Nearly 1,000 delegates and an estimated 2,500 visitors will gather at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida April 24-May 4 for the 2012 United Methodist General Conference.
As the top policymaking body of the worldwide United Methodist Church, the General Conference meets every four years to determine the denomination's future direction. It is the only body that speaks officially for the more than 12.1 million-member church.
The theme of the 2012 conference is "Make Disciples of Jesus Christ to Transform the World." During the 11-day session, delegates from around the world will consider more than 1,100 legislative petitions, set policies, approve plans and budgets, and handle other business. Simultaneous voice translation for delegates will be available in English, French, German, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Swahili.
Worship, special addresses, celebrations, and other plenary sessions will be available on live video streaming at gc2012.umc.org, as well as the General Conference mobile app. Also available at the website will be daily news and feature stories, high-resolution photos, a "digital lounge" featuring short conversation segments with key persons, and other information. Stories and daily summaries also will be available by email from United Methodist News Service and on Facebook and Twitter.
General Conference 2012 will open at 4 p.m., Tuesday, April 24, with a worship celebration that will include Holy Communion. Preaching will be Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster of the Charlotte (North Carolina) Area and president of the Council of Bishops.
Boston Area Bishop Peter Weaver will deliver the Episcopal Address during a plenary session beginning at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, April 25, followed by the Laity Address and Young People's Address.
Delegates will participate, also, in "An Act of Repentance toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples." The service is intended to begin the process of reconciliation between The United Methodist Church and indigenous peoples. It will take place on Friday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.
"We Need a River: A Plenary Celebration and Challenge of the Mission and Ministry of The United Methodist Church" will take place Sunday, April 29, at 7 p.m. Delegates and guests will hear about the many ways in which The United Methodist Church is in mission and ministry around the world.
Plenary sessions and legislative committee meetings of the General Conference are open both to the public and to the news media. News media are required to be credentialed in order to take photos on the floor and gain access to the fully staffed newsroom, media seating on the main plenary floor, and press conferences and news briefings involving delegates and church leaders.
Applications for media credentials can be made onsite in the General Conference newsroom in the West Hall on the 3rd floor of the Tampa Convention Center. Monday-Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. To be accredited, individuals must show proof that they represent a legitimate publication or news organization and will be filing stories during the conference.
The Public Information office, located near the news briefing area, can help reporters with interview requests and background information. United Methodist Communications has prepared a media guide that includes additional information about newsroom operation, staffing and resources.