Oct. 26 deadline set for General Conference petitions

July 12, 2007

Jul. 3, 2007

By United Methodist News Service

United Methodist members and organizations have until Oct. 26 to submit petitions for consideration by the 2008 General Conference, the denomination's top lawmaking body.

Deadlines for the church's general agencies are sooner: Their reports must be submitted by Aug. 1 and their petitions by Oct. 1. Those will be included in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate, a publication giving advance program information about the assembly. The book will be published in English, French and Portuguese.

The next meeting of the General Conference, which convenes every four years, will be April 23-May 2, 2008, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Comprising nearly 1,000 delegates – half clergy and half lay – the assembly is the only body that speaks officially for the denomination. After each conference, revised editions of the Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions are released.

General Conference delegates can change anything in the Book of Discipline except the church's Constitution, Articles of Religion, Confession of Faith or General Rules of Our United Societies. It also cannot do away with its episcopacy or destroy the plan of general superintendency. Any recommended changes in the Constitution must be ratified by the annual (regional) conferences.

The 2008 assembly will have 13 legislative committees: two for church and society, and one each for conferences, discipleship, faith and order, financial administration, general administration, global ministries, independent commissions, judicial administration, ministry and higher education, local church and superintendency. In 2004, General Conference had 11 committees.

Each valid petition is given a number and title. Each legislative committee deals with petitions related to a series of paragraphs from the Book of Discipline. Petitions related to the Book of Resolutions are sorted by subject matter. A legislative committee can recommend to the full assembly concurrence or non-concurrence with the language as submitted, or the committee may change the language and then recommend concurrence. Legislative committees can also submit majority and minority recommendations.

The Rev. Fitzgerald Reist, secretary of the General Conference, encourages United Methodists to submit their petitions digitally "to enable us to get the petitions processed on time."

"Most of them are submitted digitally today," he said.

Non-digital submissions must be received by Sept. 1 and must be typed or legibly printed.

Digitally formatted petitions (http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.2762525/k.8FD3/2008_General_Conference_Petition_Submission_Form/apps/ka/ct/contactus.asp?c=lwL4KnN1LtH&b=2762525&en=jjINJYMIJcJKLYOKJfJLJ5MVIrIXK3OIIeJTJ7OTLtI9G) may be submitted by e-mail, 3.5-inch diskette, CD or through the Web site of the General Conference, at http://www.umc.org/site/c.lwL4KnN1LtH/b.2336161/k.1E1C/General_Conference_2008.htm.

Petitioners also can submit via the U.S. Postal Service by sending the required three hard copies and 3.5-inch diskette or CD to Gary W. Graves, Petitions Secretary, United Methodist General Conference, P.O. Box 188, Beaver Dam, KY 42320-0187. Petitions may be submitted through overnight carriers (Federal Express, UPS, DHL) to Gary W. Graves, Petitions Secretary, United Methodist General Conference, 302 N. Lafayette Street, Beaver Dam, KY 42320. They also may be sent by fax to (270) 274-4590 or by e-mail to petitions@umpublishing.org.

More instructions about preparing petitions can be found at http://www.umc.org/atf/cf/{DB6A45E4-C446-4248-82C8-E131B6424741}/2008_Instructions_for_Petitions.pdf.