will be an ever-expanding suite of resources fit for an ever-diversifying world." Discipleship Ministries and The United Methodist Publishing House share responsibility for the denomination’s hymnal. They are asking delegates to General Conference 2016 – set for May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon – for permission to take the first big steps toward a new version. That means creation of a 15-member Hymnal Revision Committee, which is standard procedure. But the agencies also are asking for a standing nine-member Hymnal Advisory Committee to recommend additions to the hymnal to future General Conferences. The cloud-based, print-on-demand approach makes an expanded hymnal possible. The 2020 General Conference would need to approve the Hymnal Advisory Committee’s recommendations, with release of the new hymnal coming as early as 2021. Read the entire article at UM News Service