Other key happenings at General Conference

Above, the Rev. Jay Williams (right) hugs fellow delegates after the 2024 United Methodist General Conference, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., voted to remove The United Methodist Church’s ban on the ordination of clergy who are “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” — a prohibition that dates to 1984. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

By Jessica Brodie

CHARLOTTE—Beyond the top-tier issues, General Conference did a number of other things when it gathered April 23-May 3, 2024: 

• Consecrated 26 laypersons, including three from central conferences, to a lifetime of service as deaconesses and home missioners. The consecration occurred during the April 29 worship. North Georgia Bishop Robin Dease, who hails from South Carolina, was among those consecrating.

• Approved a switch from a pension-based system for retired clergy to Compass, a contribution-based plan. While debate ensued on equitable pay and other concerns, Committee Chair Scott Brewer reminded the body the plans are “not set in stone tablets” adding, “We will come back in 2028 for continued adjustment.”

• Gathered April 30 for a silent protest against the violence in Palestine. The peaceful demonstration by students advocating for Palestine in the ongoing conflict echoed demonstrations occurring simultaneously on college campuses across the nation.

• Approved a special new relationship for the UMC thanks to passage of a petition that established full communion with The Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Now the agreement heads to the Episcopal Church for finalization. General Conference Secretary Gary Graves called it “an incredibly significant moment.”

• Authorized the Commission on the General Conference to consider inviting an Indigenous person to offer a proper acknowledgment of land ownership at future gatherings.

• Held a special Earth Day Vigil April 22 by the United Methodist Creation Justice Movement in partnership with United Women in Faith, Global Ministries and the Board of Church and Society.

• Authorized the Commission on General Conference to study and give serious consideration to the addition of increased Spanish language translation at the 2028 GC.

• Authorized the continuation of the Study of Ministry Commission to offer focused study and recommendations on the nature and structure of ministry in the new realities of the church and the world.

• Passed legislation establishing a Central Conference Higher Education Fund.

• Passed legislation amending language on racial justice in Article V of the Constitution to be more direct in both denouncing racism and declaring that the UMC must live as an actively anti-racist institution.

• Commissioned 16 missionaries for service around the world.

• Passed legislation amending language in Article IV of the Constitution to add gender and ability to the groups included for worship service attendance.

• Received a report from the Committee on Ethics regarding a complaint that an individual active in leadership of the Global Methodist Church had remained a UMC clergyperson and was at General Conference as a delegate.

The committee reported that, while they considered this highly unethical, they determined they were not able to act to remove that person. However, they advised against this sort of behavior.

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