Today marks the midpoint of the international gathering of United Methodist leaders in Portland, Oregon. Twelve lay and clergy delegates, plus several reserve delegates and a variety of observers, are attending the General Conference from Iowa.
The purpose of the conference, which happens every four years, is to celebrate the work of the Church across the globe. Prayer and worship are central to each day of the gathering from May 10-20, 2016.
The legislative process of the General Conference resembles that of the U.S. Congress. Much of the first week is spent in legislative committees where delegates discuss ministry proposals for 2017-2020. During the second week each committee presents their recommendations to the plenary session of the General Conference for final approval.
Delegates revise church law in The Discipline of The United Methodist Church. They also adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. In addition, delegates approve ministry plans of general agencies like the General Board of Global Ministries and set budgets for church-wide programs to serve the mission of the Church for the next quadrennium.
The Iowa Conference budgeted $23,600 to defray expenses for delegates to attend the General Conference. These funds are made possible by the apportionment gifts of local United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.